Read Metamorphosen by Ovid M. d'Hane-Scheltema Online


Metamorphoses (from Greek μετά meta and μορφή morphē, meaning "changes of shape"), is a Latin narrative poem in fifteen books describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature. This cohesive collection of sMetamorphoses (from Greek μετά meta and μορφή morphē, meaning "changes of shape"), is a Latin narrative poem in fifteen books describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature. This cohesive collection of stories from Greek and Roman mythology recounts tales of recorded transformations. Comprised of over fifty stories, it chronicles the legends of King Midas, Daedalus, Icarus, Hercules, and the Trojan War....

Title : Metamorphosen
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ISBN : 9789025336783
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 461 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Metamorphosen Reviews

  • Rachel Smalter Hall
    2019-04-09 23:39

    I bought this copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses when I was living in Rome. It's the book I was reading on the plane when I left Rome, as the realization sunk in that an awesome and strange adventure was drawing to a close, and it's the book I was still reading when I moved back to Minneapolis and attempted to readjust to life as a Midwestern college undergrad.I was reading Metamorphoses at the cafe a few blocks away from my apartment when a strange man gave me that little terror of a kitten, Monster. And Monster used to bite my toes when I was reading Metamorphoses in bed.I was in love, so much in love, when I read Metamorphoses, with someone I would surely never meet again. And I was so lonely. And Metamorphoses was just beautiful, all the forlorn humans going up against the gods, only to be transformed into plants, animals, birds~To read the great Roman poet while living in Rome, and to continue reading him while you are in mourning for the city once it's gone ~ was outrageous. In the best way. Grand. Epic. Eternal.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-31 18:45

    "Throughout all ages, If poets have vision to prophesy truth, I shall live in myFame." Thus the closing lines of Ovid's "Metamorphoses". He was certainly right in his statement, but it feels like an appropriate irony that his work has been transformed, metamorphosed, over the millennia since he wrote his compilation of Roman and Greek literature. I have known most of the collected stories since my early days at university, but only now finished reading the "Metamorphoses" as a whole, from cover to cover, and my impression is that Ovid's fame is mostly due to the brilliant interpretation of his text by European visual artists over the centuries. Through the metamorphosis from text to visual art, Ovid has stayed famous. Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne" symbolises it more accurately than any other myth retold in the collection: a god chasing a young nymph, who slowly transforms into a laurel tree to avoid sexual assault, only to find herself the eternal symbol of Apollo's high status, and the honorable prize for literary or artistic fame. Ovid is resting on those laurels, wearing his Apollonian laurel wreath - as is Bernini, who can proudly compete with Pygmalion in the skill with which he made the marble leaves come alive, transforming hard stone into delicate art.I knew I would be going on a tour through art history when I embarked on the Ovid journey, and I enjoyed every minute of it, often reading with a pile of art books next to me. As a pleasant extra surprise, I found myself revisiting several favourite Greek plays from a different narrative perspective, focusing on the transforming powers of dramatic storytelling rather than on unity of time, place and action. Hercules' story unfolded from a new angle, as did many of the Trojan and Minoan adventures.After finishing Virgil's The Aeneid a couple of months ago, the short summary of Aeneas' adventures was welcome as well. Generally speaking, the "Metamorphoses" can be viewed as a Who's Who in the Ancient Roman and Greek cosmos, with a clear bias in favour of the Roman empire and its virtues. There are fewer long fight scenes than in the Iliad or the Aeneid, which makes it a more pleasant, less repetitive narrative, once the Centaurs and Lapiths are done with their violent duties.After decades of immersing myself in the world of ancient mythology, I found the "Metamorphoses" to be an easy and lighthearted reading experience. When I read excerpts from it during my early university years, I struggled to recognise and place all those famous characters. It is a matter of being able to see the context, and background knowledge is a clear advantage.I just wish my Latin was strong enough- it must be a special pleasure to read it in original!Claude opus!

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-04-11 23:44

    To read this in English is to not have read it. The few Latin verses I could read and understand were more pleasurable than all the wonderful myths and twisted fates. The verses take the form of what it describes, they flow or pause or rear up along with its subject. The translation feels beautiful at those rare times when I can call to mind some of the great works of art inspired by those artists who loved and lived these verses. No statues were made by artists inspired by translations.

  • C
    2019-04-16 16:48

    What the fuck Ovid. Save some brilliance for the rest of us.

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-03-26 21:28

    Sex, violence, and humor are often painted as low and primitive: the signs of a failing culture. Yet it is only in cultures with a strong economy and a substantial underclass that such practices can rise from duty to pastime. As Knox's introduction reminds us, Ovid's time was one of pervasive divorce, permissive laws, and open adultery, and our humble author participated in all of them.Eventually, the grand tyrant closed his fist over the upper classes, exerting social controls and invoking the moral standard of an imagined 'golden age' in order to snatch power and discredit his rivals. Though already a popular and influential author and speaker, Ovid was exiled for being wanton and clever--either one he could have gotten away with, but both was too much.Both he and Virgil were sent to the extremities of the empire by Augustus, and both wrote epics to equal Homer's. While Virgil's was a capitulation to the emperor, honoring his fictitious lineage and equating heroism with duty, Ovid's was a sly, labyrinthine re-imagining of classic tales, drawing equally on the gold of Olympus' brow and the muck between a harlot's toes.Ovid remained more coy about his dirt than Apuleius or Seneca, maintaining plausible deniability with irony and entendre throughout the complex work. Every view, vision, and opinion is put forth at some point, and very rarely are they played straight. Ovid's characters are remarkable creations, each one a subversion of the familiar legend that surrounds them. Of course, by this point many of us are more familiar with Ovid's versions than the ones he was making light of.Virgil inspired the proud, righteous men of words: Dante, Tasso, Milton. Ovid created a style for the tricksters and the conflicted: Petrarch, Donne, Shakespeare, Ariosto, Rabelais. Each of Ovid's myths was a discrete vision, not only by plot, but by theme. His tales were not simply presentations of ideas, but explorations that turned back on themselves over and over.The metaphysical poets would come to adopt this style, creating short works that explored themes, even ritualizing the idea's reversal in the sonnet's volta. The active, visual nature of Ovid was a progression from the extended metaphors of the philosophers to what could be called a true conceit: a symbolic representation at once supportive of and in conflict with the idea it bears.Each of Ovid's tales flows, one into the next, building meaning by relations, counterpoints, repetition, and structure. Each small part builds into a grander whole. Just as all the sundry stories become a mythology, the many symbolic arguments become a philosophy.Instead of the Virgilian heroic mode, where one man wins, thereby vindicating his philosophy, Ovid shows a hundred victories and losses, creating an aggregate meaning. Virgil was writing of what he thought one man should be: loyal, pious, righteous, strong, noble. Ovid was more interested in asking what it is possible for a man to be--what are the limits of the mind?The Greek myths are an attempt to understand the mind, to observe what we do and create types, to develop a system for understanding man. In collecting these various tales, Ovid was creating the first psychological diagnostic manual, of which the DSM is the modern child. The Greeks invented everything, after all, and here, a few thousand years before Freud, is a remarkably coherent and accurate picture of the mind and its disorders.Freud did little more than reintroduce the Greek system, which is why his theories--the Psyche, the Oedipus Conflict, Narcissism--are drawn directly from that source. Of course, to any student of literature, it's clear that this is how the terms have always been used. All the great works alluded to these Greek ideas because this was the central collection of knowledge about the mind, a set of terms, phrases, and examples which formed the basis of any discussion of the mind.Indeed, the Greeks were much better at it than Freud was--he even screwed up the Oedipal Theory, the thing he's best known for, despite the fact that the Greeks had it right from the very beginning.Freud's patients, being middle-class Europeans, were raised by nannies and nursemaids until they were of age, and had fairly little interaction with their parents. Human beings imprint on people who we are around a great deal before about age six as 'family', and therefore, out of bounds sexually. Since his patients were not around their parents much before this age, they did not imprint correctly. Now: what's the first thing that happens to Oedipus in the story? That's right, he's taken away from his parents and raised elsewhere. Cause, disorder, symptom--it was all right there, and Freud still missed it.So, Ovid was indeed tackling a grand theme in his tales: the mapping of the human mind as it was known to Greece and Rome. That isn't to say that there isn't depth and conflict between characters and ideas in Virgil, but his centralized, political theme deprived him of the freedom to move from one idea to the next, as Ovid did.This lack of freedom is a boon for most authors: structure gives tangible boundaries and tools with which to create. With no boundaries, the author has no place to start, and no markers to guide his path.Imagine a man is given all the parts to a lawnmower. His chances of building a lawnmower are pretty high--but that's all he can do. Now give the same man all the uncut materials and tools in a shop. He could build a lawnmower, or nearly any other machine, but it's going to take a lot of doing. That kind of freedom--real freedom--tends to paralyze most people.Likewise, it's easier to write good poetry when the rhyme scheme, scansion, and meter are pre-determined than to create a beauty and flow in blank verse. Yet Ovid deconstructed his stories, starting and stopping them between books and moving always back and forth. He provided himself with absolute freedom, but maintained his flow and progression, even without the crutches of tradition.While his irony and satire are the clearest signs of his remarkable mind, the most impressive is probably this: that he flaunted tradition, style, and form, but never faltered in his grand work.Virgil knew what he did when he attached himself to Augustus' train; likewise Ovid recognized how his simultaneous praise and subversion of Augustus' legacy would play: none could openly accuse him of treason, but anyone with a solid mind would see the dangerous game Ovid played with his king and patron.He did not shy from critiquing Augustus even as he wrote for him, for his nation, and for history. Ovid's parting shot is the famous assertion that as long as Rome's name is spoken aloud, so will be Ovid's. This has been echoed since by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, so that what Ovid realized we would never doubt today.Even banished to the wilderness, out of favor, the only way to silence the artist is to kill him, and this must be done long before he has an audience. Augustus got his month, but his empire fell. Ovid's empire grows by books and minds each year, and its capital is still The Metamorphoses.I researched long trying to decide on a translation. Though there are many competent versions out there, I chose Martin's. I recall seeing the cover and coveting it, but distrusting the unknown translation. Imagine my surprise when my research turned up my whim.I enjoyed Martin's translation for the same reason I appreciate Fagles': the vibrancy, wit, and drive of the language. Both are poetic, exciting, risk-taking--but also knowledgeable and deliberate. Every translation is a new work of art, all its own, and I respect translators who don't pretend otherwise.The translators of the fifties were more staunchly academic, capturing meaning and precision, but in enshrining the classics, they fail to take the sorts of risks that make a work bold and artful. Contrarily, the early translators, like Pope, recreated the work in their own vernacular--not merely as a translation, but as a completely new vision, as Shakespeare's plays are to Plutarch's Lives.Martin (and Fagles) take the more modern approach, championed by the literary style of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, whose works are solidly grounded in their tradition, deliberately and knowledgeably drawn, but with the verve and novelty of the iconoclast. There is something particularly fitting in this, since Ovid himself was an iconoclast who mixed formalized tradition with subversion and irony.Martin proved himself utterly fearless in the altercation between the Pierides and the Muses: he styles their competing songs as a poetry jam, drawing on the vocal forms of rap music. I must admit I was shocked at first, and unable to reconcile, but as I kept reading, I came to realize that it was not my place to question.Translation is the adaptation of one style to another, one word or phrase or invocation to something more familiar. In his desire to capture the competition and skill of song in these early contests, he drew on what may be the only recognizable parallel to modern man. What is remarkable is not how different the two styles are, but how similar.It is comical, it is a bit absurd, but so was the original--and in any case, he is altering the original purpose less than Pope, who translated all of the poetry into anachronism. I never thought I would prefer a translation of Ovid which contained the word 'homie', but if Martin can be true enough to the poetry to write it, I must be brave enough to laud it. I still laugh, but only because Martin has revealed to me something of the impossibility and oddity inherent to translation. This certainly isn't your grandfather's Ovid, but then, your grandfather's Ovid wasn't the real one, either.I also appreciated Knox's introduction in both Martin's and Fagle's work, though Knox's Homeric background is stronger. I found the end-notes insightful and useful, though they are never quite numerous enough to suit me--but such is the nature of reading a work in translation.

