Monday, February 28, 2011

Metamorphoses Bk I: Outline

A proposed outline of Book I:

Proemium 1-4

The First Creation * * *

  • Cosmogony 5-88
  • Myth of Ages 89-150
  • Gigantomachy 151-162
The Second Creation * * *
  • Council of the Gods 163-261
    • Story of Lycaon (told by Jupiter) 211-243
  • Flood 262-312
  • Deucalion and Pyrrha 313-415
The Third Creation * * *
  • Pytho 416-451
The Loves of the Gods * * *
  • Apollo and Daphne 452-567
  • Io 568-750
  • Phaethon (beginning) 751-779
A complete outline of the Metamorphoses can be found here. A complete list of tales, with links is here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Io is an ancient figure, and a significant character in Greek tragedy:
As Io tells her own story in Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, she rejected his whispered nighttime advances until the oracles caused her own father to drive her out into the fields of Lerna. There, Zeus covered her with clouds to hide her from the eyes of his jealous wife, Hera, who nonetheless came to investigate. In a vain attempt to hide his crimes, Zeus turned himself into a white cloud and transformed Io into a beautiful white heifer. Hera was not fooled. She demanded the heifer as a present. (Wikipedia)

The lore involving Io is huge, as the entry on her at Theoi reveals. She was a Naiad, a daughter of the river Inachus. He supposedly introduced the worship of Hera to Argos.

Aeschylus was fascinated by the figure of this tormented woman who was raped by Zeus, transformed into a wandering heifer by Hera; she wanders onstage in Prometheus Bound, and is given a preview of her long travails by the tortured Titan. In a sense, she and Prometheus see in each other the mirror of their own sufferings at the hands of the Zeus-Hera marriage.

Io's descendents, the Danaids, are recalled in The Suppliants. And curiously, the image of Io appears on the shield of Turnus, the ruler of Italy, favored by Hera/Juno, and the ultimate antagonist of Aeneas.

Io's son Epaphus was a distant ancestor of Perseus, and according to Aeschylus, of Herakles, who would at long last liberate Prometheus.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Apollo and the Serpent

Ovid's brief account of Apollo slaying the giant she-dragon (drakainan) at Delphi (Meta. I. 416.ff) serves to introduce the story of the pursuit of Daphne.

Delphi, the center (omphalos) of the Earth, is linked to Themis, a Titaness who had the gift of the oracle prior to Apollo. She is also the goddess of Justice, the second wife of Zeus, and the mother of Prometheus.

Another prime source lurking in the background of the scene of the slaying of the serpent is the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. This amazing poem is well worth reading for its own sake (there are actually two hymns - one to Delian Apollo, the other to Pythian (Puqwn) Apollo, that are yoked).

According to this poem, the dragoness at Delphi raised Typhaon "to be a plague to men." This Typhaon was a monster that Hera bore, in spite, after Zeus birthed Athena, unassisted by his wife, the goddess of childbirth.

The hymn makes much of the fact that one of Apollo's epithets, "Pythian," relates to the word for the serpent. Not because it was a python, but because the Greek word putho means "rot" - which is what the remains of the serpent did after it was killed by far-shooting Apollo. From its decomposition came vapors that were believed to put the sibyl into a prophetic trance. From the word came the Pythian games, the original Olympics in honor of Apollo, that included music and poetry as well as athletic competition.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ovid by Titian for the King of Spain, in Scotland

I remember being surprised and delighted to find some Titians in Edinburgh a few years ago, and there's a story worthy of Ovid behind why they're there. But first, Ovid himself:

According to Meta. 2.401ff, it was Jupiter (the Roman Zeus) who took the form of Artemis/Diana so that he might evade his wife Juno’s detection, forcing himself upon Callisto while she was separated from Diana and the other nymphs. Her pregnant condition was discovered some months later while bathing with Diana and her fellow nymphs.

Upon this, Diana was enraged and expelled Callisto from the group, and subsequently she gave birth to Arcas. Juno then took the opportunity to avenge her wounded pride and transformed the nymph into a bear.

Sixteen years later Callisto, still a bear, encountered her son Arcas hunting in the forest. Just as Arcas was about to kill his own mother with his javelin, Jupiter averted the tragedy by placing mother and son amongst the stars as Ursa Major and Minor, respectively.

Juno, enraged that her attempt at revenge had been frustrated, appealed to Oceanus that the two might never meet his waters, thus providing a poetic explanation for their circumpolar positions. Wikipedia
Commissioned by Philip II of Spain, Titian's painting of this story from Ovid, and another of Diana and Actaeon, are now for sale in Scotland. NPR has the story here. Ovid is everywhere.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The palm, the oak, or bays"

The gods who mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race.
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow

Bernini, Apollo and Daphne

a thin bark closed around her gentle bosom,
her hair became as moving leaves;
her arms were changed to waving branches, and
her active feet as clinging roots were fastened to the ground –
her face was hidden with encircling leaves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The face of nature

It was great to find that nearly everyone at our first session has had the benefit of some exposure to Latin -- even if it was a more than a year or two ago.

We began to see that there's no substitute for the words of the author. Fortunately thanks to the Net, we have free access to them. The Perseus site can help, as you can have the hyperlinked Latin text on one side, and an English translation (Golding or More) on the other.

One quick observation of Ovid's opening account of the making of the world. It begins with these lines:

Before the Sea and Lande were made, and Heaven that all doth hide,
In all the worlde one onely face of nature did abide,
Which Chaos hight, (Golding)

And it ends with these:

He gave to Man a stately looke replete with majestie.
And willde him to behold the Heaven wyth countnance cast on hie,
To marke and understand what things were in the starrie skie.
What Golding misses here (and others too - check your translation) is that Ovid took care to use vultus (face) at the start and end of this large-scale tale of metamorphosis. At the beginning, the face of nature is really no face at all - there are no distinguishing features of Chaos, as he notes in some detail. At the end, as a culmination of this development of the world, we have the (presumably intelligent and intelligible) face of man looking up at the stars. (Golding might have used "countenance" for his meter.)

The universe indeed has metamorphosed in this passage from a faceless chaos to a face that turns and looks upon itself, intelligently. Small touches such as these suggest Ovid's delicate care.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outline of Metamorphoses, Kline Translation

Each of the titles links to that tale in Kline's translation, but from a different site than what we've been using. The text is very readable, but does not have the identifying annotations.

