Special Collections and University Archives

Oxford: John Lichfield, 1632

Banished from Rome by the emperor Augustus and his work banned from public libraries after his erotic Ars amatoria, Ovid (43 BC-18 AD) apparently completed his best-known work, the narrative poem METAMORPHOSIS, before going into exile.
A series of poetic tales from ancient mythology, METAMORPHOSIS is a supreme example of dactylic hexameter verse sustained over fifteen books (totaling some 250 tales in 12,000 verses), each tale concerned with a change in shape, as the book’s title indicates. All of the tales have literary antecedents. The arrangement is essentially chronological, from the creation of the world to the emperorship of Julius Caesar.

Book I opens with an account of the creation of the universe and the growth of civilization. Book II examines the relationship between the gods and mortal man. Book V narrates the varied mythical adventures of Perseus. Most of the subsequent books recount further tales of mythical heroes such as Jason and Medea, Aeneas, Hercules, Ulysses, Theseus, and Orpheus.

A brilliant epigrammatist and wit, Ovid created in METAMORPHOSIS an enduring entertainment and inspiration.

The full title of this 1632 edition as it appears on the title page is Ovid’s Metamorphosis Englished, Mythologiz’d and Represented in Figures by G. S. [George Sandys].

– William K. Finley

Collector’s Talk and Reception
October 19th, 2010
4 -6 PM

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