  • Fernando
    2019-03-27 15:44

    Siempre es vital, en todo lector de clásicos que se precie de tal, recorrer las páginas de los pioneros, los creadores, los que antecedieron a toda la literatura moderna, tal es el caso de Ovidio como también lo son Virgilio, Homero, Sófocles, Esquilo, Eurípides y tantos otros. He leído con interés la mayoría de las transformaciones narradas en Las Metamorfosis y por supuesto, algunas me gustaron más que otras; por eso enumero la galería de mitos que desfilan por sus gloriosas páginas. Todos ellos me han maravillado con sus variadas transformaciones, a saber: Apolo, Europa, Júpiter, Dafne, Narciso, Perseo, Medusa, Teseo, Proserpina, Palas, Jasón, Medea, Minotauro, Dédalo, Ícaro, Aquiles, Ulises, Orfeo, Eurídice, Ganímedes, Pigmalión, Ifigenia y sobre todo mi admiradísimo Eneas.Para finalizar, debo remarcar cómo Ovidio aseguró su nombre en letras de oro para la posteridad a través del Epílogo. Es como si él mismo hubiera sido Tiresias, el sabio ciego que podía adivinar el futuro (algo que Edipo no logró entender):“Y ya he dado fin a una obra a la que no podrán destruir ni la cólera de Júpiter, ni el fuego, ni el hierro, ni el tiempo voraz. Que aquel día que no tiene ningún derecho más que sobre mi cuerpo, cuando quiera, ponga término a curso incierto de mi vida; sin embargo, inmortal en la parte más noble de mi persona, seré llevado sobre la alta región de los astros y mi nombre será indeleble; y por cualquier parte por donde aparezca el dominio de Roma sobre la tierra seré leído por los pueblos y por todos los siglos; viviré, si algo de verdad existe en el presentimiento de los poetas, gloriosamente.”

  • Darwin8u
    2019-04-16 15:50

    “Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.”― Ovid, MetamorphosesOvid -- the David Bowie of Latin literature. I chewed on this book of myth-poems the entire time I was tramping around Rome. I was looking for the right words to describe my feelings about it. It isn't that I didn't like it. It is an unequivocal masterpiece. I'm amazed by it. I see Ovid's genes in everything (paintings, sculptures, poems and prose). He is both modern and classic, reverent and wicked, lovely and obscene all at once. It is just hard to wrestle him down. To pin my thoughts about 'the Metamorphoses' into words. Structure really fails me.That I guess is the sign for me of a book's depth or success with me. It makes me wish I could read it in the original form. I'm not satisfied with Dante in English. I want him in Italian. I'm not satisfied with Ovid in English. I want to experience his poetry, his playfulness, his wit in Latin.I still prefer the poetry of Homer and Dante, but Ovid isn't embarrassed by the company of the greats; so not Zeus or Neptune, but maybe Apollo.

  • Edward
    2019-03-23 21:45

    PrefaceChronologyIntroduction & NotesFurther ReadingTranslator's Note--MetamorphosesNotesGlossary IndexMap of Ovid's Mediterranean World

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-03-23 17:32

    I'm re-reading this from bits I consumed throughout my youf as a mythology dork, but the use of Roman names rather than their Greek equivalents requires a lot of stopping and re-referencing to figure out who the F. is being discussed. My Roman numerals suck too, since we're on the subject. Anyway, I decided to restart this in conjunction with reading Venus in Furs because that novel brought to mind the Pygmalion myth, which brings to mind The Sea Came in at Midnight, and somehow these all conglomerate in my head in a scattered mess which I hope to some day knit into a scarf for the frigid, blistery-cold Austin, Texas summer. It also reminds me of the movie Mannequin and what naturally and immediately follows, the American band Jefferson Starship (the last part being of no consequence whatsoever, just a side note). Don't judge me. Why am I spending my time this way? Because I was an 8 year undergraduate, and I am a bit lost without a project, so I decided to invent one. Don't judge me; I went out for 3 or 4 hours on Saturday. I will rehash these points in my von Sacher-Masoch review, once they make some semblance of sense. Don't juuuudge me.

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-04-15 22:25

    Quase três meses depois cheguei ao fim da caminhada por este mundo único e maravilhoso. Não foi uma leitura fácil. Primeiro lia; depois decifrava; a seguir pesquisava e finalmente resumia. Fui feliz em todas as fases. Os meus amigos e a minha família não dirão o mesmo pois, sempre que os apanhei a jeito, "torturei-os" contando-lhes algumas destas histórias trágicas de deuses e humanos; das suas paixões, ódios, ciúmes, vinganças, desgostos, guerras,... e tudo o que, dois mil anos depois, ainda move o mundo. Histórias que inspiraram outros escritores (e pintores e músicos) ao longo dos séculos (por exemplo, Romeu e Julieta, de Shakespeare, não é mais do que o romance de amor entre Píramo e Tisbe).Júpiter, Mercúrio, Narciso, Hermafrodito, Medeia, Medusa, Filomela, Dédalo, Ícaro, Minotauro, Ariadne, Hércules, Orfeu, Eurídice, Pigmalião, Vénus, Adónis, Apólo, Dafne, Midas, Aquiles, Ájax, Sibila, Ulisses, Pitágoras,... são apenas alguns dos heróis desta "epopeia" que eu pensava que conhecia. Pensava mal...Podia ficar aqui, por tempo indeterminado, a "massacrar-vos" sobre Metamorfoses (e do quanto bem me fez). Mas vou calar-me e guardá-lo na "mala dos sete para a ilha deserta"...Para quem tiver paciência, deixo os meus rascunhos...

