Ovid Metamorphoses:Guide to The classics – Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Reading Rape
Some say love is what the world needs to rebuild and rejoice but in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” this is not the case. Throughout the book we see the opposite instead. Love is basically vile, and it dehumanizes most of those affected by it. Specially speak about the nature of love in the myths of Narcissus, Echo, Deucalion, and Pyrrha tells us that Ovid wanted people to think that is was a dangerous and a negative force. That once you catch the lovebug it’s takes over you completely, you’re so deep in it you can’t see past it. Even if you see that love is destroying everything, you ignore it because no one can resist its nature. In the myth’s above love often brings misery to those who endure it.
In Echo’s myth we see the constant theme of wanting something that you can’t have and how the effect of that want can be devastatingly dangerous. In the myth we come along a simple yet beautiful forest nymph who has already endured a lot in her life. In her past Echo was known for talking a lot and one day it changed her forever. Echo was telling tales to Juno while a nymph was with her husband Jupitar. The nymph escaped from the castle, which left Juno with no use her wrath on. Until she remembered who held her up, Echo. So, Juno ultimately made her live up to her name on the basis of having to repeat everything someone says. With the past discuss we move on to nature of love in this myth. One day Echo was walking through the forest when she sees Narcissus and suddenly its love at first sight, or obsession at first sight. Echo’s love for this man made her basically stalk him until her finally notices her. But once he does, she can’t talk back since Juno gave her the penalty of repeating others, ultimately Narcissus rejects her. This rejection doesn’t end her love or obsession for him, it just causes her more pain. Echo’s “…great love increases with neglect; her miserable body wastes away, wakeful with sorrows”. The power of love and how it can take over someone is apparent throughout Echo’s story. With Echo always wanting Narcissus even though the love she feels for him is destroying her being, she never gives up hope on fulfilling her dreams on being with him. Which causes her to slowly fade away with nothing, but her voice left.
The nature of love isn’t forgiving in Narcissus fate either. similar to Echo’s myth, Narcissus love is so powerful that it takes over everything he is. As it takes over him, we see how it destroys him as well. Echo wasn’t the only nymph to declare their undying love for him. It got to the point where Narcissus prayed to the gods about it “If he should love deny him what he loves!”. This prayer was answered by Nemesis but would be the end of him. There was an untouched fountain in hills of the forest, where Narcissus decided to rest after a grueling day of hunting. As he drank from the fountain he froze, there was the most beautiful angelic man looking right at him. He sees “All that is lovely in himself he loves”, which makes him want only himself. As he sits there looking at himself, he has an indescribable desire to be with himself. He tries to hold and kiss the reflection but every time he does it disappears. While staring at the water “He knows not what he there beholds, but what he sees inflames his longing, and error that deceives allures his eyes”. He doesn’t know what he has but he knows that just by looking at it he has an intense longing to love it, but this longing cause by love is detrimental error in his fate. Once he realizes that if he looks away, he will lose his love, he ignores his every need for his crazed love. In the end Narcissus dies because love was such a powerful but negative force that ended up destroying who he was.
Both myths of Echo and Narcissus nature of love was such a powerful force that they could not see past it or ignore how toxic and miserable it made them. The power of love took and left terrible affects that both could not see, only us as readers can see. Love hit these two like a freight with no end. The pain and misery of not being able to be with the one you love drives them to their demise. But at the same time, they still don’t give up on their love. It was terrible cycle for both to endure but they could not avoid due to the desirable features of it.
The myth containing Deucalion and Pyrrha is more on the side of the gods being affect by love, and how their love drove them to extreme circumstances. It all started when the Jupitar quickly realized that their beloved creations were not as innocent as they thought. The ones they were made to pray and love them weren’t doing what they were made to do. Jupitar made the connection that ” all men conspire in evil”, so he “Let them therefore feel the weight of dreadful penalties so justly earned”. So, Jupitar and the other gods were betrayed by the ones that they love the most, which angered them. The love and anger they felt towards man set them into a blind rage that they made man pay for. As Jupitar thought this through, he created a huge store to wipe out all of humanity. When the storm set off to do its purpose the humans went into turmoil. But as the destruction was happening, he saw an innocent man and woman still worshipping the gods as their world is being destroyed around them. As he watches these to pray to the gods his love and hope for humanity return because of these two. So being the almighty one that he was he stopped the flooding and dangers that where Deucalion and Pyrrha lay praying at. He gave them enough room to survive. After that whole ordeal the loyal creations decided to walk and as they walked, they noticed a temple. When going inside the temple they notice an oracle.
The oracle saw how dedicated to the gods they were and gave them some advice on rebuilding humanity. The oracle said to toss “the bones of your great mother”, both were confused at first until Deucalion realized that their great mother was. So, they threw rocks as the bones and suddenly humans started to appear. This myth shows more negatives to love, and how betrayal can turn love into an uncontrollable rage. We see that love basically dehumanized gods to their creations because what was in place of their creations weren’t the ones they loved. Which ultimately caused them to ignore how man changed to evil by destroying man completely, so all they remembered was the good parts they loved not the bad parts they hated. Until Jupitar saw how Deucalion and Pyrrha’s love for the gods caused them to ignore all that was happening around them. Basically, the gods wanted to wipe out humanity for their love of how it used to be, but Deucalion and Pyrrha changed their minds to rebuilding man to be like Deucalion and Pyrrha. So, the gods loved being worship and this loved caused them to take extreme measurement to fix their misery of not being worshipped. This misery almost caused them to ignore innocents that still loved and worshipped them.
In the end Ovid’s book really highlights the negatives that love can bring to those affected by it. Especially in the myths above we see the nature of love take everyone to point of ignoring the destruction of themselves or the world they created. In the myths we see the common theme of wanting the perfect kind of love even if it produces a negative force to those who endure it and are around it. Love causes people to ignore its destructive characteristics just to feel its superficial vibes.
Analysis Of Franz Kafka’s Short Story “The Metamorphosis”
Possessions, property, belongings and goods often give people a false sense of prioritization of what is truly important. Material objects have a sinister control over people since possessions have a tendency to present themselves as “essential” and many individuals believe that statement to be true. Franz Kafka’s short story, “The Metamorphosis”, offers a counter-argument of materialism by insisting that it needs to be prosecuted for negatively affecting the lives of many individuals by having them put money above all else. Kafka’s quaint story about Gregor Samsa who mysteriously awakens one morning to discover he has morphed into an insect as he and his family try to work around this strange occurrence offers much insight on how the story negatively perceives twentieth century materialism. Samsa’s gloomy thoughts about his work is an excellent example of how materialism is being critiqued. Samsa’s negative thoughts about his job can be seen near the start of the short story. Samsa contemplates that, “What a strenuous career I have chosen! Travelling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and top of that there’s the curse of travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!” (Kafa 2).
Samsa’s thoughts highlight an interesting feature and that is he the only character that realizes how meaningless it is to be promoting a materialistic lifestyle. Samsa’s occupation of a travelling salesman brings him no joy whatsoever and condemns him to constantly feeling miserable as a result. Examining Samsa’s thoughts more closely, he bluntly makes his feelings known about how exhausting it is to lead a materialistic lifestyle by shouting how much it tires him out to be selling people this terrible ideology. Gregor Samsa indicts materialism, even if he is not one who particularly believes in it wholeheartedly, for the fact that it has caused him to lead a dreadful life. Gregor cannot even feel elated when he is forced to travel as he finds it arduous and simply draining on his well-being. The most important section of Samsa’s thoughts is his words on meeting people everyday which expertly shows one of the biggest arguments against materialism. Samsa’s asserts that even seeing people is a chore as he is too focused on promoting materialism, since that is his job, and hardly has little time to make an effort to make a deep connection with the people he meets. This notion that material goods and possessions are more important than deep and meaningful connections with other individuals is worrisome and that is exactly the point Kafka is trying to make.
