9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2011
The other reviewers say better than I could why the actual book is so good. I can only add that I love this Oxford edition and Mr Melville's translation. E.J. Kenney's introduction is very helpful too. It is gripping and shocking and the narrative has been really well done by the translator within the metre. I was terribly impressed and really pleased that I bought it. I was reading it as a source book for influences on Shakespeare which of course makes it fascinating but it is incredibly and unexpectedly good in its own right. That I suspect is down to the readability of the edition as well as Ovid's story telling.
My only little grumble is the really helpful and interesting index of explanatory notes at the back was not as easy to use as it might have been - it needed more spacing in places for ease of reference, so if your eyesight is not good the rather small print will be a bit trying.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2002
If you are brave enough or mug enough to go for the Dryden translation of Ovid, good luck to you. For the academically lazier or more experienced, the OUP translation by Melville is a real treat. A light touch, playful in places, enjoyable throughout - I am not a classicist or a great fan of poetry but I found I couldn't put it down.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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 - as well as one of the wittiest and most accessible.
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. Certainly Ovid was banished from Rome by the Emperor Augustus just after the poem was published though the true reason cannot be known due to the loss of all sources relating to the the incident. However, many scholars now recognise the other subversive voices within the Aeneid itself, questioning the imperial mission of Rome and Augustus, so maybe Ovid and Vergil are not so far apart at all...
In any case, the Metamorphoses remains one of the most brilliant examples of the pure power of superb story-telling, and has inspired artists from Shakespeare to Bernini to Ted Hughes. Read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2012
Having laboured through the prose translation, which while very fine is not exactly pulse-raising stuff, this was a refreshing and far pacier translation that entertained and entranced
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2010
I really loved reading this book. I did not think I would enjoy it, but actually its a lovely book! It's outside of usual epic tradition, which has lead to discussion as to whether or not it is truly epic. In my opinion, its thoroughly epic!
Ovid was a very skilled writer, and he certainly knew how to make his mark. He likes to inject his own humour into the stories also, although maybe not funny by todays standards. The way this book is written, its fully descriptive and explanatory unlike some latin literature, it allows your imagination to be transported to the scene. Ovid takes you on a journey from the very beginning of time up until (his) present day.
He provides mythical explanation as to why hyacinths have the markings they do, and why the myrrh tree bends in the middle (read it you'll see why!).