- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Harcourt Brace; 1 edition (April 15, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156001268
- ISBN-13: 978-0156001267
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Metamorphoses of Ovid 1st Edition
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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 Full of veiled political and historical references, The Metamorphoses lived on to become a permanent fixture in the canon of European literature.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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Top customer reviews
My copy came from an external supplier and was in like-new condition, albeit perhaps with the paper a little yellowed.
I am accompanying reading this with Hamilton's "Mythology" and some of the writings of Joseph Campbell and Roberto Calasso. Myths are so integral to literature that there is a special pleasure in spending some time with them from time to time. It is always surprising to discover the nuances and the contexts within which they have been captured, rather like a winged bee or dragonfly in amber. Ovid's versions stress metamorphoses and shape-changing, rather than static symbols. His light, playful, sometimes cynical touch makes him generally a delight to read, although one can still get bogged down in names and relationships, as well as transitions from one story to another.
Few will criticize the translation. Some readers may complain about Mandelbaum's lack of footnotes and introductory essay. Mandelbaum doesn't provide footnotes; he only gives what Ovid gives. If there were notes, the volume would be too bulky. It's already 550+ pages, and the translator does offer closing remarks (much more tasteful and appropriate than an introductory essay). I think the space in the margins is more important than editor's/translator's footnotes; that way, if a question arises, the reader can do his own research and annotate his copy beside the text for himself.
Ovid's poem begins with a creation out of chaos and into the golden age, traces the famous careers of Orpheus, Hercules, and Achilles, and culminates with the ascension of Augustus Caesar. Along the way, his tales of young lust, treachery, and enough shape-changes to keep George Lucas in business for decades will pull you into a world in which men contend with gods (and usually, but not always, lose), true love can forestall even death (or make death kidnap a goddess's daughter), and Morpheus is not a gun-toting cyber-revolutionary but a servant of Sleep and a master of imitation.
Mandelbaum's translation balances beauty of language and flow of story to make this classic compilation of Roman myths a page-turner. A beginner might want to acquire an edition with footnotes, but a reader with sufficient background or the resources to research references would do well to acquire this translation of this wonderful text.
The myth is beautiful. There must have been hundreds of characters, god and mortal alike, forced into crises and transformed in moments of untenable lust, rage, or just plain foolishness. I particularly enjoyed the huntress stories, and it was very cool to read Pyrahmus and Thisbe, the myth that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
The political elements of this, however, are tedious. Apotheosizing Caesar feels like that moment in a movie when the lead actor breaks out a can of Pepsi. I imagine this was both a patriotic and practical gesture for one of his patrons, even though the guy would return the favor later by exiling him. If I could go back in time, I'd ask him to replace the political chapters with one called "Nice Guys Finish on an Island."
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An expert, cutting view of Mandelbaum's Ovid from Sara Mack in New Criterion reads: "To conclude, I think...Read more