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Ovid's Metamorphoses

Elaine Fantham

Publication Date - 15 July 2004

ISBN: 9780195154108

192 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

An accessible introduction to one of the most popular works of classical literature


Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature (Series Editors: Kathleen Coleman and Richard Rutherford) introduces individual works of Greek and Latin literature to readers who are approaching them for the first time. Each volume sets the work in its literary and historical context, and aims to offer a balanced and engaging assessment of its content, artistry, and purpose. A brief survey of the influence of the work upon subsequent generations is included to demonstrate its enduring relevance and power. All quotations from the original are translated into English.

Ovid's Metamorphoses have been seen as both the culmination of and a revolution in the classical epic tradition, transferring narrative interest from war to love and fantasy. This introduction considers how Ovid found and shaped his narrative from the creation of the world to his own sophisticated times, illustrating the cruelty of jealous gods, the pathos of human love, and the imaginative fantasy of flight, monsters, magic, and illusion. Elaine Fantham introduces the reader not only to this marvelous and complex narrative poem, but to the Greek and Roman traditions behind Ovid's tales of transformation and a selection of the images and texts that it inspired.

About the Author(s)

Elaine Fantham is Giger Professor Emerita of Latin at Princeton University.


"[A] beautifully written, undogmatic, and thoroughly sound introduction to the Metamorphoses.... This is a book that can be heartily recommended to students and colleagues in other fields who want a sympathetic guide and sharp-eyed observer of Ovid's strengths to help them enjoy every bit of the work."--New England Classical Journal

"This book is an elegant survey of Ovid's Metamorphoses with some attention to his sources and his successors--also with up-to-date bibliographic surveys of secondary literature relevant to each chapter.... I highly recommend this book for the adult reader of Ovid, for teachers and for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students who want a single-volume comprehensive and sophisticated critical survey of the epic.... Elaine Fantham's little book on Ovid is a valuable addition that will enrich our study of this masterful and influential Roman poet."--James F. Johnson, The Classical Outlook

Table of Contents

    1. Transforming Bodies, Transforming Epic
    2. Creation, Flood, and Fire
    3. Cadmus and the Tragic Dynasty of Thebes
    4. Human Artistry and Divine Jealousy
    5. The Lives of Women
    6. Aspects of Love
    7. Heroes--Old Style and New
    8. Fantasy, the Fabulous, and the Miraculous Metamorphoses of Nature
    9. Genre and Narrative: Ovid's Polymorphous Poem
    10. After Ovid
    Appendix 1
    Appendix 2
    Index of Persons
    General Index