Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's, Part 13 (Ovid)

The Metamorphoses by Michael_Kelleher
The Metamorphoses, a photo by Michael_Kelleher on Flickr.
The Metamorphoses

I have had this one for a long time. Probably since college, or soon after college. The binding is still relatively tight, but the pages have yellowed considerably. If I were to guess, I'd say I bought it at St. Mark's Books. But that is only a wild, uneducated guess.

I've gone through two classical reading periods. The first began in college. I read Homer in preparation for a course on James Joyce. Throughout college, I took courses in Greek philosophy, and always managed to find classes in which we studied the various Greek dramas and tragedies. I was pretty well versed by the time I graduated. My only regret was that I never studied Latin or Greek.

I went through another in early on in graduate school. I tried (and failed) to teach myself ancient Greek. I got as far as being able to read the alphabet and to pronounce most Greek words, but that was about it. One has only so much time. When I discovered Charles Olson, though, I felt I needed to go back to some of the classical stuff I hadn't read, especially Hesiod--just to get a sense of epic.

The Latin writers have never been as interesting to me as the Greeks. I can't say why, exactly. Probably some bias leftover from a teacher telling us that the Romans just copied the Greeks and changed all the names. I've always liked Ovid and Catullus, though, for what that's worth. Not much, I suppose.

from The Metamorphoses

Now I shall tell of things that change, new being
Out of old: since you, O Gods, created
Mutable arts and gifts, give me the voice
To tell the shifting story of the world
From its beginning to the present hour.

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