  • Praj
    2019-03-24 16:26

    Gods and their love affairs. Gods and their love affairs with mortals. Fate, covetousness, allegiance, brutalities, treachery and chastisements metamorphosing from the cocoon of mighty love. The discordant waves of love dangerously destabilizing romantic notions; overwhelming morality and raison d'être of Gods and mortals alike. Ovid makes you want to write intense poetry and feel affectionate to the idea of love as a device of alteration for better or worse. Love does not conquer all; it destroys and alters everything it touches. That is the best part in Ovid’s poems. They do not have happy endings. Lust or romantic love or ardent worship, acquired in any form changes a person, landscapes, communities mutating elements of fate and tragedies.Metamorphoses elucidates the consequence of origin and transformation in its entirety.My soul is wrought to sing of forms transformed to bodies new and strange! Immortal Gods inspire my heart, for ye have changed yourselves and all things you have changed! Oh lead my song in smooth and measured strains, from olden days when earth began to this completed time!Ovid commences his poems by showing appreciation to God (which he says is yet unknown) for carving a loose mass of earth into a picturesque bounty of nature. The amorphous chaos changed into a convex ecstasy of pathless skies, terrains, rivers, the color and prototypes of birds and animals came through a process of love and hate. Ovid represents the mythical world of story telling and repeating fables with morality lessons. The justifications of rape or incest in Ovid’s works segregate the idea of faithful devotion from the viciousness of powerful acquisition that overcomes delusional love. Betrayals are penalized and loyalties are commended. The treatment of love is sagacious and didactic in this book as compared to his other works in the relating genre. It moves onto a broader scenario, becoming a defining factor in wars, altering powers between constituencies, breaking and making of civilizations. Ovid intends the reader to see the probable metaphoric significance of change as a crucial and homogeneous factor in life itself.And now, I have completed a great work, which not Jove's anger, and not fire nor steel, nor fast-consuming time can sweep away. Whenever it will, let the day come, which has dominion only over this mortal frame, and end for me the uncertain course of life. Yet in my better part I shall be borne immortal, far above the stars on high, and mine shall be a name indelible. Wherever Roman power extends her sway over the conquered lands, I shall be read by lips of men. If Poets' prophecies have any truth, through all the coming years of future ages, I shall live in fame.As he concludes this epic of transforming love, he credits the survival of Rome to his own prominence making it one of the most influential and renowned works over centuries. Metamorphoses is translated frequently by several modern poets and literary elites.

  • BrokenTune
    2019-03-28 23:48

    This book is phenomenal.I had read parts of the Metamorphoses in high school, and my focus then was on the language and structure of the text, not so much on the stories. That's just what happens when you're trying to learn how to translate texts from Latin. When I picked up the book again earlier this year, I had no such restrictions (and no deadline) and I was looking forward to reading Ovid's history of the world - from its creation to Julius Caesar.What I was looking forward to even more, was to read about the myths and legends that have informed so many other works from Dante to our own contemporaries like Ali Smith, and find out more about Ovid's view of the world in 8 AD.Yes, Ovid's view. The Metamorphoses may be a collection of ancient Greek and Roman myths, but there is a slant to them that is influenced by Ovid's view. Some of the myths differ from the earlier versions found in the works of Hesiod and Homer, and then there are stories about Julius Caesar and Pythagoras that are not based on ancient myths but are informed by Ovid's time. The book, or rather the last book of the 15 books of poems that make of the Metamorphoses, ends with Ovid praising Augustus. Incidentally, it was Augustus who banished Ovid from Rome at about the same time that the book was finished - the reason for this remains one of the unsolved mysteries of history.Anyway, more about the book: The book starts with the creation of the world and tells of how the world was transformed by the elements and by man, going through different ages, and finally focusing on the stories of gods and men and the many transformations that take place when they interacts.Transformation, as the title says, is the theme of the book: some are literal when people are transformed into plants or animals, some are less tangible, for example when Medea loses herself to witchcraft, and finally the philosophical theories that Ovid describes in the story about Pythagoras, who believes in a continuous and fluid world in which everything is temporary, and in which everything is in a state that changes into something else, and in which existence is thus infinite.It's very zen for a 2000 year old book (that is not a major religious text) right?This probably is what surprised me most about the book: how many times I caught myself being astounded to read about concepts that seem a lot more modern. Medea and mental illness, for example. Ovid does not tell the full story (and yes I will dig out Euripides' work to find out what drove her over the edge!) but by his leaving out such detail, I can't but marvel about what Ovid's audience would have made of it. Would they also have wondered about what caused her breakdown?Or, the stories of individuals struggling against higher powers, fate, or society.Ancient gods were assholes. Not many of the stories have happy endings, and in some, even happy-ish endings are pretty sad. However, all of them have a message, which is why Ovid selected them, and which is why so many of the stories have permeated Western culture. Even if they now only exist by reference to a name and most people won't know the story behind the reference.My favourite of those, probably is the story of Arachne. I'm not a fan of spiders, and I had imagined all sorts of variations of a horrible monster to be the origin of all spider-related words. But no. Arachne was a master waver who dared to enter into a weaving contest with Athena. Long story short, in Ovid's version, Arachne dared to show how unfair the gods and goddesses are and she dared to defeat Athena. Athena throws a fit of rage and destroys Arachne's tapestry. Arachne hangs herself in a fit of rage. (Yeah, I don't get this part - revenge suicide???) Athena, again, out of rage over Arachne's suicide turns her and her into a spider.Now, this is not the most logical of stories, granted, but I love that the story's metaphorical content is still applicable. I won't be able to look at spiders with quite the same level of aversion again. Well, some of them at least. Most will still freak me out.So, yes, this book took me a few months to finish, but it was a lot to digest. A lot of stories that required some thought, a lot that just needed a break before getting to the next one. It was an amazing book. After 2000 years, this is still entertaining, thought provoking, and beautiful.In his epilogue, Ovid proclaims that his work will make him immortal.Ovid does still live in his fame, and for all the right reasons.Lastly, a word on the Penguin 2004 edition with David Raeburn's translation: It rocks. There are plenty of free or cheap translations avaialble on the internet. I tried a few of them, but none really worked. I found those translations to be either too literal or too liberal. Raeburn's work combines a great balance of keeping close to the original text while still creating a work of poetry, and even keeping the original rhyme scheme.

  • Evan Leach
    2019-03-24 16:26

    The Romans have a reputation as the great copycats of antiquity. After all, these were a people who borrowed a large amount of their culture, including most of their gods, from their neighbors. This reputation for imitation certainly holds true when looking at Roman literature. Plautus and Terence borrowed wholesale from Menander and other Greek playwrights. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, for all of its merits, is basically restating the views of Epicurus. Catullus and Propertius imitated Callimachus. Horace imitated the Greek lyric poets (the Odes) and Archilochus (the Epodes). Virgil was inspired by Theocritus (the Eclogues), Hesiod (the Georgics), and Homer (the Aeneid).“In all this world, no thing can keep its form. For all things flow; all things are born to change their shapes. And time itself is like a river, flowing on an endless course.” Ovid, MetamorphosesAnd then there’s Ovid. By 8 BC, Virgil, Horace, and Propertius were all dead, leaving Ovid as the foremost living poet in Rome. By the time of Ovid’s death around 17/18 AD, Ovid’s poetic output was more than that of Lucretius, Catullus, Virgil, and Horace combined. Ovid wrote in a variety of poetic genres, and while some of his early love poetry was imitative he also showed an originality that was unique among his peers. First in the Heroides, and later with his masterpiece the Metamorphoses Ovid showed an originality of thought that causes him to stand out amongst his contemporaries to this day.The Metamorphoses is a long poem divided into 15 books. The poem recites a history of Greco-Roman mythology, from the creation of the universe to the deification of Julius Caesar, and mostly moves in chronological order. However, the poem is not simply a catalogue of familiar myths and legends. Although the poem touches almost all of Greek mythology’s high points (Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason, Achilles, and all the rest appear at some point), the Metamorphoses is not interested in telling the full story for all of its characters. The poem assumes that its readers have some background knowledge of these stories anyway, and instead weaves a long mythological history using the concepts of metamorphosis and change as a unifying theme. It’s an incredibly ambitious idea, but Ovid pulls it off beautifully. I mentioned in my review of the Heroides that I think Ovid has a real gift for getting inside the heads of these mythological characters and treating them as real people with genuine emotions and depth. Those skills are on full display here. This book may not be the best introduction to Greek mythology (although you could do far worse), as it does assume a certain level of familiarity and skips over some things. But the Metamorphoses is on par with Homer’s epics as the most impressive retelling of Greek mythology I’ve ever read.I’m not the only person to gush so shamelessly over this poem, which was wildly popular in Roman times. There were a few dicey years towards the end of the Roman Empire, when Christian leaders condemned the poem as shamelessly pagan, but the brilliance of Ovid won out and the poem survived to influence thinkers in the Middle Ages and beyond. The poem continued to be extremely popular throughout this time, and the Metamorphoses was one of the most popular books in the Western world for over a thousand years (over 400 manuscripts survive from the Middle Ages alone, which is a lot). It has inspired countless artists, poets, and writers throughout this time. W.R. Johnson pretty much summed it up in stating that “no other poem from antiquity has so influenced the literature and art of Western Europe as has the Metamorphoses.” That’s a pretty good legacy, and one that Ovid predicted in the final lines of his poem:“And now my work is done: no wrath of Jove nor fire nor sword nor time, which would erode all things, has power to blot out this poem…my name and fame are sure: I shall have life.”To sum up, this was an incredible book and, in my humble opinion, the only truly original piece of literature surviving from the Roman Republic/early Roman Empire*. If somebody wanted to read just one book from this period, I’d still probably recommend The Aeneid, which is the “most Roman” book in a lot of ways and a little more representative of the period. But I think the Metamorphoses was the best work of its era. 6 stars, a must read for anyone with an interest in classical literature (both for the poem's own merits and for the influence it has had throughout the centuries). I read the Mandelbaum translation, which was stellar.*Certainly the stories within the Metamorphoses are not original. They had been told countless times for hundreds of years before Ovid’s birth. And you could point to the Theogony of Hesiod as an example of an earlier catalogue of mythology. But this goes far beyond the Theogony in size and scope, and the idea of linking all of these stories with the theme of metamorphosis and change is so novel that I don’t think you can really compare the Metamorphoses to anything that had come before.