In Samsa’s case, it is understandable since he has to be constantly on the move and his work hardly allows him any leeway to form deep relationships with others. For other people, their material belongings often times become the focal point of their lives rather than their friends and family. Samsa not only condemns not only his career, but materialism as well. Gregor Samsa’s parents and their relationship is a prime example of how materialism can be detrimental among some people. Samsa’s connection to his parents is not that of the typical connection most people have with their parents, which is built on communication, trust, and affection. From what is depicted in the story, Samsa’s parents have been deeply affected by materialism that it poisons their opinions of their own son. Upon examining their relationship, it is truly disturbing to unearth how unequal and dreary the ways in how they interact with one another. The way Mr. Samsa treats his son, Gregor, throughout the story depicts how he was never really concerned with his son’s well-being whatsoever and almost every interaction the two have together results in Mr. Samsa abusing his son in some way or another. The description of Mr. Samsa, moments before he pelts his son with apples, perfectly encapsulates the two’s relationship. The description depicts that, “The same tired man as used to be laying there entombed in his bed when Gregor came back from his business trips, who would receive him sitting in the armchair in his nightgown when he came back in the evenings” (20).
What this description reveals about Mr. Samsa’s character is that he easily neglectful of his son and the material objects that are listed in this description, such as the bed, nightgown, and armchair, relays the sentiment that Mr. Samsa is more concerned of maintaining his materialistic lifestyle. The irony that occurs after this description is given where Mr. Samsa throws several apples at Gregor shows that, during a time of need, Mr. Samsa will easily turn on someone who is not assisting in the family’s living situation. Gregor is the opposite where he is the only one providing for his family and continues to do so and does not antagonize the family for not being able to support in some form or another. Materialism has infected the mind of Mr. Samsa as he cannot relate to his son’s way of thinking and turns on him the first chance he gets. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa’s materialistic priorities also end up affecting the way they view their daughter Grete.
Near the story’s conclusion, it shows a glimmer of hope of how the family have goals set to potentially live more comfortably than before. However, a disturbing glimpse of events yet to occur is shown when the thoughts of Mr. and Mrs. Samsa are exposed. The two view their daughter and contemplate “how their daughter was blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady. Just from from each other’s glance and almost without knowing it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for her” (31). What these lines indicate is that the parents are devising a plan to replace Gregor as the breadwinner of the family and have Grete take Gregor’s spot. The plan unfolds before the reader’s eyes as the parents notice Grete’s physical attributes as they believe this can be utilized as an effective way to earn money. They also consider that seeking a man is best for the parents, not Grete. Seeing as how Mr. and Mrs. Samsa use a materialistic mindset, it should come as no surprise that a top priority when finding a possible suitor for Grete is that the man is quite wealthy so that they can continue to live the way they did when Gregor was the breadwinner. All of this indicates a disturbing cycle as it can end up leading to another situation where they dispose the breadwinner who can no longer provide and move on to the next one. Kafka’s short story serves as an eye-opening experience for many as he expertly highlights the dangers of materialism and why it should have no place in society.
Metamorphoses: Mary Zimmerman’s Play Critique
Play Critique: Metamorphoses
Based on Ovid’s narrative poem, published in 8 AD, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses is a transcendental work of art with themes of rebirth, romance, power, and consequence. The play is a collection of classical Greek myths, reinvented using contemporary language and featuring a pool as a majority of the set. The body of water, along with the simple yet elegant backdrop of a double door and steps emphasized the theme of transformation of the mind, body, and soul. The lighting accentuated aspects of the set, the actors, and their movements, making the entire piece more impactful. The costumes were simplistic, reflective of the time period, and completely functional despite all of the characters getting soaking wet at one point or another throughout the play. Overall, the design elements worked well together and created a beautifully-done, powerful production by Vanderbilt University Theatre.
The element which, in my opinion, makes this play stand out from most is the incorporation of the pool. As a run crew member, I am fully aware of how much effort went into building and maintaining the pool, and it was not an easy feat but without it the production would not have been nearly as impactful. In literature, passing through water represents a cleansing, or a baptism. The use of water works perfectly with this show because no character is the same at the beginning of their scene as they are at the end. Each transforms in some form, whether it’s just their way of thinking such as with Phaeton, or their entire physical being such as Baucis and Philemon. The water is used to symbolize many different things and add emphasis to the emotions of the characters, especially during moments of intense feelings. When Orpheus is pleading to Hades for his bride back, water rains down on him as he stands in the pool. I believe that in this instance, that since Orpheus is the only person in the pool, it represents the fact that he is neither on Earth nor in Hell because he’s still living, and his placement in the water shows that he is in the midst of a journey. The water that pours down on him is symbolic of his pain and all the tears he must have shed due to the loss of Eurydice. The use of water intensifies this scene, more than just the acting alone could have done. Another scene in which the pool makes a huge impact is Myrrha’s. I believe that in this scene the depth of the water represents the Myrrha’s internal struggle. When she sleeps with her father, they embrace in the shallow water but when she leaves for the night she goes into the deeper water. With her father wearing his blindfold she feels safe, and stable in her desire but when she is alone there is an element of instability. Finally, when her father finds out that he has sleep with his own daughter, she is forcefully submerged in the deepest end of the pool, as this is the breaking point. All emotions are at a peak. When she emerges she knows that she cannot continue on as she is, her baptism, and asks to be transformed into something else. The pool is used symbolically, like with Myrrha’s, and literally, such as the naval battle, and it is an integral part of this production because of all the things it represents and the novelty it adds to the entire show.
Another part of the production, which may not stand out as much as the pool to audience members, but definitely made a huge impact, is the lighting. There were over 160 lighting cues for this production, which is rare considering the length of the play. The lighting was used to draw attention to the speaker, underscore the mood of each scene, differentiate locations, and create symbolism. The lighting also created illusions, such as the gold light making Midas’s daughter look like solid gold despite the fact that she was wearing a white and pink dress. When I viewed the show without any special effects I had no clue as to how the director and the technical people would execute this change in form, but after seeing the final production it was flawlessly done. A scene in which the lighting added to the mood of the play was that of Alcyone and Ceyx. This scene had many different lighting cues, each doing something different to enhance the entire scene overall. The first major lighting change was during the naval battle when the lights were flashing to show how chaotic and intense this battle was. This relates to the themes of consequence and power. The battle was the consequence of Ceyx not listening to Alcyone and the chaotic lights and flashes showed how powerless he was against the natural elements of the ocean, Poseidon and his henchmen. Also in this scene, the light changes when Iris is in Sleep’s grotto. When Sleep is onstage, everything is very dark showing that this is a place that “the sun never can, even at midday, penetrate with the faintest beams.” The darkness contrasts greatly with the bright lighting once Alcyone begins speaking again, representing her place on Earth versus Sleep’s home in the gloomy caves. The lighting adds to the theme of transformation just as much as the pool and the plot. In the scene with Eros and Psyche, the lighting enriches the theme of romance. The entire set is given a red hue, which looks beautiful with Psyche’s red dress and the white wings of Eros. Red is symbolic of love, passion, and well as anger, three powerful emotions which are displayed during this scene. It helps to set the tone of the entire scene. The lighting is dark, without being disconsolate and bright enough to have made me feel a spark of hope for the couple. The balance of this scene really made it stand out, in my opinion. One lighting change that I would make would be during the final scene, when Midas is reunited with his daughter. The light was gold, which would have reflected the happy mood and remind the audience of the reason for Midas’s journey, but it made it hard to see the expressions of the actors. Being able to view the show with effects and without really allowed me to see the importance of the lighting in this show and how fundamental it is to making this an emotional, yet relatable production.
