Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”–An Elizabethan Rustic Translation (link to an online transcription)

I taught a class I call “A Storybook Petting Zoo” this weekend.   Many of the stories I ask students to read, from primary source transcriptions, are short, funny pieces from 16th century jestbooks.    This weekend, I had a student who was looking for a more specific kind of story, for a Pennsic class they teach about constellations.    Our conversation reminded me that I had not yet written a post with links, about my go-to source for classical mythology through my persona’s 16th century filter.

16th century translator and poet, Arthur Golding, translated Ovid’s masterwork, which includes a number of classical myths in their Roman guise.   It was printed in 1567 by Willyam Seres, and thanks to “B.F.”  (I don’t know anymore about the transcriber), a complete copy of the books is at the Elizabethan Authors website here:


Pro tip:  Golding’s preface contains overviews of all fifteen books.   There are more stories and more names in each book than are named in the corresponding overviews, but the Preface may help if you are hunting for one particular story.   The Wikipedia article on “Metamorphoses” currently contains a summary from A.D. Melville’s 2008 translation (ISBN 0-19-953737-2) with a more complete list of character names:


For any readers who have seen me perform “Pyramus and Thisbe”, this was my source for the adaptation I use.   It has also been regarded by scholars of Shakespeare to be his source / inspiration for the Rustics’ play-within-a-play in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.


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