  • Joe
    2019-04-09 20:38

    Oh, Ovid. What I wouldn't give to travel back in time and make sweet love to you on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean.No, I don't think it's unhealthy to have lustful fantasies about Ovid. I don't care what you think! I do very much care that his work was lush, provocative and unforgettable in its revolutionary translation (often taking liberties) of what was at the time contemporary folk literature. A treasury of verse!

  • David Lentz
    2019-04-11 17:36

    I confess that reading Ovid's Metamorphoses has left me a changed man. His focus on transformation parables of ancient myths taught me quite a bit about change. I was intrigued by how often unwanted change was unwillingly created by life-denying action that angers one of the gods. All the great figures of ancient times are here: Daedalus, Achilles, Paris, Perseus, Hector, Pygmalion, Midas, Helen and Aeneas to name but a few. The origins of common fables must have had their ancient roots in Ovid. So much of art, especially painting, music and literature, owes its transformation from the tales articulated with wit and charm by Ovid. This is an important window into ancient times and the stories must have been intriguing to hear in engaging oratory. This is genuinely a great work of literature and the pages really fly by rapidly. These tales of Ovid on change helped me understand better the constant role of change in my own personal transformation. And, thus, the tales of Ovid transformed me in the reading and in the writing transformed Ovid into immortality.

  • Eryn☘
    2019-04-17 18:47

    Read for class.

  • Ian
    2019-04-13 22:49

    NARCISSUS AND ECHO:The Birth of NarcissusNarcissus was fathered by Cephisus, who "forcefully ravished" the dark river nymph, Liriope.Narcissus was so beautiful that, even in his cradle, you could have fallen in love with him.His family asked a seer whether he would live to a ripe old age. He replied, "Yes, if he does not come to know himself."At first, it seemed that this reply was innocuous. However, ultimately, according to Ovid, it was proven to be true for two reasons:"the strange madness" that afflicted the boy and the nature of his death.Sweet SixteenAt the age of 16, Narcissus could be counted as both a boy and a man.Both males and females fell in love with him. However, Ovid says that "his soft young body housed a pride so unyielding that none of those boys or girls dared to touch him."The implications of this assessment are complicated. There are three components:1. Narcissus was proud or vain.2. He (or his pride) was unyielding.3. None of his admirers dared to touch him.What is unclear is whether he rejected the approaches of his admirers.Did he not yield to their approaches? Alternatively, did he appear to be so unyielding that they didn't make any approaches? Did none dare to approach him?The Importance of GenderIt's important to recognise that Narcissus' admirers were of both genders.He was equally attractive to both.Equally, he implicitly rejected approaches from both genders, so there is no reason to suspect that his sexuality was resolutely either heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual.The Arrival of EchoThe narrative accelerates with the entry of Echo.She is unable to initiate a conversation, but can respond to another's comments, by repeating the last words that she has heard.She falls in love with Narcissus. When he detects her presence, he says "I would die before I would have you touch me." Echo replies, "I would have you touch me." She is inviting physical contact. He scorns her and she wastes away, almost anorexically, until only her voice is left.At this point, Ovid mentions that Narcissus has treated her exactly as he has treated both female and male admirers."Echo and Narcissus" (1903), by John William WaterhouseAn Admirer ScornedNow, another of Narcissus' admirers (not Echo) causes him to be cursed:"May he himself fall in love with another, as we have done with him! May he too be unable to gain his loved one!"The curse effectively makes his love unattainable.A Clear Pool with Shining Silvery WatersIn the next scene, we find Narcissus next to a pool in the woods.As he drinks from the pool, he becomes enchanted with the beautiful reflection that he sees.He has become "spellbound by his own self". However, at this stage, there is no suggestion that he knows that the image is himself:"Unwittingly, he desired himself, and was himself the object of his own approval, at once seeking and sought, himself kindling the flame with which he burned."Unknowingly, Subject and Object had become one.However, as a result of the curse, the Subject could not attain his Object, himself.The Shadow of Your ReflectionOvid warns Narcissus in the text:"Poor foolish boy, why vainly grasp at the fleeting image that eludes you? The thing you are seeing does not exist; only turn aside and you will lose what you love. What you see is but the shadow cast by your reflection; in itself it is nothing. It comes with you, and lasts while you are there; it will go when you go, if go you can."However, there is no suggestion that Narcissus hears the warning. Ovid's caveat comes after the event, when he is writing his tale. Narcissus must acquire knowledge of his predicament on his own. He must come to know himself alone.Narcissus' LoveNarcissus' dilemma is that he can't reach or attain his love:"I am in love, and see my loved one, but that for which I see and love, I cannot reach; so far am I deluded by my love...Only a little water keeps us apart."Eventually, he recognises himself and realises the nature of his love:"Alas! I am myself the boy I see. I know it: my own reflection does not deceive me. I am on fire with love for my own self. It is I who kindle the flames which I must endure."What is to be done?"What should I do? Woo or be wooed? But what then shall I seek by my wooing? What I desire, I have..."He has come to recognise that the Object of the Subject is the Subject itself.Because he already possesses himself (in fact, he is self-possessed), his desire is futile. He cannot acquire again what he already has.Separation and PursuitHis one response is:"How I wish I could separate myself from my body."The mind needs to separate from the body, the Subject needs to separate from the Object, so that the one can pursue the other.This process of separation would make it possible to both desire and acquire. However, again, it is a futile endeavour.My Ill-Starred LoveNarcissus realises that he can never touch the object of his love, because it is watery and illusory.As his image recedes in the pool, he pleads:"Let me look upon you, if I cannot touch you! Let me, by looking, feed my ill-starred love."Let me gaze, if I cannot touch. Even if the object of my gaze is myself.He remains trapped in his self-possession.Woe is MeNarcissus, absorbed by his own image, remains by the pool and does not eat or drink. Like Echo before him, he wastes away. His last words before he dies are:"Woe is me for the boy I loved in vain!"It seems that he has come to "know himself" (view spoiler)[It's interesting to speculate on the meaning of this phrase in this context. Normally, to "know yourself" would be good advice and might prolong life. Here, knowledge will abbreviate Narcissus' life. I wonder whether the verb "know" is being used in a different sense to knowledge, perhaps something analogous to the "Biblical sense"? Was his problem knowing himself as he might know an Other? Alternatively, is there an implication that the illusion could have continued had he not recognised himself? (hide spoiler)] and therefore, in terms of the prophecy, he would not live a long life.When they are preparing his funeral pyre, the only evidence of him they can find is "a flower with circle of white petals round a yellow centre", a narcissus.Love of One's Own EchoThe Narcissus myth has been interpreted as a warning against: 1. self-love; and/or 2. homosexual love.It's arguable that the reason Narcissus loved in vain, is that he loved in vanity.If initially he loved another, eventually he loved his own image.However, in doing so he was deluded, or he deluded himself.The object of the pursuit needs to be an Other, an Object, not the Subject.It takes two to make one.Vanity or excessive pride can be an obstacle in this quest.Same Sex AttractionThe second issue relates to whether the Object needs to be an Other, someone who is not like you. In other words, someone who is different, someone who is of a different gender.In a way, the implicit question is whether homosexuality is a quest for another self, a match, a doppelgänger, rather than an opposite or a complement.If the former, is homosexuality a form of "narcissism"?I don't think that the original Narcissus myth implies anything about homosexuality.Initially, Narcissus did not yield to approaches by either gender. There was no differentiation between heterosexuality and homosexuality. They were equally available and appropriate.It's true that, inevitably, Narcissus saw a male image in the pool, just as a woman would have seen a female image. He also rejected the advances of the female Echo (as he did previously reject the advances of both genders).However, I don't see the myth as a caveat against same sex attraction and relationships.Leaving Room for An OtherThe real issue seems to be a preoccupation or an obsession with yourself, the obsession of Subject for Subject. This is the "strange madness" that Ovid refers to.In other words, the myth itself suggests that it is not sufficient for a Subject to be attracted to itself, a Subject needs an Object, regardless of gender.Although Echo was originally a nymph capable of giving love to Narcissus, her fate in mythology suggests that, while it might have been legitimate for Narcissus to fall in love with Echo, it wasn't appropriate for Narcissus to fall in love with his own echo.Ultimately, Narcissus died by his own hand, killed by a reflection or an echo of his former self.(view spoiler)[This review is part of a reading sequence that includes both Freud and subsequent Queer Theory:On Narcissism: An Introduction Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-03-22 19:42

