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Metamorphoses (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – April 15, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

`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

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

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (April 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199537372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199537372
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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 poetic...as 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 line...as 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"...one 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of the available translations, this is I think the best. Moving backwards and forwards between the Latin and the English, Melville hews closer to the text than someone like Mandelbaum (the translation I used to use as one of my cribs alongside Miller's older Loeb edition translation). I got started on Charles Martin's translation, but got bogged down in it for some reason I can't pinpoint, and Melville has just carried me along, which is a necessary part of the Ovidian experience.

Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, it is possible to get a word-by-word translation/dictionary online at the Perseus/Tufts project, which, even if you have had only a year or so of Latin, is well worth having with you alongside a translation. Check it out!
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ovid has written a work that all writers should read at least once. The imaginative fodder is abundant. Perhaps it is through him that we have come to know the first shapeshifters. Transforming into birds, snakes, bears, and elements, nothing is too strange for the human being to experience. And no deed is too heinous for man—or woman—to perform. But snuggled within this work of great inventiveness that houses myth and homage to the Greeks, the legends and the progeny to come, are the rich doctrines of Pythagoras. His wisdom and pacifist leanings are worthy of reading all on their own. One cannot help but sense the truth of spirituality in his words, that which is uncontaminated by the burdens of the church that is to come. It is in this section that we learn the truth and meaning of Ovid’s Metamorphoses: we are always changing; from birth to death, ever evolving into another part of ourselves; we are connected by this evolution and thus are one.

In all creation, be assured,
There is no death—no death, but only change
And innovation; what we men call birth
Is but a different new beginning; death
Is but to cease to be the same.

I wonder if the meaning of life—and death—cannot be culled from the tales of Ovid’s "Metamorphoses."
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