The Eternal Truth of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Philosopher Walter Benjamin believes that some works of art do not reveal their deepest feeling and significance until the time comes to understand them. Ovid had it when he wrote his masterpiece, the fifteen-book epic transitionsInfer something similar in the sentence? There he predicts that after his death wherever “the power of the Romans extends over the tamed land,” his name will live on and his fame will continue to enchant readers through time. This assertion sometimes aroused discontent, for example among readers who thought this was a flashy conclusion to a frivolous poem. But there is something in it.

As a source for mythological stories in particular, Ovid has always been a major author since the Middle Ages: many famous characters, such as Narcissus, Pyramus, and Thisbe, we only know thanks to him. There are now at least three new translations of it at the same time transitions appears, confirming that Ovid’s positionalism remains undiminished. No wonder, with an epic that has power, abuse, identity, transformation, lies, and truth as major themes.

Sounds like an epic transitions Only at first glance, by the so-called dactylic hexameter as a meter and historical mythological material. It soon becomes clear that Ovid’s poem does not tell a “big” story, only many small ones; and that they are not about the war horn and heroic deeds, but about strength and passion. Eros in particular brings the twists that connect Ovid’s stories as a theme. The transformation of people into animals, into trees, rocks, rivers, towers, fantastic creatures, and men becoming women and vice versa, is always due to the child Eros, the son of Venus. When Ovid himself points out that love and the sublime are incompatible and “seldom live in the same place,” he says a lot about his “epic.”


Ovid also applies the theme of change to form: one story flows smoothly into another. People, gods and demigods tell each other stories. Soon she no longer knew who was talking and why. So, Ovid’s epic poem, which is very uncommon, has neither unity nor plot; transitions It is a labyrinth of tragic and comic long and short stories, fragmented, diffuse, inconsistent. Thus, Ovid’s eternal change undermines the central view of man and the world. And this was exactly the feature of other ancient epics, such as The Iliad And the Epic Homer, or stubborn from Virgil.

In the final epic, the supreme deity Jupiter is presented as an extension of destiny, a destiny that ultimately leads to the rock-solid walls of Rome, and to “power without limits”.

Ovid’s Jupiter is considerably lower in altitude. After another sexual offense, now also with the fatal outcome of an extramarital object of his desire, Ovid jokingly lets him drink, at home on Olympus with his wife Juno. That poor Semele had recently been blown to a heap of ashes by lightning.

There is no doubt that you women enjoy sex more than men do, as the father of gods and men points out. Juno denies it, and they decide to consult an expert, the seer Tiresias, who “was acquainted with both pleasures”. After all, he had once teased two snakes having sex with his walking stick and becoming a woman in return. Seven years later, he saw the snakes mating again, and decided to try again, becoming a man again. Who can know is called now and without hesitation agrees with the buyer. Juno goes berserk and blinds poor Tiresias. Her husband can only redeem Tiresias by making him a “seer”.

Unexpected depths

Ovid’s problem is often: is he fundamentally funny, or are there hidden depths beneath the surface of the text? Thankfully, the reader has to decide. But Ovid is certainly not superficial. His psychological insight is as impressive as his ability to translate it into drama. Such as the fatherly frankness of Jupiter and the impotent but fatal anger of Juno, who no longer envied his numerous mistresses for the happiness she herself enjoyed. At the same time, under the guise of parody, a theme is raised that continues as a common thread transitions Runs: How Careless and Uncaring Bosses Can Unleash Their Emotions on Innocent Victims.

Ovid’s best Metamorphoses revolve around identity. This subject appears naturally when the form changes, but the awareness of the former remains. Feeling Home in Your Body: How Does It Work When You Become a Deer or a Cow?

Gender and “orientation” play a remarkably important role in this. Ovid devotes detailed episodes to girls who begin to feel like a boy (Iphis), girls who grow tired of being deceived and become men (Caenis), and boys who merge with nymph girls (Hermaphroditus). But there is also concern and understanding for those who fall in love “wrong” (eg with a father, brother, or an embattled enemy general). Ovid’s sympathy gives out all this anxiety Will be – loves the voice, and creates a specimen of the transcendent passion of men and gods, differing in this respect only in the extent to which they can give vent to their feelings.

So it is not surprising that serious articles (as well as some nonsensical articles) can be found on the Internet that are true transitions Used by authors from the LGBTIQ+ community for texts and stories about feelings and experiences of rejection and misunderstanding. It is precisely our time that makes the reader realize how much space Ovid makes for the ‘other’, how strongly he sympathizes with the underdog, and how his work as a whole, through subject structure and diversity, comes across as an examination of what identity is, what is played out, what It is inherent, what remains, what changes.

Ambitious PhD student

The inspiration that can emanate from Ovid is also evident from the brilliant debut by American Mark Prins. He showed that Ovid also makes us think of the one who is deprived of the voice: that is, not the one who feels the emotion, but the one who is compelled to passively suffer the emotion. Latin is a plot-driven campus novel about obsessed classics professor Chris and ambitious doctoral student Tessa, revolving around the myth of Apollo and Daphne, a software in… transitions. After being struck by Eros’ arrow, the god attempts to overwhelm the nymph Daphne, who resents his advances and begs her father, the river god himself, for salvation. You get it by turning it into a laurel tree. Now that he can no longer have the girl himself, Apollo adopts the laurel leaves as his badge of honor as the god-poet (the laurel wreath).

in Latin Tessa promotes Chris in this very episode and asserts in her interpretation that what Apollo feels for Daphne cannot be called love, because what he actually wants and does deprives her of movement and voice; A voice assigned by the god of the poet. This is exactly what Chris wants to do with Tessa, whom he thinks he is in love with, but with a “love” he actually wants to silence her. He is secretly busy sabotaging her career to ensure she continues to work under his wing.

Like Daphne transitions Tessa fits for that, but thanks to a wonderful inversion of Ovidian’s copy, not by impaling herself in a tree, but by reacting literal, using a paperweight in the form of a replica of Bernini’s famous statue of Apollo and Daphne from Rome.

In doing so, Prins highlights the red thread from Ovid’s text, which he actually does transitions Runs: the question of who is telling the story and who is being heard. At the same time, through his own variation on the theme of “Transformation,” he offers a biting commentary on academic conventions, the persuasive power of Eros and the tragic transformation a student must undergo. In order to survive, you must eventually become like the master. In the end, the roles switch between the powerful Chris, who is unapproachable as a deity in the academic hierarchy, and the weak Tessa who wants to make a career.

In this way, Prins shows the importance of Ovid’s theme of power and abuse of power, but at the same time he identifies the crucial theme about who is allowed to tell the story, the usurper or the victim. On the other hand, he suggests, the weight of tradition, in the form of Bernini’s portrait, could be turned against the “guardians”.

masculine look

The three translations—two in Dutch and one in English—are ‘retaining form’, in Dutch in dactylic (free) hexameters, in English in so-called ‘blank verse’. Harrie Geelen constantly fills in and completes the text (often without good reason). His dominant presence in the text makes transitions to the quintessentially old-fashioned Ovid with the ‘fat wink’, seen with the ‘masculine gaze’ that Stephanie McCarter so eloquently warns of in her introduction to her translation of the Penguin.

Piet Schrijvers and McCarter closely follow Ovid’s Latin without violating the target language, allowing the reader more easily to read contemporary Ovid. Schrijvers’ great merit is that every syllable of his translation betrays his exceptionally deep knowledge of the language and culture of the source text. An added value of McCarter’s edition is the excellent introduction and explanatory notes.

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