Metamorphosis, by Ovid, Easton Press Deluxe Limited Edition

The Easton Press (EP) Deluxe Limited Edition (DLE) of Ovid’s Metamorphosis is a beautiful example of how nice a well done fascimile can be.  This is one of the most impressive EP DLE’s, probably only matched in beauty and scale by their Kelmscott Chaucer, and in sheer delight to flip through only by their marvelous and under-appreciated A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is a large 2 volume book (each 11 3/4″ x 17 3/4″) with a nice soft leather in dark burgundy, fantastic marbled endpapers, and nice paper with both the original Latin and English translations (of Alexander Pope and John Dryden) along with scores of classic illustrations, including that of the great Bernard Picart.

Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC – 17/18 AD), better known as Ovid, was one of the three greatest Roman poets (along with Virgil and Horace) whose work is right in the center of the Western Canon.  His work has had enormous influence on Western art and literature (reaching its high point during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) and remains a critical source on classical mythology. His best known works include three major collections of poetry, the HeroidesAmores and Ars Amatoria, and the epic Metamorphoses, reviewed here.

Metamorphoses was completed in 8 AD. This classic epic is a a Latin narrative poem in 15 books presenting a history of the world beginning with its creation and ending with the deification of Julius Caesar, though it is not written to present the stories in any degree of strict chronological order.  Myth and history intertwine, with tales of transformations throughout, and a constant theme of love. There is a nice summary of the organization of Metamorphosis here.

The importance of Metamorphosis cannot be over-stated and anyone with a book collection of classics would be remiss not to have at least one nice edition of it. This Easton Press DLE makes a nice choice.

About the Edition

  • Facsimile of the 1732 Illustrated Edition of the World’s Great Treasury of Classical Myths
  • Featuring text in both the original Latin and English translations by such greats as Alexander Pope and John Dryden
  • Over 130 illustrations, including the work of Bernard Picart, the greatest illustrator of the age
  • Mohawk Feltmark paper especially milled by Mohawk Fine Papers, Cohoes, New York
  • Cowhide leather imported from Italy by Cortina Leathers of New York, New York
  • Lithography by Falcon Press, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Multi-color cover decoration and custom binding by BindTech, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Raised hubbed spine deeply embossed with 22kt gold with gilt edges
  • Smyth sewn pages
  • 11 3/4″ x 17 3/4″
  • Limited to 400 hand-numbered copies

Pictures

Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Spine and Cover
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Spine
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Covers of Both Volumes
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Cover #1
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Cover #2
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Marbled Endpapers
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Marbled Endpapers
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Limitation Page
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Frontispiece
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Frontispiece #1
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Frontispiece #2
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Title Page Vol. 1
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Title Page Vol. 1
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Dedication Page
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Dedication Page Initial Letter
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Preface
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Contents
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Macro of Latin & English
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Decoration
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #5 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #6 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Title Page Vol. 2
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #7 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #8 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Sample Illustration #9 with Text
Metamorphosis, Easton Press DLE, Index

3 thoughts on “Metamorphosis, by Ovid, Easton Press Deluxe Limited Edition

  1. The LEC edition of Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ is one of their most beautiful books and it poses stiff competition to a a very impressive and well-crafted facsimile by the Easton Press. The LEC book was designed and printed by Giovanni Mardersteig at the Officina Bodoni in Verona and it is one of his best efforts for the LEC. The binding is one-quarter linen and the paper over boards has a distinct Florentine design in a light green and creme coloration with a classy dark green and gold label on the linen spine. The fifteen engravings by Hans Erni, one at the beginning of each of Ovid’s fifteen books of ‘Metamorphoses’, are classical and elegant.

    Frankly, it is nice to have a choice between two splendid but very different editions.

  2. Although I tend to agree that an original fine press book, such as an LEC, Arion, etc., are my preference, there are some facsimiles that reproduce books which I would never be able to otherwise afford, but which I would dearly love to own–the Folio Society’s Night Thoughts comes immediately to mind. I can’t equate a facsimile with a “fake” when the intention of the publisher isn’t to defraud potential buyers.

    This particular facsimile has many felicities–the translations (I am one of those who has no trouble with Ovid in heroic couplets rendered by the two great masters of that verse form), and having the Latin original is a substantial enticement. The illustrations I’m not wild about, but I didn’t care for the FS Ovid with the Titian reproductions, either. I much prefer Hans Erni’s illustrations in the Macy editions, but I still think Ovid has not found his ideal illustrator as yet. It seems he deserves somewhat as wild and elemental as Turner, whose Ovid Banished From Rome and Ulysses Deriding Polyphemusgives a hint of how the literal and pictorial style can be transformed with symbolism into something approaching Ovid’s paen to mutability.

    Still, this edition is a very desirable edition of the Metamorphoses, and I wish I could purchase it for my son’s library.

  3. No matter how much I try to like them, facsimiles by others,and especially Easton, always seem to me like possessing a Picasso or a Dali which are perfect in their detail, but are none the less fakes. I guess this is what enraptures me about LECs, and the fact that virtually every LEC title is a good example of the book maker’s art, rather than a well executed reproduction. For this reason, I have resisted almost all facsimiles and, in this instance, am glad of having an LEC Ovid, published in 1958, in as new condition.

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