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Metamorphoses: A New Verse Translation (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Ovid , David Raeburn
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Jan 2004

Ovid's deliciously clever and exuberant epic, Metamorphoses is a verse translation from the Latin by David Raeburn with an introduction by Denis Feeney in Penguin Classics.

Ovid's sensuous and witty poetry brings together a dazzling array of mythological tales, ingeniously linked by the idea of transformation - often as a result of love or lust - where men and women find themselves magically changed into new and sometimes extraordinary beings. Beginning with the creation of the world and ending with the deification of Augustus, Ovid interweaves many of the best-known myths and legends of Ancient Greece and Rome, including Daedalus and Icarus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Pygmalion, Perseus and Andromeda, and the fall of Troy. Erudite but light-hearted, dramatic yet playful, the Metamorphoses has influenced writers and artists throughout the centuries from Shakespeare and Titian to Picasso and Ted Hughes.

This lively, accessible new translation by David Raeburn is in hexameter verse, which brilliantly captures the energy and spontaneity of the original. The edition contains an introduction discussing the life and work of Ovid as well as a preface to each book, explanatory notes and an index of people, gods and places.

Publius Ovidius Naso (43BC-18AD) was born at Sulmo (Sulmona) in central Italy. Coming from a wealthy Roman family and seemingly destined for a career in politics, he held some minor official posts before leaving public service to write, becoming the most distinguished poet of his time. His works, all published in Penguin Classics, include Amores, a collection of short love poems; Heroides, verse-letters written by mythological heroines to their lovers; Ars Amatoria, a satirical handbook on love; and Metamorphoses, his epic work on change.

If you enjoyed Metamorphoses, you might like Homer's The Odyssey, also available in Penguin Classics.


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Metamorphoses: A New Verse Translation (Penguin Classics) + The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) + The Odyssey (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044789X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447897
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A good translation in clear, dignified, poetic English (Prof Elaine Fantham, Princeton)

I think this version is terrific. The light enjambed English hexameters are a great success. The effect is properly propulsive (Prof A D Nuttall, Oxford)

About the Author

DAVID RAEBURN is a lecturer in Classics at Oxford. He has translated Sophocles & directed numerous school/ university productions of Greek tragedies. DENIS FEENEY is Professor of Classics at Princeton. RICHARD ASHDOWNE is in the Department of Comparative Philology, Linguisits and Phonetics, Oxford.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In a short Prologue (1-4) Ovid announces his theme of metamorphosis: his stories of change will form one continuous poem, ranging in time from the beginning of the universe to Ovid's own lifetime. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carnal delights 31 Mar 2009
By Jessica
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ovid looked at the vast collection of Greco and Roman myths and understood the unifying factor to be metamorphosis. He therefore took on the monumental task of linking them together in one long continuous poem. The results are truly monumental.

I think Penguin editions can sometimes linger a little too much on the intellectual understanding of classics but I enjoyed and continue to enjoy this edition. A chronology of Ovid's life and works is included before the text as well as an introduction by Denis Feeney which is interesting and comprehensive whilst not being terribly preachy on how 'Metamorphoses' should be experienced. There is a page dedicated to further books of interest. The translator David Raeburn also writes a short note on his intentions, the format of the original and his new version, which I also found very interesting. The fifteen books of the 'Metamorphoses' follows. On the first reading I dutifully read the summaries at the beginning of each book for a while, but they add very little, instead they mainly catalogue what happens in each segment before it does, which can ruin it a bit. Still they are nice to read after as they can add to your understanding. I found the notes on background information, points of detail and cross references incredibly useful and fascinating. The index was also useful to keep track of all the characters and to be used as a guide as it tells you where each character appears in the text so you can flick to the right section. An historical map of the world Ovid lived in is also included.

