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Metamorphoses (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Ovid , A. D. Melville , E. J. Kenney
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Paperback, July 23, 1998 --  
"Ten Windows" by Jane Hirshfield
Hirshfield explores how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. See more
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Book Description

July 23, 1998 019283472X 978-0192834720
Metamorphoses--the best-known poem by one of the wittiest poets of classical antiquity--takes as its theme change and transformation, as illustrated by Greco-Roman myth and legend. Melville's new translation reproduces the grace and fluency of Ovid's style, and its modern idiom offers a fresh understanding of Ovid's unique and elusive vision of reality.

Editorial Reviews


"Notes are very helpful indeed."--L. Cahoon, Gettysburg College

"Of the English translations now available, Melville's new version is the only that reproduces the grace, speed, and nervous tension of Ovid's original. It is a rare achievement."--Richard P. Martin, Princeton University

"An excellent translation, elegant and accurate."--Simone Turbeville, University of Texas, Arlington

"Melville has chosen blank verse, pleasantly varied by rhymed couplets to round off each sequence. His narrative is taut...his vocabulary vivid and flexible, his speeches pungent or powerful, and his command of wit a delight."--Classical Review

"If Ovid wanted to read himself in English, he should certainly be happy with Melville's translation, which eloquently captures a great deal of his urbanity, wit, and sentiment in an expressive blank verse that is itself a bit of a wonder."--Thomas Clayton, Chairman, University of Minnesota

"The translation is readable and tells the tales with charm, and the notes are truly excellent."--Carol R. Hershenson, Xavier University

"Excellent poetic rendition, at reasonable price. Thank you. I shall order a whole library of Oxford World's Classics."--Dr. Barbara Huval, Lamar University

"Reads compellingly--as Ovid should. Students enjoy [this work] greatly."--Ann Lauinger, Sarah Lawrence College

"I like this translation very much. I used it this semester and will continue to use it."--Gregory M. Malion, University of New Hampshire

"I shall regularly adopt this edition to use in my mythology class. It is the best paperback edition around: readable translations, episodes have titles, glossary and original line numbers on top of page."--Cliff Brockman, St. John Fisher College

About the Author

Publius Ovidius Naso, a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. Ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, Ovid was generally considered the greatest master of the elegiac couplet.

Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019283472X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834720
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Of other forms, I tell..." July 5, 2001
By A Customer
This edition is published by Oxford University Press and is translated from the Latin into English prosody by A. D. Melville, who was "a scholar of King's College, Cambridge [!!], where he gained a double First in Classics...."
To my mind, this is the best of the English translations available at this site. The format is it should be, I believe...which means that the reader will have to adjust (change) his usual perceptive modes...go slower... follow the thought from line to if tracking some wondrous mythic figure through a forest of sparkling silvery leaves...and flickering flashes of sunlight... There is an excellent "Introduction" as well as a truly insightful "Translator's Note" can tell the quality of the mind which worked on this translation from a quote from the "Introduction": "This it may be suggested is the point of a passage of the *Metamorphoses* that has puzzled some critics and bored others ...the great speech of Pythagoras. What is formally a long digression is accommodated to the argument of the poem with great skill bridging the long interval between Numa and Augustus and achieving a climax on a theme that informs and dominates the whole book: apotheosis, divinization, the supreme change to which human beings can aspire. The speech turns on the premiss[sic] that in all the constantly changing universe one thing remains unchanged, *anima*, the soul [Melville's translation of the lines follows...] our souls/ Are still the same for ever, but adopt/ In their migrations ever-varying forms.../ We too ourselves, who of this world are part,/ Not only flesh and blood, but pilgrim souls...
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it, then read it again May 27, 1999
By A Customer
If you're wondering which translation to buy here's my opinion: get either the A.D. Melville (which has great notes about the text) or the Mendelbaum.
Avoid Horace Gregory like the plague.
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the Metamorphoses March 25, 2002
This translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses by A.D. Melville has some good points as well as some bad points. The stories are well told. They are put into English that is easy to understand; yet Melville maintains much of the original prose. The biggest downfall would be the arrangement of the stories is slightly random and hard to follow when one attempts to read straight through the work. However, each story in itself is well written and portrays the idea of its appropriate myth. The notes at the back of the text help the reader to understand ideas that might not be obvious to a reader in this 20th century, where many of us have little background in mythology. There is also a glossary that the reader may use to find specific stories about certain characters. In my mythology class, I found this method especially useful in projects in which require finding many stories about a certain god, for instance. Perhaps the most important aspect of Ovid's renditions of the myths is that they contain many details about surroundings or the visual contexts of the myths, which help a reader to relate more easily. This may not be found in other texts dealing with the same myths. Many texts focus more on the story itself and the events occurring. If one is a visual learner, perhaps this book would be most helpful in understanding and interpreting many of the important myths. All in all, this is a pretty good book, yet there may be one that better serves to tie the myths together in an easy to follow way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling: No Wonder Shakespeare Loved It February 8, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This impressive relic of antiquity spans a wide panoply of themes, characters and situations. It's simply magnificent. Scholars have noted an opaque style in Metamorphoses, and someone reading commentary like this might believe this multifaceted poem is vacuous...ornamentation and little else. However, as I read A. D. Melville's glorious, if abstruse and demanding, translation, I feel I'm experiencing a wellspring of William Shakespeare--the material is that colorful and full of life. And of course I am, because when the Bard set off to write plays for his highly successful acting company, he grabbed Ovid's Metamorphoses; as many Shakespeare fans know, it had been assigned reading during his grammar school years.

Ovid's scenes are beautifully woven: the rhetorics and structures, usually borrowed from existing stories, are clever, and the characters live and breathe. Although the effects of the many cross-currents among god and mortal, creature and nature, etcetera are, at least superficially, those of wild fantasy and myth, examples of the poet's subtle-yet-overriding Logoi can be found in passages like Narcissus and Echo, Tiresias and Pyramus and Thisbe, where the action seems as much fated and rational as ridiculous. That is, Ovid employs artifice wherein one conceit mirrors and affects another (and yet another and another and so on) in clear, logical fashion. For example:

When Apollo wielded his bow, writes Ovid, "He drew two arrows of opposing power./ One shaft that rouses love and one that routs it." Or when describing anthropomorphic pathos of nature and earth, the artist suggests, "Then hungry nature lacking nourishment/ Will faint and, starving, starve her furnaces.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars William Shakespeare read this in Latin and English by the ...
William Shakespeare read this in Latin and English by the time he was 14 years, and was still remembering it when he was composing, and documenting his complete plays when he was... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Philip C Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Found a few "updated" interpretations of some of his great works. The...
Found a few "updated" interpretations of some of his great works. The originals were greater. Sorry, George Bernard Shaw and other great moderns.
Published 1 month ago by Ralph Cavaliere
2.0 out of 5 stars Well somebody must say it, and here it is:
This was the edition recommended by Oxford University Press, and as I am reading simultaneously the Cambridge Classics Latin original as well (the "Green-and-Yellow"), I... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joseph Sugar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by blacktom
4.0 out of 5 stars the translation is done well and very easy to read and understand
This is a classic work that is worth the time it takes to read. As far as I can tell, the translation is done well and very easy to read and understand. Read more
Published 3 months ago by PP
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great if you like baroque verse, which I happen to.
Published 3 months ago by Kristin Ohman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Translation
I tried several translations, but I ended up enjoying this one the most. I am not sure why - maybe the rhythmic nature of his lines. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Moore
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Textbook
Used it for my greek Mythology class. Small and easy to carry book with easy to read print.
Published 7 months ago by Alex Ruscher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Anyone who likes renaissance art must read the Bible and Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Published 8 months ago by JJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Really nice e-version
I liked the organization and the borders of this kindle verison of the book. It was much clearer than others I had previewed
Published 12 months ago by NV
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