Classical Mythology
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Classical Mythology

CLA 2-216-2001

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?

Last Update: Sept. 30, 2001
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