    This book should be an absolute delight to anyone interested in European literature or art. Written in the first century AD it represents the first effort to anthologize Greek mythology and integrate the whole into the history of the Roman empire. I only regret that as undergraduate I never took a course with this work on the program.Having read the Metamorphoses without the benefit a classics professor to guide me I am quite glad that it was not the first collection of Greek myths that I read. I had earlier read Thomas Bullfinch's and Edith Hamilton's anthologies both of which were written for individual reading without the benefit of academic supervision. My advice would be read either Bullfinch or Hamilton first and then at a later point in time when in the mood to return to Hellenistic culture read Ovid's work.

  • Poncho
    2019-03-24 16:31

    Metamorphoses is an epic poem written by Latin poet Publius Ovidius Naso, also known as merely Ovid. It's compounded by fifteen books that narrates this author's perspective of the world, from the Creation of it to his days in the Roman Empire through a recollection of fantastic myths about transformation, either out of prayer or punishment, but always by divine intervention. It is important, however, to take into account that often, when Ovid refers to these deities, throughout his epic verses, he's actually making allegories about the Roman rulers. He depicted the deeds of those who had power over those who weren't through a transference towards the pagan myths that were very well known in Rome. He basically conveyed how that great nation worked in former and current days, in which peace just began to flourish.Personally, when I read Homer or Virgil, I'm astounded by their works, but I never felt as connected with them as I feel with Ovid's magnum opus. I would say that this is due to the fact that I do not relate to metaphors on homecoming, war or pagan rites; but ultimately Ovid does the same: he used the art of literature to denounce and to enhance life. However, for me, Ovid's subjects span several fields and issues that still concern us these days. Trust me when I say one will hardly ever read a better written poem that includes rape, abuse of power, injustice and stalking in perfectly constructed verses. But do not think Ovid's only goal was to narrate deviousness and how to get away with it: he shows the sorrowful aftermath. See for instance how many occurrences of suicide happen in this collection of myths out of heartbreaks, the death of a beloved or after divine punishment.There are several humorous episodes all along the book, but there are also others that are quite touching (at least for me). I remember Narcissus' for example, whom I used to think of as a despotic and egotistic being, but who's actually rather innocent and somewhat pure. There is also Hermaphroditus and how after Salmacis' rejection, intend of rape and caprice lost his virility by union to the latter. Or Daphne, who to after being stalked by Apollo, prays for her beauty, cause of her sorrows, to go away, being thus transformed into a laurel tree. We find also Iphis who was born a girl but it's treated as a boy, her sexuality concealed, just because her father threatened her mother to kill the newborn if it wasn't a boy. Iphis then falls in love with a woman who intends to marry, but she suffers because secretly finds herself amidst a sorrowful trial due to the claims of lesbianism as something unnatural. However, after divine intervention, she's finally turned into a man, happily married. And see Caenis too (another one of my personal favourite myths), who is raped by Poseidon and as a reward is granted a wish. So she wishes for her sex to change, being thus turned into Caeneus who would later be mocked at in fight against a centaur because of his change of sex: people believed his strength would be rather null because of his womanly origins. So my point is that Metamorphoses is filled with contemporary issues, specially those concerning gender identity. We often find news about women harassed by men, the latter claiming to be victims of the former's 'provocative' beauty, like Daphne thought of herself. We find men or women coping with gender dysphoria who have to live through it out of fear of rejection or sometimes death, like Iphis. Little did the author of this book think about his work outliving people's incomprehension about human nature being out of humanity's hands.However, the myths mentioned above are only a few: the diversity found in the book is really vast. Ovid made an outstanding job with his epic poem recounting human nature and how it can be transformed. According to him, we all change; we are like a river that never stays the same. He closes with a flourish in Metamorphoses' final book that tells the teachings of Pythagoras as a treatise on the art of peace. As stated by him, there's no reason why people should feast in the death of another being. He denounces the pagan practices that pointlessly take an innocent life for a sin that they didn't commit. He, overall, teaches the reader how precious life — any life — is."Our bodies too, are always incessantly changing,and what we were, or are, is not what we will betomorrow…"Even before Book XV I knew this was, without question, one of my favourite books. But after the book in question, I think this is one of the books I'll try to keep rereading for the rest of my days to remind myself that change is normal, that life, regardless of its form, matters; and this will, hopefully, stick to my mind for a while.

  • Roman Clodia
    2019-03-30 21:34

    Ovid was ignored by classical scholars for a long time as being frivolous and just not serious enough. He has now been rehabilitated and Metamorphoses is recognised as being one of the most complex, sophisticated and problematic poems of the age of Augustus.It's also one of the wittiest and most accessible, and this translation deserves prizes for being both faithful to the original Latin and yet reading beautifully in modern English blank verse.Too often regarded as a compendium of Greek and Roman myths, Metamorphoses should be read as a continuous poem telling the story of the world from the creation to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar - but in Ovid's own inimitable and often funny and scurrilous fashion. Along the way, he takes in almost every story ever told in the ancient world: Narcissus and Echo, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, Medea, Venus and Adonis, the Trojan war, the foundation of Rome, Romulus and Remus.His style is witty, urbane and sophisticated, and he plays games with every genre of literature: love poetry, epic, philosophy, Greek science.The ostensible theme of the poem that unifies the 12 books is change, but modern scholars recognise that this too is part of the game Ovid is playing with his readers, and the debate continues over what Ovid is 'about'.More interesting, perhaps, is the way in which he plays with our preconceptions of gender, power, status and authority - but all with the lightest of touches that never reduce the brilliant story-telling to mere polemic.Writing after Vergil, on one level Metamorphoses is a response to and a dialogue with the Aeneid, and has sometime been read as an antidote to the supposedly pro-Augustan sympathies of Vergil. Certainly Ovid was banished from Rome by the Emperor Augustus just after the poem was published though the reason cannot be known due to the loss of all sources relating to the the incident. However, many scholars now recognise the other subversive voices within the Aeneid itself, questioning the imperial mission of Rome and Augustus, so maybe Ovid and Vergil are not so far apart at all...In any case, the Metamorphoses remains one of the most brilliant examples of the pure power of superb story-telling, and has inspired artists from Shakespeare to Bernini to Ted Hughes.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-04 23:41

