Metamorphoses (Gr. μεταμόρφωσις, change of form) denoted, in the mythology of the ancients, those transformations of human beings into beasts, stones, trees, and even into fire, water, etc., in fables of which that mythology abounded. The origin and significance of such fables it is often impossible to determine. Some of them probably originated in observation of the wonderful transformations of nature; some in a misapprehension of the metaphors employed by the older poets; and some perhaps in mere superstition and love of the marvellous. The wild imagination of the Orientals filled their mythologies with metamorphoses in the greatest number; and the classic mythology approaches to them in this respect. The mediaeval days of Europe, especially of Germany, gave forth the fairy tales and other forms of folk-lore, wonderfully rich in metamorphoses. SEE MYTHOLOGY.

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