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GROUP READ Mythology March: Ovid's Metamorphoses

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Feb 18, 7:57am Top

Dear fellow LibraryThingers,

welcome to the group read of Ovid's Metamorphoses for Mythology March!
Here is the basic reading plan: It calculates with ca. 80 pages per week - with a tad more time at the beginning to get used to the style.

03/01/18 - 03/11/18: Books 1 - 3
03/12/18 - 03/18/18: Books 4 - 7
03/19/18 - 03/25/18: Books 8 - 11
03/26/18 - 04/01/18: Books 12 - 15

Everyone is welcome to join - even if it is just for parts of the book.

Please let me know if you are interested in joining - I will add you and your 75-challenge-thread to the list.
I suggest that everyone reads the edition of his choice. It will be interesting to see if there are differences in translations, languages, etc. Let me know which edition you read and I will add it to the list.

Edited: Mar 4, 4:26am Top

OVID (20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18)

Publius Ovidius Naso is one of the most important poets of Roman Literature. Born 43 BC he grew up in Sulmo (an Apennine valley east of Rome). He was soon sent to Rome by his father to learn rhetoric toward the practice of law. But after his brother had died he started travelling to Sicily, Athens and Asia Minor. He even decided then to work in minor political positions but around 27 BC he chose poetry as his one and only career path.

In 8 AD he was exiled to Tomis by emperor Augustus though the reasons are unknown. Exile didn't keep him from writing and he wrote poems and plays. But Metamorphoses is considered his opus magnum.

Heroides ("The Heroines")
Amores ("The Loves")
Medicamina Faciei Femineae ("Women's Facial Cosmetics")
Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love")
Remedia Amoris ("The Cure for Love")
Metamorphoses ("Transformations")
Fasti ("The Festivals")
Ibis ("The Ibis")
Tristia ("Sorrows")
Epistulae ex Ponto ("Letters from the Black Sea")
Consolatio ad Liviam ("Consolation to Livia")
Halieutica ("On Fishing")
Nux ("The Walnut Tree")
Somnium ("The Dream")


Comprising fifteen books and over 250 myths, the poem chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework.

Although meeting the criteria for an epic, the poem defies simple genre classification by its use of varying themes and tones. Ovid took inspiration from the genre of metamorphosis poetry, and some of the Metamorphoses derives from earlier treatment of the same myths; however, he diverged significantly from all of his models.

One of the most influential works in Western culture, the Metamorphoses has inspired such authors as Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William Shakespeare. Numerous episodes from the poem have been depicted in acclaimed works of sculpture, painting, and music. Although interest in Ovid faded after the Renaissance, there was a resurgence of attention to his work towards the end of the 20th century. Today the Metamorphoses continues to inspire and be retold through various media. The work has been the subject of numerous translations into English, the first by William Caxton in 1480.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamorphoses


Edited: Mar 4, 4:37am Top

Book I – The Creation, the Ages of Mankind, the flood, Deucalion and Pyrrha, Apollo and Daphne, Io, Phaëton.

Book II – Phaëton (cont.), Callisto, the raven and the crow, Ocyrhoe, Mercury and Battus, the envy of Aglauros, Jupiter and Europa.

Book III – Cadmus, Diana and Actaeon, Semele and the birth of Bacchus, Tiresias, Narcissus and Echo, Pentheus and Bacchus.

Book IV – The daughters of Minyas, Pyramus and Thisbe, the Sun in love, Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, the daughters of Minyas transformed, Athamas and Ino, the transformation of Cadmus, Perseus and Andromeda.
Book V – Perseus' fight in the palace of Cepheus, Minerva meets the Muses on Helicon, the rape of Proserpina, Arethusa, Triptolemus.
Book VI – Arachne; Niobe; the Lycian peasants; Marsyas; Pelops; Tereus, Procne, and Philomela; Boreas and Orithyia.
Book VII – Medea and Jason, Medea and Aeson, Medea and Pelias, Theseus, Minos, Aeacus, the plague at Aegina, the Myrmidons, Cephalus and Procris.
Book VIII – Scylla and Minos, the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, Perdix, Meleager and the Calydonian Boar, Althaea and Meleager, Achelous and the Nymphs, Philemon and Baucis, Erysichthon and his daughter.
Book IX – Achelous and Hercules; Hercules, Nessus, and Deianira; the death and apotheosis of Hercules; the birth of Hercules; Dryope; Iolaus and the sons of Callirhoe; Byblis; Iphis and Ianthe.
Book X – Orpheus and Eurydice, Cyparissus, Ganymede, Hyacinth, Pygmalion, Myrrha, Venus and Adonis, Atalanta.
Book XI – The death of Orpheus, Midas, the foundation and destruction of Troy, Peleus and Thetis, Daedalion, the cattle of Peleus, Ceyx and Alcyone, Aesacus.
Book XII – The expedition against Troy, Achilles and Cycnus, Caenis, the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, Nestor and Hercules, the death of Achilles.
Book XIII – Ajax, Ulysses, and the arms of Achilles; the Fall of Troy; Hecuba, Polyxena, and Polydorus; Memnon; the pilgrimage of Aeneas; Acis and Galatea; Scylla and Glaucus.
Book XIV – Scylla and Glaucus (cont.), the pilgrimage of Aeneas (cont.), the island of Circe, Picus and Canens, the triumph and apotheosis of Aeneas, Pomona and Vertumnus, legends of early Rome, the apotheosis of Romulus.
Book XV – Numa and the foundation of Crotone, the doctrines of Pythagoras, the death of Numa, Hippolytus, Cipus, Asclepius, the apotheosis of Julius Caesar, epilogue.