The costuming of Vanderbilt University Theatre’s Metamorphoses reflected the time period in which Ovid’s narrative would have been set, using elements of Ancient Greece. However the most impressive part of the costumes is that fact that they stood up so well to being drenched with water and there were no wardrobe malfunctions. The colors used made it difficult to discern between wet parts of the fabric and the dry. As I sat backstage, I was impressed by how dry some of the actors appeared despite being knee-deep in the water just a few scenes ago. I liked how the silhouette for most of the females was the same, with the lace/mesh bottoms and a short dress over the top, which made the outfits seem very loose and non-restricting such as with Greek drapery. The design also made the costumes easier to move in and less likely to be weighed down by the water. There was also cohesiveness present in the male costumes, with brown tops, ruffles, and the tan pants. These colors worked beautifully together and the simplicity allowed me to focus more on the actor’s movements, words, and expressions. Actors whose costumes stood out the most to me were Persephone’s and Poseidon’s. Each of them used colors other than the standard brown, cream, and orange. During Orpheus’ visit to Hell, the costumes were used to create contrast on stage. Everyone on the left side of the stage was wearing predominantly black, while the right side was wearing white. This was reversed with Hades, who was wearing all black but standing on the right, and Persephone who was in white. I really like the contrast just within Persephone’s ensemble. Her dress looked soft and elegant but was juxtaposed by the black, stiff neckpiece. I think this exemplifies the power she holds on Hades himself, especially knowing the story of how their marriage came to be. Poseidon’s costume stood out because of its unique color. He is the only character to wear blue and it looks especially nice during Erysichthon’s scene. When Poseidon enters to transform the mother, the stage is lit to the same hue as his skirt and it really emphasizes the color. The black offsets the brightness of the blue and really adds an aura of authority. One costume I didn’t like was Eurydice’s, especially as she followed behind Hermes. There were so many elements to her costume, the bottoms, the dress, and the robe, but none of them were cohesive, including the colors. The gray belt, with a black outline, on her cream dress didn’t exude the same simplicity as the other characters and the addition of the robe really offset everything. She was practically wallowing in the robe and it distracted me from actually enjoying the scene. I enjoyed the mix of contemporary fashions with ancient ideals. I am not sure that all of the costumes were designed to reflect the themes of the play, as I couldn’t make a connection with many of them, but they worked well with the use of water and did not hinder the actors from performing to their fullest capabilities.
Altogether, the design choices implemented in Metamorphoses created a cohesive, influential show, as made obvious by the numerous positive reviews. Being able to see everything come together from Crew View, to the final performance was a very unique experience for me. Being present at each showing made me realize how important audience participation is in this show as well, as the actors are able to feed off of the reactions of the audience. The set designer and director did a great job at including the audience because of the proximity of the seating to the set and the fact that the actors often used the floor space around the pool. This enabled the play to be more comedic and the actor-audience interaction balanced out much of the darker content. The entire script is built on metamorphosis, or the transformation of characters and places and ideals. The set, lighting, ad costuming made the themes of this production clear to me and made my entire experience working with this show enjoyable.
Minerva and Arachne. Transformation in the Book Metamorphoses and Velasquez’s Painting
Minerva and Arachne Metamorphoses
Art and literature are two very powerful ways of portraying stories. Interpretation has a huge impact on stories as well, depending on how the audience and the artist interpret the work. Through stories in the book Metamorphoses we see the use of enargeia, or ‘vividness’. This visual sensory detail allows for mental pictures to be formed rather than looking at a physical picture of the story. Art was highly contested because it was made with the hands, so this raised the question if paintings were really a form of art. Stories in art and literature go hand in hand, but it can often be confusing sometimes when it comes to deciphering what exactly they mean. Through in depth analysis we can derive meanings, although often subjective, through text and art.
Specifically, through the story of Minerva and Arachne, we see an example of a transformation. Arachne was from a poorer region in Lydia, but an excellent weaver. She was so well known for her weaving that she became boastful, claiming that she was even a better weaver than Minerva. Minerva hears this and appears at Arachne’s house in form of an old woman; she tells Arachne she must basically mend her ways and honor the goddess. Arachne responds boastfully and Minerva transformed back into her normal state ready to beat Arachne in a weaving challenge. This marks the first minor transformation that occurs in this story.
Minerva’s tapestry she weaves depicts heroic, epic scenes of the gods and the border contained images that represented the displeasure of the gods; which can be interpreted as a warning for Arachne to give up. Arachne’s piece however depicted explicit scenes of the gods, with a more sinister approach. After the weaving is complete there is a mutual agreement that Arachne’s work is flawless. Minerva is outraged by this and proceeds to tear Arachne’s work to shreds, and then begins to beat Arachne. Arachne attempts to hang herself, and Minerva decides that if she wants to hang that she can help her. She then transforms Arachne into a spider, so she can hang for eternity. Ovid describes this metamorphosis in the following way “her flowing hair fell to the ground, and left her temples bare; her body lessen’d all, but most her face. Her slender fingers, handing on each side with many joynts, the use of legs supply’d. “ Through this description of the transformation we can see the vividness and how even though Arachne is becoming a spider, there are still some human aspects to this transformation.
This weaving contest represents two very different perspectives; especially with Minerva’s work glorifying the gods while Arachne’s work shames them by depicting various scenes of rape and wrongdoing. As Minerva torments her, she commits suicide, eliminating the possibility for a clear victory. We then see Minerva, punishing Arachne, because as her tapestry depicted, it is a god’s right to do so. And vice versa, Arachne is tormented by a goddess, as also depicted in her tapestry, which conveys that mortals should be wary of the gods and their deceitful actions.
Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez was a Spanish Baroque painter who painted a scene of the fable of Arachne. At first glance one might not realize what this scene depicts, seeing as this painting is sometimes also referred to as ‘The Spinners’. However, we can immediately tell that the picture depicts two women weaving. The scene in the foreground has been painted with a darker set of colors than the separate scene in the background of the portrait. It has been speculated that the foreground represents before the weaving contest has begun and the background represents the end of the tale of Arachne. The background scene depicts just moments before Arachne was transformed into a spider by Minerva. This can be considered the most important scene in the picture because it represents the transformation that relates the tale back to the entirety of the book.
We can see similarities in the painting and the text of Metamorphoses, but at first glace one might not automatically know what the painting is of unless some background information was provided. However, the different perspectives of both Minerva and Arachne in the weaving contest can be seen throughout the painting by Velazquez, especially in the form of the use of the drastic difference in the foreground and background, which basically depicts light and dark. Also the ideals that Minerva and Arachne hold also represent a dark and light aspect. We see Minerva take on a more balanced approach, while Arachne has more of a dark, cynical view on the world. These foreground and the background of the painting provide a sense of balance throughout the piece of art.
More specifically, the background depicts a woman dressed in an antique helmet who is believed to be Athena and to her right we can see a very youthful Arachne. This scene is to be borrowed from another well-known piece of art by Titian. The background image depicts when Athena committed the sacrilegious act of deeming her work better than a god’s. There are an equal amount of women in the foreground and the background, which could lead us to believe that they are in fact the same women in both scenes. In the background we can see Minerva’s anger emphasized, with her arm extended in a ‘striking’ position. The light source coming from the upper left of this scene, falls directly on Minerva in her armor as well.
Through the strategic highlighting we see throughout Velazquez’s piece of art, we can basically determine the highlights of the story. Arachne is portrayed with much more highlighting than Minerva is, so we can assume she is the main subject of this story, especially in the means of the transformation. However, Arachne’s face is not shown in the foreground of the picture as she weaves. The piece that really pulls both pieces of this painting together is the woman in the background who is intently gazing into the foreground scene.
While the piece of work by Velazquez does not depict the actual metamorphosis of Arachne into a spider, it accurately reflects the events that are detrimental to the metamorphosis overall. The events that Velazquez decided to focus on highlight the characters and their overall values. Arachne views the gods as deceitful and unbalanced and this is reflected in the piece in the terms of ‘good versus evil’, which is a common theme found throughout literature and art. The good versus evil is exemplified in the use of the incredibly dark foreground and light, luminous background. In the end, Minerva proves what Arachne wove into her tapestry, that the gods are vengeful and take advantage of mortals in the world. These events are ironic in the sense that Minerva’s actions prove Arachne to be not only the winner of the contest, but also correct in her views on the gods. Once again, the tapestries themselves represent the depiction of good versus evil in the myth. All of these light and dark themes are illuminated in Velazquez’s piece of art, which visually create a dramatic difference.
In conclusion, we can see many parallels in the story of Arachne that are reflected through Velazquez’s piece of art, not only in literal characters, but also certain artistic elements that were used to provide emphasis on aspects of the story. The visual emphasis helps define the importance, mood and details about the characters. While the painting does not literally depict the actual metamorphosis of Arachne into the spider, it emphasizes the events pertaining to the metamorphosis itself. We can pull these ideas out, first off, by the background scene, which is very bright with Arachne in the center of the scene. This scene depicts Minerva in a striking pose, angered by Arachne’s boastfulness. This scene is detrimental to the competition that ensues afterwards, in order to determine who is the better weaver. The foreground, which is much darker, depicts the actual event of the weaving contest, which is the bulk of the story. It introduces a theme of good versus evil and the picture effectively ties that in with its color schemes and painting styles.
