Man into Wolf
The gods become angry at humanity in general and Lyacaön in particular for their excessive wickedness.
Deucalion and Pyhrra
Stones into People
After a great flood destroys the earth (sort of like the story of Noah in the Bible), only Deucalion and his wife Pyhrra are left. The couple goes to the temple of Themis to ask how to restore the human race. The goddess tells them to take their mother’s bones and throw them over their shoulders. Disgusted at the idea of digging up their parents’ graves, they sit and ponder what Themis might have meant.
Woman into tree
The god Apollo falls in love with the nymph Daphne, but she doesn’t love him. She tries to run away, but Apollo is a god and swiftly gains on her. In desperation, she prays to her father, the river god Peneus, to transform her into something Apollo will find less arousing.
Woman into Cow (and back again)
Jove is trying to get with the nymph Iö when suddenly his wife, Juno, shows up. Poor Iö is stuck as Juno’s bovine property for some time, but eventually the goddess gives up and lets her husband return the nymph to her human form.
Woman into Reeds
This story is a lot like Daphne’s, with Syrinx pursued by the god Pan. Different god, same result.
Women into Trees
Graphically, this too is similar to the story of Daphne. After Phaëthon’s death, his sisters mourn at his gravesite
Man into Swan
More bad luck for Phaëthon’s family, this time his cousin Cycnus. Who knew swans were afraid of lightning?
Woman into Bear
Jove gets Callisto pregnant, which really pisses off the nymph’s patron goddess, Diana (who Jove was disguised as at the time).
Woman into Bird
A Phocian princess begs the gods to help her escape the amorous clutches of Neptune.
Woman into Horse
The centaur Chiron’s daughter Ocyrhoë angers the gods by predicting the future.
Man into Rock
Battus tries to cheat the god Mercury. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t end well for him.
Woman into Statue
Mercury plans to wed Herse, but her sister Aglauros is overcome by envy. She blocks the god’s path, saying she won’t budge an inch until he leaves.
Man into Deer
The hunter Actaeon accidentally stumbles upon Diana and her nymphs as they’re bathing in a stream. The goddess isn’t pleased. Her choice of deer for his new form is particularly cruel. Because his dogs don’t recognize the deer as their master, they run him down.
Acoetes and the Lydian Pirates
Men into Dolphins
Lydian sailors hatch a scheme to kidnap a man and row away with him. Unfortunately for them, their victim turns out to be the god Bacchus in disguise. The god wraps the ship in a thick tangle of grape vines, and then ...
Woman into Flower
Though Clytie loves the sun god, he doesn’t love her back. So she sits for nine days, refusing food and drink, just watching him move across the sky.
Salmacis and Hermaphroditus
Man and Woman Merged
The Naiad Salmacis is so infatuated with the youth Hermaphroditus that when she sees him bathing in a pool she rushes in, jumps on him and holds on tight.
The Daughters of Minyas
Women into Bats
Minyas’s daughters refuse to participate in the festival of Bacchus, staying home and weaving instead. Suddenly their threads turn to vines and the room fills with smoke. The terrified women try to hide.
Cadmus and Hermione
Man and Woman into Snakes
Finally overcome by all the grief heaped on him and his family, Cadmus begs the gods to turn him into a serpent.
Woman into Water
The nymph grieves for the destruction of her spring and the kidnapping of the goddess Proserpine.
Boy into Salamander
Upset by her daughter’s kidnapping, the goddess Ceres pauses in her search to get something to drink. A less-than-wise boy shows up and insults her for no particular reason. So she throws her beer on him.
Man into Owl
Proserpine gets stuck in the land of the dead because she ate some pomegranate seeds while she was there. Nobody would have known about the seeds she ate if Ascalaphus hadn’t seen her do it. She pays him back for snitching.
Women into Birds
A group of boastful women challenge the Muses to a poetry contest. When the mortals lose, they start griping about fixed judging. The goddesses take their abuse for awhile, but eventually enough is enough.
Woman into Spider
The best weaver in the world, Arachne boasts that she’s even better than the goddess Minerva. A contest ensues. While the quality of Arachne’s work is beyond dispute, her tapestry depicts the gods taking animal (and other) form to have sex with human women. Enraged, Minerva destroys the work.
The Lycian Peasants
Men into Frogs
Latona takes a break to drink from a pool in Lycia. Some locals insult her and stir up the mud in the bottom of the pool so she can’t drink anymore. She prays to heaven to have them turned into frogs. Prayer granted.
The Theban Dragon
Teeth into Soliders
Apparently bored after defeating fire-spitting bulls, the hero Jason plants dragon’s teeth in the earth.
Ants into Men
His realm ravaged by plague, King Aeacus asks the gods to repopulate his land, making his people once again as numerous as a swarm of ants crawling on a nearby tree. The gods take the request literally.
