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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 #10

(The Sibyl:)
"[Apollo] said: "Now, just
express your wish – and that, Cumaean virgin,
will be the gift I give.' I gathered up
a little heap of dust and, holding that,
I asked that I be granted years to match
the number of those grains; but I forgot
to ask that I stay young through all that span –
I was a fool. Yet even then he would
have given me that, too – unending youth –
if I had yielded to him. I did not. […]
The day will come when this long life
will leave me shriveled; worn away by age,
my limbs will shrink to trifles; no one then
will dream that I'd been loved – and pleased a god." (14.135-142, 147-150)

No! Weren't you listening? We just said: don't promise to give mortals anything they wish for. They can't handle it. They don't have the foresight to see all the possible consequences. Oh well. The Sibyl foolishly wishes for eternal life, but also foolishly forgets to wish for eternal youth. What happens to the Sibyl here parallels the ancient Greek myth of Tithonos; you can read about that here.

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