Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in brief summary

Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in brief summary

The word “metamorphosis” means “transformation.” There were a lot of ancient myths that ended in the transformations of the heroes – into the river, to the mountain, into the animal, into the plant, into the constellation. The poet Ovid tried to collect all such myths about the transformations that he knew; there were more than two hundred. He retold them one by one, picking up, weaving, inserting each other; a long poem called “Metamorphosis” was produced. It begins with the creation of the world – after all, when Chaos was divided into Heaven and Earth, it was already the first transformation in the world. And it ends literally yesterday: a year before the birth of Ovid in Rome, Julius Caesar was killed, a large comet appeared in the sky,

and everyone said that it was ascended to heaven by the soul of Caesar, who became a god – and this is also nothing more than a transformation.

So the poem moves from the oldest to the newest times. The more ancient – the more magnificent, the more cosmically described transformations: the global flood, the global conflagration. The flood was the punishment of the first people for their sins – the land became the sea, the surf beat in the mountain tops, the fish swam between the branches of the trees, people in the rafts were dying of hunger. Only two of the righteous were saved on the twin summit of Mount Parnassus – the forefather Deucalion and the wife of his Pyrrhus. Water splashed, a deserted and silent world was opened; With tears, they prayed to the gods and heard the answer: “Maternal bones sweep your back!” With difficulty they realized: the common mother is the Earth, her bones are stones; they began to throw stones over their shoulders, and behind the back of Deucalion from these stones grew men, and behind the Pyrrhus – women. Thus a new human race appeared on earth.

And the fire was not by the will of the gods, but by the audacity of an unreasonable teenager. Young Phaeton, the son of the Sun, asked his father: “They do not believe that I’m your son: let me

skip the sky in your golden chariot from the east to the sunset.” If you think so, “the father replied,” but beware: up, down, hold on to the middle, otherwise be a trouble! “And the trouble came: at the height of the boy’s head dizzy, the hand trembled, the horses lost their way, in the sky both Cancer and Scorpio shied away from them, mountain forests from Caucasus to Atlas, the rivers began to boil from the Rhine to the Ganges, the sea dried up, the soil cracked, the light made its way into the black kingdom of Hades, and then itself The arable land, raising its head, prayed to Zeus: “If you want to burn – burn, but have mercy on the world, let there be no new Chaos!” Zeus struck with lightning, the chariot collapsed, and above the remains of Phaethon wrote a verse:

The age of heroes begins, the gods descend to mortals, mortals fall into pride. Weaver Arachna summons the goddess Athena, the inventor of the cloth, At the Athena on the cloth – the Olympic gods, Poseidon creates for the people the horse, Athena herself – the olive, and at the edges – the punishment of those who dare to be equal with the gods: those are turned to the mountains, those in the birds, those in the step of the temple. And Arachne’s on cloth – as Zeus turned into a bull to steal one beauty, a golden rain for another, a swan for the third, a serpent for the fourth; as Poseidon turned into a ram, and a horse, and a dolphin; As Apollo took the form of a shepherd, and Dionysus a vinedresser, and more, and more. Arachne’s fabric is no worse than the cloth of Athena, and Athena executes it not for work, but for blasphemy: turns it into a spider that hangs in a corner and eternally weaves a web. “Spider” in Greek – “arachne”.

Zevsov’s son, Dionysus the viniculturist, is a miracle worker who walks around the world and gives wine to people. He punishes his enemies: the shipmasters who transported him across the sea decided to kidnap such a handsome man and sell him into slavery – but their ship stops, takes root in the bottom, ivy wraps the mast, bunches hang from the sails, and the robbers bend their bodies, cover themselves with scales and dolphins jump in the sea. And he gives his friends anything, but they do not always ask the reasonable. The greedy King Midas asked: “Let all that I touch become gold!” – and here the golden bread and meat break his teeth, and the golden water flows into the throat with molten metal. Wearing miracle-working hands, he prays: “Oh, deliver me from the pernicious gift!” – and Dionysus with a smile says: “Wash your hands in the river Pactola.” The power goes into the water, the king again eats and drinks,

