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The ''Metamorphoses'' ( la, Metamorphōsēs, from grc, μεταμορφώσεις: "Transformations") is a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
narrative poem from 8 CE by the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: * Rome, the capital city of Italy * Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a lett ...
poet
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom ...
. It is considered his '' magnum opus''. The poem chronicles the history of the world from its
creation Creation may refer to: Religion *''Creatio ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing *Creation myth, a religious story of the origin of the world and how people first came to inhabit it *Creationism, the belief that ...
to the deification of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in a civil war, an ...
in a mythico-historical framework comprising over 250 myths, 15 books, and 11,995 lines. Although it meets some of the criteria for an epic, the poem defies simple genre classification because of its varying themes and tones. Ovid took inspiration from the genre of metamorphosis poetry and some of the ''Metamorphoses'' derives from earlier treatment of the same myths; however, he diverged significantly from all of his models. One of the most influential works in Western culture, the ''Metamorphoses'' has inspired such authors as
Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His '' Divine Comedy'', originally called (modern Italian: ...
, Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, and
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
. Numerous episodes from the poem have been depicted in works of sculpture, painting, and music. Although interest in Ovid faded after the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an effort to revive and surpass ide ...
, there was a resurgence of attention to his work towards the end of the 20th century. Today the ''Metamorphoses'' continues to inspire and be retold through various media. Numerous English
translation Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (which does not exist in every language) between ''transla ...
s of the work have been made, the first by William Caxton in 1480.


Sources and models

Ovid's decision to make myth the primary subject of the ''Metamorphoses'' was influenced by Alexandrian poetry. In that tradition myth functioned as a vehicle for moral reflection or insight, yet Ovid approached it as an "object of play and artful manipulation". The model for a collection of metamorphosis myths was found in the metamorphosis poetry of the Hellenistic tradition, which is first represented by Boio(s)' ''Ornithogonia''—a now- fragmentary poem of collected myths about the metamorphoses of humans into birds. There are three examples of ''Metamorphoses'' by later Hellenistic writers, but little is known of their contents. The ''Heteroioumena'' by Nicander of Colophon is better known, and clearly an influence on the poem—21 of the stories from this work were treated in the ''Metamorphoses''. However, in a way that was typical for writers of the period, Ovid diverged significantly from his models. The ''Metamorphoses'' was longer than any previous collection of metamorphosis myths (Nicander's work consisted of probably four or five books) and positioned itself within a historical framework. Some of the ''Metamorphoses'' derives from earlier literary and poetic treatment of the same myths. This material was of varying quality and comprehensiveness—while some of it was "finely worked", in other cases Ovid may have been working from limited material. In the case of an oft-used myth such as that of Io in Book I, which was the subject of literary adaptation as early as the 5th century BC, and as recently as a generation prior to his own, Ovid reorganises and innovates existing material in order to foreground his favoured topics and to embody the key themes of the ''Metamorphoses''.


