Cultural influence of Metamorphoses

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Metamorphoses (Latin: Metamorphoseon libri: "Books of Transformations") is a Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid, considered his magnum opus. Comprising fifteen books and over 250 myths, the poem chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Although meeting the criteria for an epic, the poem defies simple genre classification by its use of varying themes and tones.

Considered one of the most influential works of art in Western culture, particularly European, Metamorphoses has inspired such authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio. Numerous episodes from the poem have been depicted in sculptures and paintings by artists such as Titian. Although Ovid's reputation faded after the Renaissance, towards the end of the twentieth century there was a resurgence of interest in his work; today, Metamorphoses continues to inspire and be retold through various media.



First American serialized printing of Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (November 1914).

Novels and other literature[edit]

Visual art[edit]


  • In 1743, George Frideric Handel composed Semele. Based on a pre-existent libretto by William Congreve, the story of this Baroque oratorio comes from the episode of Semele and the birth of Bacchus from Book III.
  • In 1746, French composer Jean-Marie Leclair wrote an opera (tragédie en musique) Scylla et Glaucus based on the books 10, 13 and 14.
  • In 1767, 11-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote Apollo et Hyacinthus, K. 38. The opera is based on Metamorphoses. It is credited as Mozart's first opera.
  • In 1783, Austrian composer Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf wrote twelve symphonies on selected stories of the Metamorphoses; only six survive, corresponding to stories from the first six books.[2]
  • Ruben Dario's Collection of poems, Prosas Profanas (1896) contains the poem "Coloquio de los Centauros" based upon Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • In 1951, British composer Benjamin Britten wrote a piece for solo oboe incorporating six of Ovid's mythical characters.
  • Jazz artist Patricia Barber's 2006 album, Mythologies, is a set of songs based on Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis's 2009 album Metamorphosen is based on Ovid's epic Metamorphoses.

See also[edit]