    Torn as to how to rate this one. Based on creativity, prose style, and humor: 5 stars. Based on overabundance of disturbing, disgusting content: 1 star.This book is not for the faint of art, or the casual mythology fan.Ovid's aim was to encompass all of mythology into a single narrative, and he very nearly succeeded. The only places where he cheats a little are on the myths that already had either several or definitive versions - the Labors of Hercules, the Trojan War, and the wanderings of Odysseus and Aeneas are glossed over. This is just fine with most readers; the book is taxing enough to the average attention span as is.The result is a mixed bag. Some of Ovid's retellings are psychologically spot-on and told with a freshness and verve surpassing that of most modern fiction, to say nothing of other ancient writing. The story of Apollo and Daphne is everybody's favorite for this reason: the prose is fluid as a river, the pacing is sublime, and the emotions ring true. It's a tale as old as time. Horny boy meets terrified girl, and miscommunication leads to catastrophe. Unfortunately, because this is the pagan Greco-Roman mythos, nothing can ever be undone, and having entombed herself in bark to ward off Apollo's embraces, Daphne is stuck there for good. She cannot reevaluate the situation. She cannot change her opinion of him. Similar instances occur all over: Actaeon and Diana, Pan and Syrinx, and there must be thirty other pairs I'm forgetting. The only major exceptions are Vertumnus and Pomona, who get a happy ending by virtue of being Roman, and Dis and Proserpine, who are stuck together because they're both powerful gods and neither can conveniently get turned into anything...Which brings up the main problem with Ovid. Good Lord, but this man had a twisted, filthy mind.This story of Dis and Proserpine (or as they are better known, Hades and Persephone) is a good example because there are several other ancient versions to compare it with, most notably the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (earliest written version 7th century BC). The story is essentially unchanged: man meets girl, man drags girl to miserable underworld kingdom, girl eats a handful of pomegranate seeds, girl has to stay, girl becomes more like her husband over time. Ovid's narration is so close to the hymn-writer's in some places that if he were submitting it as a school paper today, it might not pass an online plagiarism test.But in other, disturbing ways, his version diverges substantially from the source. There is no mention in the Hymn, for instance, of an outright rape. While it's entirely possible that Hades forced himself sexually on Persephone once he had her in his kingdom, the hymn-writer never states any such thing, and we can give the lonely god the benefit of the doubt. The writer of the Hymn also goes out of his way to refer to Persephone as "deep-breasted" - which establishes first that she's a fertility goddess, but second that she's nubile. She is physically an adult, although she isn't quite mentally an adult.Ovid goes there. In his version, the poor girl is raped by Dis while he's driving the chariot (this sounds anatomically impossible, but that's beside the point). He also goes out of his way to describe Proserpine as a child, with "small breasts" (note the inversion of the Homeric epithet), who weeps as much for the flowers she dropped as for her lost virginity (let's hear it for heavy-handed imagery!). The original was Labyrinth; Ovid's is Lolita. Charming.He smuts up a lot of stories in this manner. The tale of Pygmalion and Galatea, of which he is the earliest source, is almost unrecognizable from many of its beautiful treatments in art. In Edward Burne-Jones' series of paintings, Pygmalion is attractive and noble. He refrains from touching his statue as if she were real, even though his heart is moved by her. While he's out, Venus rewards him by bringing the marble girl to life, and we leave her innocent and awkward while her handsome young creator kneels before her, kissing her hands and averting his eyes from her exposed body. In Ovid, meanwhile, Pygmalion was in the habit of molesting the statue and only noticed she had come to life because the cold marble body he was groping had suddenly turned warm and started to move. Well then.So do I recommend this book? It can be disturbing and revolting in equal measure, not to mention features nine hundred characters too many and having no continuity no matter how hard the writer tries to force it. Yet it's been a well of inspiration throughout the ages for art (Bernini to Burne-Jones) and literature (Pyramus and Thisbe found their way into A Midsummer Night's Dream, while Rochester borrowed Vertumnus' old lady disguise in Jane Eyre). For mature readers who love mythology or want a glimpse into ancient Roman psychology, absolutely, go read it. For casual fans, younger readers, and more delicate sensibilities, just read Apollo and Daphne, which is the best story and best writing of the lot.

  • Akemi G
    2019-03-22 19:48

    I've been reading retelling of Greek mythology all my life, so it's probably time to read it in a more authentic form. There are many English translations for Metamorphoses. I think the enjoyment of reading depends very much on the quality of translation, so this review compares the various versions. Translated by Charles Martin (Norton) 2004I bought this after reading this comparison. It's subtly but undeniable frustrating to me. I guess the first paragraph (invocation) is not the best passage to get a good idea. So here is the beginning of Book 3, the story of Cadmus:And now, his taurine imitation ended, the god exposed himself for what he wasto cowed Europa on the isle of Crete. In an action both paternal and perverse,the captured maiden's baffled father bidsher brother Cadmus to locate the girlor face an endless term of David Raeburn (new Penguin edition) 2004Same passage:Now they had landed on the Cretan soil, when Jupiter droppedthe disguise of a bull, to reveal himself as the god who hewas.Anxious for news, Europa's father commanded Cadmusto search for his kidnapped sister. 'Find her, or go intoexile,'he said--an iniquitous action, if also inspired by devotion.Hmm . . . some readers might find the line breaks annoying. Not sure if it's any better or worse than Martin translation . . . by Allen Mandelbaum, 1993But his false semblance soon is set aside:on reaching Crete, Jove shows his own true guise.Meanwhile the father of the ravished girl,not knowing what had taken place, commandsCadmus, his son, to find Europa orto suffer exile from Agenor's land--a cruel threat, but born of love!A notable feature of this edition is that it has no Introduction, Translator's Notes, and annotations. It only has modest Afterword. So you jump in, just as you would when you read contemporary books. I like it--I read for fun, so the less hassle, the better. However, because all explanatory points are incorporated in the main text, some people might find it slow. by A.D. Melville (Oxford World's Classic) 1986Now safe in Crete, Jove shed the bull's disguiseAnd stood revealed before Europa's eyes.Meanwhile her father, baffled, bade his son Cadmus, set out to find the stolen girlAnd threatened exile should he fail--in one Same act such warmth of love, such wickedness!I like this, too. Simple and elegant, and I like how it flows. It sounds more literary and slightly antiquated, which may or may not suit your preference. (The Kindle eBook has a strange format, with wide margin on the left.) No clear winner. I'd say, if you like poetic language and have no problem figuring out what is happening in poetically abbreviated and slightly classic language, go for Melville. If you'd rather read it like a novel, Mandelbaum (although it is a verse translation). Or you might like the newest translation. DisclaimerI only read two languages, and Latin is not one of them. So I cannot tell how accurate these translation may be. P.S. Oh, the content. In case you don't know, it's filled with murders, rapes, and treacheries. Being a Roman, and being a creative mind, Ovid edits some myths. For instance, he skips the part about Cronus (Saturn) killing his children, and Zeus (Jove/Jupiter) killing him, his father. This way, Ovid makes it sound as if all evils started with humans. I wonder how Ovid really felt about Greek/Roman mythology. Rome conquered Greece about 150 years before his time, but culturally, Greeks influenced the Romans and their empire. Did he feel indignant about the strong Greek influence?

  • Bruce
    2019-04-09 22:28

    What a delightful book! Most of the myths contained herein were ones with which I was already familiar, many from high school Latin, but I’d not read the work in its entirety. What a treat it was to read it from start to finish, as Ovid had organized it. Ovid is a witty and urbane Latin writer of the last half of the first century BC and the early years of the first century AD, and he creatively used the myths of Greece to create a book that is a light entertainment as well as commentary on the evanescence of the world around him. Few modern readers probably realize how many of his stories have passed into our common heritage, not realizing that Ovid was their source.Two themes seem to stand out, in addition to the overriding awareness that everything continually transforms: first, the Classical world was far more interested in humankind’s actions than its intentions or motivations, and so often the modern reader is left with the sense that humans are “unfairly” punished for things that they do but do not intend; second, in the Classical world, humans are routinely punished for actions of the gods, eg a human woman raped by a god is the one who undergoes sanctions for having attracted the god, albeit unwillingly and unintentionally – the god gets away without any consequences. Therefore, in order fully to appreciate Classical myths without being offended, one must suspend our modern judgments and try to assume the mindset of the Greeks and Romans.The chapter, Book XV, is a panegyric to Roman history and especially to Augustus, best understood as Ovid’s futile attempt to convince the Emperor to rescind Ovid’s banishment from Rome to the hinterlands of the Black Sea.A couple of comments about this particular translation and edition: Allen Mandelbaum’s translation is easy to read, very entertaining, and flows smoothly, being translated into blank verse (my Latin is too weak for me to judge the translation’s accuracy, so I can’t adequately compare this with other translations); this Harcourt edition is without notes, so it assumes that the reader is familiar with most of the characters, including the correspondences between the Greek and Latin names of the gods – if one is entirely unfamiliar with Classical mythology, one might be wise to use an edition that provides more background information.