Contents

Scholars have found it difficult to place the ''Metamorphoses'' in a genre. The poem has been considered as an epic or a type of epic (for example, an anti-epic or mock-epic); a that pulls together a series of examples in miniature form, such as the epyllion; a sampling of one genre after another; or simply a narrative that refuses categorization. The poem is generally considered to meet the criteria for an epic; it is considerably long, relating over 250 narratives across fifteen books; it is composed in dactylic hexameter, the meter of both the ancient ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with the ''Ody ...
'' and ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with the '' Iliad'', ...
'', and the more contemporary epic ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who fled the fall of Troy and travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of ...
''; and it treats the high literary subject of myth. However, the poem "handles the themes and employs the tone of virtually every species of literature", ranging from epic and elegy to
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character. Traditionally, the intention of tragedy ...
and pastoral. Commenting on the genre debate, Karl Galinsky has opined that "... it would be misguided to pin the label of any genre on the ''Metamorphoses''". The ''Metamorphoses'' is comprehensive in its chronology, recounting the creation of the world to the death of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in a civil war, an ...
, which had occurred only a year before Ovid's birth; it has been compared to works of universal history, which became important in the 1st century BC. In spite of its apparently unbroken chronology, scholar
Brooks Otis Brooks Otis (June 10, 1908 – July 26, 1977) was an American scholar of Classical languages and literature. Born in Boston, he graduated from Harvard in 1929, took the M.A. in 1930, and received the Ph.D. in 1935. Otis taught at Hobart Colleg ...
has identified four divisions in the narrative: * Book I – Book II (end, line 875): The Divine Comedy * Book III – Book VI, 400: The Avenging Gods * Book VI, 401 – Book XI (end, line 795): The Pathos of Love * Book XII – Book XV (end, line 879): Rome and the Deified Ruler Ovid works his way through his subject matter, often in an apparently arbitrary fashion, by jumping from one transformation tale to another, sometimes retelling what had come to be seen as central events in the world of Greek mythology and sometimes straying in odd directions. It begins with the ritual "invocation of the
muse In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses ( grc, Μοῦσαι, Moûsai, el, Μούσες, Múses) are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in ...
", and makes use of traditional epithets and circumlocutions. But instead of following and extolling the deeds of a human
hero A hero (feminine: heroine) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength. Like other formerly gender-specific terms (like ''actor''), ''her ...
, it leaps from story to story with little connection. The recurring theme, as with nearly all of Ovid's work, is love—be it personal love or love personified in the figure of ''Amor'' ( Cupid). Indeed, the other
Roman gods The Roman deities most widely known today are those the Romans identified with Greek counterparts (see '' interpretatio graeca''), integrating Greek myths, iconography, and sometimes religious practices into Roman culture, including Latin li ...
are repeatedly perplexed, humiliated, and made ridiculous by Amor, an otherwise relatively minor god of the
pantheon Pantheon may refer to: * Pantheon (religion), a set of gods belonging to a particular religion or tradition, and a temple or sacred building Arts and entertainment Comics *Pantheon (Marvel Comics), a fictional organization * ''Pantheon'' (Lone St ...
, who is the closest thing this putative mock-epic has to a hero.
Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλωνος, Apóllōnos, label=genitive , ; , grc-dor, Ἀπέλλων, Apéllōn, ; grc, Ἀπείλων, Apeílōn, label=Arcadocypriot Greek, ; grc-aeo, Ἄπλουν, Áploun, la, Apollō, la, Apollinis, label= ...
comes in for particular ridicule as Ovid shows how irrational love can confound the god out of
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the aim of seeking the truth. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, lang ...
. The work as a whole inverts the accepted order, elevating humans and human passions while making the gods and their desires and conquests objects of low humor. The ''Metamorphoses'' ends with an epilogue (Book XV.871–879), one of only two surviving Latin epics to do so (the other being Statius' '' Thebaid''). The ending acts as a declaration that everything except his poetry—even Rome—must give way to change:


Books

* Book I – The Creation, the Ages of Mankind, the flood, Deucalion and Pyrrha,
Apollo Apollo, grc, Ἀπόλλωνος, Apóllōnos, label=genitive , ; , grc-dor, Ἀπέλλων, Apéllōn, ; grc, Ἀπείλων, Apeílōn, label=Arcadocypriot Greek, ; grc-aeo, Ἄπλουν, Áploun, la, Apollō, la, Apollinis, label= ...
and Daphne, Io, Phaëton. * Book II – Phaëton (''cont.''), Callisto, the raven and the crow, Ocyrhoe, Mercury and Battus, the envy of Aglauros,
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but slightly less than one-thousand ...
and
Europa Europa may refer to: Places * Europe * Europa (Roman province), a province within the Diocese of Thrace * Europa (Seville Metro), Seville, Spain; a station on the Seville Metro * Europa City, Paris, France; a planned development * Europa Clif ...
. * Book III – Cadmus, Diana and Actaeon,
Semele Semele (; Ancient Greek: Σεμέλη ), in Greek mythology, was the youngest daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia, and the mother of Dionysus by Zeus in one of his many origin myths. Certain elements of the cult of Dionysus and Semele came fr ...
and the birth of Bacchus, Tiresias,
Narcissus Narcissus may refer to: Biology * ''Narcissus'' (plant), a genus containing daffodils and others People * Narcissus (mythology), Greek mythological character * Narcissus (wrestler) (2nd century), assassin of the Roman emperor Commodus * Tiberiu ...
and Echo, Pentheus and Bacchus. * Book IV – The daughters of Minyas, Pyramus and Thisbe, Mars and Venus, the Sun in love ( Leucothoe and
Clytie In Greek mythology, the name Clytie ( Ancient Greek: Κλυτίη, Ionic) or Clytia (, Attic and other dialects) may refer to: *Clytie (Oceanid), known for her unrequited love for Helios. Out of jealousy, Clytie arranged the death of Leucothoe ...
),
Salmacis Salmacis ( grc, Σαλμακίς) was an atypical Naiad nymph of Greek mythology. She rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Mythology Ovid's version Salmacis' attempted rape of Herm ...
and Hermaphroditus, the daughters of Minyas transformed, Athamas and Ino, the transformation of Cadmus, Perseus and Andromeda. * Book V – Perseus' fight in the palace of Cepheus,
Minerva Minerva (; ett, Menrva) is the Roman goddess of wisdom, justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. Minerva is not a patron of violence such as Mars, but of strategic war. From the second century BC onward, the R ...
meets the
Muse In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses ( grc, Μοῦσαι, Moûsai, el, Μούσες, Múses) are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in ...
s on Helicon, the rape of Proserpina, Arethusa, Triptolemus. * Book VI – Arachne; Niobe; the Lycian peasants; Marsyas; Pelops; Tereus, Procne, and Philomela; Boreas and
Orithyia In Greek mythology, Orithyia or Oreithyia (; el, Ὠρείθυια ''Ōreithuia''; la, Ōrīthyia) was the name of the following women: *Orithyia or Orythya, the Nereid of raging seas and one of the 50 marine-nymph daughters of the 'Old Man of th ...
. * Book VII – Medea and Jason, Medea and Aeson, Medea and Pelias, Theseus, Minos, Aeacus, the plague at Aegina, the Myrmidons, Cephalus and
Procris In Greek mythology, Procris ( grc, Πρόκρις, ''gen''.: Πρόκριδος) was an Athenian princess as the third daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens and his wife, Praxithea, daughter of Phrasimus and Diogeneia. Homer mentions her in ...
. * Book VIII – Scylla and Minos, the Minotaur,
Daedalus In Greek mythology, Daedalus (, ; Greek: Δαίδαλος; Latin: ''Daedalus''; Etruscan: ''Taitale'') was a skillful architect and craftsman, seen as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge and power. He is the father of Icarus, the uncle of Perdi ...
and Icarus, Perdix, Meleager and the
Calydonian Boar The Calydonian boar hunt is one of the great heroic adventures in Greek legend. It occurred in the generation prior to that of the Trojan War, and stands alongside the other great heroic adventure of that generation, the voyage of the Argonauts, ...
