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University of Toronto Mississauga

April 3 , 2012 Lecture 12: Ovid Metamorphoses 12-15 Book 12 Another bird transformation: Hector's brother Aesacus changed into a thin bird with long slender legs. He fell in love with Hesperie, the River Cebren's daughter, who was killed by a serpent's bite while he pursued her. Mad with grief, he threw himself from a cliff, and Tethys chose to save him by transforming him into a bird. He acquired his enlongated shape because he continued to attempt suicide, diving off the cliffs; this repetition stretched his form. Aesacus' father Priam and his brothers mourn him, unaware that he lives on as a bird. Paris fails to mourn him because he is busy stealing Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, and fleeing with her to Troy. Meanwhile, the Greeks form an army to win Helen back. They run into wayward winds at Boeotia and must sacrifice a virgin to appease Diana. After much persuasion, Agamemnon agrees to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia, whom Diana is substituted through a deer and carried on. The winds subside and the Greeks continue toward Troy. Does not tell the story of the Trojan War in the same way as the Iliad. Achilles is still the main focus. Ovid however tells stories that are not present in the Iliad. Ovid fills in the gaps; he just does not retell Homers stories. Get a description of the house of fama personification of rumour. Ovid in this context is competing with Virgil, one the most memorable scenes in Aeneid is the personification of rumour. Rumour (Ovid -describes the house that rumour lives in), who lives at the center of the world, spreads news to Troy that the Greeks are approaching; thus begins the famous Trojan War. Achilles, Greece's champion tries to kill Cycnus with a spear but cannot because Cycnus is Neptune's son. His weapons prove useless, yet Achilles persists, finally strangling Cycnus until Neptune transforms his son into a bird rather than see him die. After this, the armies agree to a long truce, during which the generals of the Greek army tell stories of other battles and other warriors. Ovid tells us the Greeks gathered at night they are drinking and having fun telling stories. One the stories told is that of the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths. Nestor in the Iliad is the guy who talks and talks. Ovid ridicules him and makes him take more in his metamorphoses by telling the story of the battle of Centaurs and Lapiths. Battle of Centaurs and Lapiths A huge description of a battle that occurs during a wedding. Nestor declares that Caeneus was just as durable as Cycnus, and changed sexes to boot. Caeneus was once the loveliest virgin in Thessaly, but resisted marriage; finally Neptune raped her and afterwards granted her a wish. She wished to be changed into a man so that she could never be raped again. Neptune obeyed, also making Caeneus invulnerable to weapons. Nestor continues, relating that he and Caeneus attended the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodame. They stupidly invited centaurs, one of whom, named Eurytus, tried to carry off the bride, and the rest of whom attacked the other women. Lapiths legendary people of Greece said to live in Sicily. Description of this battle is in place of the battle told in the Iliad. The battle tells us that cutlery was thrown in place of regular weapons. Ovids description is so cruel that it is laughable. Theseus killed Eurytus with a mixing bowl to the face, and thus a great fight began between centaurs and men with the wedding mise-en-scene as makeshift weapons. Latreus the centaur taunted Caeneus, alluding to his past femininity, but couldn't kill him (invulnerable). Caeneus killed Latreus, prompting Monychus and the other centaurs to bury Caeneus beneath a mountain of boulders and tree-trunks (Achilles does the same thing with Cycnus). Caeneus' is transformed into a bird and flew away. (lock at picture on slide) Nestor who is telling this story, claims he participated in this battle. As Nestor finishes his story, Tlepolemus reminds the old man that his father, Hercules, killed many of the centaurs. Nestor declares that he will never praise Hercules (personal faux) because that hero destroyed his house and murdered his brothers, when he had attacked his city. Nestors oldest brother Periclymenus is also killed (he had the ability to change his shape). Instead of Ovid going back to the account of the Iliad, Ovid just says that a lot of things happened and Achilles died. Neptune plots Achilles' death as revenge for Cycnus' defeat. Ten years later, Neptune convinces Apollo that Achilles should die; Apollo arranges that one of Paris' arrows, which the spoiled prince is arcing half-heartedly at the Greek line, strikes Achilles in his only vulnerable spot, his heel. Achilles lies dead, and Ajax and Odysseus both strive to inherit his sacred armor. (look at picture on slide) Book 13 Contest over Achilles Arms Dispute between Ajax and Odysseus. Ancient training for the most part was rhetorical training. This is also reflected in Ovids text. Just by the arrangement of the two speeches you know who the winner is. The one who comes second is the winner for the most part. Ajax is a very forceful and powerful character and he also knows himself that he does not know how to speak. Ovid brings the Iliad accounts from the back door; he does not speak of them directly but has other characters talk about it. The Greeks gather to decide whether Ulysses or Ajax is more worthy of receiving Achilles' armor. Ajax's major arguments: o Deeds versus words: trying to pre-empt Ulysses' eloquence, Ajax says it characterizes his life, all talk and no action. o Heritage: Ajax has Jove as his great grandfather and Achilles for a cousin, whereas Ulysses' father was the disreputable Sisyphus, now punished in Hades o Ulysses tried to avoid the war by pretending to be mad, yoking a horse and an ox together and sowing salt in his fields. Suspecting a trick, Palamedes threw Ulysses' son Telemachus in front of the plow and Ulysses stopped, demonstrating his sanity. Later Ulysses planted false evidence and got Palamedes convicted of treason. (Homer never mentions Palamedes) o Ulysses mistreated Philoctetes, abandoning him on the island of Lemnos because his wound stank so much (a snake bit him). o Ajax threw the boulder at Hector. o Ulysses acts mostly under the cover of night, and has shown cowardice in battle, abandoning Nestor but crying for Ajax's aid himself. o Ajax doesn't merely deserve these arms. These arms deserve a great warrior.o Ulysses doesn't need armor since he never uses it, relying on trickery instead of hand- to-hand combat. When he inevitably runs away, the armor will only slow him down. Ulysses' shield has suffered no damage, whereas Ajax bears many marks of combat and he needs a new one. Ulysses argues: o Main argument is brain is more valuable than muscles o He begins by playing off listeners' emotions for Achilles, associating himself with the great hero; "I brought him to you, thus his victories are in part mine. o When Achilles was a youth, Calchas prophesied that Troy could not be conquered without him, so his mother disguised him as a girl. Ulysses tricked Achilles into revealing his true nature by displaying women's trinkets along with weapons, and Achilles showed interest in the latter. o A person's heritage counts for nothing his son is more closely related, only his deeds matter. Nevertheless, he denies the scandalous rumor that Sisyphus slept with his mother, claiming Laertes as his father. o He convinced Agamemnon to sacrifice his daughter (Iphigenia), or else the fleet would never have sailed. o Ulysses convinced Agamemnon not to give up the fight in the last year. Ajax was ready to leave Troy. Since Ulysses forced Ajax back to the fight, he deserves credit for Ajax's accomplishments in the final year of the war. o Diomedes as Ulysses' sidekick simply means that of the thousands of Greek warriors, Ulysses was his pick. o Ulys
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