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Metamorphoses (Norton Critical Editions) Reprint Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393925340
ISBN-10: 039392534X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Critical Editions
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039392534X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393925340
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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By jumpy1 on February 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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