Literary Shelf

Poetry: Not Everyone's Cup of Tea - 7

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In our “epic” journey in the realm of poetry, we have seen the known iconic epics right from the oldest first known epic “Gilgamesh" - Mesopotamia (c. 2100 BCE) and then went on chronologically to read about "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" - Ancient Greece (8th century BCE),"The Ramayana" - Ancient India (5th century BCE)"The Mahabharata" - Ancient India (4th century BCE) "The Aeneid" - Ancient Rome (29-19 BCE).

In continuation of enjoying reading about the famous known epics, today we will read about Ovid's "The Metamorphoses" a distinguished epic poem in the ancient Roman literature because of its immense breadth and lasting effect. This Roman poet named Publius Ovidius Naso, is famously known as Ovid. He was born on March 20, 43 BCE, in Sulmo, Italy. Ovid died in 17 CE at the age of 60. Involving fifteen books, his revolutionary work goes into the captivating cosmos of Greek and Roman folklore, reviewing different accounts of divine entities, humanity, and their astounding changes. "The Metamorphoses" is a riveting and timeless piece of literature because of Ovid's superb storytelling and examination of the concept of metamorphosis. It is predominantly written in dactylic hexameter, which is a meter extensively utilized in ancient Greek and Latin epic poetry. Dactylic hexameter consists of lines made of six metrical feet, with each foot often comprising a dactyl (a long syllable followed by two short syllables) or a spondee (two long syllables). This meter gives the poem a rhythmic and flowing aspect, enabling the easy telling of the various narratives and transformations recounted throughout the epic. The use of dactylic hexameter in this epic is in accordance with the tradition of epic poetry and contributes to the magnificent and compelling aspect of Ovid's work.

"The Metamorphoses," written in Latin in the first century AD, collects more than 250 myths and stories into a continuous narrative. The poem begins with the world's beginning and spans human civilization's history up through Julius Caesar's apotheosis. Ovid masterfully weaves together narratives of supernatural creatures and goddesses and legendary and heroic women, probing their appetites, flaws, and drastic shifts.

One of the key issues of "The Metamorphoses" is the potential of change. Through the characters' bodily changes, Ovid shows this theme both physically and symbolically as a reflection of human nature. The brittleness and ephemerality of life are brought to light by these metamorphoses, which operate as a metaphor for the ever-evolving nature of existence. Ovid addresses the enormous influence of change on humans and the environment around them via a range of stories, such as Daphne's transformation into a laurel tree to flee Apollo's pursuit or the sad love story of Pyramus and Thisbe changed into mulberry trees.

The undying power of myth and narrative is emphasized in "the metamorphoses" with the force of imagination. Ovid introduces his own particular style and point of view to these old tales by effectively integrating Greek and Roman mythology into a unified narrative. By narrating these events, Ovid not only merely glorifies the rich legendary history but also ponders the human condition, needs, and sensations that rise beyond time and society. Ovid examines deep human experiences like love, envy, ambition, and the repercussions of hubris via the legendary figures.

In "The Metamorphoses," the transforming power of love, with all of its pleasures and sorrows, is highlighted. The tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, as well as the love stories of Narcissus and Echo, Pygmalion, and Galatea, illustrate the transformational power of love and its repercussions on both gods and mortals. According to Ovid, love is a power that transcends boundaries, inciting intense sensations and driving individuals to both splendid and terrible heights. Love, comparable to metamorphosis, may mould and change the path of life, having permanent repercussions on the personalities of the pursuers.

To end, the ageless power of mythology and narrative is evident in Ovid's "The Metamorphoses." Ovid brings readers into a world where gods and mortals love and grief, change and continuity coexist via his magnificent storytelling and examination of transition. In addition to mesmerizing readers with its vivid storytelling, the poet also provokes reflection about human experience by underscoring the universality of emotions and the ephemeral essence of existence. "The Metamorphoses," a timeless epic, continues to captivate readers by reminding us of the staying power of myth in our lives and collective imagination as well as the tremendous influence of metamorphosis.

Here are few verses from Ovid's "The Metamorphoses" along with their meanings:

"Tempus edax rerum, tuque invidiosa vetustas "
(Time, devourer of all things, and envious Age).

This verse embodies the idea of the inescapable passage of time and the unrelenting nature of ageing. It shows the destructive power of time and how it eats everything while simultaneously underlining the envy-inducing effects of ageing as it takes youth and vigor.

"Amor est vitae essentia "
(Love is the essence of life.)

This canto conveys the concept that love is at the centre of human life. It indicates that love is not only a passing sensation but an important and vital energy that provides meaning and purpose to existence. It alludes to the transformational and powerful nature of love, which influences and transforms people and their actions.

"Omnia mutantur, nihil interit "
(Everything changes, nothing perishes).

This line emphasizes the core subjects of transition and impermanence found throughout "The Metamorphoses." It argues that while everything in the world is vulnerable to change, nothing actually disappears or ceases to exist fully. It represents the concept that although forms may change, the essence or energy of anything survives, reflecting the cyclical aspect of life and the endless cycle of creation and destruction.

These lines give glimpses into the profound thoughts and philosophical insights presented throughout Ovid's "The Metamorphoses," reminding readers of the everlasting wisdom inherent inside the epic poem.

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More by :  Dr. Satish Bendigiri

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