Forms of Astonishment. Greek Myths of Metamorphosis.
Oxford University Press, 2017. 304p. Paperback. This intriguing study of metamorphosis in ancient literature looks squarely at examples from the Greek tradition, beginning with Homer's Odyssey. (...) From Homer, Buxton turns to Athenian drama, where he rounds up the usual suspects: Dionysus looks like a man but is a god. Io is a cow. Tereus may have become a bird. Hekabe will turn into a bitch, Kadmos and Harmonia into snakes. Still, as in epic, in general, only death can release the human from its form. In comedy, Aristophanes' Birds testifies to metamorphosis into birds, although Buxton may lose his focus in seeing disguise, so important in Aristophanic comedy, as a genre of metamorphosis. (...)In the visual arts Buxton isolates three ways of representing metamorphosis: as a serial illustration; when the metamorphosis is complete; as a hybrid. To the first must belong the representation of Thetis accompanied by different animals into which she is imagined to be metamorphosing. Into the middle category must be placed Zeus as golden rain, as swan, as bull, as eagle. The third will explain representation of Circe's men, Minotaur, Io, Niobe, and Aktaion. (...) This book has a narrow focus and sometimes seems preoccupied with disagreeing or agreeing with earlier commentators as much as coming to grips with the topic. Nonetheless the reader will draw much profit from the range of Buxton's knowledge and his generous willingness to share this knowledge.' (BARRY B. POWELL in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.01.08).