In the Western cultural tradition, prejudices against marvellous transformation (and its treatment in literature and art) run deep, and metamorphosis has routinely functioned as the alien other of various norms and systems of belief. Evidence of aversion ranges from Servius, the late fourth-century commentator on the Aeneid, who rebuked Virgil (70–19 bc) for the scattered myths of metamorphosis included in his epic, to the church father Augustine (354–430), who considered empirically inexplicable change the work of demons, from Christianity’s belief in the devil as the shape-shifter par excellence and the modern contempt for alchemy, which, for its practitioners, counted as ‘a science of transformation’, to Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768), who expressed his displeasure at what he considered the baroque mannerism of Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680). 2 In the light of the epistemic and aesthetic protocols associated with the Bible, scientific rationality, classicism, naturalism, and realism, stories involving marvellous change would seem to belong into the realms of the abnormal or the fantastic, the grotesque or the irrational, the monstrous, obscene, or occult, the pagan or the primitive, the surreal, non-western or zany — in short, the exact opposite of the qualities that underwrite essentialist notions of identity, realist protocols of representation, regulatory ideals of beauty, and rational conceptions of reality in occidental thought. The following quotation sums up Western strictures against (the possibility of) metamorphosis: 3