Publius Ovidius Naso, whom we know as Ovid, was already established as a writer when The Metamorphoses
was published in A.D. 8, when he was 52 years old. It had taken him a decade to compose his great poem, during which time he published little, but the Roman world was still abuzz with excitement over his richly erotic Art of Love
. So, unfortunately, was the court of Augustus Caesar, and the emperor banished the poet to what is now Romania. Augustus may have taken exception to the poet's turn to the impolite realm of the body--or he may have objected to a rumored affair between Ovid and the emperor's nymphomaniacal daughter Julia, who figures so prominently in Robert Graves
's Claudius novels. The poet who had declared Rome to be his only home could have found no worse punishment than exile, but no amount of pleading could sway Augustus, and Ovid died on the shores of the Black Sea a decade later. Full of veiled political and historical references, The Metamorphoses
lived on to become a permanent fixture in the canon of European literature. In Allen Mandelbaum's hands, it lives on for a new generation.
From Publishers Weekly
Translator and poet Mandelbaum offers his rendition of Ovid's classic work of mythology and change.
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