Ovid's Metamorphoses Analysis

1789 Words 8 Pages
Gods of Metamorphoses: Orderly Regulators or Brutal Predators?

Ovid’s ever-present theme of change in Metamorphoses is reflected often in the reader’s fluctuating perception of the gods throughout the epic. Two perspectives of the gods are presented in the weavings made by Minerva and Arachne in Book VI; Minerva weaves a symmetrical, balanced portrayal that praises the gods and the order they believe they represent in their power to punish humans, while Arachne’s finished product portrays twenty-one violent scenes of divine rape and reveals the brutality the gods heap on humans and the chaos their actions lead to. These two sides of the gods are shown in all of Ovid’s stories where the gods’ relationships with mortals throughout the epic highlight
…show more content…
In Book I, Apollo first attempts to rape the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god Peneus, who wishes to remain a chaste virgin. When he first approaches her praising her beauty in an attempt at seduction, she immediately runs away to escape him. Ovid writes, “She flees more swiftly than the lightest breeze, / nor will she halt when he calls out to her” (1.94-95). He pursues his uninterested quarry assuming that she is uninterested only because she doesn’t realize who is chasing her, saying, “I’m not a caveman, not some shepherd boy, / no shaggy guardian of flocks and herds– / you’ve no idea, rash girl, you’ve no idea / whom you are fleeing, that is why you flee!” (1.707-711). He continues to heap praise on himself for her to hear, creating an image of a conceited young god who believes he is much better than the nymph, who should feel lucky that she has gained the affection of Apollo, but finally gives up trying to coax her into submission with words and pursues her more avidly eating up the distance between them and gaining on the …show more content…
In addition to being raped against her will by Jove, Callisto is also later punished, not once but twice, for a transgression that is not truly her own. Regardless of the fact that Jupiter is the individual at fault in this instance, Callisto is punished by both Diana and Juno for the crime that has been commited against her. First, when Callisto’s pregnancy is finally revealed Diana reacts by throwing her out saying, “Get away from here…Do not defile this spring!” without even stopping to question the circumstances of her faithful follower’s pregnancy (2.639-640). After giving birth to Jupiter’s son, Juno decides the time is ripe to get her revenge on Callisto as well, and turns her into a bear, taking away her beauty and trapping her human mind in an animal’s body. Ovid writes of Juno’s great wrath and her punishment of

Related Documents

Related Topics