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Ovid's Metamorphoses is an example of chaos versus order. I think that is what makes it hard to follow. There is just so much chaos moving from one book to another with barely a transition. I think what the anti-epic is trying to show is that everyone has flaws.
In the beginning of time a flood changed the earth. The earth was made pure and two by two it began to prosper and grow again. This was chaos followed by order. The poem continues with Cupid being angry with Apollo and shooting him with his arrow. Apollo sees the beautiful Daphne and begins to chase her. This was the human instinct of desire and the power of love. She pleads with her father to change her form and help her to escape. She is changed into a laurel tree, but that does not stop Apollo from claiming her as his property. Apollo's son Phaethon drives the chariot of the sun and spins out of control, another example of chaos.
"Book One of Ovid's Metamorphoses establishes the book's theme of metamorphoses with a tale of creation that progresses into human stories leading to the current breed of man. The creation piece is followed by a flood story and a discussion of the ages of mankind. The ages of mankind - gold, silver, bronze, and iron - describe man's slow progression from a good, wholesome society into a miserable, self-destructive one. The next stories concern tales of gods and goddesses and their manipulations of the human population and each other. Book one ends (appropriately) with Phaethon's journey to meet his father, the sun, thus establishing Ovid's theme of quests for change."(auburn. edu)
The book continues with man's desire. Desire can rule the head and cripple the heart. These actions can lead to punishment. We are guided by our feelings. Juno is the jealous wife of Jove. Jove attempted to hide his rape of Io from Juno by transforming her into a white heifer. I don't know if it was love or shame that helped Jove give up Lo. Jove gave her up to Argus. Io could not ask for help because she could not speak. This is symbolic of rape because if she says something it might happen again. Rape changes you physically and mentally. Io's own father Inachus could not help her.
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In Book IX Ligdus and Telethusa had a little girl, but in order to protect her; she was disguised as a boy. Ligdus wanted a boy because girls required more. Telethusa told the nurse to tell everyone that she had a boy. She even named the girl a neutral name, Iphis. The story begins leaning toward homosexuality. That is not normal in my opinion. I was glad when the metamorphoses began. The power of prayer and the desire to be something different was a good thing in this instance.
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Pygmalion has problems with his mind in Book X. He loves his own body. Sometimes we expect too much of ourselves. He desires his art and thinks it is real not ivory. He has a fetish with his art because of its beauty. He prays to the gods for a wife like the ivory girl. She lets him do whatever he wants without saying a word. I think this is strange. Venus finally grants his wish and the ivory girl becomes human. Pygmalion had a son named Paphos and Paphos had a son named Cinyras. The daughter of Cinyras, Myrra had an incestuous passion for her father. She attempted suicide, and was rescued by her nurse who promised to help her. The nurse took her to father and she slept with him. She became impregnate and fled to Sabaea. She knows it is a forbidden love and that she must be punished. She is turned into the myrrh-tree and tears seep. Adonis is born from the tree. Venus is pricked from Cupid's arrow and wants Adonis. Atalanta and Hippomenes turned into lions. She warned him to avoid savage creatures. He ignored her warning and is killed by a wild boar. This is violent sexual imagery. His blood was transformed into a windflower, the anemone.
This was truly a metamorphoses ever changing.
Hopkins, David Ovid Selected Poems
Phoenix Press Copyright 2003
Lawall, Sarah The Norton Anthology World Masterpieces Seventh Edition Volume 1
W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. Copyright 1984