Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: What translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses?

  1. #1

    What translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses?

    I am trying to find out what english translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses to read.

    Apparently the two translations that come up often is by Martin Charles (WW norton) or David Raeburn (Penguin)

    Besides the obvious differences with one being in blank verse and the other in hexameter verse. Is their any of the two that stands out?

    I will be reading it for my own enjoyment and to easier be able to spot the references in Shakespeare. It is not part of an official in a study.

    The few pages I could read at Amazon didnt sway me to one or the other.

    So which translation do you prefer and why?

  2. #2
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The USA... or thereabouts
    Posts
    5,815
    Blog Entries
    78
    It would seem that the two translations you note "come up" the most because they are the most recent versions being offered... the Raeburn also being the version offered by Penguin... one of the standard publishers for "classic" lit. I can't speak to either. I will note, however, that there are two older excellent translations: that of Allen Mandelbaum and that of Rolfe Humphries. I would certainly greatly recommend either. Both are especially well-known for other translations of classic lit (Mandelbaum for his Divine Comedy, Homer and Virgil and Humphries especially for wonderful version of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura).
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.


  3. #3
    I'm currently reading the Charles Martin translation, and loving it! It's lively and elegant, and captures the spirit of what is I gather a rather naughty original. This translation is a very enjoyable read, nothing stuffy about it. I'm reading Ovid for purely for pleasure, and I couldn't ask for more than this in a translation.

    I have no basis of comparison other than the version I found online, at Project Gutenberg, an 1899 translation by one Henry T. Riley. It claims to be a "literal" translation but it is in fact-- appallingly-- a "Christianized" version. A deliberate corruption of the text that actually mentions God (singular, capital G) in the very first line! It is obtrusively footnoted to inform the reader that alas, those poor pagans meant well, they had an inkling of the "true" Mosaic story of the Creation, but they got it wrong. Fortunately for you, gentle reader, Henry T. Riley, M.A. came along to "correct" Ovid's errors!

  4. #4
    I own a prose translation done by Frank Justus Miller. A note on the translation found within the book writes: "This edition...uses Frank Justus Miller's 1916 prose translation..., which is still the most admirably direct and accurate available." This edition was published in 2005 by Barnes & Noble as a part of the B&N Classics series.
    com-pas-sion (n.) [ME. & OFr. <LL. (Ec.) compassio, sympathy < compassus, pp. of compati, to feel pity < L. com-, together + pali, to suffer] sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.

  5. #5
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    1,586
    Blog Entries
    32
    Buy the Rolfe Humphries translation. I've sampled about a dozen different versions and it's one of my favorite books.

    Now I have done my work. It will endure,
    I trust, beyond Jove's anger, fire and sword,
    Beyond Time's hunger. The day will come, I know,
    So let it come, that day which has no power
    Save over my body, to end my span of life
    Whatever it may be. Still, part of me,
    The better part, immortal, will be borne
    Above the stars; my name will be remembered
    Wherever Roman power rules conquered lands,
    I shall be read, and through the centuries,
    If prophecies of bards are ever truthful,
    I shall be living, always.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.

  6. #6
    I like A. D. Melville's translation. Good, natural blank verse, faithful to the original, and has the endorsement of university classics courses.

    Opening lines for you:

    Of bodies changed to other forms I tell;
    You Gods, who have yourselves wrought every change,
    Inspire my enterprise and lead my lay
    In one continuous song from nature's first
    Remote beginnings to our modern times.

    The only other one I'm really familiar with is Ted Hughes's, which I don't like half as much:

    Now I am ready to tell how bodies are changed
    Into different bodies.
    I summon the supernatural beings
    Who first contrived
    The transmogrifications
    In the stuff of life.
    You did it for your own amusement.
    Descend again, be pleased to reanimate
    This revival of those marvels.
    Reveal, now, exactly
    How they were performed
    From the beginning
    Up to this moment.

  7. #7
    Registered User Karl Rommel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    England
    Posts
    44
    Not Penguin Classics 1955 translated by Mary M Innes
    See:
    http://www.online-literature.com/for...highlight=ovid
    Last edited by Karl Rommel; 06-30-2008 at 10:47 AM.
    ďA little philosophy inclineth manís mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth menís minds about to religion.Ē ĖFrancis Bacon

  8. #8
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    1,586
    Blog Entries
    32
    Quote Originally Posted by patrickbeverley View Post
    Of bodies changed to other forms I tell;
    You Gods, who have yourselves wrought every change,
    Inspire my enterprise and lead my lay
    In one continuous song from nature's first
    Remote beginnings to our modern times.
    That Melville translation really sticks in my craw. It sounds like he's updated ancient Roman poetry to a sixteenth century English idiom. It doesn't have the feel of ancient Latin with the added draw back that it doesn't even sound like 16th century English. Here's how Marlowe translated Book one of Ovid's Amores.

