Classics for Readers

Books as Author Work

Some of the most influential early modern versions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses translated into English were those by George Sandys who first began publishing in the 1620s. In the 1632 edition the lush illustrations and decorations of German painter and illustrator Francis Cleyn were added creating what would become the de facto standard version of Ovid’s mythological tales in the English language. The Oxford Companion to the Book calls Cleyn’s engravings “early landmarks of 17th-century book illustration in England.” (Ivy, 2010) While Wiley and Sons’ Handbook to the Reception of Ovid calls Sandy’s work a “largely successful effort to bring Ovid’s sense into a current, idiomatic, and unobtrusive English.” (Hooley, 2014, 345). Hooley also calls Sandys translation the ‘primary vernacular source’ for generations of English readers (ibid).

Frontispice for the 1621 edition.
Frontispiece for the 1628 edition.
Frontispiece for the 1632 edition by Illustrator Francis Cleyn.
A detail from the 1638 edition showing the “Wreck of Phaethon” by Illustrator Francis Cleyn.
A sample page of text from Sandys’ 1632 edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

 Ivy, Judy C. (2010). Cleyn, Francis. In The Oxford Companion to the Book. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 28 Oct. 2020, from

Hooley, Dan, and (2014). Ovid translated: Early modern version of the Metamorphoses. in A handbook to the reception of Ovid. Miller, J. F., & Newlands, C. E. (Eds.). ProQuest Ebook Central

Ovid, 4. B.C.-17 or 18 A.D., Virgil., Sandys, G. (1621). The first five bookes of Ovid’s metamorphosis‘ London, Imprinted for W.B. Retrieved from

Ovid, 4. B.C.-17 or 18 A.D., Virgil., Sandys, G. (1628). Ovid’s metamorphosis englished by G.S London, Printed by Robert Young. Retrieved from

Ovid, 4. B.C.-17 or 18 A.D., Virgil., Sandys, G. (1632). Ovid’s Metamorphosis: Englished, mythologiz’d, and represented in figures. An essay to the translation of Virgil’s Aeneis.. [Oxford]: Imprinted at Oxford by Iohn Lichfield.

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