Metamorphoses - Ovid, Rolfe Humphries Ovid falls in line with Lucretius and Virgil as one of Rome’s greatest poets. Metamorphoses compiles the myths inherited by the Greeks that helped define Roman culture. The focus, as one can tell by the title, is on change. Story after story details the transformation of one being in another. It is in change that Ovid finds his truth:
Nothing remains the same; the great renewer,
Nature, makes form from form, and, oh, believe me
That nothing ever dies. What we call birth
Is the beginning of a difference,
No more than that, and death is only ceasing
Of what had been before. The parts may vary,
Shifting from here to there, hither and yon,
And back again, but the great sum is constant. pg. 373, Bk. 15, Pythagoras
Interweaving myth into myth, the reader is taken through the great feats of gods, giants and the ill-fated mortals that defy their Fate. Stories of lust, love and betrayal are recycled themes that began long before bad day-time television. Everyone has heard about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but long before those kids in Verona there were Pyramus and Thisbe. And that’s one of the more tame tales. Ovid is good for some classical freakiness.