Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #10

(Pythagoras):
"And if you find these things amazing, strange,
consider still another striking change –
the way that the hyena alternates:
now she's a female mounted by a male,
and now becomes herself the male who mounts." (15.408-410)

According to modern biology, Pythagoras's claim about hyenas is untrue. But this doesn't matter very much, because Ovid's poem is a work of literature, where factual truth isn't really the point. What matters is how Pythagoras's claim fits in with the work as a whole. We at Shmoop think his remark is most interesting because it offers a parallel from the natural (i.e., non-human) world for some of the human sex and gender fluidity that happens elsewhere in the poem. What's your take?

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