Apollo's Human Gardening in Ovid's Metamorphoses Essay

Apollo's Human Gardening in Ovid's Metamorphoses Essay

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Apollo's Human Gardening in Ovid's Metamorphoses

In Ovid's epic poem Metamorphoses, he uses many transformations of humanoids to explain the existence of many natural entities such as animals, plants, rivers, and so forth. Ovid uses the Roman gods to be the active agents in many of the metamorphoses, although some of them are caused simply by the will of the being. In the Melville translation of Metamorphoses, the stories "The Sun in Love" (book IV, ln226-284) and "Hyacinth" (book X, ln170-239) have occurrences of both agencies of transformation of people into plants. Apollo is the catalyst that causes the metamorphoses in each of the stories. The metamorphoses involved support the concepts of the "Great Chain of Being" and the metaphor "People are Plants" expressed in the book More than Cool Reason by George Lakoff and Mark Turner due to the aspects involved in the Ovidian metaphors and what the people transform into.

In the section "The Sun in Love", Apollo is cursed by Venus, being punished "with a love as ruinous" as the revelation that Apollo made to Vulcan of Venus' affair with Mars. Apollo loves Leucothoe, a young human virgin, and during his rape Leucothoe "with no complaint accepted his assault." Leucothoe's affair with Apollo is brought to light to her father by Clytie, who responds by burying Leucothoe in the manner that was the "traditional punishment of a Vestal Virgin detected in unchastity." Apollo sprinkles Leucothoe with "heavenly nectar" and she metamorphoses into a frankincense shrub. Apollo spurns Clytie - who loves Apollo and out of jealousy revealed Leucothoe - and she pines away in a field for nine days, watching Apollo pass through the sky each day. Through her own jealousy, envy, and regret, Clytie...


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... Turner explanations of metaphors in their book More than Cool Reason, specifically through the complex and extensive Great Chain of Being and the People are Plants metaphor. Apollo's identification with each of the metamorphoses gives him the identity of the farmer who sows the seeds, and he ends up being - directly with Hyacinth and Leucothoe and indirectly with Clytie - the agent who causes the metamorphoses. Each of the transformations that the characters underwent are fitting, proper, and have a more profound implication and motive than simply transformation from one form to another.

Works Cited

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. A.D. Melville. Oxford University Press. New York, New York. 1986. (pp 79-82, 230-232).

Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, Illinois. 1989.

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