Metamorphoses

Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-AD 17-18) lived under the rule of Emperor Augustus around the beginning of the Common Era. In Rome Ovid was known as a writer of amorous poems, but his life’s work was the Metamorphoses, a grandly conceived narrative poem consisting of more than 10,000 verses, which attempts to encompass all of Greco-Roman mythology. Ovid chose metamorphosis, or transformation, as his leitmotif, and succeeded in ordering the diverse body of Greek myths and fashioning it into an epic saga with over 250 legends of transformation. He treated any and everything, from the paradisiacal beginnings, original sin and the Olympian gods, to the heroic deeds of Heracles and Theseus, the affairs of mankind (the quest of Odysseus, the wars with Troy and Thebes) and numerous individual tales, for instance of the egocentric Narcissus and of the singer Orpheus, who died a tragic death. Ovid’s Metamorphoses has been an endless source of inspiration for the visual arts, as well as literature and music, throughout the ages.

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