The attention to detail that Velazquez used in his painting is what really brings it to life, and makes it reflective of the myth Ovid told in Metamorphoses. When we analyze the two works separately, many of the elements do overlap, making it true to the story of Arachne and Minerva. Velazquez translates the use of enargeia by Ovid in his stylistic choices he used in the painting. Both of the works are done in two completely different elements, yet when further analyzed, there are a lot of similar parallels between the two that really link them together. The human elements Ovid did use to provide imagery were literally translated by Velazquez into the form of art. Overall, this painting accurately depicted the story of Arachne, especially by depicting two different scenes in the composition. It’s a different approach that includes a lot more of the story rather than Velazquez just using one scene.
The Unjust Laws in the Metamorphoses by Ovid and the Death Penalty
“Unjust laws exist”
Laws were created by people with a motive in keeping structure and class within a society for the benefit of others; nonetheless many laws are unjust and wrong. They were established by people who felt that citizens would gain a profit from the laws created, however laws such as the death penalty and laws found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses are not justified.
The death penalty is a debatable topic in countries and although many countries have banned it, others have not. The death penalty was created to punish people who have done terrible deeds. Osama Bin Laden was put on death penalty after his many attempts and attacks on United States soil. He was a very big criminal and therefore I am not against his sentence. The death penalty is also placed upon many innocent people and that creates the fine line between integrity and discrimination. The Troy Davis case was a 22 year long case involving a young man, Davis, and the death of a police officer. Davis was accused of killing the police officer, although “the gun that killed the officer was never found” according to New York Time article published on September 21, 2011. The young man was imprisoned for twenty two years and dealt with 11 court verdicts according to a CBN news article published on September 22, 2011. Davis pleaded guilty at every verdict and told investigators to look further into the case because he sure he was innocent. Troy’s lawyer requested a lie detector test which was denied and shortly after, he was put to death by lethal injection. This man was imprisoned for twenty years, pleaded and begged for his innocence and with no luck put on this death row. There were no solid evidence against the killing, yet the Davis was killed. Why was he denied of a lie detector test if investigators were sure that he was the killer? The death penalty should be used when necessary and can be a possible just law if used wisely; however if used foolishly innocent people could lose their lives.
There are also many unjust laws evident in literature such as Ovid’s Metamorphose one being Jove’s punishment to all of mankind when Lycaon is turned into a wolf and starts eating human flesh. Jove judged the character of one being to everyone else and killed off all of mankind leaving only two survivors. This was a reprehensible move that he made after taking the actions of a single being into account; he was able to end most of the human race. By judging the character of all humans, he committed an unlawful deed.
Unjust laws do exist and while many may support them, because they certainly were made for the public good, others are totally against them. They were made to keep a society balanced and there is a plan behind every law created; however not all laws are justified and many create chaos.
Love the Trigger of Transformation in Metamorphoses
The tile of Ovid’s poem Metamorphoses literally translates to mean “transformation.” The compendium is actually itself a transformational work, merging a multitude of Greek and Roman historical traditions into one massive epic poem. There are many different types of transformations that occur for different reasons throughout the poem: people and gods change into plants and animals, love into hate, chaos into being. Love is the catalyst that creates these changes in the stories that comprise the Metamorphoses. This love is portrayed as a turbulent force that possesses the power to create both positive and negative change. Those affected by this force are wholly in its power, to the exclusion of reason and often morality. Transformations in the Metamorphoses flow from the pursuit of or effects rendered by love. As noted, this love does not always have a positive result; in fact, often the case is quite the opposite. Five main sub-categorical causes stem from love-provoked transformations: sexual encounters, escape, sorrow, punishment, and romantic love.
Sexual encounters are various and common within the stories of the Metamorphoses. The two types of encounters that recur are those of rape and relationships resulting in pregnancy. Rapes are disconcertingly rampant in the plots of these stories. These instances occur in plots such as that found in Book X, which documents the rape of Caenis by Neptune. Thereafter, Caenis transforms into a male so that she may never again be sexually violated. In Book VI Tereus rapes his sister-in-law, Philomela, who eventually, along with her sister, turns into a bird to escape. When, in Book X, Myrrha satisfies her sexual appetite for her father and becomes impregnated, she runs from her home land and prays for transformation; thereafter, she is turned into a myrrh tree that produces the illegitimate child.
Many of the characters in these stories experience a transformation in their attempt to escape a person, god or a situation. In Book I, Apollo pursues Daphne, a follower of Diana who was determined to preserve her virginity. When Apollo persists against Daphne’s wishes, Daphne flees and calls on her father, the river god, to transform her beauty. Daphne becomes a laurel tree and successfully escapes by doing so. In the next example, we again see a human fleeing the unwanted affections of a god. In Book 5, Arethusa is transformed into a river by the goddess Diana to escape her pursuant, Alpheus. In both instances, the gods take pity on humans, modifying their physical composition.
Sorrow often becomes the cause of a transformative tale due to the fact that the human or god form that the character occupies becomes unbearable. By transforming, typically into a plant form, this character not only escapes their mourning, but preserves the memory of that for which they mourned forever. In Book X the young man Cyparissus accidentally brings about the death of his favorite deer, and in his inability to stop mourning, Apollo turns him into a cypress tree. Book VIII tells the story of Byblis, whose unrequited love so grieves her that she turns into a spring that is eternally fed by her teardrops.
Punishment is a consistent theme throughout the epic, usually inflicted by the gods on human beings or upon each other due to outrage over hubris or simply out of revenge. These types of punishment tie into love in that revenge is an act of self-love by the doer- it focuses on appeasing oneself. Similarly, hubris is also the act of self-love, to the exclusion of all others. Revenge is sometimes motivated by genuine grievances, but more often is carried out on a whim by one of the gods. We see this fickleness in Diana, who in Book 3 transforms Actaeon into a stag to be murdered by his own hounds and companions, due to the fact that he accidentally happened upon her while she was bathing. Hubris, however, is considered a very serious and fatal flaw that often causes a character’s downfall. This hubris always catches the attention of the gods and is punished. The gods, as portrayed by Ovid, are hostile to any human being who tries to be their equal. Arachne is transformed by Minerva into a spider after she proudly boasts that her weaving skills surpass that of the gods in Book VI. In the same chapter, the woman Niobe is punished for boasting her worth by the death of her nineteen children and is then turned into stone.
Finally, transformation may be the product of romantic love. Romantic love is a mutual force that may end in tragedy or joy, but focuses mainly upon emphasizing the power that that love held. In Book VIIII a girl named Iphis is transformed by the gods into a male so that she may marry her love, Ianthe. Book X documents the love of Venus and Adonis. When the latter dies, Venus preserves his blood in the anemone to represent her eternal love for him. The reader gets the impression that because this love was romantic love, it had already defied time and the anemone is simply a symbolic act that represents this defiance.
Transformations, then, occur in myriad forms and most of these transformations can be traced back to the predominant impetus, love. Love, being a turbulent force that overtakes its subjects wholly, is capable of producing good or evil. In the collection of Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts the legendary stories that result from the various types of love, conveying the idea that the world essentially is change and one of the greatest catalysts of this constant change is love, in its many forms.
Pygmalion: The Power of the Artist in Metamorphoses
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a work about transience, and perhaps no two things in the natural world are more fleeting than life and beauty. Artists aim to preserve these two qualities in their work by simultaneously imitating the natural world to give the appearance of life to static creations and also looking to transcend and outlast nature’s beauty. Within the Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of such an artist, Pygmalion, whose statue blurs the boundaries between art and nature. The tale of Pygmalion demonstrates that the artist, paradoxically both an imitator and an innovator, assumes the unique role of mediator between nature and art.Initially, Pygmalion’s attitude implies he has created the perfect woman, thereby rejecting nature’s imperfection. After witnessing the Propoetides, the first women to become prostitutes, and whose shamelessness hardens them into stone, he chooses to “have no woman in his bed” (Metamorphoses X:247). His vow subtly accuses nature of blundering when it bestows vices “only too often” on real females, forcing Pygmalion to find a better alternative (10:246). After witnessing prostitutes turning into stone, Pygmalion performs the reverse: he sculpts an ivory statue to be his perfectly chaste companion. This statue is also described as more beautiful than any human “could” be, implying nature is actually incapable of ever equaling the artist’s skill (X:252). Essentially, Pygmalion creates a superior work of art because he possesses the artist’s imagination. In accordance with his own ideas, the artist can specify exactly how beautiful and virtuous to make his masterpiece, whereas nature worships reality and is confined by the physically and organically possible.At the same time, the passage paradoxically focuses on art’s imitation of nature, something supposedly inferior to it. Ovid’s observation, “The best art, they say, / Is that which conceals art,” summarizes the concept of mimesis, by which art attempts to mimic reality (X:254-55). By definition, the understudy for his statue was a natural woman, and the statue’s remarkably “almost lifelike”—or natural—qualities captivate him (X:252). In fact, Pygmalion’s one complaint is that his art is not alive. This makes sense, as Pygmalion is torn between the two identities of artist and lover. He has fallen in love with his artwork, but he is also a man and hungry for human contact. In an attempt to simulate courtship, he covers the statue’s naked body with dresses, brings it with flowers, shells, pet birds, and other baubles, and fawns over it (X:258-68). These scenes to any onlooker would appear the acts of a lunatic. Yet Pygmalion’s questioning arguably betrays a willful denial: “…Was it ivory only? / No, it could not be ivory” (X:258). He treats the statue like a living being that could respond to his advances “as if she felt it” (X:267), and even believes “his fingers almost leave / An imprint on her limbs” (X:261-62). The tentative uses of “as if” and “almost” again mirror his self-deception. He knows this is not a living girl, that she will never reciprocate his love, but dotes on her anyway. During the festival of Venus, Pygmalion ultimately reveals his desire for a living woman when he asks the gods to make him a wife “like his ivory girl” (X:277). When he admits a living girl would satisfy him more than his statue, Pygmalion at last discovers the tension between being an artist and being human. At this point, Pygmalion comes full circle. He finds nature cannot create a perfect woman, but neither can he, the artist alone, achieve the extra dimension of life. In order for nature and art to fulfill each other’s potential, they must join hands. The artist’s power lies partly in imitating nature, but also in being able to improve upon it with his own imagination, which transcends the beauty and chastity found in reality. Meanwhile, nature’s unique gift is that of giving life. The following scene, in which the statue is transformed into a living being, illustrates the combined power of nature and artistry. Significantly, the repetitious structure of Pygmalion’s action and the statue’s reaction demonstrates Pygmalion is a direct participant: “And lay beside her, / And kissed her, and she seemed to glow, and kissed her, / And stroked her breast, and felt the ivory soften” (X:281-84). The sculpture imagery depicts Pygmalion creating alongside natural forces, together morphing the simulacrum into a pulsing being. Overall, the transformation of art into the realm of the living retains the beauty and chastity of his sculpture. He can hardly believe she is a real woman now (“It is a body!”), proving that she has not changed in appearance and is still preternaturally beautiful (X:257). She even blushes, and, in a vision of starry-eyed innocence, turns her virgin gaze on “lover and heaven” (X:263). This near-perfect transfer of art’s virtues into reality affirms the artist’s ability to comment on how nature ought to be. The natural world also provides the setting for artwork to fulfill not only artists, but also human beings. Together, art and nature contribute something more meaningful than their independent efforts.In the end, Pygmalion gained a human companion in addition to his ideal creation. His resolution presents one theory of appreciating art, namely that a piece is meant to imitate and also expand the possibilities of the world; but as a social being a person can never find existential satisfaction in artwork alone. That said, merging art with life still has its drawback of mortality. Pygmalion’s living woman will not survive forever, as the ivory statue would have. Therefore, although nature and art fashion a fine woman, they still cannot achieve a permanent, perfect product. But this of course is the central idea of Metamorphoses. People and things always become something else, everything is in the process of becoming, and nothing stands on its own. Using this story and many more, Ovid gradually unveils his fundamental philosophy that life and beauty are transient.Works CitedOvid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. New York: Indiana UP, 1955. Print.
Ovidian Transformations Change Readers’ Perceptions
At the end of the Metamorphoses, Ovid boldly states “I will be borne, /The finer part of me, above the stars, /Immortal, and my name shall never die” (XV. 877-78). For Ovid, metamorphosis is a path to eternity and the preservation of time. Characters no longer remain permanent in his stories. Instead, their physical and emotional changes immediately reshape their natural environment. He makes the actions of mortals and gods unforgettable by writing about the morphing of memorable figures into common objects, which the readers can easily recall. He utilizes metamorphosis as a powerful tool to change our perception of the world. More specifically, his stories enable us to understand the reasons for the existence and placement of natural objects. These tales give previously unrelated and random events profound connections and shape the fundamental structures of both culture and nature. Ovid challenges traditional notions of the world by using transformations to establish order, teach lessons, and explain natural phenomena. His originality in writing about transformations also transcends philosophy-driven poetic imitations. Neglecting Ovid’s careful arrangements, some readers find spurious metamorphoses ephemeral and random. Professor Elizabeth Drumm concludes that Ovid is mainly concerned with instability and disorderly changes. By relating his myths to distinct symbols, however, Ovid orders a chaotic world and links mankind to its roots in nature. The broad system of symbols makes his work accessible to readers at different cultures and time periods. The transformations of Leucothoe and Clytie, for example, emphasize a deep connection to the natural world (IV. 170-284). When people see frankincense and violet in nature, their memories inevitably trace to Ovid’s work. The aroma of frankincense is no longer a natural coincidence but a representation of the Sun’s love for Leucothoe. These symbols, moreover, are most people’s familiar daily objects and patterns. Ask the readers to take a close look at their surroundings, Ovid defines previously insignificant objects. The tear drops of Phaethon’s sisters, as another example, “[d]rip and are hardened in the sun to form /Amber” (II. 367-68). After this change, amber has a new meaning to Roman brides, who used it as decorative jewelry. Ovid’s transformation stories paint a monumentum with interrelated documents. Readers can never completely escape his stories because they connect directly to the familiar natural environment. Ovid’s brilliance lies in that he does not only transforms the characters he writes about but also changes his audience’s perception of the world. Through the stories of transformations, Ovid can draw the