Ovid
The Metamorphoses
Just as Heraclitus had been the first to emphasize the importance of
flux and change in philosophy, Ovid played a similar role in narrative
poetry.  The sheer sweep of his story-telling is impressive -- this work
is among our best sources for the specific details of some 250 Greek
and Roman myths -- but the recurring themes of transformation and
metamorphosis link together these otherwise disparate tales.  Here
we encounter the stories of Icarus, Daphne and Apollo, Cadmus,
Tiresias, Pyramus and Thisbe, Proserpine, Jason and Medea, the
Minotaur, Hercules, Orpheus and Eurydice, Venus and Adonis,
Atalanta, Midas and dozens of other classic tales.  Ovid's influence has
been enormous, and he played an important role in establishing the
centrality of many of these myths in the Western imagination.   The
greatest of our later poets-- Shakespeare,
Dante, Chaucer, Milton and
so many others -- all carry the stamp of this illustrious predecessor.