The Metamorphoses (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Metamorphoses (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Metamorphoses, by Ovid, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


First published in 8 A.D., Ovid’s Metamorphoses remains one of the most accessible and attractive avenues to the riches of Greek mythology. Beginning with the creation of the universe and ending with the death and deification of Julius Caesar, Ovid’s masterful epic poem features a rich assortment of tales, including those of Jason and the Argonauts, Orpheus and Eurydice, the Trojan War, Echo and Narcissus, the slaying of the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, Hercules, Aeneas and Dido, the wedding of Perseus and Andromeda, and many others. These stories all have one element in common: transformation. Mortals become gods, animals turn to stone, and humans change into flowers, trees, or stars. Mingling pathos, humor, beauty, and cruelty, Ovid reveals how the endless ebb and flow of the universe itself is mirrored in the often paradoxical and always arbitrary fate of the poem’s characters, both human and divine.

A cosmic comedy of manners, Metamorphoses was read with delight in Ovid’s own time and continues to charm audiences today, providing a treasure trove of myth and legend from which the whole of Western art and literature has derived incalculable inspiration.

Robert Squillace teaches Cultural Foundations courses in the General Studies Program of New York University. He has published extensively on the field of modern British literature, most notably in his study Modernism, Modernity and Arnold Bennett (Bucknell University Press, 1997). His recent teaching has involved him deeply in the world of the ancients. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the medievalist Angela Jane Weisl. Squillace also wrote the Introduction and Notes for the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Homer’s Odyssey.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781411432673
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2009
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 155,803
File size: 6 MB
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Robert Squillace’s Introduction to The Metamorphoses

From today’s perspective, Ovid stands almost precisely at the midpoint of literary history; the preservation of language in Egyptian hieroglyphics and Mesopotamian cuneiform began about as many centuries before his lifetime as he himself lived before the era of e-texts and digital printing. While the dating of past history was certainly less precise in Roman times than it is now, from his own vantage point Ovid could see that centuries of written tradition preceded him; indeed, an allusive engagement with previous poetry already marked his Hellenistic forebears. More than any of his other works, the Metamorphoses expresses Ovid’s acute sense of the massive accumulation of history and legend, attempting as it does to “bring down [its] song in unbroken strains from the world’s very beginning even unto the present time.” Moreover, the poem is shaped to induce in its readers an experience of peering down vertiginous historical depths. Just as modern works on the history of Earth often note that the arrival of humanity on the planet would correspond, on a twenty-four-hour clock, to just a minute or two before midnight, so Ovid’s poem sets foot on the mainland of Italy only in the fourteenth of its fifteen books; further, this epic of universal history reaches the events of Ovid’s own lifetime just sixty lines before the end of its final book. Indeed, the poet’s consciousness of time would be impossible had centuries of written records not been available to him. When, again in book XV, Ovid has the pre-Socratic philosopher Pythagoras base his perception of the eternal flux of existence on a myriad of such facts as the changing courses of rivers, the erosion of peninsulas into islands, and the gradual decline of once-mighty cities into barren plains, the poet assumes a world in which the permanence of writing makes it possible to know intimately the enormous distance between past and present by the comparison of what is to what texts say had once been.

In singing the tale of ceaseless change, of course, Ovid implicitly raises the question of his own relevance to readers of a later time. Over the nearly 2,000 years since the appearance of the Metamorphoses, the plan of the poem itself inspires one to ask whether the ceaseless flow of cultural change has left Ovid’s magnum opus a bare and sterile field, fit only to furnish material for a kind of archaeological study of what poetry no longer is, to serve as a morgue of dead men’s tales? Can a readership so distant from Augustan Rome embrace a work so dependent on its reader’s intimacy with Greco-Roman myth—with the life of Hercules, the travels of the Argonauts, the course of the Trojan War, the adulteries of Jupiter, and many other stories far less familiar than these to a modern audience—that it often alludes only by the slightest gesture, the verbal equivalent of a raised eyebrow, to the main features of these tales, concentrating instead on the microscopic details of what even for Romans were generally their lesser-known episodes?

While the Metamorphoses may demand more work from a modern reader and more annotation from an editor than a self-contained narrative like the Odyssey, in other ways—compared to, say, Homer or Hesiod—Ovid stands almost in our midst. The authors of the Greek epics, like the anonymous creators of the Egyptian Book of the Dead or the ancient Near Eastern epic Gilgamesh, lived in a world where the transmission of stories occurred primarily by word of mouth, and such written texts as did exist primarily served the needs of public performance. Even for the playwrights and philosophers of the Athenian “golden age” of the fifth century B.C.E., the idea of reading a text to oneself was at best peculiar and at worst intellectually suspect—Plato in particular thought writing a poor alternative to speech, which sharpened the memory and allowed for a logical exchange of ideas, rather than the mere repetition of the writer’s words in the reader’s mouth. But Ovid was a writer in something much closer to the modern sense, composing and revising his works with an eye to their reception by a literate audience of private readers—indeed, Ovid is one of the earliest writers explicitly to imagine his work being read by women as well as men. Removing the distribution of stories from the public realm, in fact, made them far more available to women, who were often consigned to purely private lives (similarly, many centuries later the rise of the novel, the genre most devoted to the domestic realm, owes itself both to women readers and women writers). Indeed, Roman practices of book distribution are similar enough to ours that classicists commonly refer to the “publication” of works during this period. The subjects of the Roman empire did not purchase books from stores, but volumens (scrolls) or codices (unbound sheets) from professional copyists; or, more likely, they read them in libraries. Regardless, they consumed them privately, as we do now.