    We which were Ovids five books, now are three,
    For these before the rest preferreth he:
    If reading five thou plainst of tediousnesse,
    Two tane away, thy labor will be lesse:
    With Muse upreard I meant to sing of armes,
    Choosing a subject fit for feirse alarmes:
    Both verses were alike till Love (men say)
    Began to smile and tooke one foote away.

    That Melville translation above feels all wrong. It's like he's reaching for something. I like the idea of translating just about anything into blank verse, but we've had developments since Shakespeare's time, Milton and Wordsworth for example; so modern blank verse doesn't sound that way anymore. If Melville isn't going to give a modern translation in a modern style, then what's the point of updating at all? Why not just take an older translation.

    The Dryden translation is dated and doesn't sound any more like Ovid but it's still better than Melville's if you want to go that route.

    Of bodies chang'd to various forms, I sing:
    Ye Gods, from whom these miracles did spring,
    Inspire my numbers with coelestial heat;
    'Till I my long laborious work compleat:
    And add perpetual tenour to my rhimes,
    Deduc'd from Nature's birth, to Caesar's times.

    The Humphries translation may not be perfect but it has the asset of at least sounding something like Ovid.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.

  9. #9
    Just to throw it out there, my Miller translation starts as follows:

    My mind is bent to tell of bodies changed into new forms. O gods, for you yourselves have wrought the changes, breathe on these my undertakings, and bring down my song in unbroken strains from the world's beginning even unto the present time.
    com-pas-sion (n.) [ME. & OFr. <LL. (Ec.) compassio, sympathy < compassus, pp. of compati, to feel pity < L. com-, together + pali, to suffer] sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.

  10. #10
    Registered User Karl Rommel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    England
    Posts
    44
    Mary M Innes begins her 1955 translation:

    My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of a different kind. You heavenly powers, since you were responsible for those changes, as for all else, look favourably on my attempts, and spin an unbroken thread of verse, from the earliest beginnings of the world, down to my own times.
    ďA little philosophy inclineth manís mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth menís minds about to religion.Ē ĖFrancis Bacon

  11. #11
    Champion Pierogi Eater Mr. Vandemar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    91
    I read the Garth translation. I think that Book the 12th and 13th are by far my favourite. If you are into the Trojan War, those two books are definitely for you. It adds new insights into the madness of Ajax, the cunning of Odysseus (or Ulysses, whichever you prefer), and introduced me to the thrilling battles of the Centaurs. I thought it was very exciting. I'm also a sucker for violence and gore. There is a lot of violence and gore in "Metamorphoses".

  12. #12
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    1,586
    Blog Entries
    32
    I love the end of book 12 where the son of Hercules asks Nestor why he omitted Hercules' deeds from his story and Nestor explains that Hercules murdered his brothers, sacked his town, burned his fields, killed the men and sold the women into slavery. He can't deny the greatness of Hercules, but he can deny him kleos, and in this way be revenged upon him.

    One thing I love about Ovid is how human his characters feel, more so than his ancient competitors Virgil, and Homer. Euripedes does character very well too, but you never get humor and warmth from him the way you will from Ovid. You don't get that again, in western literature, until Chaucer.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
    Link URL:
    Only the registered members can see the Link URLs. Please Login OR Register.

  13. #13
    Another source: Check if you library has 'The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation,' which apparently evaluates available translations.

Similar Threads

  1. What are u reading right now?
    By faith in forum General Literature
    Replies: 8272
    Last Post: Yesterday, 07:15 PM
  2. Is Garnett's translation really that bad?
    By marakatsu in forum Anna Karenina
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-17-2009, 10:28 AM
  3. A good English translation of Steppenwolf?
    By nightonearth in forum Hesse, Hermann
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-25-2008, 04:14 AM
  4. The Old Wilbour Translation
    By Zeruiah in forum Les Miserables
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-08-2008, 06:42 PM
  5. Translation issues
    By Koa in forum General Chat
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-08-2005, 04:06 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •