March 20 2012
Lecture 10: Ovid, metamorphoses 6-7
Beginning of second pentad where we move from the realm of the gods to the realm of the
Arachne and Minerva
First story to be told is of Arachne, she is transformed into a spider.(Arachne greek for spider)
Art of transition is very crucial to the metamorphosis
Book 5 ends with a contest of the arts and Book 6 also starts with a contest.
Arachne is a very talented weaver and she thinks she is better than the gods, and one should
never think they are better than the gods; this might get the gods angry.
Motif of divine anger is in the first half of book 6.
Arachane the way in which she creates the tapestry is similar to the creation of the cosmos “prof
reads from text”. The creator the universe is an artist, the illusion to the shield of Achilles and
Heapistus (check spelling). Arachne is also a creative figure, slender spindle and fine thread –
something polished and something fine is understood on a potalogical (?) level- art of poetry.
Callimachean- small and refined not a big Homeric epic. Arachne – not a big epic creator but
someone who is very refined in her art.
Minerva’s tapestry is classical and symmetrical and ordered with an olive branch boarder
(branch of peace – ironic in this context, due to competition). Fixade (?) – something which is
easily identifiable, ordered and no chaos. Arachne’s work stands for Flux – for change, she
represents erotic lesions of gods and how they rape women, gods transformation into animals
for sex, complete chaos no ordered structure to it.
Song of the peraedious(?) to which they challenged the muses. (look this up)
Minrva’s weaving every god is easily identifiable by their attribute, where as Arachnes’ is not.
Gods appear out of force.
Archne shows Europa cheated by the bull’s disguise, a real bull you would think. It’s not a real
bull it is just Zeus transformed into a bull. Ovid says that Arachne’s bull is so vivid that it looks
like a real bull, however even if it were a real bull it would not be a real bull because it actually
Zeus, this is Ovid playing.
To summarize work of Minerva stands for ordered epic poetry, in the work of Virgil and Homer
for example. Work of Arachne stands for small poetry in the Callimachean tradition.
Arachne with the human perspective and Minerva with the divine perspective and then a pivotal
moment where we leave the world of the gods and enter the world of human heros. Arachne as
form of punishment is condemned to weave for the rest of her life in the form of a spider.
Death of Niobe’s Children Ovide transitions to another famous myth. Niobe knew of Archane’s punishment but did not
learn anything. Niobe also challenged a goddess.
Leto mother of Apollo and Dianna. Leto wasn’t worshiped in her city and Niobe says I don’t
know what the big deal about Leto is she only gave birth to two children where as I gave birth to
fourteen – 7 boys and 7 girls, I am much better. Niobe is filled with pride, hybris is used to
describe this behaviour - more important than you really are and you offend a divine being
Niobe’s hybristic behaviour is punished by Apollo and Dianna they decide to take her children
away from her. Apollo and Dianna shoot the 7 boys, but she is still filled with pride, and they
shoot the 7 girls. Niobe now grieves, and she turns into stone from her grief from losing her
Ovid says new tales bring back old ones. Way for Ovid to bring in other myths into the
Latona and The Lycian Peasants
Complex narrative structure, after Niobe’s story other individuals remember similar stories. And
we have an instant narrative about what somebody has told him.
Alter, and the Lycian guy tells us that.. Leto was going around with her two newborn twins
Apollo and Dianna. When she was about to give birth she ends up at Delos, her problem was
that no land would let her give birth because of Hera’s rage. Even after she gives birth she
wanders around, and now she is Lycia, and she is really thirsty so asks to drink some water. The
peasants say no way, and jump into the water and make it muddy. Can be read on a potelogical
(?) level, because Chamelicus(?) said I only want to drink from the pure fountain, something
that’s never been touched before. Muddy water of the big river stands for epic, we got clash of
potelogical (?) imagery. Pure spring (very refined, Callimachean )vs. Muddy water (loud and
noisy not very refined, epic poetry) .
Peasants are very nasty and they talk and they shout and make Leto angry, and she turns them
into a frogs. One the most famous transformations in Ovid’s work.
Fountain in Versai, surrounded by frogs explains the story in Ovid’s metamorphosis.
“Quamvis sint sub aqua, sub aqua maledicere temptant” – in Ovid’s metamorphosis. It sounds
like a frog croaking. It means, even though they are on water or under water they still try to
Briefly mentioned, Minerva invented the flute she saw herself and her cheeks look really ugly.
She throws it away, Marsyas a satyr plays it and he is really good. Marsyas challenges Apollo
(not a good thing). Eventually Apollo is declared the winner of the contest, and as a result
punishes Marsyas. Apollo tears away his skin of Marsyas. “Why tear me from myself.” Ovid loves
to describe every detail.
Ovid makes it so cruel that he makes it funny; he takes it over the top. Ovid goes back for a brief moment to Niobe’s story. The only person to really morn for Niobe is
Pelops they are brother and sister- father Tantalus. Tantalus is a sinner who is punished in
Hades. Pelops' father was Tantalus cuts Pelops into pieces and serves it to the gods. Demeter,
deep in grief after the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades, absentmindedly accepted
the offering and ate the left shoulder. The other gods sensed the plot, however, and held off from
eating of the boy's body. Pelops was ritually reassembled and brought back to life, his shoulder
replaced with one of ivory made for him by Hephaestus.
Tereus, Procne and Philomela
Transition once and for all in the human world. All three end up being transformed into birds,
this story is told most frequently in ancient text aside from the metamorphosis.
Tereus was a Thracian king, the son of Ares and husband of Procne. Tereus and Pronce live
happily together for some time up until Philomela, Procne’s. Tereus desired his wife's sister,
Philomela. He forced himself upon her in the most brutal way, and then cuts her tongue out and
held her captive so she could never tell anyone. He told his wife that her sister had died.
Philomela wove letters in a tapestry depicting Tereus's crime and sent it secretly to Procne.