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Jealousy and Desire in Ovid's Metamorphoses

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Jealousy and Desire in Ovid's Metamorphoses

Passionate lust is a blinding force. When jealousy and desire control actions, the outcome is never what it is envisioned to be. Ovid's Metamorphoses provides an clear example of love turned terribly wrong. Throughout the novel, overwhelming desire controls actions and emotions, leaving behind sadness and grief wherever it strikes. With this kind of love, nobody gets what he or she wants in the end.

The first strong example of unsatisfactory endings can be found in Book Four, in the story of "The Sun-god and Leucothoe." Phoebus has a strong desire for Leucothoe, and the two begin a fiery affair. Clytie, one of the girls whom Phoebus had rejected, is insanely green with envy, and snitches on Phoebus and Leucothoe's affair. The outcome is disheartening; Leucothoe is buried alive, Phoebus is grief-stricken, and Clytie still doesn't get the man she wanted. Everyone loses.

"And as for Clytie, / Love might have been a reason for her sorrow, / And sorrow for telling tales. . . Since she was so used to love, and almost crazy / for lack of it, she pined away" (Ovid 89).

This exemplifies the blinding affect that love can take on people. If Clytie had taken time to think out her actions, she would have seen what the outcome would have been like. If Phoebus didn't want her before he met Leucothoe, why would he want Clytie after she had taken his love away from him? There was not logic in Clytie's actions, only vehement love.

One could argue that the love displayed in the novel is actually not love at all, but pure longing and lust. If the characters really felt love, they would think about the other person and want him or her ...

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...Circe's satisfaction that Picus would be with no other woman. She says, "You shall be punished for this, you shall not be given / To Canens any more, and you will learn / What a woman, scorned in love, can do, that woman / Being Circe, loved and scorned!" (Ovid 350).

People often do crazy things for those individuals they love or think they love. When desire and jealousy overpower the ability to think clearly, the consequences are almost always catastrophic. One could learn a lesson from these stories or just be amused with how closely it resembles something that has been seen or experienced recently. Either way, the ending is always the same, and everyone can relate to the feelings portrayed.

Work Cited

Ovid. Metamorphoses. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Maynard Mack. 5th edition. New York: Norton 1987.
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