Cultural influence of Metamorphoses

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Metamorphoses (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).


  • In 1613, Spanish poet Luis de Góngora wrote an illustrious poem titled La Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea that retells the story of Polyphemus, Galatea and Acis found in Book XIII of the Metamorphoses.
  • In 1988, author Christoph Ransmayr reworked a great number of characters from the Metamorphoses in his The Last World.
  • In 1997, the British poet laureate Ted Hughes adapted twenty-four stories from the Metamorphoses into his volume of poetry Tales from Ovid. This was later adapted for the stage in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1999, the year after Hughes's death.
  • In 2000, author Phillip Terry edited a collection of modern adaptations of some of Ovid's myths as Ovid Metamorphosed. Contributors included Margaret Atwood.
  • In 2009, British author Adrian Mitchell wrote a collection entitled Shapeshifters: Tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses, intended for young adult readers. This is one of Mitchell's last books, as he died in 2008, and it was published posthumously.
  • Australian writer Ursula Dubosarsky adapted ten of the stories from the Metamorphoses into plays for children. These were first published in the School Magazine, a publication of the New South Wales Department of Education, from 2006.
  • Published in 2018, The Overstory by Richard Powers makes frequent allusion to the Metamorphoses. It contains recurring quotations of the line from a children's translation of Metamorphoses: "Let me sing to you now, about how people turn into other things."[3]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schulman, Michael (16 August 2018). "Is Pretty Woman on Broadway a Big Mistake?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-05-24.
  2. ^ "Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre Gives Fringe Preview". Surrey Live. 5 August 2010.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, Carl (April 27, 2018). "The Overstory by Richard Powers – a Great American eco-novel". Financial Times. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  4. ^ Dittersdorf: Sinfonias on Ovid's Metamorphoses Nos. 1–3 (Media notes). Naxos. 1995. 8.553368.

Further reading[edit]

  • Enenkel, Karl A. E.; Jong, Jan L. de, eds. (2020). Re-inventing Ovid's Metamorphoses: Pictorial and Literary Transformations in Various Media, 1400–1800. Intersections. Vol. 70. Leiden and Boston: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004437890. ISBN 978-90-04-43789-0.