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Metamorphoses: A New Translation [Kindle Edition]

Charles Martin , Bernard M. W. Knox
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"A version that has been long awaited, and likely to become the new standard."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Ovid's epic poem—whose theme of change has resonated throughout the ages—is one of the most important texts of Western imagination, an inspiration from Dante's times to the present day, when writers such as Salman Rushdie and Italo Calvino have found a living source in Ovid's work. Charles Martin combines a close fidelity to Ovid's text with verse that catches the speed and liveliness of the original. Martin's Metamorphoses will be the translation of choice for contemporary readers in English. This volume also includes endnotes and a glossary of people, places, and personifications.

Editorial Reviews


"Smoothly readable, accurate, charming, subtle yet clear.... A lucidly fluent version of this most flowing of poems."

About the Author

Charles Martin is a poet, critic, and translator. His translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses received the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2004. In 2005, he received an Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of Signs & Wonders and Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1636 KB
  • Print Length: 625 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 31, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001R6OTS0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great classic and great translation December 4, 2007
By Taka
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ovid, or Publius Ovidius Naso, justly deserves his acclaim as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature alongside Horace and Virgil. And he knows it and doesn't bother to hide it, as he appends this bit of encomium to himself at the very end:

My work is finished now: no wrath of Jove
nor sword nor fire nor futurity
is capable of laying waste to it.
wherever Roman governance extends
over the subject nations of the world,
my words will be upon the people's lips
and if there is truth in poets' prophesies [sic, Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus, as the Romans would say]
then in my fame forever I will live.

So he is the worst kind of genius: a genius who knows he is a genius. Witty, elegant, and lively, his Metamorphoses is a masterpiece of epic poetry that tells of the myriad odd transformations that mythical (and sometimes historical) figures from Orpheus and Icarus to Romulus and Julius Caesar go through. Throughout, he is delightfully and cuttingly mocking of pretty much the entire epic tradition and every great poet that came before him, including no less authors than Virgil and Homer themselves. In at least three elaborate scenes, he makes so much fun of epic battles and they are hilariously and eerily reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino's comical massacre scene in his Kill Bill Vol. 1. Hell, Ovid can be tragic, comic, moving, and sarcastic/satirical all at the same time without lacking in elegance. The poem, 15 books of 1,000 lines per book, so seamlessly integrates story after story of wildly differing genres and plots and lengths that it feels like you're reading a single monomyth without getting bored or overwhelmed.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Workshop Participants Love this Translation! February 19, 2007
I teach mythology and literature in translation. In my mythology section I had my students read a version of Ovid available online. They found the experience painful and dull, even though they were somewhat familiar with the story line. So, when I assigned a translation for my workshop on Ovid, I chose this one on the strength of various reviews. Its a real pleasure to have a group of students become ecstatic about a piece of ancient literature! The Lukeion Project will now being using this translation as required reading.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Translation of Ovids masterpiece January 9, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ovids Metamorphoses was Leonardo Da Vinci favorite piece of literature with this well written translation I have become a lover of his work. This edition is both well documented with footnotes and endnotes that are clear and concise. The books print is also easy to read. Metamorphoses is collection of short stories some with morales and many with just plain ideas on conduct with in society. Ovid is a master story teller with beautiful fluidity of prose and ideas. His imagery is so colorful that the characters truly come to life on the page before us. This is the third translation I have read and this is by far the best version it is well worth the invest because to introduce your children to this epic with this translation will be magic to their imaginations. Good reading.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in the translation January 18, 2014
By John
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This edition came highly praised, particularly by Robert Fagles, whose translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey are, in my opinion, the best in the English language. But the review here is for Charles Martin's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It is one thing to translate into prose, the vernacular, but into vulgarisms and slang, is another. Without going page by page, citing numerous examples, I decided enough is enough in Book V at page 160, where the text reads that after Perseus threw a spear at Phineus, missing him but hitting Rhoetus "full in the face", that, "the crowd went totally ballistic." Yes, that is exactly as written..."the crowd went totally ballistic." I found that phrase totally amazing, and went, like, totally, like, gag me with a spoon. Actually, the phrase "going totally ballistic" is similar to "gag me with a spoon" in that a few years from now it will have fallen out of fashion and will sound just as silly and out of place. Certainly the reader of today knows what Mr. Martin means by a "crowd going totally ballistic," but the reader also knows of other and better ways of expressing it in modern English without resorting to the slang of the day. Why, if Mr. Martin had worked on this translation a few decades or so ago he may have written this phrase as "the crowd went completely Postal." If you're over 50 you'll get it.
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43 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phaeton March 8, 2004
I read the story of Phaeton aloud to my college students and they were rapt throughout. That in itself is an encomium. When I mentioned that to a friend, she said her daughter's junior high school English class had been studying Phaeton as well: it's an excellent allegory for today's young, and they seem fascinated by the details. Mr. Martin's translation is fast-paced and exciting, direct and lucid.
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42 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overdone February 22, 2008
By jumpy1
I was so excited to read this, after hearing the praise for the new translation. It turned out to be an exhausting exercise in attempts to be inventive. The main word that comes to mind is tiresome. I'm terribly sorry since it took so much work, obviously, but it just didn't ring as true to me as Rolfe Humphries's translation, which is so simple and straight-forward that I never want to put it down, because there's so much there behind the words. It's a matter of taste, of course, but I would put forth The Story of Baucis and Philemon as an example - read both translations and see what you think.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book!!! Had to get it for academic team and was 100%!!!
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Source of Ancient Western Myth I've Come Across
OUTSTANDING translation. This should be the new standard. Some passages read like a modern movie/screenplay. Ovid was an early version of Aaron Sorkin!
Published 3 months ago by Michael Land
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good condition
Published 4 months ago by oolala
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 months ago by Debralee
5.0 out of 5 stars Of course I would recommend Ovid's original
Of course I would recommend Ovid's original, but if you don't have time to learn the language but still want to read the work, this is the closest you will get to the original. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Translation.
I'm reviewing the translation, not the book itself here. It's a great translation, highly readable, and the book is done up nicely and is well printed. Read more
Published 9 months ago by H.C. Trapper
5.0 out of 5 stars Ovid
This is book is exactly what I was looking for. This is an nice English read, for the everyone. 5 stars
Published 13 months ago by charles breheny
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive
I had read the Bible, and thought there were some holes in it; things that just didn't seem to make much sense. Then I read Ovid's Metamorphoses. Now everything is clear! Read more
Published 14 months ago by D-Electronica
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reference, great translation
I read a very standard translation of the Metamorphoses in high school. My daughter is a fan of YA fantasy books that feature reworking of myths (e.g. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Umm Lila
The book itself is fine but the dust jacket is torn and creased. With description of "new." I expected all aspects of the book to be new. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Gail L.
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