Myth-Folklore Unit: Ovid's Metamorphoses (Books 1-4)

Overview. The readings for this unit come from Ovid's Metamorphoses, as translated into English by Tony Kline. This epic poem is one of our most important sources for Greek mythology. The title — Metamorphoses — refers to the unifying theme of the whole poem: the stories are myths of changing shapes, of trans-formation (meta-morphoses). In these selections from Books 1-4 of the poem, you will read about the great flood that destroyed the world, with Deucalion and Pyrrha as the only survivors. There are stories of Zeus's disastrous love affairs with Io, Callisto, and Semele, along with the tragic love stories of Pyamus and Thisbe and of Echo and Narcissus. You will also read the story of poor Phaethon, mortal offspring of the divine Sun, who wanted to drive his father's fiery chariot across the sky.

Language. This is a modern English prose translation of Ovid's epic poem. That means the language might pose some difficulties, but not too many. Just remember that you are reading a poem intended for a sophisticated literary audience in ancient Rome; you were not Ovid's intended audience! :-)

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Ovid's Metamorphoses I. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

Notes. This unit has notes from me on each page, but please feel free to ask questions, too! You can leave comments here just like at any other blog. You can also rate each page with the star ratings checkbox at the bottom of each post. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated!

Choosing Between Units. There are three different units with myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses as follows: Metamorphoses I, Metamorphoses II, Metamorphoses III. They can be read independently and in any order, so take a look at each one and see the myths listed in the Table of Contents for each unit that might grab your attention. And if you want to give yourself a crash course in Greek mythology, you can choose two of the three units, reading Ovid for both Week 2 and Week 3!

Read More. In this unit, you read only a small part of Ovid's Metamorphoses. If you want to read Tony Kline's complete translation, you can find it online at his website: Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Additional Resources. Wikipedia has good background information about Ovid's life, and also about The Metamorphoses. For learning more about the Greek gods and goddess, is an excellent resource.

  1. Deucalion and Pyrrha
  2. Io
  3. Phaethon and the Sun
  4. Phaethon's Ride
  5. The Death of Phaethon
  6. Callisto
  7. Semele
  1. Echo
  2. Narcissus
  3. Pyramus and Thisbe
  4. Mars and Venus
  5. Perseus and Andromeda
  6. Perseus and Medusa

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