Not only the young Dionysus, but also the elder gods appear among the people. Zeus himself and Hermes in the guise of wanderers bypass human villages, but the rude masters drive them from the rapids. Only in one poor hut did they receive the old man and the old woman, Philemon and Baucis. Guests enter by ducking their heads, sit down on the matting, in front of them a table with a lame leg, backed with a shard, instead of a tablecloth its board is rubbed with mint, in clay bowls – eggs, cottage cheese, vegetables, dried berries. Here is the wine mixed with water – and suddenly the owners see: a miracle – no matter how much you drink, it does not decrease in the bowls. Then they guess who is in front of them, and in fear they pray: “Forgive us, gods, for a miserable reception.” In response, the hut is transformed, the mud floor becomes marble, the roof rises on the columns, the walls shine with gold, and the mighty Zeus says: “Ask what you want!” “

Meanwhile, the age of the heroes goes on as usual. Perseus kills the Gorgon turning a stone into a gaze, and when he puts her severed head prostrate on the leaves, the leaves turn into corals. Jason brings Medea from Colchis, and she turns his decrepit father from an old man into a young man. Hercules fights for his wife with the river god Aheloy, he turns around as a serpent, now a bull – and still defeated. Theseus enters the Cretan Labyrinth and kills the monstrous Minotaur there; the princess Ariadne gave him a thread, he held it out to him in confused corridors from the entrance to the middle, and then found a way back through it. Ariadne took this Ariadne from Theseus and made his wife Dionysus the god, and the crown from her head he threw up into the sky, and there he lit up with the constellation of the Northern Crown.

The builder of the Cretan Labyrinth was the skillful Athenian Daedalus, the prisoner of the terrible king Minos, the son of Zeus and the father of the Minotaur. Daedalus languished on his island, but could not escape: all the seas were in the power of Minos. Then he decided to fly across the sky: “Minos owns everything, but he does not own air!” Collecting bird feathers, he fastens them with wax, measures length, verifies the bend of the wing; and his boy Icarus nearby then sculpts lumps of wax, then catches the flying feathers. Big wings for my father are already ready, small for my son, and Daedalus teaches Icarus: “Fly after me, hold on to the middle: you’ll take below – the feathers will become heavy from the splashes of the sea, and you’ll get higher wax from the heat of the sun.” They fly; fishermen on the banks and plowmen on arable land look up into the sky and freeze, thinking that these are the highest gods. But again the fate of Phaethon is repeated: Icarus joyfully takes you up, the wax melts, scatter feathers, with bare hands, he grabs air, and now the sea is sweeping over his lips, crying to his father. Since then, this sea is called Ikaria.

As in Crete was the craftsman Daedalus, so in Cyprus was the craftsman Pygmalion. Both of them were sculptors: it was said about Daedalus that his statues could walk about Pygmalion – as if his statue came to life and became his wife. It was a stone girl named Galatea, so beautiful that Pygmalion fell in love with her: caressed a stone body, dressed, decorated, languished and finally prayed to the gods:

“Give me a wife like my statue!” And the goddess of love Aphrodite responded: he touches the statue and feels soft and warm, he kisses her, Galatea opens her eyes and sees at once the white light and the face of the lover. Pygmalion was happy, but his descendants were unhappy. He had a son Kinir, and Kinir’s daughter Mirra, and this Mirra fell in love with incestuous love in her father. The gods in horror turned it into a tree, from the bark of which, like tears, oozes a fragrant resin, still called myrrh. And when it was time to give birth, the tree cracked, and from the crack appeared a baby named Adonis. He grew so beautiful that Aphrodite herself took him to her lovers. But not good: the jealous god of war Ares sent him to the wild boar hunting, Adonis died, and from his blood rose a short-lived flower anemone.