Edited: Mar 4, 4:40am Top

Feb 18, 7:58am Top


- Next one is yours.

Feb 18, 9:07pm Top

Thread’s on the Group Wiki. Have fun!

Feb 20, 7:02am Top

Jim, thank you!!

Feb 20, 9:34pm Top

Just pulled my copy off the shelf.

Feb 20, 10:47pm Top

Oh, what a fantastic idea! I wish I could, but I'm currently struggling through Don Quixote and can't start another large classic project. :(

Feb 21, 3:20pm Top

I might give it a try, my copy is waiting patiently since the 1990s :-)

Feb 21, 3:25pm Top

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Feb 26, 7:37am Top

I got a 0.99 German Kindle version, certainly not the best, but well... I'll try and keep up.

Feb 26, 8:04am Top

Sounds interesting: I have Penguin Classics poetry translation by Golding and the prose translation by Thomas Riley from Project Gutenberg. I also have a copy of Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes. That should give a range of views!

Mar 4, 4:52am Top

Welcome to the group read of Ovid's Metamorphoses!

I started to read it yesterday and I am honestly suprised that it is quite readable. Sometimes it is confusing to understand who is meant - and alternative names for known characters make it a bumpy read. (It took me forever to realize that Apoll is Phoebus!)

But all in all it is a lovely read: I also like the humour e.g. when Juno catches Jupiter - and he quickly tranforms Daphne to a cow... I am very happy to finally read it because I am a big fan of Greek and Roman myths.

Parallels to other founding myths: It is highly interesting that you can find the basic world creation myth and the flood in almost every region of planet earth. First I thought the translation might be influenced by its Christian translator. But as it seems that's in the original text as well.

How are you doing?
How is your "attitude" towards myths?

Mar 4, 8:56am Top

>14 PersephonesLibrary: Yep the flood bit is original to the text. Funny story: there's the bit where he's describing the guy floating in a boat over fields where he recently plowed, yes? In the Latin, the word for "plowed" is arabat, which, in one manuscript comes down to us as ararat. Some of us think that the monk transcribing the manuscript had The Flood on the brain (Mt. Ararat, anyone?) and hence the 'typo' (because ararat isn't a Latin word). Cool, huh?

Also, yay for picking up on Ovid's adorable sense of humor! One of my favorites early on is in the story of Daphne and Apollo (it's Io that gets turned into the cow, yes? Daphne becomes the laurel tree (daphne is in fact the Greek for 'laurel')), when Apollo is chasing her and he asks her to slow down, promising that he'll slow down, too...

Mar 4, 12:33pm Top

I just finished the first book and was also struck with the parallels between the genesis and the first couple of chapters here. And from there it jumps right into those "god chases human/nymph" stories I still remember from school. That made me not like the male gods already when I was a kid. :)

My text version is old-fashioned German that keeps the hexameters. I have to read it aloud following the rhythm to understand it, somehow eye-reading alone gets me confused.

Mar 4, 5:43pm Top

I started too, 40 pages done. It is easier to read than the poetic Edda, that I read last month.
I have always been a fan of myths, so I am having a good time so far.

My Dutch translation the translator used lines of seven iambic feet, this way she kept a (different) metrum, but could more translate "all" into Dutch.

Mar 5, 9:48am Top

Made it through book 2 just before falling asleep last night and of course dreamed of being followed. :)
Book #2 gives you the impression that the gods were totally bored most of the time, so much unnecessary chasing/ testing/ unfair punishing.
And Phaeton was really impressive, all those catastrophes, the fire, the torments!

>15 scaifea: I had forgotten that Io was able to write with her hoof in the sand. How heartwrenching her short reunion with her father before Argos led her away again. Did "Argos' eyes" make it into the English language as well? In German you watch very closely with "Argusaugen".

Mar 8, 1:41am Top

Didn't make it all through book 3 yet, but will try and stay as much on track as possible while I'm away.
Very powerful poetry that draws you right in and makes you suffer with all those poor victims of some gods' wrath or play. While I'm enjoying the rhythm in my version, the resulting often convoluted word order or choice of German words for the translation can be a bit tiring, sometimes I'm not sure what's meant. In the Narcissus and Echo poem I really looked out for and missed the moment when he falls into the water and drowns, despite reading that passage 3 times. This was expressed very strangely.

Mar 8, 6:04am Top

I just finished book 5.

Doggish things & thoughts:
In book 2 the tale of Callisto, after who I named one of our Chow Chows.
In book 3 All the names of the dogs & where they came from, in the tale of Actaeon.

Mar 18, 9:44am Top

I just finished Metamorphosen.
It was a great read, I already knew most of the tales of the gods and heroes, but it is always good to read again.
I didn't know much about Pythagoras, so there I learned he believed in reincarnation and was a vegetarian.

I can't say much about the translation, as I know no other translations than the one I read. But it was very accesable and not difficult to read.

Mar 19, 9:11am Top

Just here to say I'm one book (#7) behind. Getting to Medea now. Prokne and Philomela - what a terrible (wonderful as a story!) drama!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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