Ovid’s famous mock epic—a treasury of myth and magic that is one of the greatest literary works of classical antiquity—is rendered into fluidly poetic English by world-renowned translator Allen Mandelbaum.
Roman poet Ovid’s dazzling cycle of tales begins with the creation of the world and ends with the deification of Caesar Augustus. In between is a glorious panoply of the most famous myths and legends of the ancient Greek and Roman world—from Echo’s passion for Narcissus to Pygmalion’s living statue, from Perseus’s defeat of Medusa to the fall of Troy. Retold with Ovid’s irreverent flair, these tales are united by the theme of metamorphosis, as men and women are rendered alien to themselves, turned variously to flowers, trees, animals, and stones. The closest thing to a central character is love itself—a confounding, transforming, irrational force that makes fools of gods and mortals alike.
The poem’s playful verses, both sensually earthy and wittily sophisticated, have reverberated through the centuries, inspiring countless artists and writers from Shakespeare to the present. Frequently translated, imitated, and adapted, The Metamorphoses has lost none of its power to provoke and entertain.
Ovid—Publius Ovidius Naso—(43 bce–ce 17 or 18) was born into a wealthy Roman family and became the most distinguished poet of his time. He died in exile on the Black Sea, far from Rome and his literary life.
“Reading Mandelbaum’s extraordinary translation, one imagines Ovid in his darkest moods with the heart of Baudelaire . . . Mandelbaum’s translation is brilliant. It throws off the stiff and mild homogeneity of former translations and exposes the vivid colors of mockery, laughter, and poison woven so beautifully by the master.” —Booklist “Mandelbaum’s Ovid, like his Dante, is unlikely to be equalled for years to come.” —Bloomsbury Review “The Metamorphoses is conceived on the grandest possible scale . . . The number and variety of the metamorphoses are stunning: gods and goddesses, heroes and nymphs, mortal men and women are changed into wolves and bears, frogs and pigs, bulls and cows, deer and birds, trees and flowers, rocks and rivers, spiders and snakes, mountains and stars, while ships become sea nymphs, ants and stones and statues become people, men become women and vice versa . . . An elegantly entertaining and enthralling narrative.” —from the Introduction by J. C. McKeown