Metamorphoses Part 2 Study Questions:
- Read the story of Philomela carefully. How does Tereus fantasize about
Philomela? How does that affect the reader? To what extent is violence
eroticized in this myth? Can you think of similar ways the gaze functions
in our culture? Is it significant that she has her tongue cut out?
- Why is Arachne punished? Visualize the webs of Arachne and Minerva.
What is the difference between them in terms of content and structure?
What do the myths of Arachne, Marsyas and Philomela have in common?
What is the role of the artist in these stories? What might Ovid be
saying about the conditions under which the artist works? What sort
of power does the artist have (think about this in conjunction with
the next question as well)? What are his or her limitations?
- What else can we learn about the nature of the artist and his art
from the myths of Daedalus and Pygmalion? Where have you heard the Pygmalion
story before? Why is our culture still interested in it?
- Many critics have been bothered by the conflict between Ovid's style
and content. In regard to the Marsyas passage, Dryden said, "If this
were wit, was this a time to be witty, when the poor wretch was in the
agony of Death? Look closely at this passage. What does Dryden mean?
Where have you seen similar approaches in Ovid? How does this affect
your reading of the text?
- Read the concluding passages of this poem. Why does Ovid choose to
end the Metamorphoses this way?