Ovid: ‘Cygnus turning into a swan’


Antonio Tempesta.  “66. Cygnus in olorem Hiere in stagnum vertuntur.”  [Cygnus turning into a swan and Hyrie dissolving in tears into a lake.]  From Metamorphosean sive Transformationum.  Antwerp: Willem Janszoon Blaeu, 1606.  Etching.  4 1/4 x 4 3/4.  Trimmed to plate mark and tipped into larger sheet, as issued.  Very good condition.

Click here to other prints from Ovid’s Metamorphoses



A beautifully etched print from the Metamorphoses of Ovid.  The Roman poet’s Metamorphoses was a narrative poem from the first century AD which told the history of the world from creation to the death of Julius Caesar in a series of over 250 myths about transformations in almost 12,000 lines over 15 books.  This was one of the most important works from the ancient world, influencing poetry, literature and art.  Many editions of this work were published, especially during the Renaissance, including illustrated versions.  Of those, Anotonio Tempesta’s, which included fine etchings of 150 of the myths, was one of the best.

This particular image shows Cygnus throwing himself off a cliff, then transforming into a swan and his mother, who doesn’t realize he survives, dissolving in tears into a lake.