, Althaea and Meleager, Achelous and the Nymphs, Philemon and Baucis, Erysichthon and his daughter. * Book IX – Achelous and Hercules; Hercules, Nessus, and Deianira; the death and apotheosis of Hercules; the birth of Hercules; Dryope; Iolaus and the sons of Callirhoe; Byblis;
Iphis In Greek and Roman mythology, Iphis or Iphys ( , ; grc, Ἶφις ''Îphis'' , gen. Ἴφιδος ''Ī́phidos'') was a child of Telethusa and Ligdus in Crete, born female and raised male, who was later transformed by the goddess Isis into a ma ...
and Ianthe. * Book X – Orpheus and Eurydice,
Cyparissus In Greek mythology, Cyparissus or Kyparissos ( Ancient Greek: Κυπάρισσος, "cypress") was a boy beloved by Apollo or in some versions by other deities. In the best-known version of the story, the favorite companion of Cyparissus was a ta ...
, Ganymede, Hyacinth, Pygmalion, Myrrha, Venus and Adonis,
Atalanta Atalanta (; grc-gre, Ἀταλάντη, Atalantē) meaning "equal in weight", is a heroine in Greek mythology. There are two versions of the huntress Atalanta: one from Arcadia, whose parents were Iasus and Clymene and who is primarily kno ...
. * Book XI – The death of Orpheus, Midas, the foundation and destruction of Troy,
Peleus In Greek mythology, Peleus (; Ancient Greek: Πηλεύς ''Pēleus'') was a hero, king of Phthia, husband of Thetis and the father of their son Achilles. This myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BC. Bi ...
and Thetis, Daedalion, the cattle of Peleus, Ceyx and Alcyone, Aesacus. * Book XII – The expedition against Troy,
Achilles In Greek mythology, Achilles ( ) or Achilleus ( grc-gre, Ἀχιλλεύς) was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and the central character of Homer's '' Iliad''. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Pe ...
and Cycnus, Caenis, the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, Nestor and Hercules, the death of Achilles. * Book XIII – Ajax, Ulysses, and the arms of Achilles; the Fall of Troy; Hecuba, Polyxena, and Polydorus;
Memnon In Greek mythology, Memnon (; Ancient Greek: Μέμνων means 'resolute') was a king of Aethiopia and son of Tithonus and Eos. As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles' equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army ...
; the pilgrimage of
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from ) was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both being grandsons ...
; Acis and Galatea; Scylla and Glaucus. * Book XIV – Scylla and Glaucus (''cont.''), the pilgrimage of Aeneas (''cont.''), the island of Circe, Picus and Canens, the triumph and apotheosis of Aeneas, Pomona and Vertumnus, legends of early
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption ...
, the apotheosis of Romulus. * Book XV –
Numa Nuclear mitotic apparatus protein 1 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ''NUMA1'' gene. Interactions Nuclear mitotic apparatus protein 1 has been shown to interact with PIM1, Band 4.1, GPSM2 G-protein-signaling modulator 2, also ca ...
and the foundation of Crotone, the doctrines of
Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos ( grc, Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος, Pythagóras ho Sámios, Pythagoras the Samian, or simply ; in Ionian Greek; ) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His poli ...
, the death of Numa, Hippolytus,
Cipus Cipus was a legendary Roman praetor famous for his ''pietas''. After receiving a prophecy that he would become king of Rome, he chose voluntary exile instead of the throne. He is mentioned by Ovid in his ''Metamorphoses'', Pliny the Elder in '' Nat ...
,
Asclepius Asclepius (; grc-gre, Ἀσκληπιός ''Asklēpiós'' ; la, Aesculapius) is a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He is the son of Apollo and Coronis, or Arsinoe, or of Apollo alone. Asclepius represen ...
, the apotheosis of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in a civil war, an ...
, epilogue.


