The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

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

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140440584
  • 368 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Mary Innes’s classic prose translation of one of the supreme masterpieces of Latin literature

“The most beautiful book in the language (my opinion and I suspect it was Shakespeare’s).” -Ezra Pound

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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


“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
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