‘The Metamorphoses of Ovid’ is among the best works in history thatofferextensiveknowledgeon ancient Greek and Romanculture. Ovid is aprowessin the field of storytelling and is careful not tolosethe reader as he unfolds this mystical story. He narrates with so muchpassionandenthusiasmon matters to do with love andloss, conquests among the gods and their imperfections among many other themes. Metamorphoses remain thepredominanttheme throughout the book.
Tointroducehis main theme Ovid begins by saying, “My mind leads me to something new, to tell of forms changed to other bodies.” In theveryfirst chapter of book 1, he isquicktodescribehow theearthundergoes a complete change of physicalformfrom its state ofchaosto a more organized appearance. Theearthas he describes it had been like a void, formless and lifeless-a roughdisorderedmassof elements he calls it. A god came, whoseteverything in its rightful place or rather where he thought they ought to have been. He separated the heavens from the earth, the land from the sea until everything was the way it currently is. The god also gave the oncelifelessearthinhabitants and from there originated the human race.
Another change clearly depicted in the book is the behavioral change in the human race. Humans start turning against each other, stealing from each other and doing all sorts ofimmoralthings. A man, for example, anticipates theearlydeath of his wife while his wife hoped for the same in return. Wranglesare experiencedwithin family ties, and peoplebringan end to each other’s lives in bloody slaughter. The giants inhabiting theearthwanted to get a hold of the kingdom of the gods so, they set up mountains upon mountains each other in abidto reach the skies and take over from the gods. In this view, the gods held a meeting to discuss what the consequences of such misdeeds would be. This provoked the god’sangerwho in turn decided to do away with the entire human race except for Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. Everything elsewas sweptaway, and upon this two, theentiremortalracewas created.
Apollo reproaches Cupid for misusing thebow.
Cupid used thebowtoignitelovebetween people, which got Apollo exceedinglyfurious. He claims thebowwas hiscreationand he, being the creator,bestknew what its purposes were and not for the games of love Cupid had used it for. Cupid did nottakethereproachlightlyand took it upon himself to revenge by shooting Apollo with agoldenpointedarrowthat provokedloveand shooting Daphne, daughter of Peneus, with an arrow having a lead-pointedendthat repelled love. Apollo thus fell in love with Daphne while she did not even seem to have taken note of this. In fact, she aspired to be like Diana, virgin goddess of the hunt causing her to escape every time Apollo called out to her. Apollo kept chasing after her trying to explain that he wasseriouslyin love with her, but she would hear none of this and did not give up running away from him.
This issymbolicand applies to the modern society and the endless pursuit of women by men.Though, unlike Apollo, whowas strickenby a ‘love-arrow’, what drives the modern man seems to be lust and will stop at nothing in his pursuit of the woman he is after.Daphne though seems to be aprotagonistas she goes against the Greek mythology of a woman. According to the Greeks, a woman was to be submissive to a man especially if he illustrates any interest in her. Daphne goes against this by refusing the god Apollo’s love; therefore, she is contravening the Greek society. He comes in for certainridiculeas Ovid illustrates howirrationalthisemotioncalled love can bring the god out of his intellect. Menwere consideredmore valuable than women. It is also clear that men are cautious of thepowerwomenholdover them. Jove, for example, despite being a godwas overwhelmedby Juno’s jealousy and hervengeanceon his women and had to seek a way out even with theauthorityhe commanded.
The men’s need toinstituteauthorityover women is evident in keeping with the ancient Greekmythologyof malesuperiorityin society. Religion also seems to support this whole issue of male chauvinism as it points to male gods as being superior to female gods.
As she runs through the bushes and shrubs, she bruises herself and Apollo keeps calling out to her urging her to be careful not to hurt herself, but his words fall on deaf ears(Feldherr) Apollo follows closely behind her after noticing herwearystate, and that she is losingstrength.She sees her father the river ahead, and pleads todisguiseher by destroying her beauty which to her had brought hermiseryand frustration.Peneushas nochoice but toturnher daughter into aLaurel tree to save her from her state of suffering. Even that did not stop Apollo from loving her, and he opts to make the Laurel his sacred tree. He wraps hisbowand lyre in laurel garlands and wears it in his hair. He also makes it thehonorarydecoration of the conquering lords of Rome.