Themes

The different genres and divisions in the narrative allow the ''Metamorphoses'' to display a wide range of themes. Scholar Stephen M. Wheeler notes that "metamorphosis, mutability, love, violence, artistry, and power are just some of the unifying themes that critics have proposed over the years".


Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis or transformation is a unifying theme amongst the episodes of the ''Metamorphoses''. Ovid raises its significance explicitly in the opening lines of the poem: ''In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas / corpora;'' ("I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities;"). Accompanying this theme is often violence, inflicted upon a victim whose transformation becomes part of the natural landscape. This theme amalgamates the much-explored opposition between the hunter and the hunted and the thematic tension between art and nature. There is a great variety among the types of transformations that take place: from human to inanimate objects (Nileus), constellations (Ariadne's Crown), animals (Perdix); from animals (ants) and fungi (mushrooms) to human; of sex (hyenas); and of colour (pebbles). The metamorphoses themselves are often located metatextually within the poem, through grammatical or narratorial transformations. At other times, transformations are developed into humour or absurdity, such that, slowly, "the reader realizes he is being had", or the very nature of transformation is questioned or subverted. This phenomenon is merely one aspect of Ovid's extensive use of illusion and disguise.


Influence

The ''Metamorphoses'' has exerted a considerable influence on literature and the arts, particularly of the West; scholar A. D. Melville says that "It may be doubted whether any poem has had so great an influence on the
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...
and art of Western civilization as the ''Metamorphoses''." Although a majority of its stories do not originate with Ovid himself, but with such writers as
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded by western authors as 'the first written poet i ...
and
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
, for others the poem is their sole source. The influence of the poem on the works of Geoffrey Chaucer is extensive. In '' The Canterbury Tales'', the story of Coronis and Phoebus Apollo (Book II 531–632) is adapted to form the basis for
The Manciple's Tale "The Manciple's Tale" is part of Geoffrey Chaucer's '' The Canterbury Tales''. It tends to appear near the end of most manuscripts of the poem, and the prologue to the final tale, " The Parson's Tale", makes it clear it was intended as the penult ...
. The story of Midas (Book XI 174–193) is referred to and appears—though much altered—in The Wife of Bath's Tale. The story of Ceyx and Alcyone (from Book IX) is adapted by Chaucer in his poem '' The Book of the Duchess'', written to commemorate the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster and wife of John of Gaunt. The ''Metamorphoses'' was also a considerable influence on
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
. His '' Romeo and Juliet'' is influenced by the story of Pyramus and Thisbe (''Metamorphoses'' Book IV); and, in '' A Midsummer Night's Dream'', a band of amateur actors performs a play about Pyramus and Thisbe. Shakespeare's early erotic poem '' Venus and Adonis'' expands on the myth in Book X of the ''Metamorphoses''. In '' Titus Andronicus'', the story of Lavinia's rape is drawn from Tereus' rape of Philomela, and the text of the ''Metamorphoses'' is used within the play to enable Titus to interpret his daughter's story. Most of Prospero's renunciative speech in Act V of '' The Tempest'' is taken word-for-word from a speech by Medea in Book VII of the ''Metamorphoses''. Among other English writers for whom the ''Metamorphoses'' was an inspiration are John Milton—who made use of it in '' Paradise Lost'', considered his '' magnum opus'', and evidently knew it well—and Edmund Spenser. In Italy, the poem was an influence on Giovanni Boccaccio (the story of Pyramus and Thisbe appears in his poem ''L'Amorosa Fiammetta'') and
Dante Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', originally called (modern Italian: ' ...
. During the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an effort to revive and surpass ide ...
and Baroque periods, mythological subjects were frequently depicted in art. The ''Metamorphoses'' was the greatest source of these narratives, such that the term "Ovidian" in this context is synonymous for mythological, in spite of some frequently represented myths not being found in the work. Many of the stories from the ''Metamorphoses'' have been the subject of paintings and sculptures, particularly during this period. Some of the most well-known paintings by Titian depict scenes from the poem, including ''
Diana and Callisto ''Diana and Callisto'' is a painting completed between 1556 and 1559 by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian. It portrays the moment in which the goddess Diana discovers that her maid Callisto has become pregnant by Jupiter. The paint ...
'', ''
Diana and Actaeon The myth of Diana and Actaeon can be found in Ovid’s ''Metamorphoses''. The tale recounts the unfortunate fate of a young hunter named Actaeon, who was a grandson of Cadmus, and his encounter with chaste Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, ...
'', and '' Death of Actaeon''. These works form part of Titian's "''poesie''", a collection of seven paintings derived in part from the ''Metamorphoses'', inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythologies, which were reunited in the Titian exhibition at The National Gallery in 2020. Other famous works inspired by the ''Metamorphoses'' include Pieter Brueghel's painting ''
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus ''Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'' is a painting in oil on canvas measuring currently displayed in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. It was long thought to be by the leading painter of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance paint ...
'' and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's sculpture '' Apollo and Daphne''. The ''Metamorphoses'' also permeated the
theory of art A theory of art is intended to contrast with a definition of art. Traditionally, ''definitions'' are composed of necessary and sufficient conditions and a single counterexample overthrows such a definition. ''Theorizing'' about art, on the other ...
during the Renaissance and the Baroque style, with its idea of transformation and the relation of the myths of Pygmalion and Narcissus to the role of the artist. Though Ovid was popular for many centuries, interest in his work began to wane after the Renaissance, and his influence on 19th-century writers was minimal. Towards the end of the 20th century his work began to be appreciated once more. Ted Hughes collected together and retold twenty-four passages from the ''Metamorphoses'' in his ''
Tales from Ovid ''Tales from Ovid'' is a poetical work written by the English poet Ted Hughes, published in 1997 by Faber and Faber. The book is a retelling of twenty-four tales from Ovid's ''Metamorphoses''. It won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for 19 ...
'', published in 1997. In 1998,
Mary Zimmerman Mary Zimmerman (born August 23, 1960) is an American theatre and opera director and playwright from Nebraska. She is an ensemble member of the Lookingglass Theatre Company, the Manilow Resident Director at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinoi ...
's stage adaptation '' Metamorphoses'' premiered at the Lookingglass Theatre, and the following year there was an adaptation of ''Tales from Ovid'' by the Royal Shakespeare Company. In the early 21st century, the poem continues to inspire and be retold through books, films and plays. A series of works inspired by Ovid's book through the tragedy of Diana and Actaeon have been produced by French-based collective LFKs and his film/theatre director, writer and visual artist Jean-Michel Bruyere, including the interactive 360° audiovisual installation ''Si poteris narrare, licet'' ("if you are able to speak of it, then you may do so") in 2002, 600 shorts and "medium" film from which 22,000 sequences have been used in the 3D 360° audiovisual installation ''La Dispersion du Fils'' from 2008 to 2016 as well as an outdoor performance, "Une Brutalité pastorale" (2000).