Book 1
  1. No Titans encountered yet
  2. Separation of the elements
  3. The earth and sea. The five zones
  4. The four winds
  5. Humankind
  6. The Golden Age
  7. The Silver Age
  8. The Bronze Age
  9. The giants
  10. Jupiter threatens to destroy humankind
  11. Lycaon is turned into a wolf
  12. Jupiter invokes the floodwaters
  13. The Flood
  14. The world is drowned
  15. Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha
  16. They ask Themis for help
  17. The human race is recreated
  18. Other species are generated
  19. Phoebus kills the Python and sees Daphne
  20. Phoebus pursues Daphne
  21. Phoebus begs Daphne to yield to him
  22. Daphne becomes the laurel bough
  23. Phoebus honours Daphne
  24. Inachus mourns for Io
  25. Jupiter's rape of Io
  26. Jupiter transforms Io to a heifer
  27. Juno claims Io and Argus guards her
  28. Inachus finds Io and grieves for her
  29. Jupiter sends Mercury to kill Argus
  30. Mercury tells the story of Syrinx
  31. Io is returned to human form
  32. Phaethon's parentage
  33. Phaethon sets out for the Palace of the Sun
Book 2
  1. The Palace of the Sun
  2. Phaethon and his father
  3. The Sun's admonitions
  4. His further warnings
  5. Phaethon insists on driving the chariot
  6. The Sun's instructions
  7. The Horses run wild
  8. Phaethon lets go of the reins
  9. The mountains burn
  10. The rivers are dried up
  11. Earth complains
  12. Jupiter intervenes and Phaethon dies
  13. Phaethon's sisters grieve for him
  14. The sisters turned into poplar trees
  15. Cycnus
  16. The Sun returns to his task
  17. Jupiter sees Callisto
  18. Jupiter rapes Callisto
  19. Diana discover's Callisto's shame
  20. Callisto turned into a bear
  21. Arcas and Callisto become constellations
  22. Juno complains to Tethys and Oceanus
  23. The Raven and the Crow
  24. The Crow's story
  25. Coronis is betrayed and Phoebus kills her
  26. Phoebus repents and saves Aesculapius
  27. Chiron and Chariclo's prophecies
  28. Mercury, Battus and the stolen cattle
  29. Mercury sees Herse
  30. Mercury elicits the help of Aglauros
  31. Minerva calls on Envy
  32. Envy poisons Aglauros's heart
  33. Aglauros is turned to stone
  34. Jupiter's abduction of Europa
Book 3
  1. Cadmus searches for his sister Europa
  2. Cadmus kills the Dragon
  3. Cadmus sows the Dragon's teeth
  4. Cadmus founds Thebes
  5. Actaeon returns from the hunt
  6. Actaeon sees Diana naked and is turned into a stag
  7. Actaeon is pursued by his hounds
  8. Actaeon is killed by the dogs
  9. Juno sets out to punish Semele
  10. Semele is consumed by Jupiter's fire
  11. The judgement of Tiresias
  12. Echo sees Narcissus
  13. How Juno altered Echo's speech
  14. Narcissus sees himself and falls in love
  15. Narcissus laments the pain of unrequited love
  16. Narcissus is changed into a flower
  17. Tiresias prophesies Pentheus's fate
  18. Pentheus rejects the worship of Bacchus
  19. Acoetes is captured and interrogated
  20. Acoetes's story the beautiful boy
  21. Acoetes's ship and crew are transformed
  22. Pentheus is killed by the Maenads
Book 4
  1. The Festival of Bacchus
  2. The daughters of Minyas reject Bacchus
  3. Arsippe tells the story of Pyramus and Thisbe
  4. The death of Pyramus
  5. The death of Thisbe
  6. Leuconoë's story: Mars and Venus
  7. Leuconoë's story: Venus's revenge
  8. The transformation of Leucothoë
  9. Clytie is transformed into the heliotrope
  10. Alcithoë tells the story of Salmacis
  11. Salmacis falls for Hermaphroditus
  12. Salmacis and Hermaphroditus merge