Baucis and Philemon
People into Trees
The gods reward Baucis and Philemon – a poor, elderly couple – for their piety. The pair prays that neither has to watch the other die. To grant the wish, the gods perform a metamorphosis.
Man into Stone (in midair, no less)
Hercules blames Lychas for poisoning him. The mighty hero scoops up his hapless victim and flings him away.
Woman into Weasel
In a fit of pique, the goddess Juno interferes with the mortal Lucina’s childbirth. Angered, Lucina’s servant Galanthis shows disrespect to the goddess.
Woman into Tree
This is among the saddest of Ovid’s metamorphoses. Dryope picks a flower for her infant son, but the tree she picks it from turns out to be a transformed nymph. Even though the insult was an accident, Dryope is punished by being transformed into a tree as well. At least she gets to say goodbye to her family before tree bark encases her forever.
Men into Bulls
The gods get mad at the Cerastae – men who have small horns on their heads – because they turn their guests into human sacrifices. Their first plan is to destroy the entire island of Cyprus, but Venus opts to punish only the men who are actually guilty.
Statue into Woman
The sculptor Pygmalion creates a statue of a woman so realistic that he falls in love with her. So he goes to the temple of Venus and prays for his creation to come to life.
Woman into Tree
Myrrha falls in love with her father and tricks him into committing incest. Pregnant and despondent, she decides that she can’t stand either the thought of living or dying. So she asks the gods to be transformed into something else.
Hippomenes and Atalanta
Man and Woman into Lions
Venus helps Hippomenes win the hand of Atalanta. But he forgets to give the goddess proper thanks. So she waits until the young couple visits a temple, then fills the man’s heart with lust. Their blasphemous act inspires the temple gods to kill them, but Venus intercedes.
Corpse into Flower
Even though Venus loves Adonis, the goddess is powerless to prevent his death. Still, she gives him a kind of immortality.
Women into Trees
Female followers of Bacchus (the god of wine), the Maenads were legendary for their wild, drunken behavior. When the great musician Orpheus wouldn’t play for them (he was depressed because his wife died), they tore him limb from limb. This angered the god, who liked to listen to Orpheus’ songs in his honor.
Everything into Gold
Bacchus grants Midas a wish, and he asks that everything he touches turn to gold. It works well at first.
Midas is selected as one of the judges of a music competition between the gods Apollo and Pan. Though Apollo is the clear winner, Midas – who is friends with Pan – declares the verdict unjust. Apollo isn’t amused.
Man into Hawk
Grief-stricken over the death of his daughter, Daedalion tries to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. Apollo saves him by transforming him into a hawk, but the man’s anguish and rage live on even in bird form.
Alcyöne and Ceÿx
Woman and Man into Birds
Ceÿx drowns, and his corpse floats back to his homeland. His wife, Alcyöne, tries to reach his lifeless body.
Man into Bird
Aesacus accidentally causes the death of the nymph Hesperia, whom he loves. Guilt-ridden, he decides to kill himself.
Ashes into Birds
Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, mourns the loss of her son Memnon and begs the gods for some relief for her grief as his body burns. Then things get weird (even by Ovid’s standards).
Man into River
Polyphemus the Cyclops loves Galatea. But she loves the handsome youth Acis. When the monster finally comes to grips with the fact that his love will never love him back, he goes after his rival. Galatea tells the story of what happens next.
Man into Merman
The moral of this story appears to be “don’t eat grass.” Here in Glaucus’s words is what happened to him when he tried it.
Woman into Monster
Glaucus asks the witch-goddess Circe for help winning the affections of Scylla. Unfortunately he didn’t count on Circe having a crush on him. The angry witch can’t bring herself to hurt Glaucus, so she takes her wrath out on his would-be girlfriend.
Man into Pig (and back again)
In The Odyssey, Homer tells how the witch Circe turned Ulysses’s men into animals. Here one of those men gives a first-hand account of what it felt like.
Man into Woodpecker
More Circe, more trouble. This time around she falls in love with Picus, the king of Ausónia. When he rejects her, she doesn’t take it well.
Men into Birds
In the wake of the Trojan War, Diomedes and his crew were beset with trouble trying to get home (their woes brought about by a fight with the goddess Venus during the war). Angry about all their trouble, the sailor Acmon began running his mouth about how the goddess couldn’t do anything to them that she hadn’t already done. Wrong.
Boats into Nymphs
The goddess Cybele decides to sink the Phrygians’ ships. But apparently some other higher power takes mercy on the vessels.
Burned City into Bird
Prior to the founding of the city of Rome, the Trojans sack and burn the city of Ardea.
Woman into Statue
Iphis courts Anaxarete without success. Depressed, he kills himself. She decides to watch his funeral procession go past her house.