boundaries of acceptable religious behaviors and attitudes toward the divine. Transformations result in a more peaceful relationship between mortals and gods. After Arachne boasts, “My own advice is all I need. Don’t think /Your words have any weight. My mind’s unchanged,” Pallas punishes her by turning her into a spider (VI. 42-3). In a similar case, Juno suppresses Ino’s seductive beauty by making her “crazed /By grief or by the sprinkled poison’s power” (IV. 20-21). Also, she turns Ino’s attendants into birds, thereby admonishing their impiety. These punishments control unruly behaviors to create stability in the divine and earthly worlds. With tales about physical changes, Ovid expounds the principle that humans must accept their inferiority to the gods. The Muses, as another example, says to the Pierides “you add /Insult to injury. Our patience has /Its limits; we’ll process to punishment” (V. 666-68). Magpies, then, symbolize the dire consequences for sacrilege. As a result, his stories serve as lessons and models for proper behaviors. By guiding people’s interactions with the immortal forces, Ovid delineates the appropriate relationship between humans and the divine. Besides religion-based organization, Ovid uses symbols to reshape the way people perceive political authority. The myth of Apollo and Daphne has significant implications on Augustus’ reign. The laurel tree symbolically represents not simply a virtuous woman but admirable peace and honor. Apollo says to Daphne, “You shall attend conquering lords of Rome /When joys shouts triumph…you shall stand /Beside Augustus’ gates” (I. 559-62). Ovid turns a previously insignificant laurel tree into a symbol for the sanctity and authority of the emperor. After reading Ovid’s story, the Roman audience’s perception of the laurel tree differs from the uninformed reader. In addition to the laurel tree, the apotheosis of Julius Caesar profoundly impacts the political order. Venus, ordained by Jove, saves Julius’ soul “[s]o that great Julius, a god divine, /From his high throne in heaven may ever shine /Upon the Forum and our Capitol” (XV. 40-42). Ovid’s original account of Julius’ transformation probes the Roman citizens to question Augustus’ political authority. Ovid not only literally deifies Julius but also figuratively mocks Augustus’ illegitimate heritage. This refiguring of the transfer of power from Julius to Augustus allows Ovid to express his opinion on Rome’s political order. Thus, Ovid, through original stories of metamorphoses, actively shapes both the Romans’ and modern readers’ views on the political atmosphere in Augustan Rome.Another way Ovid reshapes a culture, in addition to religious and political structures, is the institution of a social order by mediating conflicts between two sexes. His stories draw sexual boundaries by emphasizing women’s unfaltering devotion to chastity. For example, avenging Actaeon’s violation of her virtue, Diana turns him into a stag and “not until so many countless wounds /Had drained away his lifeblood, was the wrath…of chaste Diana satisfied” (III. 237-39). Such a punishment exposes the repercussion of violating the sphere of the opposite sex. The love story of Pyramus and Thisbe shows another type of sacrifice. Thisbe’s unwavering loyalty made her a heroine for women to emulate. She bravely states, “Love will give strength to strike. To death I’ll follow!…Death now shall have no power to part us ever” (IV. 149-53). The color of the mulberry tree serves as an eternal reminder of the price paid for love. Ovid employs natural objects, such as the mulberries, to catch readers’ attention because they can relate his stories to the familiar natural world. Ovid carefully chooses the end product of a transformation so that the character gains a new identity but still traces back to the original story. The mulberry tree, again, permanently bears red berries to symbolize the two lovers’ bloody sacrifice. Ovid sets up a memory palace, allowing the readers to see beyond the superficial appearance and remember the distinct origin of each natural object. The products transformations that end gender strife significantly alter readers’ conceptualizations of the world. Despite creating a social order, Ovid often problematizes the relationship between men and women. He takes advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate the power of metamorphoses by resolving the problems associated with the disruption of gender roles. Although Ovid shows that a distinct social sphere confines women’s activities, he recognizes that irrational eros often cause clash of the two genders. The Thracian family is one prominent example that shows the destructive nature of inappropriate sexual bonds. Ovid tries to impose order on the family through a series of transformations. He compares Tereus, charmed by Procne’s sister Philomela, to “bird of prey has caught a hare…/To his high nest, the captive has no chance /Of flight, the captor gloats over his prize” (VI. 518-21). Tereus’ attempt to debilitate Philomela fails and he eventually consumes his son’s flesh. The family’s tragic end reveals the difficulty for women to live up to the highest moral standards, especially under men’s unpredictable eros. Furthermore, Ovid starkly shows the consequences of crossing inviolable boundaries. To relieve this tension involving betrayal, cannibalism, and taboo relations, Ovid changes the characters into birds with distinct characteristics. To this day, “[t]he marks of murder show upon a breast /And feathers carry still the stamp of blood” (VI. 672-73). In several stories, Ovid reveals women’s vulnerability and difficulty in maintaining their dignity. Through transformations, these conflicts among men and women can terminate peacefully. Thus, Ovid lessens the inconsistencies in gender roles, which helps to foster healthy domestic relationships. In addition to the various foundations of order, Ovid explains the existence of common natural phenomena, thereby helping his readers grasp the significance and causation of natural events. Although Perseus tamed the frenzied Gorgon, gods’ irrationality constantly threatens the mortal realm. Ovid, however, turns disorder into a peaceful hierarchy of forces governing the world. For instance, he utilizes the story of the rape of Proserpine to show how the fundamental pattern of seasonal changes originated. Through compromises, Ceres and Pluto agree that Proserpine “spends with her mother half /The year’s twelve months and with her husband half” (V. 563-64). This incident starts chaotically but ends by profoundly affecting people’s lives in terms of agricultural production and seasonal habits. As a result of this change, definitive and predictable patterns replace arbitrary natural events in influencing human actions. Metamorphoses intricately blend characters in Ovid’s tales into the readers’ environment and rationalize why certain natural phenomena persist. Beyond the originality of directly linking nature with the products of changes, Ovid adopts metamorphosis as a means to solely direct the writing of poetry. Often, poets depend heavily on philosophical ideas to justify their work. Ovid, on the other hand, demonstrates originality because he manipulates Pythagoreanism to reflect Metamorphoses’ major themes. He shapes an assortment of philosophical ideas to mirror the diverse array of genres in his stories. Pythagoras, speaking through Ovid, endorses the theme of immortality through changes and rearrangements. He states, “In all creation, be assured, /There is no death—no death, but only change” (XV. 251-52). Unlike poets such as Lucretius and Virgil, Ovid does not accept particular philosophical doctrines. Without persistent ideology, the poet becomes the principal director of his own spectacle, which challenges the readers’ world view. Instead of remaining faithful to traditional philosophy, Ovid creates a kaleidoscopic poetic tradition where the poet rises above the rapid changes. Ovid prevents the erosion of human deeds by time’s progression. He documents transformations to illustrate religious, political, and social order. In addition, he shows that certain events are destined to repeat but every mortal will fall into his or her proper place. The same principle applies to Ovid, whose work makes his name everlasting. “As not the wrath of Jove, nor fire nor sword /Nor the devouring age can destroy,” Ovid crosses the threshold between death and eternity (XV. 872-73). By profoundly restructuring people’s interactions and recognitions of objects and patterns in nature, he justifies his conspicuous claim of immortality. His stories, with strong associations to the natural world, were easily transmitted from generation to generation. Centuries later, Ovid’s narratives influenced numerous writers and artists around the world. More importantly, just before the dawn of Christianity, the Metamorphoses transformed Romans in Ovid’s era to a higher degree of spirituality.
