One of the founding texts of Western literature, the Metamorphoses is nevertheless anything but earnest or off-putting. Ovid's sequence of fifteen witty and playful poems sketches the history of the world from its creation to the poet's own time through a series of transformation myths in which gods and goddesses succumb to all-too-human passions, not least in the matter of love. Frequently translated, imitated and paraphrased.
Publius Ovidius Naso, known to the English world as Ovid, was born in 43 BC in the Abruzzo, Italy, studied oratory in Rome and travelled to Greece. Intended for public career, he instead devoted himself to poetry. Amongst his other works are the Amores (loves), Heroides (heroines) and the Arts Amatoria (art of love). For reasons which remain unclear, he was banished to the Black Sea by the Emperor Augustus in AD 8. Grief-stricken, he composed there his Tristia (elegies). He was never allowed to return to Rome, and died in exile in AD 17. TRANSLATOR BIOGRAPHY: Allen Mandelbaum was born in 1926 and died in 2011. His translations of Homer, Dante, Virgil, Quasimodo and Ungaretti have all been published to great critical acclaim. For the Aeneid he won the National Book Award. He is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. INTRODUCER BIOGRAPHY: Formerly a Research Fellow and Senior Tutor at the University of Cambridge, J.C. McKeown is now Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His publications include a commentary on Ovid's Amores and A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities. He is currently working on The Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature which will be published in summer 2013.