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Ovid's Metamorphoses

Arthur Golding

Edited by Peter Scupham

Cover Picture of Ovid's Metamorphoses
Categories: 16th Century, 17th Century, Translation
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (180 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2005)
£9.95 £8.96
Digital access available through Exact Editions
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  • Excerpt
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  •       Not farre fro thence there is a poole which rather
       Had bene dry ground inhabited, but now it is a meare
       And moorecocks, cootes, and cormorants doo breede and nestle there.
       The mightie Jove and Mercurie, his sonne, in shape of men
       Resorted thither on a tyme...
          Book VIII, 798-802

    Arthur Golding (1536-1606), translated the Metamorphoses of Ovid into vigorous, supple English 'fourteeners', beguiling readers with the pace and freshness of the ancient narrative. His was the translation that Shakespeare knew, and like the magical forest of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Golding's stories unfold in a landscape at once homely and enchanted. Here Philemon and Baucis entertain two great gods to a meal of boiled bacon and radishes; Actaeon, out hunting with his hounds Greedigut, Patch, Beautie and Snatch, stumbles upon the goddess Diana; farm labourers flee in fear from the mob of bacchantes tearing Orpheus to pieces, scattering their 'mattocks, rakes and shovells'; and like the Brueghel painting, Icarus' doomed flight is witnessed by amazed 'shepeherdes leaning then / On sheepehookes and the ploughmen on the handles of their plough'. Golding captures Ovid's delight in the variety of the physical world; its strangeness, beauties and horrors, in human psychology and divine transformations.

    Peter Scupham provides an introduction to the text, a full bibliography and background notes on stories and characters.
    Table of Contents



    Ovid's Metamorphoses translated by Arthur Golding

    The Preface to the Reader

        Golding on Ovid's Purpose (lines 1-222)

    from Book I

        The Creation and the Four Ages of Man (lines 1-170)

        Apollo and Daphne (lines 545-700)

    from Book II

        Phaeton and Phoebus Apollo (lines 142-274)

        The Death of Phaeton (lines 333-458)

    from Book III

        Diana and Actaeon (lines 150-304)

        Echo and Narcissus (lines 431-644)

    from Book IV

        Pyramus and Thisbe (lines 67-201)

        Hermaphroditus and Salmacis (lines 346-481)

    from Book VI

        Tereus, Philomela and Procne (lines 540-855)

    from Book VII

        Jason, Medea, Aeson and Pelias (lines 1-452)

        The Plague at Aegina (lines 652-852)

    from Book VIII

        Daedalus and Icarus (lines 201-342)

        Philemon and Baucis (lines 795-909)

    from Book IX

        Byblis and Caunus (lines 541-786)

    from Book X

        Orpheus and Eurydice (lines 1-160)

        Pygmalion (lines 261-327)

        Myrrha and Cinyras (lines 328-595)

        Venus and Adonis, Hippomenes and Atalanta (lines 596-863)

    from Book XI

        The Death of Orpheus, King Midas (lines 1-216)

        Ceyx and Alcyone (lines 471-864)

    from Book XIII

        Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus (lines 885-1052)

    from Book XV

        Pythagoras: Vegetarianism and Transmigration (lines 66-291)

        Pythagoras: Metamorphosis in Nature and History (lines 375-532)

        Ovid's Farewell (lines 984-995)

    Notes on the Text

    Names and Places


    Arthur Golding
    ††Arthur Golding was the younger son of a high ranking Puritan family. He counted the Earl of Oxford and Sir Philip Sydney among his patrons, as well as the Earl of Leicester, to whom he dedicated his Metamorphoses. Golding's prosperity did not last: in 1593 he was briefly imprisoned for debt. ... read more
    Peter Scupham
    Peter Scupham was born in Liverpool in 1933. Since 1972 he published over ten collections of poetry. With John Mole he founded The Mandeville Press and ran Mermaid Books, a second-hand book business in Norfolk. He received a Cholmondely Award in 1996 and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of ... read more
    Praise for Peter Scupham 'A collection in which perception often trembles on the edge of the liminal.' 

    Carol Rumens, the Guardian where 'Reflection' was Poem of the Week

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