Make Panic Look Fetching: The Eroticization of Rape by Ovid
Jordan Reid BerkowFinal PaperRome of AugustusApril 17, 2003″Make Panic Look Fetching”: The Eroticization of Rape by Ovid In both the Ars Armatoria and Metamorphoses, Ovid presents highly detailed, compelling scenes of rape, crafting these moments with an almost exquisite attention to detail that reveals their value to him as a writer. Two of the most notable rape scenes in Ovid’s repertoire are that of the rape of the Sabine women, in the Ars Armatoria, and the story of the Arcadian Girl (also known as the Callisto myth) in Metamorphoses. While one may imagine that the ancient Roman conception of rape may have been fairly simplistic and accommodating to the male perspective, Ovid’s portrayals are, to the contrary, quite complex and cast the women not as mere faceless victims, but rather as individuals with highly distinctive personalities and characteristics. Additionally, Ovid pays a great deal of attention to the negative effects that the rapes have on the victims, describing their sorrow, their tears, and their cries, as in the Ars Armatoria, for their mother (124). This remarkably sympathetic portrayal of women, however, while perhaps intended to elicit sympathy from the reader, is overwhelmed by Ovid’s attraction to the fantasy of male dominance and by the extreme eroticization of the act that reveals Ovid’s true perception of rape. Indeed, the compassionate, tear-stained depiction of the women is the very mechanism through which Ovid eroticizes the brutal scenes. His compassionate portrayal of the women is thus invalidated by his determination to cast these women as clear objects of desire and arousal, reveling in the beauty that is found in their misery. The Rape of the Sabine Women is a tale so integral to Roman history and mythology that it has found its ways into the oeuvres of a number of prominent authors. Livy tells the story of the young Roman men who, finding it more difficult than they had expected to secure a wife, attack the Sabine women during a festival at the bequest of their ruler, Romulus (SB 53). The Rape of the Sabine Women is not generally cast as a moment of shame in Roman history, but rather as the crucial moment in the development of the race. It was, as Mary Beard writes in “The Erotics of Rape: Livy, Ovid and the Sabine Women”, an “originary moment for the Romans” (1). Beard goes on to note that Livy’s telling of the story of the Sabine women “emphasizes the honourable motives for the rape…[and] admits no questioning at all of what is, at first sight, a most questionable founding act” (4). In many renditions of the story, then, the rape is viewed as a political act, not one in which the emotions or identities of the victimized women are given a great deal of consideration, and certainly not one involving any significant component of sympathy. The Callisto myth is another story that has been taken up by a number of classical authors, from Hesiod and Apollodorus to Pausanias and Ovid (Wall 10). Ovid’s rendition is a fascinating and highly complex portrayal of the nymph dedicated to Diana who catches the eye of Jove. Jove approaches Callisto (referred to in Ovid as simply the “Arcadian girl” or “Lycaon’s daughter”, but who will here be referred to as Callisto for the sake of simplicity) in the guise of Diana, and then rapes and impregnates her. When Callisto’s pregnancy is discovered by Diana, she is banished. Upon the birth of her son, Arcas, she is transformed into a bear by the jealous Juno, wife of Jove. This rape scene, as well, is often viewed as a moment of political change more than a brutal, invasive act, for as Kathleen Wall writes in The Callisto Myth From Ovid to Atwood, the rape takes place in a “wasteland” that is later renewed by the birth of the illegitimate son, Arcas, the savior of the country (16). While many versions of both stories focus on the political impact, as opposed to the emotional or psychological trauma of the act of rape, Ovid’s accounts again contain a great deal of complexity and a surprising degree of attention to the female characters. In the story of the Sabine women, Ovid does not, as Livy does, attempt to deny the individuality of the women involved (Beard 9). Ovid takes care to describe the unique ways in which each woman responded to the trauma: The same nightmare for all, though terror’s features varied: Some tore their hair, some just froze Where they sat; some, dismayed, kept silence, others vainly Yelled for Mamma; some wailed; some gaped; Some fled, some just stood there. (121-125) The women are not grouped into a singular body of “rape victims”, but are treated as individuals, with distinct personalities and responses to assault. Ovid’s description of the rape of the Sabine women further appears to relate to the feminine perspective through its insistence on conveying the horror of the situation. In the above quote, the dismay with which the women greet their rapists is made abundantly clear, in contrast to Livy, where little attention is paid to the responses of the women, with the strongest reference to their attitude towards their rapists coming in the line “the stolen maidens were no more hopeful about their own situation [than the parents], nor less indignant” – hardly a compelling description of the emotional consequences of rape. Ovid, however, pays a great deal of attention to the fact that the girls are left “panic-stricken, / Not one had the same colour in her cheeks as before” (119-120), and portrays the relationship between the victims and the rapists as “timorous doves flee[ing] eagles” (117) and baby lambs running when they lay eyes upon “the hated wolf” (117-118). Furthermore, by referring to the scene as a “nightmare” (121) Ovid clearly instructs the audience’s response to the scene: as a spectacle of horror. In Metamorphoses, the scene of Callisto’s rape is similar to the account of the rape of the Sabines in the Ars Armatoria in that Callisto is endowed with a significant degree of individuality, and the reader is clearly intended to look upon the scene with a sense of horror and a deep sympathy for the violated woman. Callisto’s most striking characteristic is her fierce independence and, as a huntress, disinterest in typically feminine pursuits: “She had no need / To spin the wool to softness, nor to vary / The way she wore her hair” (410-412). Perhaps the most startling evidence of her strong personality comes when Jove appears to her in the guise of Diana, and Callisto cries, “All hail, great goddess! / Greater, I think, than Jove, and he might hear me / For all I care” (428-430). She is unafraid of the wrath of even the most powerful of all gods, the ultimate strong, masculine figure. Callisto is no nameless, faceless woman, but a notably original character with a personality that rivals even Jove’s in its distinctiveness and strength. Like the rape of the Sabine women, Callisto’s rape in Metamorphoses is portrayed with an eye towards eliciting the sympathy of the reader. Ovid writes that Callisto “really struggled against” Jove, noting that the struggle was so fierce that even Juno might have been moved to sympathy for the girl, and describes the aftermath of the rape by writing that “she loathed the forest, / The knowing woods, and fled, almost forgetting / To take her bow, her quiver, and her arrows” (438-440). Callisto is so traumatized that she, like many rape victims, cannot stand to even be in the physical area where the violation took place. She is so emotionally wounded that she nearly forgets her greatest passion, hunting, in her desire to flee the scene of the crime. The audience’s sympathy for Callisto is further evoked during the scene of Diana’s discovery of the girl’s pregnancy. When Diana orders her to jump into a pool of water, Callisto refuses out of fear that her condition will be discovered. In response, Diana’s other attendants literally strip Callisto naked, leaving her exposed and vulnerable: “So the others / Stripped her, and saw the truth. She stood in terror / Trying to move her hands to hide her belly” (461-463). After this second violation, Callisto is not received into the warm arms of her companions, but is banished as a “pollutant” (465). To add to this punishment for an act that was forced upon her, Juno takes vengeance on Callisto by transforming her into a bear. Ovid describes the transformation in horrible detail, as Juno “flung her down to the ground, and the girl, reaching / Her arms towards her in pleading, saw them blacken / Grow rough with shaggy hair” (480-482). The heart-rending way in which Callisto is treated, in conjunction with Ovid’s clear characterization of her as an independent, strong character combine to infuse this episode with a surprising degree of complexity and humanity. While both stories may appear, then, to pay a surprising amount of attention to the feminine perspective in their determination to convey the individuality of the victims and the fact that the reader is intended to sympathize with them, Ovid cannot be construed as a feminist because his true conception of the act as an erotic show of male dominance is made clear in both myths. Examining, first, the story of the rape of the Sabines, we can see that Ovid’s true perspective on the story is revealed through its very placement in the Ars Armatoria. No matter how much sensitivity is invested into the story, the fact that the story is but one scene in a text on love advice cannot be ignored (Beard 7). Ovid’s account of the rape thus takes on aspects of a hilarious joke, as when he declares that “Project Rape was on” (114). The rape scene is therefore not a serious description of a highly significant moment of political change, nor is it a sensitive portrayal of the emotional aftermath for the victims of rape. It is, rather, but one more moment of flippancy in a humorous treatise on how to get a woman. Rape, it is implied, is just one of the many means by which to secure yourself an heir. The tentatively feminist tone that we have noted in the Callisto myth is invalidated when, upon closer examination, the story is revealed as an emphatic declaration of male dominance. Callisto can be viewed as the very prototype of the independent, self-sufficient huntress who has no need for male companionship, and her violation is thus a resolutely misogynistic assertion of the inevitability of male dominance over even the strongest woman: “She really struggled against him (even Juno / Had she been there to see, might have forgiven) / But girls are frail, and anyway, who could conquer the might of Jove?” (434-437). Ovid’s determination to portray Callisto as a strong female character can therefore be seen as underscoring the theme of male dominance – no matter how strong or independent the woman, in the face of male power she must ultimately fall victim to his wishes. Kathleen Wall writes that the strange rejection of Callisto by Diana can be seen as further evidence of Ovid’s misogyny. Diana’s condemnation of her companion is odd, considering the fact that most modern studies insist that the goddess “was not originally characterized by physical virginity” (Wall 12) and thus would not have reacted with such reproach to Callisto’s rape and pregnancy. “The goddess’s moral or social condemnation of the nymph’s behavior is, like the meaning of the word ‘virgin’, a patriarchal imposition, for the matriarchal goddess of fecundity, maternity, and childbirth would not have treated her votary in this way” (Wall 13). Ovid, through Diana’s rejection of Callisto, elicits further sympathy for the young girl, but also demonstrates an inaccurate rendition of how a mother goddess figure would have responded to the violation of her protÃ©gÃ©, thereby revealing his true attitude towards the matter. Ovid’s real perspective on these brutal scenes of rape is revealed most strikingly through his determination to eroticize the act even while describing the horror and fear experienced by the victims. Mary Beard describes how, during the scene of the rape of the Sabine women, Ovid lavishes great attention on the beauty and desirability of the Sabines, conveying that their sadness renders them even more attractive. “What, after all,” writes Beard, “could be more erotic than tears and fears? Hit her and have her; she looks so gorgeous when she’s all upset” (9). Ovid writes that even in their terror, “many contrived / To make panic look fetching” (126-127). Rape, then, is not so much a brutal act as a sexual farce, a contrivance by the women to appear unwilling and reluctant so that they may be taken through no fault of their own. The male attackers take on a paternalistic tone, almost being cast as rescuers of the Sabine women: Any girl who resisted her pursuerToo vigorously would find herself picked upAnd borne off regardless. ‘Why spoil those pretty eyes with weeping?’She’ll hear, ‘I’ll be all to youThat your Dad ever was to your Mum.'(127-131) The fact that the rape takes on a humorous light thus reveals Ovid’s true perception of the act, invalidating the claim that some may imagine he has on presenting a feminist account. The rape of Callisto is similarly eroticized, both through the attention lavished on Callisto’s physical beauty and desirability and through the very scene of the “seduction”. Callisto is a purely natural beauty, and her transformation into a bear symbolizes the fact that her character brings to mind “the untamed side of our personalities” (Wall 14), a savage, wild, free – and highly sexualized – object of desire. Additionally, when Jove seduces Callisto, he does so in the guise of a woman, Diana, kissing her “The way a maiden does not kiss, or should not” (430). Through these elements, Ovid creates a male fantasy: the strong, independent, desirable ice woman who is overcome through intervention by another, equally sexually aloof woman, yet who eventually must fall, submissive, to the inescapable power of a man. Though Ovid, in both the “Rape of the Sabine Women” in the Ars Armatoria and the Callisto myth in Metamorphoses appears to infuse brutal scenes of rape with surprising sensitivity and attention to the feminine perspective, the feminist slant is entirely invalidated as a result of his inability or unwillingness to divorce himself from fantasies of male dominance and the erotic aspects of the rape scenes. Rather than truly portray the emotional trauma that results from rape, he instead creates sexual farces that only serve to underscore the apparent inevitability of male dominance that is pervasive throughout his works.