  13. The daughters of Minyas become bats
  14. Juno is angered by Semele's sister Ino
  15. Tisiphone maddens Athamas and Ino
  16. Ino becomes the goddess Leucothoë
  17. Juno transforms the Theban women
  18. Cadmus and Harmonia become serpents
  19. Perseus and Atlas
  20. Perseus offers to save Andromeda
  21. Perseus defeats the sea-serpent
  22. Perseus tells the story of Medusa
Book 5
  1. Phineus seeks revenge for the loss of his bride
  2. The fight: the death of Athis
  3. The fight: The deaths of Idas, Chromis and others
  4. The fight: Lampetides, Dorylas and others
  5. Perseus uses the Gorgon's head
  6. Phineus is turned to stone
  7. Minerva on Helicon
  8. The contest between the Pierides and the Muses
  9. Calliope sings: Cupid makes Dis fall in love
  10. Calliope sings: Dis and the rape of Proserpine
  11. Calliope sings: Ceres searches for Proserpine
  12. Calliope sings: Ceres asks Jupiter's help
  13. Calliope sings: Persephone's fate
  14. Calliope sings: Arethusa's story
  15. Calliope sings: Triptolemus. The Fate of the Pierides
Book 6
  1. Arachne rejects Minerva
  2. Pallas Minerva challenges Arachne
  3. Pallas weaves her web
  4. Arachne weaves hers in reply
  5. Arachne is turned into a spider
  6. Niobe rejects the worship of Latona
  7. The gods' vengeance: Niobe's sons are killed
  8. Niobe's daughters are killed: Her fate
  9. The story of Latona and the Lycians
  10. The tale of Marsyas
  11. The marriage of Procne and Tereus
  12. Tereus's passion for Procne's sister Philomela
  13. Tereus forces Philomela
  14. Philomela is mutilated
  15. The truth is revealed
  16. The pitiless feast
  17. They are transformed into birds
  18. Boreas and Orithyia
Book 7
  1. Medea agonises over her love for Jason
  2. Jason promises to marry Medea
  3. Jason wins the Golden Fleece
  4. Jason asks Medea to lengthen Aeson's life
  5. Medea summons the powers and gathers herbs
  6. Medea rejuvenates Aeson
  7. Medea's destruction of Pelias
  8. Medea flees and reaches Athens
  9. Medea attempts Theseus's life, then vanishes
  10. The praise for Theseus
  11. Minos threatens war
  12. Aeacus tells of the plague at Aegina
  13. The creation of the Myrmidons
  14. The infidelities of Cephalus and Procris
  15. The transformation of Cephalus's dog Laelaps
  16. The death of Procris
Book 8
  1. Scylla decides to betray her city of Megara
  2. Scylla, deserted, is changed to a bird
  3. The Minotaur, Theseus, and Ariadne
  4. Daedalus and Icarus
  5. The death of Talos
  6. The Calydonian Boar Hunt: the cause
  7. The Calydonian Boar Hunt: the boar is roused
  8. The Calydonian Boar Hunt: the kill
  9. The Calydonian Boar Hunt: the spoils
  10. Althaea and the burning brand
  11. The death of Meleager
  12. Acheloüs tells Theseus and his friends of Perimele
  13. Lelex tells of Philemon and Baucis
  14. The transformation of Philemon and Baucis
  15. Erysichthon fells Ceres's sacred oak tree
  16. Ceres sends Famine to Erysichthon
  17. The fate of Erysichthon and his daughter Mestra
Book 9
  1. Acheloüs wrestles with Hercules
  2. The shirt of Nessus
  3. The agony of Hercules
  4. The death and transformation of Hercules
  5. Alcmena tells of Hercules's birth and of Galanthis
  6. Iole tells the story of her half-sister Dryope
  7. The prophecies of Themis
  8. Jupiter acknowledges the power of Fate
  9. Byblis falls in love with her twin brother Caunus
  10. The fatal letter
  11. The transformation of Byblis
  12. The birth of Iphis
  13. Iphis and Ianthe
  14. Isis transforms Iphis
Book 10
