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The Metamorphoses of Ovid Paperback – April 15, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0156001267 ISBN-10: 0156001268 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace; Reprint edition (April 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156001268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156001267
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Publius Ovidius Naso, whom we know as Ovid, was already established as a writer when The Metamorphoses was published in A.D. 8, when he was 52 years old. It had taken him a decade to compose his great poem, during which time he published little, but the Roman world was still abuzz with excitement over his richly erotic Art of Love. So, unfortunately, was the court of Augustus Caesar, and the emperor banished the poet to what is now Romania. Augustus may have taken exception to the poet's turn to the impolite realm of the body--or he may have objected to a rumored affair between Ovid and the emperor's nymphomaniacal daughter Julia, who figures so prominently in Robert Graves's Claudius novels. The poet who had declared Rome to be his only home could have found no worse punishment than exile, but no amount of pleading could sway Augustus, and Ovid died on the shores of the Black Sea a decade later. Full of veiled political and historical references, The Metamorphoses lived on to become a permanent fixture in the canon of European literature. In Allen Mandelbaum's hands, it lives on for a new generation.

From Publishers Weekly

Translator and poet Mandelbaum offers his rendition of Ovid's classic work of mythology and change.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

It also tells a compelling story.
KTB
Mandelbaum's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses is the best I have seen so far.
Jerry L. the Bibliophile
One of the great reading experiences of a lifetime.
stemper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 98 people found the following review helpful By KTB on January 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
On Ovid: This is one of the best poems ever written. Period. I'm a big mythology buff and many of the Greek and Roman myth versions we know today come from this work. It also tells a compelling story. Shakespeare thought it was great, enough said.
On Mandelbaum: I've read about 4 different translations of this work and Mr. Mandelbaum's is my favorite. He remains precise without being choppy. He keeps it poetic, which I like. There is a fine line translators must walk, being true to the original text while making the english understandable and keeping the imagery, flow, music and intent intact. This version does all of those.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
This edition of the Metamorphoses is quite loose in its translation--even for a casual reader, it seems to take unnecessary liberties that don't add anything to the original poetry. For instance, the first four lines of the poem (some of the most famous from Ovid), literally translated read "My mind compels me to speak of forms changed into new bodies; Gods (since you changed them), breathe into my beginnings and guide this perpetual song from the origins of the world to my own time." Mandelbaum renders these lines: "My soul would sing of metamorphoses. But since, o gods, you were the source of these bodies becoming other bodies, breathe your breath into my book of changes: may the song I sing be seamless as its way weaves from the world's beginning to our day." Ovid's own lines are much more spare and beautiful than this frankly icky, overly florid rendering. Allowances always have to be made for translations of course--a translator has to balance fidelity to the original and the demands of the target language--but Mandelbaum seems to make changes for changes sake. "Perpetual song" or "perpetuum carmen" is one of the most famous descriptors of Ovid's project and is very easy to literally translate, but Mandelbaum tortures the line into seamless weaving, a "book of changes" and "sing of metamorphoses." I enjoy reading poetic translations--Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, for instance, is an excellent, if also very un-literal translation--but this one doesn't add anything and actually loses the flavor of Ovid's poetry.

But then, I must admit that this is a matter of aesthetic judgment, and so my assessment may not be universal. As you probably expect, it's also probably pedantic.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
A marvelous translation of the Metamorphoses, difficult to put down, very poetic and evocative, leading one into one's own personal associations to the myths while being true to Ovid. I recommend reading it aloud....
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jerry L. the Bibliophile on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Mandelbaum's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses is the best I have seen so far. It is a very accurate and original rendition of the poem, while also being very readable. This is my most highly recommended edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses because of its highly readable, enjoyable verse translation. Mandelbaum, who won the National Book Reward for his classic verse translation of Virgil's Aeneid, displays his unmatched skill and heart at translating Latin classics in this edition of Ovid's poem.

My only complaint about this book is that the book does not have any footnotes or table of contents whatsoever. The book has to be navigated by looking at the top margins.

I personally do not recommend the Oxford and Penguin editions of this book, as they are not as close to the original Latin, and the rhetorical quality is also not as good. Focus Classical Library's edition of
Ovid's Metamorphoses is very highly annotated with indispendable footnotes, outlines, headings, and index, but unfortunately its translation complicated is not as readable as Mandelbaum's.

For serious mythology learners who want an accurate, original rendition of the poem, I would recommend getting both this book and Mandelbaum's translation. Because of the Focus Classical Library edition's indispensable annotations and more literal translation (which includes all of the proper names Ovid uses in his original poem) and outline, serious readers might want to also buy that one in addition to the Mandelbaum translation.

Overall, this is THE edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses that you should get, whether you are a new reader or longtime classicist. This vivid, accurate, readable, page-turning book is truly a modern masterpiece.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For any one interested in truly understanding the development of literature, no book except the Bible, has had more influence. The profoundly entertaining tales of Adonis, Midas, Apollo, Icarus, and many others come to life in this illustrious translation. At first, I was a little indifferent and disinterested in the topic; but I thought of all of those references to Ovid in Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare and figured go ahead read it. Well, it was the best decision in long time for me. Before I had finished reading half of the tales, I opened creative doors and answered literary questions that I had never knew existed. If you are interested in the classics of Homer, Virgil and many others, I highly recommend this translation!!
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