In the case of Narcissus, the question and manipulation of his identity are both humorously and cruelly adjusted to fit his enormous ego. Narcissus is so preoccupied with his own identity (or perhaps more specifically, his appearance) that he completely loses sight of others’ needs due to his self-absorption. Throughout the myth, Narcissus repeatedly spurns the advances of potential suitors. He is pathologically drawn to his own appearance or anything that resembles and imitates his own pe...
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...rd, simultaneously preserving her identity and affixing her morose fate.
The inevitability of fate and the absolute impotence of humanity hang like pall of inescapable sickness throughout Ovid’s account of Arachne. Arachne, much like Narcissus, is confined to her mortality and thus is vulnerable to the authority of higher deities (particularly of the volatile variety). Arachne unwisely proclaims that her ability to spin thread exceeds that of Minerva’s. Minerva, highly affronted by such a claim, seeks to amend the crass (but truthful) woman’s boasts. The goddess of wisdom, under the guise of an ancient woman, magnanimously offers Arachne a chance to retract her controversial claims. Rather than heed the advice of an elder, Arachne instead defies the natural order of authority for the sake of artistic integrity and debases the disguised goddess’s chastisements.
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