The Metamorphoses of Ovid
A highly readable new translation of Ovid’s classic work
Composed in Latin in the early years of the first century by the Roman poet Ovid, the Metamorphoses presents a collection of amazing tales of transformation based on Greek mythology and Roman legend. Ovid was the most gifted storyteller of his age, and the Metamorphoses is his masterpiece. It begins with the creation of the world and continues on to the founding of Rome and to the reign of the emperor Augustus in Ovid's own time.
Many of the great stories from Greek mythology can be found in the Metamorphoses, including those of Apollo and Daphne, Jupiter and Io, Actaeon, Narcissus and Echo, Pyramus and Thisbe, Daedalus and Icarus, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, and Venus and Adonis. The genial narrator sails unperturbed through tale after tale of love and loss, quests and battles, violence and suffering, human striving and folly. Ovid's wit and verbal adroitness hasten the pace of the narrative and make the work supremely accessible.
Michael Simpson's prose translation in the rapid and direct American idiom catches the swiftness and clarity of the Latin original. His introduction sketches the poet's life, describes his extant works, discusses his unusual exile to the west coast of the Black Sea (where he died), and provides a useful context for reading the Metamorphoses. Simpson has also prepared extensive endnotes that serve as mini-essays, illuminating the manifold aspects of the poem and offering commentary and interpretation that enable readers to enter Ovid's magical world and enjoy its richness.
"This translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses is a welcome surprise amid the many translations that have appeared in the past twenty years. It makes no strained effort to find a metrical scheme and pose as the modern equivalent to Ovid's poetic form. Instead, it seeks—and achieves with remarkable success —to render the flowing elegance of Ovid's narrative style with a sensitivity that captures the versatility of the Latin and of the stories that Ovid chose to tell. This is an especially effective text for studying Ovid."—William S. Anderson, University of California, Berkeley
"Simpson conveys the rapid flow of Ovid's wonderful mythological, epic-style poem in clear, accessible, and straightforward prose. The running commentary that accompanies the translation offers interesting and sometimes challenging interpretations, informed by recent scholarship and a concern with the meaning of the poem for a wide audience."—Charles Segal, Harvard University