And Pygmalion had a great-grandson, or a great-granddaughter, named Kenid or Keney. She was born a girl, the sea Poseidon fell in love with her, took possession of her and said: “Ask me what is pleasing. She answered:” So that no one can dishonor me like you – I want to be a man! “She began these words with a woman’s voice, And in addition, rejoicing at this desire of Kenida, God gave her male body invulnerability from wounds, while the tsar of the Lapithic tribe, a friend of Theseus, was celebrating a lavish wedding, guests at the wedding were centaurs, half-humans-half-horses from neighboring mountains, wild and violent. to guilt, they intoxicated and attacked women, la pythas began to protect their wives, the famous battle of the lapids with the centaurs, which the Greek sculptors liked to depict, began. In the wedding palace, then in the open air, First they threw each other in cast bowls and altar buns, then torn out by pines and clumps of rocks. It was then that Kenei showed himself – nothing took him, the stones jumped from him like a hail from the roof, spears and swords broke like granite. Then the centaurs began to throw it with tree trunks: “Let the wounds be replaced by a load!” – a whole mountain of trunks grew over his body and at first hesitated, as in an earthquake, and then subsided. And when the battle was over and the trunks were dismantled, then under them lay the dead girl of Kenid, – a whole mountain of trunks grew over his body and at first hesitated, as in an earthquake, and then subsided. And when the battle was over and the trunks were dismantled, then under them lay the dead girl of Kenid, – a whole mountain of trunks grew over his body and at first hesitated, as in an earthquake, and then subsided. And when the battle was over and the trunks were dismantled, then under them lay the dead girl of Kenid,

The poem is nearing its end: the old Nestor in the Greek camp at Troy tells about the battle of the Lalifs with centaurs. Even the Trojan War can not do without transformations. Achill fell, and his body was taken out of the battle by two: a powerful Ajax was carrying him on his shoulders, dexterous Odysseus repulsed the trojans piling. From Achilles remained the famous armor, forged by Hephaestus: who will it get? Ajax says: “I went first to war, I am the strongest after Achilles, I am the best in open battle, and Odysseus is only in secret tricks, armor is for me!” Odysseus says: “But only I gathered the Greeks to war, only I attracted Achilles himself, only I kept the army from returning for the tenth year, the mind is more important than force, armor is for me!” The Greeks awarded the armor to Odysseus, the insulted Ajax rushes to the sword, and from his blood grows a hyacinth flower, on which specks are added to the letters “

Troy fell, Aeneas floats with the Trojan shrines to the west, at each of his parking he hears stories of transformations, memorable in these distant lands. He leads the war for Lazius, his descendants rule in Alba, and it turns out that the surrounding Italy is no less rich in tales of transformation than Greece. Romulus bases Rome and ascends to heaven – he himself becomes a god; seven centuries later, Julius Caesar will save Rome in civil wars and will also be exalted by a comet – he himself will become a god. And while the successor of Romulus, Numa Pompilius, the wisest of the ancient Roman kings, listens to the speeches of Pythagoras, the most wise of Greek philosophers, and Pythagoras explains to him and to the readers what the transformations that the stories in such a long poem have entwined.

Nothing lasts forever, “says Pythagoras,” except for the soul alone. ” She lives, unchanged, changing her physical shells, rejoicing in the new, forgetting about the former. The soul of Pythagoras once lived in the Trojan hero Euphorb; he, Pythagoras, remembers it, but people usually do not remember. Of human bodies, the soul can pass into the bodies of animals, birds, and again people; therefore the wise will not eat meat. “Like a malleable wax that molds into new forms, / does not remain alone, does not have a single form, / but remains itself,” so the soul, remaining / the same, “so saying,” passes into various flesh. “

And all flesh, every body, every substance is changeable. Everything flows: alternate moments, hours, days, seasons, ages of a person. The earth is thinned into water, water into the air, into the fire, and again the fire thickens into thunderclouds, the clouds are raining, the earth is getting drenched with rain. The mountains were the sea, and they found sea shells, and the sea was once flooded with dry plains; rivers dry up and new ones break through, the islands break away from the mainland and grow together with the mainland. Troy was powerful, and nowadays in the dust, Rome is now small and weak, but will be all-powerful: “Nothing is worth in the world, but everything is renewed forever.”

Here about these eternal changes of everything that we see in the world, and remind us of old stories about transformations – metamorphoses.


Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in brief summary