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Metamorphoses Paperback – January 22, 1960

ISBN-13: 978-0253200013 ISBN-10: 0253200016

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (January 22, 1960)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253200016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253200013
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

" . . . a charming and expert English version, which is right in tone for the Metamorphoses." -- Francis Fergusson

"...a work of the highest quality which provides pleasure and information in generous measure." -- JACT Review

"This new Ovid, fresh and faithful, is right for our time and should help to restore a great reputation." -- Mark Van Doren

"This translation will quickly establish itself as _the_ transation for English speaking readers and students of this great Augustan epic." -- Dr. A.H.F. Griffin, University of Exeter

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's the book itself that I want to talk about.
Vanessa
With Humphries exquisite translation, hearing the poetry read makes it even livelier to the ear and heart.
D. S. Heersink
It is a great book for anyone who appreciates fine literature.
Helwe Maddah

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 133 people found the following review helpful By R. Enos on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
The five stars are for Ovid. This note discusses the Indiana University Press edition of Rolfe Humphries' translation of the _Metamorphoses_.

Humphries provides a clear, workmanlike translation.

So far as I can tell, of all the editorial reviews and customer reviews currently (9/11/04) displayed on the page for Rolfe Humphries' translation of Ovid's _Metamorphoses_, only the customer review posted by "elemental master" clearly refers to the Humphries translation.

The _editorial_ reviews describe a Cambridge University Press _Latin_ edition containing only Book Thirteen. Humphries' translation includes all fifteen books, of course. Several customer reviews evaluate books containing translations by Dryden, Innes, and Melville. Often, it is not possible to determine which translation a reviewer is considering. The work offered for sale on the page for Rolfe Humphries' translation of Ovid's _Metamorphoses_ contains only Humphries' translation.

In short, shoppers should be aware that the reviews displayed on the page for Rolfe Humphries' translation of Ovid's _Metamorphoses_ actually discuss wildly disparate works; most of them have little or nothing to do with the book being offered for sale.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa on September 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful. The Rolfe Humphries is THE translation. This printing is also very nice. The paper, the type, everything makes it a good book. When you turn the page, it turns nicely and lies flat; how refreshing.

The stories of the Metamorphoses are, of course, wonderful. It's the book itself that I want to talk about.

The beautiful Waterhouse painting on the cover spans the front and part of the back covers. The line numbers at the top of each text page are those of the Latin text in the Loeb edition; how many translators would go to that kind of trouble for you? Rolfe Humphries' introduction is light, funny, and enjoyable. His love of his work shines through. The last line of his intro is, "So - here he is [Ovid], and I hope you like him."

The table of contents is annotated, making it easy to find any major story you are looking for. I also love the designs at the beginning of each book/chapter: such details enhance my enjoyment of reading this edition.

If you have never read Ovid's Metamorphoses, don't be intimidated. It is a collection of mythology stories, and you will find much that is probably familiar to you (Echo and Narcissus, Jason, Pygmalion, and more). If you are at all serious about literature, this is a basic building block in your knowledge. And even if you're not, it's just a damn good book.

The translation itself is so fluent and enjoyable. Just listen to the introduction:

My intention is to tell of bodies changed
To different forms; the gods, who made the changes,
Will help me - or so I hope - with a poem
That runs from the world's beginning to our own days.

This is exciting, eloquent stuff! Please do yourself a favor and make sure you read this at some point during your lifetime.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on August 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Maidens become trees. Young hunks turn into flowers. Men become women; women become invincible warriors. And every time you blink, another poor wretch becomes a bird or turns to stone. In Ovid's Metamorphosis, nothing stays the same for long. A rich compendium of Greco-Roman mythology and history all ingeniously linked together by the theme of transformation, the Metamorphosis is a surprisingly sophisticated, erotic, and gory classic of ancient literature.

Rapes, murders, wars, and all manner of perversion abound. Death is lingered over with almost forensic precision. The slaughter of arrogant Niobe's fourteen children, for example, is recounted in an exhaustive detail that would do any contemporary slasher flick justice, as one by one they're picked off in various grisly ways. This is classical gore--Ovid sounding like the Clive Barker of ancient Rome as in this excerpt from the massacre of the centaurs:

[Exadius] found a weapon, a stag's antlers
Hung on a pine tree...
And Gryneus' eyes were pierced by those twin prongs,
Eyeballs gouged out; one of them stuck to the horn,
The other rolled down his beard till a blood clot caught it.

This is the sort of wonderfully nauseating detail that is repeated countless times in a masterpiece that often reads like the National Enquirer. It's hard not to believe that Ovid, like Shakespeare, was aiming his work for the mass audience of his time, which just goes to show you that the product of one age's pop culture is another's venerated classic. One only has to read Ovid's over-the-top account of the love-sick Cyclops to realize that black comedy ala the B-movies of Herschel Gordon Lewis had already been mastered some two thousand years ago.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Humphries translation of the Latin classic of Greek and Roman mythology is still contemporary, fresh, vibrant, and colorful more than a half-century after first publication. For readers unfamiliar with Ovid, the great Latin poet and lover of Transformations (i.e., Metamorphoses), we are simultaneously acquainted with the great classical myths, given their contemporary meaning and perennial revelance, through a masterful translation that is as modern as the stories are classical. For example, from Book III, "Echo and Narcissus," we read:

Now Narcissus
Was sixteen years of age, and could be taken for
Either boy or man; and boys and girls
Both sought his love, but in that slender stripling
Was pride so fierce no boy, no girl, could touch him.

To understand the pantheon of the classical gods, each was a projection of one (or maybe two) human attributes is a quasi-human, quasi-divine form. Rather than trying to make a single god into a possessive, jealous, xenophobic, and emotionally-unstable, homophobic male patriarchical "prick," the pantheon of Roman and Greek gods were merely the "objectification" of the worst and noblest human emotions, intelligence, vulnerabilities, and jealousies -- just as we find in ourselves, without crusty theology to cloud the oracles of human vice and virtue (versus human depravity, sin, and redemption). This is a book one can enjoy in "sprints," or luxuriate with on a weekend afternoon, and further, enjoy reading to your Beloved. We do. With Humphries exquisite translation, hearing the poetry read makes it even livelier to the ear and heart.
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