  1. Orpheus and Eurydice
  2. The gathering of the trees
  3. The death of Cyparissus
  4. Orpheus sings: Ganymede; Hyacinthus
  5. Orpheus sings: The Propoetides
  6. Orpheus sings: Pygmalion and the statue
  7. Orpheus sings: Myrrha's incestuous love for Cinyras
  8. Orpheus sings: Myrrha and her nurse
  9. Orpheus sings: Myrrha's crime and punishment
  10. Orpheus sings: Venus and Adonis
  11. Venus tells her story: Atalanta and Hippomenes
  12. Venus tells her story: The footrace
  13. Venus tells her story: The transformation
  14. Orpheus sings: The death of Adonis
Book 11
  1. The death of Orpheus
  2. The transformation of the Maenads
  3. Midas and the golden touch
  4. Pan and Apollo compete before Tmolus
  5. Midas and the ass's ears
  6. Laomedon and the walls of Troy
  7. Peleus and Thetis
  8. Ceyx tells the story of Daedalion
  9. Peleus and the wolf
  10. The separation of Ceyx and Alcyone
  11. The Tempest
  12. The House of Sleep
  13. Morpheus goes to Alcyone in the form of Ceyx
  14. They are turned into birds
  15. The transformation of Aesacus
Book 12
  1. Iphigenia at Aulis
  2. The House of Rumour
  3. The death and transformation of Cycnus
  4. Nestor tells the story of Caeneus-Caenis
  5. Nestor tells of the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs
  6. The deaths of Amycus, Gryneus, Cometes
  7. The deaths of Corythus, Aphidas and others
  8. Pirithoüs, Theseus and Peleus join the fight
  9. Cyllarus and Hylonome
  10. The transformation of Caeneus
  11. Nestor tells of the death of Periclymenus
  12. The death of Achilles
Book 13
  1. The debate over the arms: Ajax speaks
  2. The debate over the arms: Ulysses speaks
  3. The death of Ajax
  4. The fall of Troy
  5. The deaths of Polydorus and Polyxena
  6. Hecuba's lament and transformation
  7. Aurora and the Memnonides
  8. Aeneas begins his wanderings
  9. The transformation of Anius's daughters
  10. The cup of Alcon
  11. Aeneas's journey to Sicily
  12. Acis and Galatea
  13. The song of Polyphemus
  14. Acis is turned into a rivergod
  15. Glaucus tells Scylla of his transformation
Book 14
  1. The transformation of Scylla
  2. Aeneas journeys to Cumae
  3. Aeneas and the Sybil of Cumae
  4. Macareus meets Achaemenides again
  5. Ulysses and Circe
  6. The transformation of Picus
  7. The fate of Canens
  8. Caieta's epitaph
  9. War in Latium: Turnus asks Diomede's help
  10. Acmon and others are changed into birds
  11. The creation of the wild olive
  12. The transformation of Aeneas's ships
  13. The heron is born from Ardea's ruins
  14. The deification of Aeneas
  15. The line of Alban kings
  16. Vertumnus woos Pomona
  17. Anaxarete and Iphis
  18. War and reconciliation with the Sabines
  19. The deification of Romulus
  20. The deification of his wife Hersilia
Book 15
  1. Myscelus: the founding of Crotona
  2. Pythagoras's Teachings: Vegetarianism
  3. Pythagoras's Teachings: Metempsychosis
  4. Pythagoras's Teachings: The Eternal Flux
  5. Pythagoras's Teachings: The Four Ages of Man
  6. Pythagoras's Teachings: The Elements
  7. Pythagoras's Teachings: Geological changes
  8. Pythagoras's Teachings: Physical changes
  9. Pythagoras's Teachings: Autogenesis
  10. Pythagoras's Teachings: The Phoenix
  11. Pythagoras's Teachings: Transfers of Power
  12. Pythagoras's Teachings: The Sanctity of Life
  13. The transformation of Hippolytus
  14. Cipus acquires horns
  15. Aesculapius, the god, saves Rome from plague
  16. The deification of Julius Caesar
  17. Ovid's celebration of Augustus
  18. Ovid's Envoi

