In his Metamorphoses, Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) draws on Greek mythology, Latin folklore, and legend from even further afield, to create a series of narrative poems, ingeniously linked by the common theme of transformation. A chaotic universe is subdued into harmonious order; animals turn to stone; men and women become trees, stones, and stars. Ovid is a master of variation: his understanding of human nature knows no bounds; style is elegantly tailored to fit the subject; and the gentle vein of humour which runs through his work is exploited with subtlety, sympathy and delightful self-irony. In this prose translation by Mary M. Innes, a skillful balance is struck between faithfulness and fluency. Both the classicist and the non-specialist will appreciate the sophisticated charm of Ovid's influential masterpiece.
Mary Innes's classic prose translation of one of the supreme masterpieces of Latin literature
"The most beautiful book in the language (my opinion and I suspect it was Shakespeare's)." -Ezra Pound
Ovid drew on Greek mythology, Latin folklore and legend from ever further afield to create a series of narrative poems, ingeniously linked by the common theme of transformation. Here a chaotic universe is subdued into harmonious order: animals turn to stone; men and women become trees and stars. Ovid himself transformed the art of storytelling, infusing these stories with new life through his subtley, humour and understanding of human nature, and elegantly tailoring tone and pace to fit a variety of subjects. The result is a lasting treasure-house of myth and legend.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) was born in central Italy. He was sent to Rome where he realised that his talent lay with poetry rather than with politics. His first published work was 'Amores', a collection of short love poems. He was expelled in A.D. 8 by Emperor Augustus for an unknown reason and went to Tomis on the Black Sea, where he died.
Mary M. Innes graduated from Glasgow and Oxford Universities and subsequently taught in the universities of Belfast and Aberdeen, before spending some twenty years proving to schoolgirls that classical languages can and should be enjoyed.
"Reading Mandelbaums extraordinary translation, one imagines Ovid in his darkest moods with the heart of Baudelaire . . . Mandelbaums translation is brilliant. It throws off the stiff and mild homogeneity of former translations and exposes the vivid colors of mockery, laughter, and poison woven so beautifully by the master." Booklist
"Mandelbaums Ovid, like his Dante, is unlikely to be equalled for years to come." Bloomsbury Review
"The Metamorphoses is conceived on the grandest possible scale . . . The number and variety of the metamorphoses are stunning: gods and goddesses, heroes and nymphs, mortal men and women are changed into wolves and bears, frogs and pigs, bulls and cows, deer and birds, trees and flowers, rocks and rivers, spiders and snakes, mountains and stars, while ships become sea nymphs, ants and stones and statues become people, men become women and vice versa . . . An elegantly entertaining and enthralling narrative."
from the Introduction by J. C. McKeown