This is Ovid Englished by Golding (otherwise known as Shakespeare's Ovid as it might have been the version of the Metamorphoses that he read,although he probably read the latin original too). Published in 1587 this had a huge impact on Renaissance literature and it's easy to see why. Managing to walk the fine line between Ovid's latin original and a translation which is politically and religiously acceptable in C16th England, this tells nothing less than the story of the (Graeco-Roman) world from the original chaos to the apotheosis of Augustus.
In robust rhyming fourteeners Golding re-tells the most famous Greek myths: Narcissus and Echo, Daphne and Apollo, the rape of Persephone, Pygmalion, Orpheus etc etc. But this is more than a collection of ancient stories; this is a poetic text in its own right which is, by turn, funny, tragic, warm and chilling. Amazingly Golding manages to capture something of Ovid's own wit and playfulness while bedding his own version down within the world of Renaissance England.
If you haven't experienced Ovid before then I would recommend a more traditional translation like David Raeburn's one for Penguin or the accurate by less elegant Loeb edition. But if you know the original, then this is a fine addition, and essential for anyone interested in or studying the renaissance and its literature and culture.
on 16 February 2015
This is an excellent edition of Golding's translation, with useful notes, introduction and glossary: hence five stars. However, the Kindle edition, on the Kindle at least, is very poor. There is a problem that the text of the poem contains not only Golding's long lines, but also marginal commentary. This means that each line of verse gets chopped up into two or three lines on the Kindle, unless you have the text very small. Trying to use the cursor in the text unhelpfully converts the poem into a 'table'. There are no links between the text and notes. I suspect this derives from the fact that in the print edition there are no note indicators, and no links have been inserted for the Kindle. This means that not only can the reader not connect to a note, but that while reading the text, it is not possible to know that a note exists (or not). All in all, for this book, the print copy is far easier to use.