  • Josh
    2019-04-14 17:39

    THIS PATTERN SHOWS UP A LOT. My English II class taught me that authors use repetition of themes to tell you that they're important, so, that means this pattern must be REAL important:1. Jupiter inexplicably rapes the Fair Maiden.2. Juno uses trickery (trickery!) to cause the Fair Maiden to unwillingly screw everything up.3. The Fair Maiden cries so much, she makes this river!4. The Fair Maiden inexplicably turns into a tree. Usually some sort of soliloquoy about the unfairness of the situation occurs before the mouth gets all bark'd over. Some new flower may or may not grow around them.5. Some men/warriors inexplicably get turned into birds as they run away from whatever. Some of them actually look pretty cool if you look them up online.(Way to go, Tereus. Apparently raping your wife's sister and cutting her tongue out afterwards gets you turned into the coolest looking bird ever. I'll take note.)6. The narrative shifts, and is transitioned laughably obviously at times. New plotlines can be introduced with something along the lines of "Meanwhile, some guy in some other city over here was too busy to care about what was going on in that city over there that you just read about, because for him, all this unrelated stuff was going on..." It's kind of funny catching this when it happens, but it could be the translator's inelegantness, too. Occasionally, a story will end with a QUOTATION MARK, which made me usually think "Oh, this was a story some guy was telling? In-universe? The whole time? Huh."Now, I could bring up the fact that I have little to no mythological background, (view spoiler)[Let alone with Greek names- no one, I repeat, NO ONE ever knows the Latin names, beyond recognizing them as planet names. I could never tell anyone about the stories in this book without explaining each god in depth, and waiting for the description to click and have them recall the Greek name. "Oh, you mean Hera!" "Yeah, sure." (hide spoiler)] experience reading epics (I think this is my first), age (yeah, yeah), or some combination as a result for WHY this book was so hard for me, but I instead will blame the translation!This was a somewhat impulse buy at a Barnes & Noble (They had their annual buy-two-get-one-free sale on their "Classics" series. Who could say no?). I really liked the painting on the cover (it's all because of that one nipple, I tell you– hot stuff), and the cryptic poeticness of the name and the single-word author name. The back cover promised that the book is a great starting point for ol' Greco-Roman religion and mythology (it is), and that it's a breezy, beautiful prose translation (it isn't). It doesn't have the same bouncy elegence and rhythm of the poem, but it's still hard to read and very choppy– basically, a lose-lose. I heavily utilized the SparkNotes, and am not proud. If I ever reread this, I'll buy a verse translation– beautiful cover be damned. I swear Barnes & Noble Classics are just harder to read, too. "Oh, you're just saying that because all Barnes & Noble Classics books are just that– Classics, and you have trouble with them!" NOT SO! Everything about their layout– typeface, padding, etc.– is all wrong, wrong, wrong. Many people say those little nuances don't matter to that far of an extent, BUT I WANT EVIDENCE.The introduction, afterword, endnotes, and footnotes are great, as always with B&N. (view spoiler)[With one exception: in the middle of the story about Erysichthon, there is a footnote about how it inspired Stephen King's Thinner. Not a brief mention in the very informative "Works Inspired by Ovid" essay in the afterword, no, a footnote on the very page it's on. Very strange. (hide spoiler)] The maps are unreadable, but a nice touch. The endnotes would elaborate on some of the backgrounds Ovid would dance around or assume we already knew. The endnote about Daedelus building a wooden cow for Pasiphaë to reside in so she could woo her star-crossed lover made me laugh more than I knew two-millenia-old books could make me. If only Ovid included it in the narrative...One disappointment I had was– and this sounds kind of pathetic– that I was expecting hypermasculine, brainless adventure I could escape to. The Metamorphoses turned out being just the opposite– intelligent, philosophical, largely cynical, and pacifist. Oh well. I guess that's what Beowulf is for?This was a grueling read, even when I read it in five chapter chunks between normal novels. It was completely worth it. Just know what you're in for.To make it even more worthwhile, REMEMBER THE NAMES OF EVERY PERSON AND WHAT THEY DID. REMEMBER THE GREEK EQUIVALENTS OF ALL THE GODS, TOO. This way you can sound like the coolest kid in the whole AP English IV class. Sample use:Student: "Shakespeare and the Bible were the only original things in the world, everything else just ripped them off, yeah."OPTIMAL RESPONSE: "Actually, many of Shakespeare's plays are inspired, if not directly pulled, out of stories from Ovid's Metamorphoses, one of Shakespeare's favorite works of literature. Even the infamous Romeo & Juliet is a very close parallel to Ovid's telling of Pyramus and Thisbe, two star-crossed lovers who kill themselves out of a tragic misunderstanding."RESPONSE THAT I'D WIND UP GIVING: "No, no, in the uh Metamorphoses, there was this one guy and this one girl that were, that were, I don't remember their names, but they were pretty much Romeo & Juliet, even sneaking away from their families to be together and the both wound up dead over some misunderestimation of, uh, some bloody clothes, the guy thought the other was eated by a lioness, a female lion, if you didn't know. Ah hah. Ah hah. Huh. If you read it you'd know what I'd mean, you should all read it, it was good, it was, it, I'll, I'll stop now." "Thank you Josh."It might be a good idea to learn the proper pronunciation of both "Metamorphoses" and "Ovid," too. Does that sneaky "e" change the pronunciation or accentation at all? Is it "oh-vid" or "ah-vid", anyway? Good things to know.To everyone who asked: I AM NOT READING THIS FOR SCHOOL. I want to cry whenever I get asked this. That's easily one of the worst parts of reading "serious" literature in high school. For now, I can hide behind the relative obscurity of names like Pynchon and Gaddis and the likes for when I'm feeling like a good masochistic tome, but there's no way I'm reading Milton, Dante, Chaucer, Homer, or any Victorian novel until I'm sporting some variety of facial hair and a high school diploma. But I guess then, I'll have to deal with people telling me they had to read "dat crap" for school. You can never win.Book IX was my favorite.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • David Sarkies
    2019-03-24 23:41

    A story of change and transformation14 March 2014 The first thing that came into my mind as I was reading this book is a concept that was developed by the Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus: matter is never created or destroyed, it only ever changes form. Then there is the idea Ovid explores: the universe in which we live is in a constant state of flux. Granted, this is the second time that I have read this book (and in fact this particular translation, and I do plan on reading it again) and I must say that while it is an absolutely beautiful piece of literature – one that rightly deserves the term classic – it is a very hard slog. However, the influence that Ovid has had on poetry throughout the ages, stemming from what one could consider his Magnus Opus is outstanding. In fact, another literary epic poem that comes to mind is The Divine Comedy (as well as Paradise Lost), though I must admit that it is nowhere near as saucy as Ovid (not that Metamorphoses is his worst, in fact compared to theThe Art of Love – not that I have read it – yet – Metamorphoses is tame). Metamorphoses could be seen as an epic journey through Greek and Roman mythology ending with the assassination of Julius Ceaser and the ascension of Augustus Ceaser to become Princeps of Rome, and with Rome transitioning from a Republic to an Imperium (though I suspect that if you were a foreigner or a slave, little had changed). I suspect that is the is whole reason behind the poem: the Roman state itself have just undergone a huge transition, a metamorphosis if you like, in that the nature of the government had changed, a change that was incredibly violent. However, as I have suggested, this change no doubt only affected the upper classes (of which Ovid was a member) in that the political and oratorical careers of the Republic had suddenly up and vanished. No longer could people aim to become Censors or Consuls because the Princeps had taken that role, and no longer could they form policy and shape the direction of the empire, because the Princeps was doing that as well, and the Princeps was not going anywhere, at all. What Ovid does in this poem is that he tells the story of the universe from its founding (if it indeed had one because many of the philosophers at the time believed that it had always been in existence and that it would have no end - rather it would simply keep on changing form, as it does in the Metamorphoses) and through many of the myths that had come out from the Greeks. Upon reaching the Trojan War, Ovid begins to follow Aeneas (leaving the stories of the Greek conquerors of Troy behind) through Carthage and to the founding of the colony at Alba Longa. It is clear that all of these myths (with the exception of Aeneas, and it is debatable – incredibly debatable – whether Aeneas was ever actually the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, but rather a creation of the Roman ruling class to set them apart from the Greeks, just as the story of Aeneas and Dido was a creation to set them against the Cartheginians and to give them a reason as to why they went to war – not that they were two superpowers fighting over the same lake being reason enough, but then again as most governments know, to send the population to war you have to have a really good reason) have been taken from their Greek origins and effectively Romanised (though Ovid was most likely working on what had developed before him, rather that doing something new). The first change, or transformation, that we see in this story is the story of the flood. Now many Christians would like to use this as an excuse to justify a world wide flood, but while it is true that the Grecian flood story is quite old, no doubt it could have been picked up from other sources and Helenised (as many of these tales have been). However, my purpose here is to identify it as one of the first changes, in that what we have is an older world transforming into a new world through the flood (as is the case with the biblical account). The next change come about with the four ages (gold, silver, bronze, and lead), which have been lifted out of Hesiod (and note that Hesiod makes no mention of a flood). Once again we have a constant change as the nature of the ages change, as well as the occupants: as one age comes to an end and another age begins. In a sense, what Ovid is demonstrating is that nothing lasts forever and that change is inevitable. While one could look through the characters that change, such as Io shifting from a woman to a bull and back again, and Daphne with her transformation into a laurel tree, I would rather jump through to the Trojan War, which once again shows another transformation, and that is a transformation of societies and empires. Here we have one dominant empire coming to an end through war, but it is not completely destroyed because from the destruction wrought by the enemy, an seed is sent forth – Aeneas - to create a new empire that eventually rises up and overthrows the conquers of the fatherland. However, as things change, Ovid wants to show his readers (and remember his readers were most likely middle to upper class Roman citizens) that the flux is ongoing and that the current state of affairs will no doubt not last forever.

