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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses


by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation, but these citations refer not to the lines in Mandelbaum's edition, but to the original Latin.

Quote #4

Though Cadmus tried to sway
his grandson, as did Athamas and all
his family, no council could dissuade
the mind of Pentheus. They can't stay his rage;
their calls for calm don't check him – they abet
the force they would repress: so have I seen
a torrent – there where nothing curbed its courage –
flow rather peacefully – no rage, no roar;
but where it had been dammed – where giant stones
and tree trunks blocked its path – it boiled and foamed;
resistance only made its fury grow. (III.564-571)

Some people just won't listen to reason. This is part of the problem with Pentheus. Like so many other victims of folly in Ovid's poem, Pentheus will pay the ultimate price.

Quote #5

Now Eryx scorned that pair;
he cried: "It's lack of courage, not the power
of Gorgon, that has made you stiff; let us
lay low this youth and his enchanted arms!"
He started his attack; the earth held fast
his feet; and he was halted, motionless –
a rock, the image of a man in armor. (5.195-199)

Uhh, if you had just seen all your buddies turned to stone by the head of Medusa (a.k.a. the Gorgon), don't you think you'd have little more respect for the guy (Perseus) who was wielding it. Not if you're Eryx, you wouldn't. Foolishness and Medusa heads don't mix. Eryx will pay for it.

Quote #6

Arachne scowled; abrupt, aggrieved, morose,
she dropped her threads; and though she kept her hand
from striking out, her rage was clear – it showed
upon Arachne's face as she replied
to Pallas (who was still disguised): "Old age
has addled you; your wits are gone; too long
a life has left you anile, stale, undone.
Your drivel might appeal to your dear-daughter-
in-law, if you have one, or else your daughter,
if you have one. As for advice, I can
advise myself. And lest you think your warning
changed anything, be sure of this: I am
still sure of what I said before. Your goddess –
why doesn't she come here? Why not accept
my challenge?" (6.34-42)

Arachne sure is a piece of work. OK, so it's most obviously stupid to challenge a goddess to any sort of competition (in this case, a weaving contest), and it's even more foolish to actually enter into that competition (as Arachne does in the passage that follows). But that isn't all. We at Shmoop think it's just plain rude to talk to anybody the way Arachne does, especially when that person appears to be a helpless old lady. Somebody should have taught her some manners before her foolishness got the better of her.

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