The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

Introduction by: Mary M. Innes
Translator: Mary M. Innes

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140440584
  • 368 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • 18 and up


Mary Innes’s classic prose translation of one of the supreme masterpieces of Latin literature, Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Ovid drew on Greek mythology, Latin folklore and legend from ever further afield to create a series of narrative poems, ingeniously linked by the common theme of transformation. Here a chaotic universe is subdued into harmonious order: animals turn to stone; men and women become trees and stars. Ovid himself transformed the art of storytelling, infusing these stories with new life through his subtley, humour and understanding of human nature, and elegantly tailoring tone and pace to fit a variety of subjects. The result is a lasting treasure-house of myth and legend. ‘The most beautiful book in the language (my opinion and I suspect it was Shakespeare’s)’ – Ezra Pound Ovid was born in 43 BC in central Italy. He was sent to Rome where he realised that his talent lay with poetry rather than with politics. His first published work was ‘Amores’, a collection of short love poems. He was expelled in A.D. 8 by Emperor Augustus for an unknown reason and went to Tomis on the Black Sea, where he died in AD 17. Mary M. Innes graduated from Glasgow and Oxford Universities and subsequently taught in the universities of Belfast and Aberdeen, before spending some twenty years proving to schoolgirls that classical languages can and should be enjoyed.
The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

Ovid, Introduction by: Mary M. Innes, Translator: Mary M. Innes


“Reading Mandelbaum’s extraordinary translation, one imagines Ovid in his darkest moods with the heart of Baudelaire . . . Mandelbaum’s translation is brilliant. It throws off the stiff and mild homogeneity of former translations and exposes the vivid colors of mockery, laughter, and poison woven so beautifully by the master.” —Booklist
“Mandelbaum’s Ovid, like his Dante, is unlikely to be equalled for years to come.” —Bloomsbury Review
“The Metamorphoses is conceived on the grandest possible scale . . . The number and variety of the metamorphoses are stunning: gods and goddesses, heroes and nymphs, mortal men and women are changed into wolves and bears, frogs and pigs, bulls and cows, deer and birds, trees and flowers, rocks and rivers, spiders and snakes, mountains and stars, while ships become sea nymphs, ants and stones and statues become people, men become women and vice versa . . . An elegantly entertaining and enthralling narrative.”
—from the Introduction by  J. C. McKeown

Table of Contents

Further Reading
Translator’s Note


Book 1
Prologue – The Creation – The Four Ages – The Giants – Lycaön – The Flood – Deucalion and Pyrrha – Python – Daphne – Io (1) – Interlude: Pan and Syrinx – Io (2) – Phaëton (1)

Book 2
Phaëton (2) – Callisto – The Raven and the Crow – Ocyrho#235; – Battus – Aglauros – Europa

Book 3
Cadmus – Actaeon – Semele – Teiresias – Narcissus and Echo – Pentheus and Bacchus (1) – Acotetes and the Lydian Sailors – Pentheus and Bacchus (2)

Book 4
The Daughters of Miniyas (1) – Pyramus and Thisbe – Mars and Venus – Leucotho#235; and Lyti#235; – Slmacis and Hermaphroditus – The Daughters of Miniyas (2) – Ino and Athamas – Cadmus and Harmonia – Perseus (1)

Book 5
Perseus (2) – Minerva and the Muses – Calliope’s Song: The Rape of Proserpina; Arethusa; Triptolemus and Lyncus – The Daughters of Pierus

Book 6
Arachne – Niobe – The Lycian Peasants – Marsyas – Pelops – Tereus, Procne and Philomela – Boreas and Orithyia

Book 7
Medea and Jason – The Rejuvenation of Aeson – The Punishment of Pelias – Medea’s Flight – Theseus and Aegeus – Minos and Aeacus – The Plague at Aegina – The Birth of the Myrmidons – Cephalus and Procris

Book 8
Scylla and Minos – The Minotaur and Ariadne – Daedalus and Perdix – Meleäger and the Calyydonian Boar – Acheloüs, the Naiads and Perimele – Philemon and Baucis – Erysichthon

Book 9
Acheloüs and Hercules – Hercules and Nessus – The Death of Hercules – Alcmena and Galanthis – Dryope – Iolaüs and Callirhoë’s Sons – Miletus – Byblis – Iphis

Book 10
Orpheus and Eurydice – Cyparissus – Orpheus’ Song: Introduction; Ganymede; Hyacinthus; The Cerastae and Propoetides; Pygmalion; Myrrha; Venus and Adonis (1) – Venus’ Story: Atalanta and Hippomenes – Orpheus’ Song: Venus and Adonis (2)

Book 11
The Death of Orpheus – The Punishment of the Maenads – Midas – Laömedon’s Treachery – Peleus and Thetis – Peleus at the Court of Ceÿx (1) – Ceÿx’s Story: Daedalion – Peleus at the Court of Ceÿx (2) – Ceÿx and Alcyone – Aesacus

Book 12
The Greeks at Aulis – Rumour – Cycnus – Achilles’ Victory Celebration – Caenis – The Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs – Periclymenus – The Death of Achilles

Book 13
The Judgement of Arms – Ajax’s Suicide – The Fall of Troy – The Sufferings of Hecuba – Memnon – The Wanderings of Aeneas (1) – The Daughters of Anius – The Daughters of Orion – The Wanderings of Aeneas (2) – Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus – Glaucus and Scylla (1)

Book 14
Glaucus and Scylla (2) – The Wanderings of Aeneas (3) – The Sibyl of Cumae – Achaemenides’ Story: Ulysses’ Men in Plyphemus’ Cave – Macareus’ Story: Ulysses and Circe; Picus, Canens and Circe – The Wanderings of Aeneus (4) – The Mutinous Companions of Diomedes – The Apulian Shepherd – The Ships of Aeneus – Ardea – The Apotheosis of Aeneus – Aeneus’ Descendants – Pomona and Vertumnus – Iphis and Anaxarete – Romulus – The Apotheosis of Romulus

Book 15
Myscelus – Pythagoras – Egeria and Hippolytus – Tages, Romulus’ Spear, Cipus – Aesculapius – The Apotheosis of Julius Caesar- Epilogue

Glossary Index
Map of Ovid’s Mediterranean World