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Ovid Metamorphoses (Classical Library) [Paperback]

By Z. Phillip Ambrose (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   464
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.99"
Weight:   1.37 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2005
Publisher   Focus Publishing
ISBN  1585101036  
EAN  9781585101030  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
This complete verse translation of Ovid's classical work is illustrated with extensive notes and an index and glossary. To help the reader contend with Ovid's frequent leaps both ahead and back in time, the principle episodes are listed at the beginning of each book and the subsections and digressions marked with indentations. Some footnotes also refer to mythological material Ovid has derived from Greek epic or drama or, occasionally, from later sources. Specific authors referred to in these notes are briefly identified in the index and glossary

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More About Z. Phillip Ambrose

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Z. Philip Ambrose (Ph.D. Princeton University) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at the University of Vermont, where since 1962 he has taught Latin, Greek, and courses in Classics in translation and mythology. He has published in the fields of Greek drama, Latin epic, and the Classical tradition.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
An Account Of Life  Oct 11, 2008
Ovid's Metamorphoses is a classic account of that fundamental quality which permeates and overrides all phenomenal existence: change. Utilizing Classical mythological characters and stories (and changing some to suit his own style), Ovid weaves an intricate tale of change, transformation and ironic metamorphosis. A bit disjointed at times, the interstory transitions aren't always smooth (perhaps Ovid's way of saying that change isn't always smooth and gradual?). I recommend this epic for anyone interested in Classical mythology/studies or for anyone interested in reading an epic poem rich in verse and content.
Classic  Dec 17, 2007
I love this book! Originally a textbook for a Mythology class, I have kept it and read it multiple times. Very wonderful.
I especially love the story of Iphis.
Things change...  Aug 7, 2007

Maidens become trees. Young hunks turn into flowers. Men become women; women become invincible warriors. And every time you blink, another poor wretch becomes a bird or turns to stone. In Ovid's Metamorphosis, nothing stays the same for long. A rich compendium of Greco-Roman mythology and history all ingeniously linked together by the theme of transformation, the Metamorphosis is a surprisingly sophisticated, erotic, and gory classic of ancient literature.

Rapes, murders, wars, and all manner of perversion abound. Death is lingered over with almost forensic precision. The slaughter of arrogant Niobe's fourteen children, for example, is recounted in an exhaustive detail that would do any contemporary slasher flick justice, as one by one they're picked off in various grisly ways. This is classical gore--Ovid sounding like the Clive Barker of ancient Rome as in this excerpt from the massacre of the centaurs:

[Exadius] found a weapon, a stag's antlers
Hung on a pine tree...
And Gryneus' eyes were pierced by those twin prongs,
Eyeballs gouged out; one of them stuck to the horn,
The other rolled down his beard till a blood clot caught it.

This is the sort of wonderfully nauseating detail that is repeated countless times in a masterpiece that often reads like the National Enquirer. It's hard not to believe that Ovid, like Shakespeare, was aiming his work for the mass audience of his time, which just goes to show you that the product of one age's pop culture is another's venerated classic. One only has to read Ovid's over-the-top account of the love-sick Cyclops to realize that black comedy ala the B-movies of Herschel Gordon Lewis had already been mastered some two thousand years ago.

There are a bewildering proliferation of translations of Ovid's Metamorphosis to choose from. In selecting Humphries, I chose the text that struck me as the least encumbered by the translator's attempt to distinguish himself from his rivals. Many translators feel the pressing need to do something new, and to `recast' the Metamorphosis into what they consider a facsimile of contemporary poetry. The result is all-too-often a needless accretion of unnecessary words and poetic tropes that do nothing whatsoever to enhance the text, and much towards rendering it more difficult for novelty's sake alone, and to call attention to the translator--two things a translation should avoid at all costs.

Rolf Humphries renders the Metamorphosis into a clear, straightforward English verse whose easy-going casualness facilitates readability and comprehension, as well as reflecting the apparently colloquially style of Ovid's original. And Humphries accomplishes all this without sacrificing any of the poetry--his translation is often quite beautiful, not only in its clarity and apparent simplicity, but in its adept use of language that breathes life back into this ancient work. By stepping back and lending his breath to the ancient poet, Humphries allows Ovid himself to sing again.

One of the truly seminal works of world literature, not to mention an invaluable storehouse of myths and legends, Ovid's Metamorphosis is not only must reading for any lover of great literature, but also a heck of a lot of fun.
Myths in poetry  Aug 5, 2007
This book by Ovid tells in verse the story of all the Greek myths. I used to read it to my son when he was younger, translating into Spanish because it is our first language, but he loved it so much that now that he is 18 he searched for it to purchase one for us and one to give as a present to a friend from school.

Ovid's theory is that everything metamorphoses or changes and he starts with the story of the creation and moves accordingly to the stories of the Titans, the Gods and the heroes. It is beautifully written, the images very rich and poetic. One of my favorite stories is of Echo and Narcissus. The English is antique, and since it is in verse, reading can be a little difficult, but if you go past this it is a book to cherish and remember.
Excellent annotations, mediocre translation  Jun 26, 2007
As another one of Focus Classical Library's books, this book is a mythology sourcebook for the serious. In this book, the lines are numbered and many engravings are included to illustrate various myths. I personally do not recommend the Oxford and Penguin editions of this book, as they are not as close to the original Latin, and the rhetorical quality is also not as good.

Like other Focus Classical Library books, this edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses is translated very literally, which creates the need for occasional brief footnotes to explain the text. The myths are also very easy to find in this book because of a table of contents before all of the 15 books and also conspicuous headings above every myth.

However, I find reading the translation to be demanding because of wordy sentences and complicated sentence structures. For this reason, I would very highly recommend Allen Mandelbaum's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which has a highly accurate but more readable modern verse translation of the text. However, I find the Focus Classical Library edition's footnotes, outline, headings, and index to be indispensable, so I ended by both this book and Mandelbaum's.

Overall, this is a richly annotated text that lacks an easily readable text. For readers who want a book that gives a less demanding presentation of the Metamorphoses, I would recommend Mandelbaum. However, for serious mythology learners who want an accurate, original rendition of the poem, I would recommend getting both this book and Mandelbaum's translation. However, be warned that even though Mandelbaum has a very high-quality translation, the book does not have any footnotes or table of contents whatsoever. To sum it up - highly valuzble notes, outlines, very organized, but the translation is not as easy to understand as Mandelbaum's.

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