Ovid’staleshifts attention to another of the gods’ love, that of Jove and Lo. Lo, like Daphne, also opts to be alone, but heradmirerJove is not at all impressed with this idea. He formulates a way to see to it that his desiresare fulfilled. He covers theearthwithsmogand rapes her. Violence occurs in almost every story in Metamorphoses mostly in seeking forvengeance. Here, Jove forces himself on Lo going to extraordinary lengths to have his way, not caring that she does not have even the least interest in him. Juno, the jealous queen of the gods and wife to Jovearesuspiciousof her husband on seeing the mist. She clears out themistaround her so as to have a betterviewandclearout her suspicions by getting to the root of the matter. In the meantime, Jove transforms Lo into a cow so as to avoid getting caught ininfidelityand tofoolherwifewho turns out to be wiser and claims ownership of the cow.
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This wholescenariois asrealin the modern society as many marriagesare being ambushedbyromanticaffairs of either one of the partners, eithermanorwife. Lust seems todrawthemelsewhereseeking forsatisfactionand fulfillment of their own desires. However, people are getting enlightened about unfaithfulness and womenmostly, as Juno have learnt to tell when things are falling apart in their marriages. They canreadsigns and interpret situations to know when something has gone astray. Menhowever, like Jove, are learning how togetthemselves out of the trap by deception and blackmail.
On possession of the cow, Juno gives Lo to Argus, thewatchmanwho has one hundred eyes and never at any one time does he shut them, for safe keeping.She is able to communicate with her father, by drawing in the dirt on her hoof.He laments for her but is unable to stop Argus from taking her to the pastures to graze. This is atruepicture of how muchpainparent are usually in when their children are suffering, and theparentmay not be able tohelptheirveryown flesh and blood.Like Lo’s father who truly desires tosaveher from her distress, but does not have themeans.Many parents eveninthis present day andagearehelplesswhen it comes to rescuing their children from certain situations, andmostlyin relationships.
Jove who was responsible for her currentstateorders for the murder of Argus by Mercury. Mercury pretends to be a shepherd and tries to make Argus fall asleep. Heeventuallysucceeds and executes Jove’splanand beheads him.Juno on the realization that shehas been trickedcalls for a chase after Lo who has already escaped to the Nile where she persuades Jove totryappeal to his wife toreturnher to human form.She grieves sodeeplythat Joveis movedand begs is wife to lift the curse, swearing that he would never again be unfaithful to her.Juno felt anachievementon making her husbandswear, and so restored Lo’shumanformthat became a goddess and bore a son by the name Epaphus. Even in modern times, there is afeelingof pride in women, just like Juno felt, in making a man, whois esteemedhigher insociety, to submit to their demands or their wishes.
Revenge seems to be themotivationbehind the transformations unfolding in the story. The gods areconstantlyin a war among themselves in a bid to outdo each other and in theprocesskeep changingmortalinto other forms such as beasts or birds of the air. Juno’saction, for example, to turnLointo a cow is seekingvengeanceeven thoughLowas arapvictimof her husband. She is a jealous goddess and sine she cannottakeit out on him as he is thechiefgodthussuperior to her; she takes most of her anger out on innocent Lo. Many people nowadays are like Juno and love to be driven by their emotions not taking to analyze andsourceout facts from tales. Many have also fallen victim likeLodue to some irrational behavior by others.
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Theworkgenerallyreverses the accepted order, elevating humans and their passions wile demoralizing gods, and causing them to be objects of ridicule and sources of humor (Simpson).Ovid depicts the gods as wrathful and full of vengeance. They are constantly turning their powers against the weaker mortals especially females in abidto prove their superiority. This idea got its inspiration from Ovid’s own experience as a poet exiled by Augustus because of his rationalism. Since he was inpowerat the time, Augustus did notseektogiveto Ovid the justice he deserved but rather was more keen onexecutionof his powers togetwhat he needed forfeiting aninnocentsoul.
In the same way, the gods did not stop to think that hey were dealing with mortal men who were not able to defend themselves. They wereratherconsumed by the idea of proving theirmight. By the end of the poem, everything seems to have experienced metamorphoses or undergonesubstantialchange that gave it aturnaround. Some seem to have undergone change that led them the wrong direction while otherswere servedbest by the changes they experienced. Humans shouldseektopursueonly those transformations thatare inclinedto thepositiveand that have afruitfulimpact on them and those around.
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