Metamorphoses - download pdf or read online

Ancient Classical

By Ovid

"In this new translation of the Metamorphoses, Charles Martin combines an in depth constancy to Ovid's textual content with verse that catches the rate and liveliness of the unique. parts of this translation have already seemed in Arion, The Formalist, The Tennessee Quarterly, and TriQuarterly.

Hailed in Newsweek for his translation of The Poems of Catullus - "Charles Martin is an American poet; he places the poetry, the immediacy of the streets again into the English Catullus. The impression is electric"--Martin's translation of the Metamorphoses often is the translation of selection for modern readers in English."--Jacket. Read more...

summary: "In this new translation of the Metamorphoses, Charles Martin combines an in depth constancy to Ovid's textual content with verse that catches the rate and liveliness of the unique. parts of this translation have already seemed in Arion, The Formalist, The Tennessee Quarterly, and TriQuarterly.

Hailed in Newsweek for his translation of The Poems of Catullus - "Charles Martin is an American poet; he places the poetry, the immediacy of the streets again into the English Catullus. The impression is electric"--Martin's translation of the Metamorphoses often is the translation of selection for modern readers in English."--Jacket

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Example text

On the contrary, time after time, a story runs over from one book to the next. The poem is a seamless whole, an uninterrupted progress from start to finish, from the creation of the world to the final metamorphosis of the spirit of the murdered Julius Caesar into a star. And one of the many pleasures offered to the reader stems from the subtlety, variety, and often surprising wit of the transitions from one tale to another. Sometimes one tale is embedded in another, in the style of The Arabian Nights.

Now ships spread sail, though sailors until now knew nothing of them; pines that formerly had stood upon the summits of their mountains, 180 turned into keels, now prance among the waves; and land—which formerly was held in common, as sunlight is and as the breezes are— is given boundaries by the surveyor. Now men demand that the rich earth provide more than the crops and sustenance it owes, and piercing to the bowels of the earth, the wealth long hidden in Stygian gloom is excavated and induces evil; for iron, which is harmful, and the more 190 pernicious gold (now first produced) create grim warfare, which has need of both; now arms are grasped in bloodstained hands; men live off plunder, and guest has no protection from his host, nor father-in-law from his daughter’s husband, and kindness between brothers is infrequent; husband and wife both wish each other dead, and wicked stepmothers concoct the bilious poisons that turn their youthful victims pale; a son goes to a soothsayer to learn 200 the date when he will change from heir to owner, and piety lies vanquished here below.

What the translator can hope for is to bring over as best he may those elements of Ovid’s style that can be translated. Chief among these would be that “thoughtful lightness” that Italo Calvino has spoken of in his Six Memos for the New Millennium. One can see it in the irony that so often undercuts the noble and the heroic, either by an inappropriate admission (as in Juno’s monologue cited above) or by a simile that brings us from tragedy to comedy with no stops in between, as when Pyramus (in Book IV) nobly decides to take his own life in emulation of his beloved Thisbe: “‘Drink my blood now,’ he says, drawing his sword, and thrusting it at once in his own guts: a fatal blow; dying, he draws the blade out of his burning wound, and his lifeblood follows it, jetting high into the air, as he lies on his back upon the ground.

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