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A linked table of contents for Metamorphoses

This list, via Theoi, will be useful when we get to selecting which stories to focus on. Note: the numbers preceding each story are the links:



1. Creation
2. Four Ages of Man
3. Lycaon
4. Great Deluge
5. Python
6. Daphne & Apollo
7. Io & Jupiter


1. Phaethon
2. Callisto & Jupiter
3. Coronis & Apollo
4. Ocyroe & Aesculapius
5. Battus & Mercury
6. Aglauros & Mercury
7. Europa & Jupiter


1. Cadmus & the Dragon
2. Actaeon
3. Semele & Jupiter
4. Tiresias
5. Narcissus & Echo
6. Pentheus & Bacchus
7. Tyrrhenian Pirates & Bacchus


1. The Minyades
2. Pyramus & Thisbe
3. Mars & Venus
4. Leucothea & Clytie
5. Hermaphroditus
6. Athamas & Ino
7. Cadmus & Harmonia
8. Perseus & Atlas
9. Perseus & Andromeda


1. Perseus & Phineus
2. Pyreneus & the Muses
3. The Pierides & the Muses
4. Pluto & Proserpine
5. Arethusa & Alpheus
6. Triptolemus & Lyncus


1. Arachne & Minerva
2. Niobe
3. Leto & the Lycians
4. Marsyas
5. Tereus & Philomela
6. Orithyia & Boreas


1. Jason & Medea
2. Medea & Aeson
3. Medea & Pelias
4. Medea & Aegeus
5. Aeacus & the Myrmidones
6. Cephalus & Procris


1. Minos & Scylla
2. Daedalus & Icarus
3. Calydonian Boar Hunt
4. Althaea & Meleager
5. Perimela & Achelous
6. Baucis & Philemon
7. Erysichthon & Mestra


1. Hercules & Achelous
2. Nessus & Death of Hercules
3. Galanthis
4. Dryope
5. Iolaus
6. Byblis & Caunus
7. Iphis & Ianthe


1. Orpheus & Eurydice
2. Attis & Cybele
3. Cyparissus
4. Hyacinthus & Apollo
5. The Propoetides
6. Pygmalion
7. Myrrha & Cinyras
8. Atalanta & Hippomenes
9. Adonis


1. Death of Orpheus
2. Midas & Bacchus
3. Midas, Pan & Apollo
4. Hesione
5. Peleus & Thetis
6. Chione & Daedalion
7. Peleus & Psamathe
8. Ceyx & Halcyone
9. Aesacus & Hesperia


1. Agamemnon at Aulis
2. Cygnus & Achilles
3. Caeneus, the Centauromachy
4. Periclymenus & Hercules
5. Death of Achilles


1. Ajax & Ulysses
2. Hecuba & Polymnestor
3. Memnon
4. The Oenotrophi
5. Galatea & Polyphemus
6. Glaucus


1. Scylla & Circe
2. The Cercopes
3. The Cumaean Sibyl
4. Ulysses, Polyphemus, Circe
5. Picus & Circe
6. Diomedes in Italy
7. Aeneas in Latium
8. Vertumnus & Pomona

9. Iphis & Anaxarete
10. Romulus


1. Myscelus, Croton
2. Pythagoras
3. Egeria, Hippolytus
4. Tages, Cipus
5. Aesculapius to Rome
6. Julius Caesar

Triton's horn

It was no longer an angry sea, since the king of the oceans putting aside his three-pronged spear calmed the waves, and called sea-dark Triton, showing from the depths his shoulders thick with shells, to blow into his echoing conch and give the rivers and streams the signal to return.

He lifted the hollow shell that coils from its base in broad spirals, that shell that filled with his breath in mid-ocean makes the eastern and the western shores sound.

So now when it touched the god’s mouth, and dripping beard, and sounded out the order for retreat, it was heard by all the waters on earth and in the ocean, and all the waters hearing it were checked.

Now the sea has shorelines, the brimming rivers keep to their channels, the floods subside, and hills appear. Earth rises, the soil increasing as the water ebbs, and finally the trees show their naked tops, the slime still clinging to their leaves.

