Arthur Golding (1536-1606), translated the Metamorphoses of Ovid into vigorous, supple English 'fourteeners', beguiling readers with the pace and freshness of the ancient narrative. His was the translation that Shakespeare knew, and like the magical forest of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Golding's stories unfold in a landscape at once homely and enchanted. Here Philemon and Baucis entertain two great gods to a meal of boiled bacon and radishes; Actaeon, out hunting with his hounds Greedigut, Patch, Beautie and Snatch, stumbles upon the goddess Diana; farm labourers flee in fear from the mob of bacchantes tearing Orpheus to pieces, scattering their 'mattocks, rakes and shovells'; and like the Brueghel painting, Icarus' doomed flight is witnessed by amazed 'shepeherdes leaning then / On sheepehookes and the ploughmen on the handles of their plough'. Golding captures Ovid's delight in the variety of the physical world; its strangeness, beauties and horrors, in human psychology and divine transformations. Peter Scupham provides an introduction to the text, a full bibliography and background notes on stories and characters.
Arthur Golding was the younger son of a high ranking Puritan family. He counted the Earl of Oxford and Sir Philip Sydney among his patrons, as well as the Earl of Leicester, to whom he dedicated his Metamorphoses. Golding's prosperity did not last: in 1593 he was briefly imprisoned for debt. He died in 1606. Editor Peter Scupham was born in Liverpool in 1933 and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He founded The Mandeville Press with John Mole and he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has ten previous collections of poetry published by Oxford University Press and Anvil. He now lives in Norfolk and runs a catalogue book business with Margaret Steward.