  • Summer
    2019-04-22 20:51

    4 Stars, Completed April 24, 2016They say leave the best for last, right? My last assigned reading for my classics class happened to be my favorite. It incorporated all the famous myths I already knew (and some unknown ones I haven't heard before) but also put them all in context and sequence.Ovid's Metamorphoses documents the origin and creation of the world up until the life of the poet himself. There are some familiar segments pulled from The Iliad (my review), The Odyssey, and The Aeneid (my review). We see recurring characters and gods/goddesses from those works and many more recognizable myths.“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.” (Everything changes, nothing perishes.)The series of stories divided out between the 15 books portray the most essential theme: the change and transformation of things or people into different forms, hence "metamorphoses." Ovid does this in a careful and considered manner making the translated prose quite tricky but still beautiful (I read this in translated English but I do remember reading and translating some passages of this in Latin when I took the language in the past).As for something I found intriguing, were the recurring commonalities found in a lot of these stories. Often times a myth would begin with Jupiter (or Zeus) falling under lust and raping some young and unwilling maiden. Juno (or Hera) would be filled with jealousy upon discovering her husband's infidelity, and she usually would find a way to make the maiden's life miserable. She does so successfully and most of the women end up crying and morphing into rivers/streams/other bodies of water (or the occasional tree). Sometimes there's a diversifying story where it'll focus on the men's tragic lives instead. In that case, the man is usually transformed into a bird by the end. But of course, no surprise, as most Roman and Greek literature, there was a lot of sex, violence, and bad decisions (which led to tragic deaths) caused by fate. But again, transformation is a huge idea that pops up time and time again (along with idea that there are divine consequences when denying a god/goddess).Anyway, instead of continuing to describe the events of Metamorphoses I'd liked to go ahead and just end this review here. What really made Metamorphoses stand out to me in comparison to other epic poetry was how it was written. Ovid shares these myths and stories by allowing them to be more episodic than a continual narrative, which made the reading feel not as heavy despite the overall length. After reading, I can easily recognize why the great Ovid influenced many works of art and entertainment made by famous individuals (including Shakespeare, a list of Renaissance and Baroque artists, and also more recent painters from the modern movements in the 20th century like Salvador Dalí). To sum it up: Metamorphoses is a thick classic with a challenging narrative structure but certainly worth trudging through to gain "scholar points" or more knowledge on Greek/Roman mythology. ---More reviews at XingsingsBlog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

  • Alp Turgut
    2019-04-03 19:40

    Homeros'un "İlyada" ve "Odysseia" ve Virgilius'un "Aeneis" destanlarının izinden giderek dünyanın yaradılışından Julius Caesar'ın evlatlık oğlu Agustus zamanına kadar olan neredeyse tüm önemli mitolojik olayları okuyucuya sunan "Metamorphoses / Dönüşümler", Ovidius'un edebiyat tarihine kazandırdığı mükemmel bir başyapıt. Kitabı okumak için Antik Yunan edebiyatına çokça hakim olmak gerekiyor. O yüzden eserin benim gibi Antik Yunan ve Roma edebiyatını bitirmek üzere olan okuyucuların son durağı olması gerektiğini düşünüyorum. Aksi takdirde okuyucunun zorlanma ihtimali oldukça yüksek. Buna ek olarak, kitabı okurken Remzi Kitabevi yayınlarından Azra Erhat'ın "Mitoloji Sözlüğü"nü de kenarda bulundurmakta fayda var. Her bölümün birbirinden harika ve sürükleyici olduğu kitapta edebiyat tarihine (Shakespeare'in "Romeo ve Juliet"i vb.) daha doğrusu sanat tarihine yön vermiş bir sürü olayı okuma şansı buluyorsunuz. Euripides, Sophokles ve Aiskhylos'un oyunlarına düzenli bir şekilde atıfta bulunan Ovidius'un tabii ki en büyük referans aldığı kaynaklar destanlarla beraber Hesiodos'un "İşler ve Güçler" eseriyle Herodot'un "Tarih"i. Kitapta ayrıca tüm kutsal kitaplara referans olmuş tufan ve Adem ile Havva gibi birçok olayı mitolojik şekilde okuyabilirsiniz ki bence kitabın en önemli özelliği de bu. Ovidius'un akıcı dili ve olayları bağlayış biçimiyle hayran kalarak okuyacağınız eserin odak noktası ise tabii ki defne ağacı gibi bitkilerin, karga, kuzgun ve örümcek gibi hayvanların, Ege Denizi ve Etna Yanardağı gibi doğal kaynakların dönüşümlerle beraber nası ortaya çıktığı. Sonuç olarak Ovidius'un insanlığa armağanı olarak nitelendirebileceğim "Dönüşümler", kesinlikle herkes tarafından okunması gereken gerçek bir başyapıt.17.07.2016İstanbul, TürkiyeAlp Turgut

  • Daniel Chaikin
    2019-04-21 20:23

    33. Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by A. D. Melville, notes by E. J. Kenneyoriginal date: circa 8 cetranslated 1986format: Paperbackacquired: Library book sale 2012read: July 23 - Aug 15rating: 5I'm not and cannot properly review Ovid's Metamorphoses. Instead just scattered notes.- Metamorphoses has tended to fall out of favor at different times because it's mainly entertaining. It seems it kind of mocks serious study, or can in certain perspectives.- And it is entertaining in a very flexible way. You can read it straight through, or a story at time - usually only a few pages - or in many other ways, including in a reading slump, like I was in when I started. The only thing really daunting about it, assuming you have a decent translation or read Latin, is its length.- The quality of the translation is maybe not that critical. He'll be entertaining regardless. - It's almost chronological, beginning with creation and a few other foundation stories (which for me struck a bunch of interesting notes right off) and ending with Roman history. - Except that Ovid dodges a lot. He avoids, mostly, overlap with Virgil and Homer and other prominent works, finding niches that are generally overlooked, or working in more obscure stories. He has a whole book (there are 15 books) on mostly eastern stories. Anyway, he won't replace your Edith Hamilton or other Greek mythological guides.- He filled in a lot stories I hadn't caught in ancient literature - like Atalanta and the Calydonian Boar hunt, the battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs and Pirithous's wedding, or Venus and Adonis.- But main story lines around Theseus, Minos, Hercules, Jason and the Argo and the hunt for the Golden Fleece, most of the Trojan War or even the basic history of the gods or their battle with the giants all get only cursory coverage.- He knew everything, or so it seems. Like his previous works, he works in references to practically all known literature of all types. Some more prominent than others, and many lost. - He also probably (hopefully) made a lot of stuff up.- So he writes a bit like a scholar and bit like creator.- This is largely humor, but it's not funny exactly, or even exactly satire, it's just very clever. He creates entertaining situations and then might overdo it a bit. I don't think I ever really minded, even when he got quite gory. - I think Ovid influences everyone, including many famous art works, but the main work that came to mind as I read it was Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Not that Spenser has Ovid's mythology, but just that they left me with a very similar sense. All that work they put in and how far and deeply it pulls you out of the world and how yet mainly it's playful, how it can leave you with that magical sense that only exists around the fringes of your consciousness or awareness.- recommended to anyone, because it seemed like it has almost universal appeal, but not everyone, if that makes sense.

  • Kutşın Sancaklı
    2019-04-05 15:31

    Benim gibi bazen bir resim heykel üzerinden bazen sözlükten, tekrar tekrar mit okumaya doyamayanlar için harika bir yörünge çiziyor Ovid.. Dönüşümler'in, tıpkı iyi bir heykelin doğası gereği mekanını yaratmasının ötesinde, kendi zamanını da yaratması gibi bir etkisi var!.

  • John
    2019-04-10 22:37

    The changes that teem in Ovid's rambunctious & altogether wonderful catalogue -- a reinvention of the fairytales he grew up with, at once fat & serpentine -- prompt chills of horror even as they feel off-hand. Stories spool out conversationally, each thread untangling to reveal another, & we're not reading for the reassurance of arriving somewhere, like safe at home in Ithaca, but rather for the astonishment of getting everywhere, of going magnificently gaga. Along the way, the transformations can wrench the heart for their utter absence of justice, but often, stranger still, we find ourselves chuckling at the imperfect humanity on display, rendered with such droll precision. How does it feel, once you've been baptized by an angry goddess, to turn into a stag? "No further warning: / the brow she has sprinkled jets the horns / of a lively stag; she elongates his neck, narrows his eartips down to tiny points, / converts his hands to hooves, his arms to legs..." & of course the wildest metamorphosis takes place in the spirit, suddenly all "trembling fear," made more shivery still by lack of language; the mortal now speaks in "a groaning," for "only his mind/ was left unaltered." Then no sooner does the poor changeling, Actaeon, register what's happened than he's aware of the "pack of hunting hounds" on his trail: his own hounds, named one by one in a lively list that details also how he knew & loved them. The dogs then do as they've been trained to; they trap their prey & dig into "the savaged body of their master." Electrifying stuff, no? Wholly alien, yet clothed in bruises & trembling we recognize? This up-to-the-minute translation by Charles Martin renders those bruises palpably, so Ovid's philosophy of eternal transience (which he credits here & there to Pythagoras) never comes across without the gut-level tug that links us to the world-as-is. We revel in the sensuality of these myriad, mind-boggling proofs that the senses can't be trusted. The soul may take on fresh shape, but it never loses its nostalgia for the lost configuration. Such ironies extend to the author's own experience, to be sure. No sooner had Ovid finished this masterpiece than he was banished to the wilderness, metamorphosed into a non-person, a non-Roman; the first decade of our so-called "Common Era" proved uncommonly bad for Publius Ovidius Naso -- & doesn't his very name suggest a family with a monstrous feature, a nose that belonged on some other order of being? All in all his sigh-stained, laugh-punctuated collection of mooncalfs proves the most contemporary of the classics. Since these bizarre critters were first herded together, culture & speech have gone through a thousand changes, but none of them could outwit the scruffy, sagacious shepherd.