Changing Stories: Ovid’s Metamorphoses on canvas, 0 – index and introduction

John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), Echo and Narcissus (1903), oil on canvas, 109.2 x 189.2 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England. Wikimedia Commons. John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), Echo and Narcissus (1903), oil on canvas, 109.2 x 189.2 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England. Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major literary sources which have inspired more European and North American paintings than any others: the Bible, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Although most of us are at least fairly familiar with the major Biblical narratives, and they are freely available in many different translations into almost every language, hardly any of us have read more than a few lines of Ovid.

We are also generally familiar with the gist of the major books of the Bible, progressing from the creation, through Adam and Eve, the Fall, on into the early history of the Jewish people, the records of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and early church history in the New Testament. I suspect that hardly anyone reading this page has the remotest idea of the overall structure and sequence of the Metamorphoses.

Yet Ovid’s epic work inspired the writings of Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the paintings of Titian, Rubens, and innumerable artists since. Its fifteen books are generally considered to relate over 250 different myths, some of which still influence our languages, thought, and art.

In this series of articles, I am going to systematically look at each of the myths in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in turn, which contain narrative, a story. I will relate that story, based on Ovid’s account, and then show a few of the best examples of that story in paintings. Articles will generally be briefer than the in-depth examinations of individual myths which I have posted in the series The Story in Paintings, and I will try to show the best paintings rather than a historical series.

I hope that you find the series interesting and useful. I am looking forward to tackling myths which are less well-known, and those which have been popular in the past and may now have become overlooked. Most of all, I am looking forward to discovering plenty of wonderful paintings which tell interesting stories.

References

Wikipedia.
Perseus English translation.
AS Kline’s translations and more.
Downloadable PDFs of Loeb Classical Library – L041 and L042 cover the whole of Metamorphoses, in English and Latin.

Barolsky, Paul (2014) Ovid and the Metamorphoses of Modern Art from Botticelli to Picasso, Yale UP. ISBN 978 0 300 19669 6.
Boyd, Barbara W (ed) (2002) Brill’s Companion to Ovid, Brill. ISBN 978 90 04 22676 0.
Fantham, Elaine (2004) Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature, Oxford UP. ISBN 978 0 1951 5410 8.
Hardie, Philip (2002) The Cambridge Companion to Ovid, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 0 521 77528 1.
Kilinski II, Karl (2013) Greek Myth and Western Art, The Presence of the Past, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 1 1070 1332 2.
Lively, Genevieve (2011) Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Reader’s Guides, Continuum. ISBN 978 1 4411 0084 9.
Melville, AD (trans) (1986) Ovid, Metamorphoses, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford UP. ISBN 978 0 1995 3737 2.
Solodow, Joseph B (1988) The World of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978 0 8078 5434 1.
Syme, Sir Ronald (1978) History in Ovid, Oxford UP. ISBN 019 814825 9.
Tarrant, RJ (ed) (2004) P. Ovidi Nasonis, Metamorphoses, Oxford Classical Texts, Oxford UP. (Latin text only.) ISBN 978 0 1981 4666 7.
Woodford, Susan (2003) Images of Myths in Classical Antiquity, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 0 5217 8809 0.

Anderson, William S (1997) Ovid’s Metamorphoses Books 1-5, Oklahoma UP. ISBN 978 0 8061 2894 8.
Hill, DE (1985) Ovid Metamorphoses Books I-IV, Aries & Phillips. ISBN 978 0 85668 257 5.
Hill, DE (1992) Ovid Metamorphoses Books V-VIII, Aries & Phillips. ISBN 978 0 85568 395 4.
Hill, DE (1999) Ovid Metamorphoses Books IX-XII, Aries & Phillips. ISBN 978 0 85668 646 7.
Hill, DE (2000) Ovid Metamorphoses Books XIII-XV, Aries & Phillips. ISBN 978 0 85668 733 4.

Beard, Mary, North, John, & Price, S (1998) Religions of Rome, vol 1, A History, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 0 521 31682 8.
Gantz, Timothy (1993) Early Greek Myth, A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, vol 1, Johns Hopkins UP. ISBN 978 0 801 85360 9.
Gantz, Timothy (1993) Early Greek Myth, A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources, vol 2, Johns Hopkins UP. ISBN 978 0 801 85362 3.
Morford, MPO, Lenardon, RJ, & Sham, M (2015) Classical Mythology, 10th ed., Oxford UP. ISBN 978 0 19 999739 8.

Parallel hypertext: Storyspace metamorphosed 1
Parallel hypertext: Storyspace metamorphosed 2, including a full Latin and English version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses Book 1 in Tinderbox/Storyspace format

Contents

1 – Lycaon, cannibalism, and werewolves
2 – Deucalion, the flood, and Python
3 – Daphne, and how the laurel became the crown
4 – Jupiter & Io, Mercury & Argus, Pan & Syrinx. Rape, murder, cows, and peacocks
5 – Phaëthon, the Heliades, Cycnus

Index

Apollo, Article 2 Article 3 Article 5
Argus, Article 4
Clymene, Article 5
Cupid, Article 3
Cycnus, Article 5
Daphne, Article 3
Deucalion, Article 2
Epaphus, Article 5
Furies, Article 4
Io, Article 4
Juno, Article 4
Jupiter, Article 1 Article 2 Article 4 Article 5
Lycaon, Article 1
Mercury, Article 4
Osiris, Article 4 Article 5
Pan, Article 4
peacock, Article 4
Phaëthon, Article 5
Phoebus, Article 5
Prometheus, Article 2
Pyrrha, Article 2
Python, Article 2
sun, Article 5
Syrinx, Article 4
werewolf, Article 1