Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts


by Ovid

Written by Ovid, ancient Roman poet, Metamorphoses is his crowning work.

Metamorphoses is a work that mixes genre. It combines, poetry, myths, and long prose. Some consider this novel a technical epic. Its story covers the world from creation to the Roman Empire. It is a mix of loose history and mythical legends.

Hackett Classics has a version of this work that isn’t too bad. It offers a solid translation, as well as a post-text index and glossary for those interested in more of this vein of writing. There’s not so much something wrong with this edition as there is nothing that makes it stand out as much compared to the others on this list. It’s not a bad buy, it’s just you can probably find another edition that does what you want better. The Indiana University Press had one that offers a good balance between the original work and contextual notations. While it isn’t a miss to grab this copy, there are reports of some formatting issues in some of the copies of this text. Others state that the translation may have been too swayed by the translator’s own poetic license and other poets in between. While this may be a matter of opinion, it is something to note. If you are looking for a more pure read of the text, the Everyman's Library Classics Series edition is the one you’re looking for. It includes an introduction to help settle the reader into the period, but beyond that it is mostly untouched. The translation in this one is what makes it shine. Award winning Allen Mandelbaum took the wheel for this translation and he did an amazing job. He would have had to for his translation to still be held to such acclaim today. The best version of Metamorphoses with context is by Penguin Classics. It balances a well thought out translation, one that doesn’t interrupt the beauty of the language used, with notation and articles on meaning. Penguin has become a well known name with classic works, and it’s easy to see why here.