Sunday, November 18, 2007

Metamorphoses - Ovid

Rating : 3.5/5
Reason for Reading : Guardian Challenge, So Many Books Challenge

Roman poet Ovid was born in central Italy in 43BC. In AD 8 he was exiled to the Black Sea by Emperor Augustus for reasons that have never been made clear. He died around Ad 17/18, never having returned to Rome despite constant petitioning.

Metamorphoses is his epic poem on change. It covers many metamorphoses, mostly humans being turned into animals, plants, birds etc by the gods. The most unlucky name seemed to be Cycnus as you are likely to be turned into a swan at some point! It shows how it never pays to scorn the gods as you will get turned into a spider, horse, stag to be hunted by your own hounds, raven etc... The other key transforming factor was grief. People weeping were liable to turn into birds or plants/trees mostly and Hecuba even turned into a dog.

Lots of famous tales and people were included in this poem. Everyone from Icarus to Theseus, the Minatour, Narcissus and Echo, Arachne, Hercules and Aeneas. The tales ranged from very gory to very irreverent via erotic, Ovid had a very interesting sense of humour which came across in most of his tales (this possibly caused the trouble with Augustus). His treatment of the gods is interesting, he focuses on their human aspects of pride, revenge and their tendency to be quick to anger. Yes the poem is very long, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. It was interesting as well to read something from a roman perspective after trying out some of the greek classics.

2 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really really want to read this book. I'm going to read part of it soon, actually, because I'm supposed to be writing an essay comparing the way Ovid uses Greek mythology to how Neil Gaiman uses it in the Sandman.

Rhinoa said...

Sounds like a cool essay Nymeth. You should email me a copy when you are done.