The Metamorphoses were written by the Roman poet Ovid in AD 8. The fifteen books describe the creation of the world and its history up to the life of Julius Caesar, using Greek mythology as its framework. Love and transformation appear in most of the stories.
Metamorphoses was incredibly popular in antiquity, although early Christians criticized as a “dangerously pagan” work — which, considering its focus on Greek and Roman gods and their romances, is at least a semi-accurate assessment. A bowlderized and much-abridged version appeared in late antiquity. Its popularity continued through the Middle Ages, and it was highly influential on many authors and artists in the Renaissance, as they looked back at classical texts for inspiration. A 1567 translation by Arthur Golding claims to be the first translation into English.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses have been retold and reimagined countless times over the centuries. Mary Zimmerman’s theatrical version opened off-Broadway in October 2001.
Midas and Silenus
One of the play’s distinctive elements is its focus on water as a central theme — and central scenic element. A large pool takes up the center of the stage, serving as everything from the river Styx to the sea to the pool in which Narcissus sees his reflection.