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"flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella." note (And golden honey was dripping from a green oak tree.)
—Ovid, The Metamorphoses, Bk.I:112
The Metamorphoses, completed in 8 AD, is a Narrative Poem by the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, better known today as Ovid. The fifteen books of the poem consist of many stories from Greek and Roman mythology.These stories range from the origin of the world from Chaos to the deification of Caesar and the celebration of Augustus's rule over Rome. Countless tales from mythology are told in between, including the stories of "Apollo and Daphne," "Orpheus and Eurydice," "Baucis and Philemon," "Daedalus and Icarus," et cetera.The Metamorphoses has served as an enormous influence throughout the ages; today, it remains one of the best classical sources for many myths. Shakespeare, notably, borrowed from or was inspired by various stories in the collection. Romeo and Juliet parallels many aspects of "Pyramus and Thisbe", a myth which also appears as a play within a play in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In Act V of The Tempest, one of Prospero's speeches is strikingly similar to a speech Medea makes in Book VII of The Metamorphoses. Additionally, Titus Andronicus bears various similarities to the story of Philomena, and Lavinia actually points out the passage to tell her father and uncle what had happened to her. (Incidentally, it also resembles the story of Io, although that resemblance is not pointed out specifically.)Ovid's Metamorphoses is available online here... (What, can't read the Latin? Kids these days... A.S.Kline's English translation is available here.)Not to be confused with Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.
The Metamorphoses provides examples of:
Action Girl: The huntress Atalanta, who shows up in a couple of stories.
Brother-Sister Incest: A one-sided case with Byblis and her brother Caunus. While Byblis likes him, and admits her feelings, he is completely disgusted by her affection.
Crossover Cosmology: The Egyptian gods appear a few times. Io is worshipped as Isis, according to the story, while the Olympians become the Egyptian gods while hiding from Typhoeus. Isis also plays an important role in the story of Iphis and Ianthe.
Disproportionate Retribution: Juno, especially. For example, she sends a horrific plague upon the island of Aegina, killing hundreds. Why? Because the island is named after a woman who slept with Jupiter, king of the gods. See also the above example of the flaying.
Does Not Like Men: Diana. She reacts poorly when Actaeon accidentally stumbles across the pool where she's bathing.
Possibly Daphne too, or possibly she simply didn't like Apollo in particular.
Double Standard: cross with Values Dissonance: Iphis goes on a long monolog about how wrong and unnatural is love between two women but the poem has also many relationships between men (Zeus and Ganymede, Apollo and Hyacinthus...) that are not treated the same way.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Medea. Unlike in other versions of the story where she is a tragic figure, Ovid's version has her using her magic to kill random people for no reason, even before Jason ever wrongs her. No explanation is ever given for her actions.
Kill It with Fire: Though not much is made of it, Jupiter seems to be uncomfortable with fire, apparently remembering a vague prophecy about how fire would one day be the end of him. He remembers this while Phaethon nearly burns Heaven and Earth while driving Apollo's chariot.
Manipulative Bitch: Venus in the tale of Ceres and Proserpina. Pluto falling in love with Proserpina was her idea (with Cupid' help, of course), as doing so would a.) allow her power (love) to spread to the Underworld, thereby claiming it along with Earth and Sky as under her domain, and b.) doing so would prevent Proserpina from remaining a virgin, thus allowing her to defy Venus, as Minerva and Diana had done.
May-December Romance: There's a generational gap between Pluto and Proserpina. One way to interpret this is Pluto appearing as like a middle-aged man, while Proserpina would be physically in her mid-to-late teens.
Metamorphosis: Every single story has one, albeit sometimes one that's only tangential to the main point. Many of them are into birds and trees, often as escape or punishment (which is sometimes both).
The Mourning After: Defied with Baucis and Philemon; their wish to die at the same time is granted by the gods.
Mundane Made Awesome: Ovid uses language and style associated with epics to describe things like the appetizers in Roman peasants' dinner.
Name's the Same: Cygnus is a pretty popular name, with at least three appearing; they also tend to be turned into swans. There are also at least two Scyllas.
Plot Hole: There are several, since it is based on conflicting mythology.
Generally deliberate allusions, rather than accidental confusions. For example, the narrator directly calls the Argo the "first ship", despite the fact we'll already had several voyages in the narrative.
Orpheus is the son of Apollo and a Muse, yet he is presented as mortal, while other god-children like Mars and Proserpina are shown to be immortal.
Pride: A recurring theme; it usually spells the downfall of many a mortal. Can also cross over with Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?, such as in the case of Niobe and the Titaness Latona.