This book provides a unique and accessible introduction to the complete works of Ovid. Using a thematic approach, Volk lays out what we know about Ovid's life, presents the author's works within their poetic genres, and discusses central Ovidian themes.
  • The first general introduction to Ovid written in English in over 20 years, offering the very latest Ovidian scholarship
  • Discusses the complete works of Ovid
  • Accessible writing and a thematic approach make this text ideal for a broad audience
  • A current revival in Ovid makes this timely edition highly valuable


When I was an undergraduate and budding Latin major at the University of Munich, my friend Christine and I would meet up in the afternoon at my apartment and read the Metamorphoses. Fortified by many pots of tea and provisions from the nearby Konditorei, we slowly made our way through Ovid’s Latin, moving from the creation of the world to the crime and punishment of Lycaon, the cinematic cataclysm of the flood, Apollo’s unsuccessful pursuit of Daphne, Io’s bovine metamorphosis, and beyond. We were deeply fascinated by what we read – not only the uncanny tales themselves but also the poet’s beautiful and clever turns of phrase – and not a little excited by our own ability to understand and relate so well to something that had been written in a dead language so many centuries before.

Reading Ovid is a joy, and I hope that this book will communicate some of my own love for the poet, enabling readers from many different backgrounds and with many different interests to gain a a better understanding and appreciation of his works. To keep the discussion accessible, I quote only sparingly from the original Latin and have instead provided English translations, all of them my own. These lack all poetic aspiration and are intended simply to convey the text’s literal meaning.

Since my discussion is not primarily directed at an audience of scholars but at a wider readership, I have not documented critical opinion on each and every point of discussion, as I would have done in a more narrowly academic publication. This does not mean, however, that I have not been greatly influenced by the work of many colleagues. My debts will be obvious to those familiar with the literature; in addition, I list in the chapter “Further Reading” a large number of publications on Ovid that I recommend, as well as titles that have been especially important in shaping my own views.

In writing this book, I have furthermore profited from the expertise and ideas of Caleb Dance, Elaine Fantham, Marco Fantuzzi, Christine . . .

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