The Concept of Love in Ovid's Metamorphoses

The Concept of Love in Ovid's Metamorphoses

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The Concept of Love in Ovid's Metamorphoses


In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the concept of love seems to vary from character to character. In one case, a god in the form of a man desperately seeks a particular woman and refuses to relent until he has her. In another instance, a female goddess cares deeply for a man and goes to great lengths to protect him from danger. In yet another case, both who are arranged to be married seem indifferent about the matter.

This anti-epic certainly does not follow the adventurous theme of the epic. There is no protagonist hero to focus on unless you visualize the god's prey as the hero in his/her escape. The assembled writings seem to be more of a recording of the misdeeds of the gods. It appears that Ovid wanted to write about the desires of gods and people instead of a great adventure.

Ovid's work ridicules the concept of marriage and harmony between the sexes. It paints men and women as individual creatures who have little desire of joining with the opposite sex. The male gods are impelled by Cupid's power to chase certain female characters. Of course, the female characters are not interested and choose to evade capture so that they may continue with their individual desires. When the female god Venus falls for a human male and lays with him, she goes to great lengths to protect him from the wild animals. She specifically tells him to be bold "when you approach the timid animals, those who are quick to flee: but do not be audacious when you face courageous beasts" (Ovid 936). The man Adonis chose not to heed the god's warning and went on to hunt a wild boar with the aid of his hounds. The boar that Venus despised killed the human that she lusted after. This is another example of individual wants taking precedence over the joined couple. Pygmalion was so much of an individualist that he created his own mate from ivory.

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He despised women so much that he couldn't bear to relate to or compromise with them at all.

Ovid has some different beliefs about the nature of human behavior. He paints their activity as individualistic and self-gratifying. In his mind, two people of the opposite sex joining in harmony isn't natural.

Source Cited

Ovid. "Metamorphoses." The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. 7th ed. Ed. Sarah Lawall, et al. W W Norton & Company. 1999. 899-943.
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