An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on 19th January 2017, written by Patrick Finglass, a member of the Oxford Scholarly Editions Online editorial board:
Known to Shakespeare both in the original and through Arthur Golding’s influential translation (1567), Ovid’s epic poem describes how king Tereus of Thrace, after marrying the Athenian princess Procne, returns to Athens to fetch Philomela, Procne’s sister, for whom she had been pining. On the way, however, Tereus rapes Philomela and cuts out her tongue. Hidden away in the countryside after their arrival in Thrace, Philomela is discovered by Procne and reveals Tereus’ crime through a piece of weaving. The sisters wreak vengeance by killing Itys, Procne’s child by Tereus, and serving him as a meal to his unknowing father. On discovering the truth, he pursues them, only for the gods to turn them into birds: Procne into a nightingale, Philomela into a swallow, Tereus into a hoopoe.
Behind Ovid’s account stands Sophocles’ influential lost play Tereus, the earliest work known to tell this gruesome story. Only a few fragments of the drama survive; but the publication in 2016 of a papyrus dating to the second century, from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, gives a precious glimpse into a crucial scene from this lost masterpiece...
Image Credit: ‘The xv. Booke of P. Oudious Naso, entyltuled Metamorphosis, translated oute of Latin into English meeter by Arthur Golding Gentlemen’, from the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image (SCETI). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.