Metamorphoses, The

The Metamorphoses, a poem by the Roman author Ovid dating from around A . D . 8, tells many of the ancient myths and legends of Greece, Rome, and the Near East. All the stories have a common theme of change, or metamorphosis, hence the name of the work. Characters in each of the tales undergo some sort of transformation into other forms, including animals, plants, and stars. The changes usually come either as a reward for obeying or helping the gods or as a punishment for disobeying or challenging them.

The Metamorphoses is presented as a series of 15 books in which the tales are mostly told chronologically. The first story is about the creation of the universe, in which chaos changes into order. The last story concerns the transformation of Julius Caesar from the human emperor of Rome into a god. The Metamorphoses is one of the most important sources of myths and legends from the ancient world. Although many of its stories can be found in works by other authors, some are preserved only in the Metamorphoses.

chaos great disorder or confusion

medieval relating to the Middle Ages in Europe, a period from about A . D . 500 to 1500

The Metamorphoses had a profound impact on later works of literature. It was a strong inspiration for the medieval authors Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio. It also influenced Arabian tales such as the famous story collection The Thousand and One Nights .

See also Greek Mythology ; Ovid .

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