Raeburn chose to compose the text in a metre which is closer to Ovid's dactylic hexameter - which in turns references the epic style of Homer and Virgil - as opposed to the traditional English metre for narrative poetry, which is iambic pentameter.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gods and monsters! 5 Nov 2006
By Room For A View VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
For me this verse translation has become a delightful source of reference for Greek and Roman mythology, European literature, art, and opera. And, most importantly, the stories are a lot of fun and entertainment. I have continued to enjoy this book, using the excellent Contents and Glossary to look up my favourite tales and to refresh my memory on the numerous Gods, demi-Gods, kings, maidens, nymphs that populate the pages. First time round I read the poem from start to finish and soon realised it was going to be impossible for me to recall all the multiple plot progressions, people and places, family trees, the multifarious metamorphosing. So I keep coming back when I, for instance, want to remember the myth associated with a Bernini sculpture or reread the almost comic strip violence of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs. This edition has a useful introduction, which helped me understand the historical context and themes of Ovid's vivid descriptions of heroes, death, incest, rape, sensuality, love, obsession, beauty and the ever-present metamorphoses. I found the translation very accessible and benefits from a vocal reading.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By I. West
Format:Paperback
This translation offers a concise and very useful set of explanatory notes and a glossary. Ovid's work is divided into legendary stories of the ancient world, each leading on from the other to give an epic poem of gods, monsters, heroes and cities. Ovid's poetic tone is engaging and its not hard to see why his work has captured the imaginations of so many great artists and writers. Some of the legends included are The Creation, Phaethon, Europa, Narcissus and Echo, Bacchus (and the cult of Dionysus), Pyramus and Thisbe, Perseus (and the Gorgon), the Rape of Proserpina, Medea and Jason, Orpheus, and so on. Each of the tales focus on the theme of transformation as indicated in the title-whether it be the gorgon's head turning its foes into marble or Daphne changing into a laurel tree.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Ovid was ignored by classical scholars for a long time as being frivolous and just not serious enough. He has now been rehabilitated and Metamorphoses is recognised as being one of the most complex, sophisticated and problematic poems of the age of Augustus.

It's also one of the wittiest and most accessible, and this translation deserves prizes for being both faithful to the original Latin and yet reading as if it were written yesterday in modern english blank verse.

Too often regarded as a compendium of Greek and Roman myths, Metamorphoses should be read as a continuous poem telling the story of the world from the creation to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar - but in Ovid's own inimitable and often funny and scurrilous fashion. Along the way, he takes in almost every story ever told in the ancient world: Narcissus and Echo, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, Medea, Venus and Adonis, the Trojan war, the foundation of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

His style is witty, urbane and sophisticated, and he plays games with every genre of literature: love poetry, epic, philosophy, Greek science.

The ostensible theme of the poem that unifies the 12 books is change, but modern scholars recognise that this too is part of the game Ovid is playing with his readers, and the debate continues over what Ovid is 'about'.

More interesting, perhaps, is the way in which he plays with our preconceptions of gender, power, status and authority - but all with the lightest of touches that never reduce the brilliant story-telling to mere polemic.

Writing after Vergil, on one level Metamorphoses is a response to and a dialogue with the Aeneid, and has sometime been read as an antidote to the supposedly pro-Augustan sympathies of Vergil.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT
NOT A BAD WORD TO SAY, VERY VERY HAPPY WITH THIS PURCHASE
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Published 2 months ago by Geogina
5.0 out of 5 stars ovid - set book for Greek & roman myth ou course
Great book. the best part of the course so far. The translation is very readable,as it is in the modern idiom.
Published 4 months ago by mgw
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation
This translation is great because it gives it a more modern feel as well as sticking closely to the original text. A pleasure to read.
Published 8 months ago by Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
An excellent and very readable translation of Ovid's work. Ovid's humour still amuses today and I can strongly recommend this book.
Published 9 months ago by Jill Hughes
3.0 out of 5 stars recommended reading
It's a classic so I enjoyed it for that but don't think it was helpful in thinking about the topics covered on the course
Published 10 months ago by linda farthing
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, simply wonderful
As a classics student I leapt at the chance to get a copy of Ovid for only around 2. The copy was in perfect condition and arrived on time in simple packaging. Read more
Published 11 months ago by MarkF
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful
This story features all the exciting and compelling gods, goddesses, demigods, heroes, mortals, nymphs, and mythical creatures we hold with such reverence and awe. Read more
Published 13 months ago by thed0dgydancer
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and nothing new under the sun!
If, like me, you buy this book to study you soon discover that out of many of the myths and the way in which Ovid depicts them there is nothing new under the sun. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Liber Vermis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I found this book really interesting, it gives insight into many ideas we take for granted in everyday life, and shows the background to many of our traditional stories and myths.
Published 16 months ago by Mrs. B. A. Aston
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast delivery as usual
This is a heavy read, but fabulous once you get into it. I needed it for a course that I am doing and it was delivered really quickly on a supersaver delivery. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Beckyboo
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