See also: Bernini's image of Neptune and Triton.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The metamorphoses of a Roman poet

Roman poet (43 BCE-16 or 17 CE).
Although he lacks the perceived gravitas of Homer, Sophocles, or his fellow Roman Virgil, Ovid is perhaps the most consistently influential and popular writer of the classical tradition.
The 14th-century Antiovidianus, written in Italy, asserted that Ovid, together with his books, deserved to burn in the fires of Hell. [Dante had a different view - Inf. IV].
In Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) the heroine is accosted by a middle-aged admirer who asks whether she has read Ovid. He then demonstrates his own familiarity with the poet's works by drinking out of her wineglass, an intimate gesture that Ovid recommends in the Ars amatoria as a surefire seduction technique.
The Ovidian persona, urbane and opportunistic, smoothly accommodates itself to the idiom of the modern metrosexual male.
Most would agree that the Metamorphoses (ca. 8 CE) is Ovid's masterpiece. Ovid called it a carmen perpetuum, a continuous song. This is a reference to its seamless and unbroken quality but might also function as a description of its Nachleben, or afterlife. Ovid's reputation may have had its ups and downs, but the Metamorphoses has been a persistent presence in post-classical Western culture. Its central position is reflected in the quality of its many important translations . . ..
Perhaps part of Ovid's enduring appeal is the way his poetry combines themes that we sense are universal and unchanging with a dynamic of change and dislocation that reflects the geographical, temporal, and cultural distance between our world and his own.

These snippets come from the fine essay about our poet (by Sarah Annes Brown of Anglia Ruskin University) in a recent reference work entitled The Classical Tradition. The entry is worth reading in its entirety.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Invocation: A few versions of Metamorphoses 1.1-4

In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas
corpora; di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas)
adspirate meis primaque ab origine mundi
ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen.

-- Meta. I.1-4

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!
-- Brookes More 1922

My soul would sing of metamorphoses.
But since, o gods, you were the source of these
bodies becoming other bodies, breathe
your breath into my book of changes: may
the song I sing be seamless as its way
weaves from the world's beginning to our day.
-- Allen Mandelbaum 1995

Of shapes transformde to bodies straunge, I purpose to entreate,
Ye gods vouchsafe (for you are they ywrought this wondrous feate)
To further this mine enterprise. And from the world begunne,
Graunt that my verse may to my time, his course directly runne.
-- Arthur Golding 1567

My intention is to tell of bodies changed
To different forms; the gods, who made the changes,
Will help me - or so I hope - with a poem
That runs from the world's beginning to our own days.
-- Rolfe Humphries 1955

OF bodies chang'd to various forms, I sing:
Ye Gods, from whom these miracles did spring,
Inspire my numbers with coelestial heat;
'Till I my long laborious work compleat:
And add perpetual tenour to my rhimes,
Deduc'd from Nature's birth, to Caesar's times.
-- John Dryden, 1717

My mind is bent to tell of bodies changed into new forms. Ye gods, for you yourselves have wrought the changes, breathe on these my undertakings, and bring down my song in unbroken strains from the world's very beginning even unto the present time.
-- Frank Justus Miller (Loeb Library 1984)

My design leads me to speak of forms changed into new bodies. Ye Gods, (for you it was who changed them,) favor my attempts, and bring down the lengthened narrative from the very beginning of the world, even to my own times.
-- Henry T. Riley

I want to speak about bodies changed into new forms. You, gods, since you are the ones who alter these, and all other things, inspire my attempt, and spin out a continuous thread of words, from the world's first origins to my own time.
-- A.S. Kline

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Times, Dates, Translations

The Ovid's Metamorphoses group meets on Wednesdays at the Gulf Gate Library, 10:15 to 12:15. Upcoming dates are:
  • February 16th
  • March 2nd and 16th and 30th
  • April 6th and 20th
If you have a translation you like, bring it. A number of people will be using Rolfe Humphries, others Allen Mandelbaum. We'll have the Loeb Latin on hand as well -- more on translations below. A few online resources are linked on the right.

We'll be starting with Book 1. As usual, we'll read aloud and comment as we go.

Humphries - small glossary at back of text.

Mandelbaum - no glossary or other notes.

Loeb Library:

For those interested in Ovid's influence on English Renaissance poetry, the Arthur Golding translation of 1567 is widely available, but probably not ideal as one's only translation: