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on January 9, 2006
After reading the old Penguin edition of this work, I was amazed at the improvement in not only the translation, but the organization and supplemental material as well. The old edition I read was written in prose (yuck), the translation was was dry and boring, the text was not broken up into sections, and there were no notes to speak of. This edition, however, has really come a long way. The text has been translated into a more modern voice, making it much more user friendly and fun to read. And it's written in verse form (as is should be). The organization is top-notch: not only is it divided into "books", but is further divided into the individual stories with appropriate headings (like "Mars and Venus" and "Pyramus and Thisbe"), so it's easy to find your favorite myth and know where you are in the epic. There's also an excellent introduction to the entire work as well as introductions to each individual book, providing insights and background information. The notes in the back of the book are very comprehensive and helpful, adding greatly to your understanding of the work. On top of all that, there's a glossary of the characters in the back which not only tells you who they are, but where they are featured in the epic. And finally, as if there wasn't enough already, there's even a map in the back of Rome during Ovid's time. Needless to say, this edition is chock full of stuff to please both casual readers of the work and scholars looking to get a little more in-depth. I believe this is one of the most important and influential works of Western civilization, and everyone should have a copy. It's especially great for those who love Greek and Roman myths, since it's packed full of just about every classical myth ever conceived. And since it's broken down so nicely into individual stories and books, you can read a story here and there instead of the whole thing at once, if you choose. Though since all the stories are connected and flow seamlessly into one another, reading it through from beginning to end is very rewarding and highly recommended.
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on May 14, 2007
It's not like designers at Penguin Classics are lacking

the knowledge

Of how to handle hexameters. Why then their failure

to use it

In Raeburn's recent translation of Metamorphoses?

On an average page, there's barely three verses that's

typeset within

A single line, with all others continued with vast

indent--

And most roving over a single word. The pages are

ugly,

Everything awkward to read. The font size is generous,

though,

So why not reduce it a point and gather more verses

together?

Nor does it help that the poem is written in thumping

sub-Longfellow,

With all of the beats but now with just one third the

sonority--

Dietetically versed. Avoid this volume. Feh, and more

feh.
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on February 21, 2011
I very much enjoyed the translation. It is clear, lively, and poetic both in form and sense.

This work is important as a treasure trove of mythological material and transformation of the self. It is deeply mystical and also important to the study of classical mythology. There is so much in the book that it is hard to summarize what I like about it in a review. It is an important work well translated. If that was all, I'd give it 5 stars.

However, the book design is another matter. The book wastes a LOT of whitespace and adds unnecessary line breaks which are jarring to the reading of the poetry. I have to wonder whether this was motivated by price (larger book, higher cost) or whether it was just simply due to lack of review of alternatives. For example, a slightly wider page, a slightly smaller font, or even a narrower margin could have avoided this problem. One gets the distinct impression that nobody was really reviewing the design. It's a shame really. The book could have used a lot less paper and been easier to read. For this I have deducted a star. It's still a book I'd recommend, but no longer as highly as I would have.
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on November 7, 2010
The inexplicably large number of positive reviews of this dire translation suggests that most readers are confusing it with the incomparably better blank verse version by Melville published in the Oxford World Classics edition. In the Penguin edition, Raeburn subordinates everything to the struggle to write hexameters in English. Why? The result is alien, ugly and unfaithful. Take the first line, where Melville conserves Ovid's first joke, namely starting an epic with a preposition, and incorporates the crucial Lucretian reference to bodies, in a line of elegant English verse. Raeburn fails on all counts. Read no further!
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on January 18, 2014
Caveat emptor again. The artwork for the title is for the David Raeburn translation (Penguin edition); after completing the purchase and seeing the 'invoice' it turns out the translation is by Henry Riley (who?), and the download is certainly Riley and certainly not Raeburn. Bleccch.
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on December 7, 2011
As with most kindle editions of poetry, the line breaks are irregular and distracting. For a free book, this is forgivable. At $5+, this problem should be fixed: it ruins an otherwise fine edition.

This edition lacks a table of contents in the "go to" menu, but the hyperlinked table of contents at the beginning of the book works quite well. The myths in each book are clearly listed, so you can, for example, easily find the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in Book 4 and jump right to it.

The annotations work well. Hyperlinks bring you to the notes and glossary at the back of the book.
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VINE VOICEon January 23, 2008
First, this is obviously not a book for everyone - although anyone can read it - you have to really want to read it for it to be enjoyable. Take the time to read it slowly. If you try to skim it you will miss far too much.

The glossary and notes were very useful & I didn't find the type to be a problem.
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on November 23, 2014
I ordered this because I needed the DAVID RAEBURN edition for a class and wanted to save a few dollars by ordering the Kindle edition. Because the kindle edition is offered ON THIS PAGE I assumed it was the same translation. It's NOT. Don't waste your money on the Kindle edition if you're looking for the David Raeburn translation. I'm extremely disappointed that Amazon is trying to pass off different material as the same, because when it comes to buying classics it is very important which translation you buy.
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on December 31, 2014
Good, readable translation. Reads like a novel, which is what I was looking for. The stories are more violent than I expected - a lot of rape. And being changed into a tree or a stream is no joke either.

But since Shakespeare quotes Ovid's mythology in almost every play, it is useful to know what he is referring to, without consulting the footnotes every few seconds.
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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2012
I got the book to use for an online course in Greek and Roman Mythology. For the course, we only read books 3, 12, and 13. But I wanted MORE! I found Ovid's METAMORPHOSES addictive. In 15 books, Ovid presents fabulous stories about humans or demigods that undergo miraculous transformations. These stories were mostly familiar to its original audience. It was Ovid's take on the material that made it a literary sensation. The metamorphoses invariably take place at a time of extreme emotional stress, usually terror or grief, and come about as a deity's reward for behavior that pleases or displeases him or her. Most often the change is to some kind of bird and the protagonist flies away from his troubles. But characters change to all sorts of other fauna, including dolphins, swine, spiders, frogs, and fish. Others turn into trees or flowers. A few turn into rocks or mountains. More than a few are transformed into rivers or streams. Some characters change sexes. While these stories may have originally been intended as moral lessons, Ovid turns them into something deeper and more affecting. He makes us feel what it's like to have one's skin turn into tree bark and one's feet stuck in the ground and unable to move while fingers sprout leaves. In the final book Ovid ties all the stories together thematically and expounds some potent philosophy in the work's most magnificent poetry. It is easy to see Ovid's influence on Shakespeare throughout the book. Ovid's METAMORPHOSES is a major building block in Western culture. It contains virtually all of the major Roman myths that are referred to constantly by the writers and artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Familiarity with Ovid is guaranteed to enhance one's appreciation of Western art, literature, and music. A trip to the library, the concert hall, or the art museum is bound to be enriched. Raeburn's verse translation uses heightened language that is nevertheless unpretentious. He hits just the right tone. I wish I had read this several decades ago. Five stars.
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