Love, War, and Thracians: A Critical Analysis of the Significance of Thrace In Ovid’s Metamorphoses
In Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, there are a great many instances that link love and war, thus creating a disconcerting antithetical comparison prominent throughout the canon of literature. In particular, this theme can be seen in and around the region of Thrace: home to a “primitive, warlike, and ferocious” people (Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1515). This description of the Thracians is elaborated on by Ovid, who pairs Thrace with brutal acts of dismemberment and revenge, and eliminates any possibility of divine intervention. One of the most memorable instances of dismemberment in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is that of Orpheus, the much-loved and sought-after poet. “Many women wanted this poet for their own, and many grieved over their rejection” (Ovid, 236), thus bringing about feelings of resentment and jealousy. Eventually, lust and desire for Orpheus lead the women to an act of incredible violence:…and then the women rushed back to murder Orpheus, who stretched out his hands in supplication, and whose voice, for the first time, moved no one…The poet’s limbs lay scattered where they were flung in cruelty or madness. (Ovid, 260)First, one must address the irony of this dismemberment. Orpheus is a figure of harmony, uniting the different worlds he encounters; therefore, it is extremely ironic that his death occurs through dismemberment, a form of division. Secondly, one must note the nature of this act of brutality. The Thracian women call Orpheus their “despiser” (Ovid, 259), and since they are upset, they transfer that feeling of destruction onto Orpheus by killing him. The mercilessness of the Thracian women leads us to believe in the idea of “madness” triumphing over “cruelty”, which is characteristic of these Bacchanalian women. This unreasonable lust is seen again in a description of the faults of Tereus, the king of Thrace: “all the Thracians are too quick at loving” (Ovid, 144). Indeed, Tereus haste to love causes him much grief. Before analyzing the story of Tereus and Procne, however, let us consider the fact that Procne is a spoil of war, thereby strengthening again the antithetical link between war and marriage. However, one war prize does not seem to be enough; Tereus violently rapes his wife’s sister, who “shook and trembled as a frightened lamb which a gray wolf has mangled and cast aside” (Ovid, 146) Ovid uses animalistic terms to describe sexual acts, revealing the natural bond between violence and sexuality. Also, the word “mangled” not only describes the mutilation of Philomela, but also foreshadows the second act of mutilation in this story. As we have seen in the past, women, especially women in groups, do not take very kindly to being pushed around, and frequently employ deformation as their mode of revenge:Without more words, a tigress with a young fawn, she dragged the youngster to a dark corner somewhere in the palace, and Itys, who seemed to see his doom approaching, screamed, and held out his hands, with Mother, Mother!…but she, with never a change in her expression drove the knife home through breast…And they cut up the body, still living, still keeping something of the spirit, and part of the flesh leaped in the boiling kettles. (Ovid, 150)However, Itys does not raise his hands up in prayer to the gods as Orpheus does, and as Philomela does “in vain” (Ovid,146), supporting the notion that Thrace remains untouched by the gods. We must also note the parallel between the two dismemberments in this story, in regards to the parent-child relationship. When in danger, the instinct of both Philomela and young Itys is to call for a parent figure, showing the Thracian need for mortal support in the absence of divine intervention. Cruel irony also plays a part in this parallel: Tereus’ violation of his promise to King Pandion [to protect Philomela “with a father’s love” (Ovid, 146) and ensure her safe return) is punished with the death of Itys. There is even irony in the name “Tereus”, which means “watcher” (Graves, V2, 410); a term that is definitely not applicable to Tereus – unless it refers to his lustful nature towards women. Tereus does not understand a “father’s love” until he experiences the loss of his own son. This instance is even more frightening than the mob murder of Orpheus: a mother whose rage is so extreme that she is driven to murder her own son. Again, one wonders why the gods have not intervened. This murder is calm and calculated, unlike the wild slaughter of Orpheus, thus revealing a different form of sexual madness found in Thrace. Interestingly enough, having eaten the stew and realized the trick, Tereus’ metamorphosis is into a “hoopoe, the bird who looks like war” (Ovid, 151), further strengthening the bond between love and war. However, there is some confusion surrounding the transformation of the two women. Some sources claim that Procne becomes a swallow and Philomela a nightingale, but others insist on the inverse, which hearkens back to the older story of Aedon (www.perseus.tufts.edu), where the mourning wails of the nightingale are attributed to the mother figure. Furthermore, the tie between Philomela and the nightingale adds another point of irony, since the nightingale is known for its sad song. The name “Philomela” means “sweet melody”, thus refuting the established role of the nightingale. (Graves, V2, 405) Similar to the tale of Tereus is the story of Medea, who also kills her own son to punish a man. Sexual jealousy drives her to murder her son in order to inflict the most severe punishment possible on Jason. Even before this act, Medea has used violence as an expression of her love: she murdered her little brother, Apsyrtus, and scattered pieces of his body into the Black Sea in order to help her lover, Jason, and his Argonauts. Each of Medea’s violent acts of dismemberment stems from her own sense of “dismemberment”. When she is separated from Jason, she feels incomplete, and assumes that she needs to somehow unleash her feelings in order to be closer to Jason. Interestingly, the pieces of Apsyrtus’ dismembered body are brought back for burial in a place called Tomi, which just happens to be the part of Thrace (www.perseus.tufts.edu) where Ovid was sent in exile (Bulfinch, www.bulfinch.org). In some ways, Ovid was dismembered by his exile; his voice was taken from him. One of the possible reasons for his exile was the message about love that his writings conveyed to the people; the emperor did not want Ovid perpetuating these ideas, so he cut the writer loose and sent him to Thrace. It is to be expected, then, that the one place that Ovid depicts most negatively in his work is the location of his exile. Perhaps the “Metamorphoses” influenced Ovid’s decision about where to spend his exile. Whatever the case may be, Ovid was, indeed, in Hell:My situation has been clouded over by unexpected evils.Unwritten poetry wants solitude and leisure: the wild winter tosses me about, the waves and the winds.All sorts of fears prevent my writing: one moment I fearA sword will slit my throat, the next that I am dead. (Ovid, http://www.forumromanum.org)This excerpt from Ovid’s “Tristia” expresses both his discomfort and restlessness in this location, along with his fear of being killed for expressing his opinions. Ovid sees Thrace as an unsettling place centered around mortal violence. Even in this text, poetry – which to some extent relates to love and harmony – seems to be linked with violence and discord.Works CitedBulfinch, Thomas, Bulfinch’s Mythology.