Category Archives: Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses form an epic poem out of scores of mythological stories. These are welded into a savage attack on unbridled power like that which the Emperor Augustus was accumulating at the time Ovid wrote. The individual stories are the … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses I:1-75 – In the Beginning

It is said that there exists a spirit with the power to change existing shapes into new ones. Gods (for You too have been responsible for such changes), breathe life into my opening and lead my work from the origin … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses I:76-150 – The Four Ages of Man

To this point the lower forms of animals had lacked the capacity for higher thought. Now appeared man, a more blessed creature, to rule them. 

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Metamorphoses I:244-312 – Deucalion’s Flood

Jupiter thought of raining thunderbolts onto all the continents but he was afraid lest so many fires ignite the sacred aether itself and the world burn from pole to pole. He remembered also the prophecy that some day the sea, … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses I:748-II:366 – Phaethon

Because Epaphus was believed to be the son of great Jove, he was worshipped throughout the land in the temples of his mother Isis. Phaethon, offspring of Phoebus the Sun God, was a similarly spirited youth. One day when Phaethon … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses III: 138-252 – Actaeon

Your grandson, Cadmus, was the first cause of grief for your household, though many others followed. The antlers of another species grew from his forehead and they, his own hunting dogs, were glutted with the blood of their master. But … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses III:339-510 – Echo and Narcissus

Tiresias became famous throughout the cities of Aonia for giving unfailingly accurate predictions to those who asked him about fate. The first of those to demonstrate with certain confidence the truth of his words was the sea nymph Liriope whom … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses III: 577-691 – Bacchus

Pentheus’ eyes glinted with rage when he saw the captured follower of Bacchus. Though talking would delay the man’s punishment, Pentheus said, ‘You who are going to die and by your death give a lesson to others, tell me your … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses IV:55-166 – Pyramus and Thisbe

Pyramus and Thisbe–he the handsomest youth, she the most beautiful of the women whom the Orient holds–lived in adjacent houses in the great city which Semiramis is said to have circled with walls faced in tile. Because they lived so … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses IV:604-803 – Perseus

But nevertheless mighty Bacchus–worshipped by conquered India and to whom Achaea has built temples–brought solace to his grandparents, Cadmus and his wife, after they were turned into snakes. 

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Metamorphoses VI:5-145 – Arachne

Pallas turned her attention to the matter of Arachne, a woman of Maeonia, who claimed to be Pallas’ equal in weaving. Art, not birth, had made Arachne famous. Her father, a Colophonian named Idmon, dyed wool with pigment from the … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses VI:146-312 – Niobe

All Lydia was in an uproar about Arachne’s punishment, and rumor raced through the cities of the wider world. Niobe had known Arachne before their marriages, in the days when she was a girl in Maeonian Sipylus. Nevertheless the punishment … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses VIII:152-235 – Daedalus

Minos sacrificed a hundred bulls to Jove in fulfillment of his vows so that he might depart from Megara, returning to the Cretan lands and decorating his palace with the spoils of victory. There he uncovered the disgrace of his … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses VIII:260-444 – The Caledonian Boar

Finally Sicily, the land of Mount Etna, received the exhausted Daedalus. There King Cocalus gained a reputation for mercy by taking up arms on behalf of the suppliant. 

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Metamorphoses VIII:616-724 – Baucis and Philemon

Everyone fell silent in horror to hear Pirithous deny the physical existence of the gods. Lelex, a man of age and maturity, replied before others could, saying, “The power of heaven is immense and boundless: whatever the gods wish, happens. … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses IX:1-272 – Hercules

Neptune-sired Theseus asked the groaning river-god Achelous how he had been mutilated by the loss of a horn. The Calydonian river, his hair bound by a reed with no adornment, said, “You ask me to revisit a sad occasion, for … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses IX:324-393 – Dryope

Then Iole said to her mother-in-law Alcmene she grieved, “The changed appearance of one who’s not a member of your family moves you, mother. What if I described the awful fate of my sister to you? Although tears and grief … Continue reading

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Metamorphoses XII:210-535 – The Battle of Centaurs and Lapiths

Pirithous, the son of reckless Ixion, wed Hippodamia. He placed the wild cloud-born Centaurs at dining tables lined up in a bower of trees. The chief men of Thessaly were present and I, Nestor, was there with my folk also. … Continue reading

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