Methamorphoseos vulgare

Author: Written by Ovid (Roman, Sulmo 43 B.C.–A.D. 17 Tomis, Moesia)

Translator: Translated by Giovanni Bonsignore (Italian, 14th century)

Printer: Printed by Christoforo de Pensa for Lucantonio Guinta

Publisher: Published by Lucantonio Giunta (Italian, Florence 1457–1538 Venice) (Venice)

Printmaker: Cutting of blocks signed "ia" attributed to Jacob of Strasbourg (Italian School, born Alsace, active Venice, 1494–1530)

Designer: Design of some woodcuts attributed to Benedetto Bordone (Italian, Padua ca. 1455/60–1530 Padua, active mainly Venice from 1488)

Date: March 7, 1501

Medium: Printed book with woodcut illustrations

Dimensions: 11 3/4 × 8 1/8 × 7/8 in. (29.8 × 20.6 × 2.3 cm)

Classification: Books

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1922

Accession Number: 22.16


The first illustrated Italian edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses was published in Venice in 1497 and translated a Latin paraphrase of the fourteenth century. It had many reprintings, often, as in the case of this 1501 edition, with the same late fifteenth-century woodcuts.
This scene depicts the skilled metalworker Vulcan who, alerted by the all-seeing sun to his wife's infidelity, trapped Venus and Mars in an invisible metal net. Once the lovers were caught, Vulcan called the other Olympians to mock them. Mercury said he would gladly suffer embarrassment to trade places with Mars.