Thursday, January 3, 2013
Book Review of The Metamorphoses by Ovid
Publisher: Mentor Book
Type of book: Myths, Rome, changes, wars, chronology, ancient times and days, Greece
Year it was published: The year 8 ME
Perhaps one of the most influential works ever written, "The Metamorphoses" is an epic and narrative poem by the Roman writer Ovid. Finished in 8 AD, this work, organized into fifteen books, combines a stunning arrangement of mythological tales that are masterfully connected by a theme of transformation, most often through love. Beginning with the world's creation, the poet utilizes unparalleled wit to describe the history of the world, incorporating the most commonly known Greek and Roman myths and legends of his time in a style both dramatic and mischievous. Ovid's often sensuous poems weave together the tales of Daedalus and Icarus, Pygmalion, Perseus and Andromeda, the Trojan War, and the deification of Augustus, frequently changing the human men and women into remarkable beings through magic that rivals the gods. The best known classical work to writers during the medieval period and influencing other great artists such as Shakespeare and Titian, "The Metamorphoses" is a work that will continue to endure and inspire throughout the ages.
There are a lot of characters, both gods and mortals, and I won't cover them individually. I felt that the author didn't really make them leap off the page, and the whole thing consisted more of tell than show. The only thing I enjoyed were the various plots, but even then I felt there were loose ends when author moved on to spin a new yarn.
The gods are fickle, maybe. I'm not sure what I should have learned from reading it.
Most of the stories were in storytelling, one person telling another the stories and myths. Still, the stories were unfinished and the author never took us back to them. I think if there was a class or something relating to the book, one would benefit the most. I also would strongly recommend reading a guide or something to myths because the author never takes time to explain who is who. (Not a problem with me, but will be problem for others.)
March 26, -0043 in Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy
January 07, 0017
About this author:
Publius Ovidius Naso (March 20, 43 BC – 17 AD) was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, who wrote on many topics, including love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. Ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, Ovid is generally considered a great master of the elegiac couplet. His poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, had a decisive influence on European art and literature for centuries.
Ovid made use of a wide range of meters: elegiac couplets in the "Amores" and in his two long didactic poems, the "Ars Amatoria" and "Remedia Amoris"; the two fragments of the lost tragedy "Medea" are in iambic trimeter and anapests, respectively; and the "Metamorphoses" was written in dactylic hexameter. (Dactylic hexameter is the meter of Virgil's Aeneid and of Homer's epics.)
I wanted to like this book too, and to an extent I did, but I think my expectations were too high. I was expecting this book to be psychological as well as revealing and I expected for the characters to leap off the page. The book failed me in those expectations. While I enjoyed reading the Greek myths and tales, I was disappointed that the characters didn't leap off. One thing I would recommend is to be knowledgeable and know a lot of myths before starting to read this book because there's a lot of myths that Ovid skips over and one does require knowledge of them to understand his work.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)