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Showing 1-10 of 111 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 167 reviews
on November 22, 2013
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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on July 25, 2013
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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on January 18, 2014
This edition came highly praised, particularly by Robert Fagles, whose translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey are, in my opinion, the best in the English language. But the review here is for Charles Martin's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It is one thing to translate into prose, the vernacular, but into vulgarisms and slang, is another. Without going page by page, citing numerous examples, I decided enough is enough in Book V at page 160, where the text reads that after Perseus threw a spear at Phineus, missing him but hitting Rhoetus "full in the face", that, "the crowd went totally ballistic." Yes, that is exactly as written..."the crowd went totally ballistic." I found that phrase totally amazing, and went, like, totally, like, gag me with a spoon. Actually, the phrase "going totally ballistic" is similar to "gag me with a spoon" in that a few years from now it will have fallen out of fashion and will sound just as silly and out of place. Certainly the reader of today knows what Mr. Martin means by a "crowd going totally ballistic," but the reader also knows of other and better ways of expressing it in modern English without resorting to the slang of the day. Why, if Mr. Martin had worked on this translation a few decades or so ago he may have written this phrase as "the crowd went completely Postal." If you're over 50 you'll get it.
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on December 27, 2016
Great fun and high culture too. Ancient Roman classic comics. Ovid knits together over 200 old stories from the mythology he received in mock heroic style, but lets you know that although he thinks they are great stories he's not taking the myths completely seriously by every once in while making asides like (nudge nudge wink wink) "and this next part is almost impossible to believe ..." But besides the fun, this is the source for stories retold by many later writers and depicted in paintings you are likely to see in fine art museums.
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on February 8, 2009
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." This inspired language is masterfully rendered by Melville, who likes to end passages with rhymed couplets like: "And in its stead they found a flower--behold/ White petals clustered round a cup of gold!"

Unlike so many contemporary translators, Melville is after more than mere information and "accuracy" here. He's striving for fidelity to the original, Latin text vis-à-vis the reader's experience, and with the help of E. J. Kenney's useful--if too short--introduction and the book's copious endnotes, I feel the effort yields success. Compared with Mandelbaum's disappointing The Metamorphoses of Ovid, an overly bland and technical piece for someone who displayed such remarkable prowess in The Aeneid of Virgil (Bantam Classics), this Oxford edition transcends and entertains.

As it should, too, because Metamorphoses is great fun. So much so, it inspired a school-aged bard six centuries later.

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on July 9, 2013
Am glad to have this as a Kindle edition of Ovid's telling of ancient myths. Currently (Summer, 2013) am engaged in an online discussion of these myths. Am complimenting Martin's translation with two others, one in prose and the other by Mandelbaum -- which I rather prefer to Martin for the rendering of the poetry. Seldom can any one translation of an ancient language or document be sufficient to render meaning into terms adequate both to the original author and the modern reader; one can be grateful when time and translations are adequate and available to explore alternatives.
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on September 11, 2014
Adopting from the traditions of the allied or inherited cultures and kingdoms reaches a turning point in this one. Also, both public and private college libraries either miss-shelve or overlook it when ordering it. It is a different book from Aurelius's book The Golden Ass (mule). Metamorphoses is more than contrivances for Roman humor only. From the Greek Iliad and Odyssey to the Roman's several books about their origins, this is the second of those several. Just wanted here to correct its place and help you understand the mass of abreviated Latin verses that a good portion of our ancient world mythological origins are told in. More work for either the archaeologist -- and just plain English student survey courses, or a good old book lover.
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on June 8, 2016
Great story telling from the Ancient Greco-Roman era told by Ovid from how the world began to when Augustus reigned all with a moral or a "transformation" in the end when the characters offended the gods or the gods took pity, or showed their loved to mankind. Why we frogs, certain birds spiders, trees, flowers. You know it's not true however Ovid's storytelling is so entertaining it makes you wonder..is it? Must read for everyone at some point in your life. Highly enjoyed!
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on March 8, 2016
This is a very readable translation. I went back and forth between three translations before settling on this as the one I enjoyed best.

This is one of the more important works in the World lit canon. If you are interested in myth, it's a must-read.
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VINE VOICEon November 29, 2013
I read a very standard translation of the Metamorphoses in high school. My daughter is a fan of YA fantasy books that feature reworking of myths (e.g., the Rick Riordan series) and I thought she would like having the source material for them, with index. She does. I have looked through the book myself and find the translation very compelling. I particularly liked the story of Actaeon, and how he was torn apart by his own hounds as punishment for being a peeping tom. It was brutal yet emotional.
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