Classics Essays

The Metamorphoses of Ovid

Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is many things: several stories, some bleak, some uplifting, ranging from the creation of the world to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. Yet in its most fundamental form, his epic love poem of many stories reveals deep truths in its poetic proclamations of the transformative power, and spirit, of love.

Per my monthly literary column, this essay offers a concise reading of three stories contained in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Perseus and Andromeda; Pygmalion and the Statue; Acis and Galatea; to offer a reading of the constancy of love in a world of flux and transformation. As I conclude:

To integrate Pythagoras and Ovid, as I think this is the message of the Metamorphoses, Love is the same forever, but adopts new migrations in ever-varying forms. The “pilgrim souls” that Pythagoras speaks of are nothing less than loving souls on a pilgrimage of love through the cosmos, being tossed about and torn in its chaos and violence. When Ovid concludes the poem with the word vivam, “I shall live,” he lives eternally through the love he prophesied about—for he was a pilgrim soul hoping to be transformed by love. No fire can destroy, no sword can cut, no age can forget, the truth that love is the constant guiding spirit of the cosmos, no matter how much darkness, violence, and bloodshed surrounds it.

Read the full essay here: Metamorphosis by Love


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