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The Metamorphoses 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have trouble with the 'endless poem' format used in so many classic translations. This is much much better. Miller's prose is FANTASTIC. I found myself going back over the text numerous times from being so impressed. Not to mention the timeless beauty of Ovid's mythology.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written, in my opinion. This translation was perfect, fluid, and what I believe to be easy for all to fall in love with.
Dierckx More than 1 year ago
Publius Ovidius Naso was born in 43 B.C and died in 18 A.D. He was banished for unknown reasons to Tomi, a barren place near the coast of the Black Sea. A few scholars believe that this was a literary hoax created by Ovid himself. It would enable him to write the 'Tristia' and 'Letters From The Black Sea'. 'Metamorphoses' is his main achievement. It contains 250 stories from the Greek Mythology and they all have in common that the principal character changes into another form. Most of the time they turn into an animal or a tree but also in a river, a constellation of stars, a rock or a flower and other pleasant surprises. If you read this book you won't find many happy endings. The ancient Greeks didn't know the meaning of that expression. It's not an easy read but if you persist it will be a rewarding literary experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Barnes and Noble puts the same review and description on most of the translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses. I only just got my copy of this book so I won't rank it but please do not rely on Barnes and Noble's review and commentary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely a great read. The translation is wonderful, and I loved the way Ovid skims through all of his stories. It is pretty different from such classical writers like Virgil and Homer, but overall I think this makes it an easier read. Not to mention it's a must read if you like Greek/Roman mythology. The only complaint I have is regarding the citation for the cover image. It's cited as "Pygmallion and Galatea" by Francios Boucher, but it's really "Jupiter and Callisto" (though it's by the same artist). Not a big deal, but it puzzeled me for a while.
Aston More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. It's a great way to experience a large compilation of stories about the greek gods. It is extremely entertaining, even if you're just reading it for school.
wendlz23 More than 1 year ago
Ovid wrote this when people still believed in the stories of the gods. Whether its was good story telling or the true beliefs this is a book to add to your collection. The writing is a little different. It is concidered poetry but in this particular barnes and noble classic it is written more like a novel. I say definetly worth the reading.
Choccy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would've given this book four stars if it's more organized. The frequent jumps from one story to another really annoyed me. I think I like Bulfinch's Mythology better.Anyway, the title is damn right accurate since many people/deities here were turned into birds, rivers, stones, etc whether as forms of punishments or pity from the gods. Speaking about the gods, yes, I should repeat this: they're a bunch of vengeful, petty, envious rapists/douche bags. I don't think I can find any favorite. Definitely don't wanna live in a world full of those scumbags.Some stories are great, some are downright boring, if not repetitive. But, still worth to read, I guess.
gbsallery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A surprisingly pacey read; whilst somewhat lacking in structure, there is at least some overall thematic cohesion, and the writing itself is superb. If girls being turned into trees is your thing, then this is the epic poem for you. Also, rape.
markbstephenson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Was Ovid the most talented poet of all time? Who outdid him?
ron_benson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't find the original version that I read in my classical civilization course. This is still the same. Ovid is an excellent writer and this compendium of translated "stories" is a beautiful read for those looking for a slice of classical mythology. My favorite is still Orpheus and Eurydice.
TheBooknerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Metamorphoses -- it's on my list of books everyone should read. I generally prefer the Greek writers over the Romans, but Ovid is one you don't want to miss. The myths included range from the popular tales that we all know and love to more obscure events that are like gems to mythology buffs. I do have to say, though, that the Penguin Classics version that I have is a prose translation, and I don't care for that at all. It's one clunky paragraph after the next, and I find it hard to read. I recommend finding a more verse-like translation.
ponder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Metamorphoses by Ovid is a captivating collection of myths. Am I the only person to wish for a flow chart of events and relationships? I loved it, however, I found myself obsessed with researching many of the stories on the internet. Not that I ever have a problem with this but it started to feel compulsive. So many brutalities due to spurned god love.
CaptainBroadchurch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Were Metamorphoses contemporary it would be a tv clip show called "World's Most Amazing Transformations!", would be aired during the graveyard slot on a Tuesday night, and would be narrated by Jamie Theakston or some other washed up has-been whose one marketable quality lies in having a voice people might recognise. What's more, it would still be a thousand times better than this horrible book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
djsupremeroll More than 1 year ago
As far as translations go, this is a good one. I read this book once before (different publication) and had trouble getting through it. Not this time. I was rapt. I love reading such old texts and finding that some many of their interests and problems match our own. That defines a classic. It is timeless.
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The translation of the book is actually not that bad of a translation, but why is the ebook slightly different from the regular text - cover included?
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