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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses


by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Resources


Theoi Greek Mythology

This website is as good as it gets for information on Greek and Roman gods and heroes online. Even though (as the name suggests) this is mainly geared toward Greek mythology, it will still give you essential background info for Ovid; plus, it tells you the Roman names of most of the characters it talks about it.

Ovid on Project Gutenberg

This website will give you links to translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses, as well as some of his other works.

Movie or TV Productions

Jason and the Argonauts, 1963

This classic from special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen takes a few liberties with the original story, but it sure is a lot of fun.

Clash of the Titans, 1981

Another Harryhausen masterpiece, this film tells the story of Perseus.

Historical Documents

Medieval Translation of Ovid into English

This image documents part of Ovid's reception into English literature. It is a page from a printed (as opposed to manuscript) translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses into English. Can you make out what story this is from?

English Renaissance Printing of the Metamorphoses in Latin

The passage seen in this image comes from the very beginning of Book 1.


Animated Movie of Orpheus and Eurydice
Brought to you by folks at UC Berkeley. Enjoy!


Six Metamorphoses after Ovid by Benjamin Britten
The twentieth century English composer Benjamin Britten wrote a series of six "metamorphoses" for the solo oboe, based on Ovid's works. You can hear (and see) this piece being performed here.


Illustrations of Ovid in the Renaissance

This website, although a bit confusing to navigate, contains many interesting links to Renaissance illustrations of Ovid's works. What you do is scroll down until you can see, typically to the left of any given piece of text, little blue boxes with colors inside. Click on these. Then a new window should pop up with links to all of the illustrations in a particular renaissance edition of Ovid. It sounds trickier than it is; just monkey around a bit and you'll get the hang of it. It's pretty awesome once you do.

Actaeon and Diana

The hapless hunter Actaeon catches Diana and her nymphs in the nude – bad news for him! This imagining of the myth is by the Italian renaissance painter Titian.

The Rape of Europa

This unusual painting by the twentieth century Russian painter Valentin Serov depicts the moment when Jupiter, disguised as a bull, carries Europa away with him over the sea. Check out Serov's depiction of the bull's lustful backwards glance at his prey, an apt depiction of Jupiter's sleazy wiliness – or is it wily sleaziness?

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

This painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (c. 1525 -1569), who lived in the Netherlands, depicts the death of Icarus from Book 8 of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The details – a fisherman, a shepherd leaning on his staff, and a peasant plowing – are all taken from Ovid's account. But do you notice any difference between how they are depicted in the poem and in Brueghel's picture? What do you think about the fact that Icarus takes up such a small amount of the painting's total area? For some famous thoughts on this issue, check out the poem "Musée des Beaux-Arts" by the English poet W. H. Auden, which we've got linked in our "Trivia" section.

Orpheus in the Underworld

In this image, the Flemish (i.e., from modern Holland) renaissance painter Jan Brueghel the Elder depicts Orpheus making his way through the Underworld to rescue his beloved wife Eurydice. Didn't turn out so well. Clearly, the painter has used the story as an excuse to pack in lots of wacky images appropriate to the land of the dead.

Jupiter and Io

This (literally) steamy image shows Jupiter with Io, before, you know, he turned her into a cow. One interesting thing about this image is the way it transforms (metamorphoses, you might say) Ovid's original story to make it more dramatic. Ovid, in Book 1, just tells us that Jupiter whipped up a cloud to hide what he was doing with Io. Correggio, however, clearly thought it would be much more dramatic if Jupiter actually turned himself into a cloud; this gave him an excuse to paint the god as a weird, ethereal cloud being. We give Correggio props for improving on Ovid here. What do you think?


Oh, narcissistic Narcissus, always staring at your own reflection. This image is by the famous Italian renaissance painter Carravaggio.

The Abduction of Proserpine

This spooky image by the Flemish renaissance painter Rembrandt shows the moment when Pluto, the god of the Underworld, carries of Proserpine, daughter of Ceres, to be his bride.

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