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Metamorphoses (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 3, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A good translation in clear, dignified, poetic English -- Prof Elaine Fantham, Princeton I think this version is terrific. The light enjambed English hexameters are a great success. The effect is properly propulsive -- Prof A D Nuttall, Oxford

About the Author

Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) was born in central Italy. He was sent to Rome where he realised that his talent lay with poetry rather than with politics. His first published work was 'Amores', a collection of short love poems. He was expelled in A.D. 8 by Emperor Augustus for an unknown reason and went to Tomis on the Black Sea, where he died.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044789X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447897
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition
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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