Ovid: Metamorphoses. Manuscript: Italy 1380. MS Hunter 445 (V.5.15): Beginning of Book 2 (folio 20r) Ovid‘s vast Latin poem on the theme of transformation incorporates about 250 tales from Greek and Roman mythology. Of enduring popularity, it was widely read and well known in the medieval period. Many of Chaucer’s contemporaries would have been familiar with its stories via a fourteenth century French translation entitled the Ovide Moralisé. This allegorised version of the work imbued the stories with Christian overtones. Chaucer’s poetry is permeated by Ovidian allusions. Most famously, he adapts the story of Ceyx and Alcyone from Book Nine of the Metamorphoses in The Book of the Duchess, written to commemorate the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster and wife of John of Gaunt. Shown to the left is the opening to Book Six which tells of Arachne’s transformation into a spider. As can be seen from the pages displayed below, some sections of the work have been very closely read and annotated by a fairly early reader. The manuscript was made in Italy and the colophon at the end of the volume states that the scribe completed writing it on the third of October, 1380.