Manuscript tradition

In spite of the ''Metamorphoses'' enduring popularity from its first publication (around the time of Ovid's exile in 8 AD) no manuscript survives from antiquity. From the 9th and 10th centuries there are only fragments of the poem; it is only from the 11th century onwards that complete manuscripts, of varying value, have been passed down. The poem retained its popularity throughout
late antiquity Late antiquity is the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, generally spanning the 3rd–7th century in Europe and adjacent areas bordering the Mediterranean Basin. The popularization of this periodization in English h ...
and the Middle Ages, and is represented by an extremely high number of surviving manuscripts (more than 400); the earliest of these are three fragmentary copies containing portions of Books 1–3, dating to the 9th century. But the poem's immense popularity in antiquity and the Middle Ages belies the struggle for survival it faced in late antiquity. "A dangerously pagan work," the ''Metamorphoses'' was preserved through the Roman period of Christianization, but was criticized by the voices of
Augustine Augustine of Hippo ( , ; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber origin and the bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia, Roman North Afr ...
and Jerome, who believed the only real metamorphosis was transubstantiation. Though the ''Metamorphoses'' did not suffer the ignominious fate of the ''Medea'', no ancient scholia on the poem survive (although they did exist in antiquity), and the earliest complete manuscript is very late, dating from the 11th century. Influential in the course of the poem's manuscript tradition is the 17th-century Dutch scholar Nikolaes Heinsius. During the years 1640–52, Heinsius collated more than a hundred manuscripts and was informed of many others through correspondence. Collaborative editorial effort has been investigating the various manuscripts of the ''Metamorphoses'', some forty-five complete texts or substantial fragments, all deriving from a Gallic archetype. The result of several centuries of critical reading is that the poet's meaning is firmly established on the basis of the manuscript tradition or restored by conjecture where the tradition is deficient. There are two modern critical editions: William S. Anderson's, first published in 1977 in the Teubner series, and
R. J. Tarrant Richard John Tarrant, is an American classicist and Emeritus Pope Professor of Latin at Harvard University. He is an expert on the textual criticism and the transmission of Latin poetry. Career A native of Brooklyn, Tarrant was educated at Fo ...
's, published in 2004 by the Oxford Clarendon Press.


In English translation

The full appearance of the ''Metamorphoses'' in English
translation Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. The English language draws a terminological distinction (which does not exist in every language) between ''transla ...
(sections had appeared in the works of Chaucer and Gower) coincides with the beginning of printing, and traces a path through the history of publishing. William Caxton produced the first translation of the text on 22 April 1480; set in prose, it is a literal rendering of a French translation known as the ''Ovide Moralisé''. In 1567,
Arthur Golding Arthur Golding (May 1606) was an English translator of more than 30 works from Latin into English. While primarily remembered today for his translation of Ovid's ''Metamorphoses'' because of its influence on William Shakespeare's works, ...
published a translation of the poem that would become highly influential, the version read by Shakespeare and Spenser. It was written in rhyming couplets of iambic heptameter. The next significant translation was by George Sandys, produced from 1621 to 1626, which set the poem in heroic couplets, a metre that would subsequently become dominant in vernacular English epic and in English translations. In 1717, a translation appeared from Samuel Garth bringing together work "by the most eminent hands": primarily John Dryden, but several stories by Joseph Addison, one by Alexander Pope,Melville 2008, p. xxx. and contributions from Tate, Gay, Congreve, and Rowe, as well as those of eleven others including Garth himself. Translation of the ''Metamorphoses'' after this period was comparatively limited in its achievement; the Garth volume continued to be printed into the 1800s, and had "no real rivals throughout the nineteenth century". Around the later half of the 20th century a greater number of translations appeared as literary translation underwent a revival. This trend has continued into the twenty-first century. In 1994, a collection of translations and responses to the poem, entitled '' After Ovid: New Metamorphoses'', was produced by numerous contributors in emulation of the process of the Garth volume.


See also

* ''Isis'' (Lully), a French opera based on the poem * List of ''Metamorphoses'' characters * Tragedy in Ovid's ''Metamorphoses''


Notes


References


Modern translation

*


Secondary sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * *


External links


Latin versions


Ovid Illustrated: The Renaissance Reception of Ovid in Image and Text
– An elaborate environment allowing simultaneous access to Latin text, English translations, commentary from multiple sources along with wood cut illustrations by Virgil Solis.
''Metamorphoses'' in Latin edition and English translations
from Perseus – Hyperlinked commentary, mythological, and grammatical references)
University of Virginia: ''Metamorphoses''
– Contains several versions of the Latin text and tools for a side-by-side comparison.

– Contains the Latin version in several separate parts.
List of 16th-century printed editions


English translations



trans. by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden et al., 1717.
Ovid's ''Metamorphoses''
trans. by George Sandys, 1632.
Ovid's ''Metamorphoses''
trans. by Brookes More, 1922, revised edition 1978, with commentary by Wilmon Brewer. .


Analysis


The Ovid Project: Metamorphising the ''Metamorphoses''
– Illustrations by Johann Whilhelm Baur (1600–1640) and anonymous illustrations from George Sandys's edition of 1640.

by
A. S. Kline A is the first letter of the Latin and English alphabet. A may also refer to: Science and technology Quantities and units * ''a'', a measure for the attraction between particles in the Van der Waals equation * ''A'' value, a measure of ...
.


Audio

*
Ovid ~ ''Metamorphoses'' ~ 08-2008
– Selections from ''Metamorphoses'', read in Latin and English by Rafi Metz. Approximately 4½ hours.


Images


"Neapolitan Ovid"
– An illustrated manuscript from 1000–1200 AD, hosted by the World Digital Library. {{Authority control 1st-century Latin books Mock-heroic poems Narrative poems Poetry by Ovid