Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #7

(Medea:)
If I don't take his part,
he will be blasted by the bulls' hot breath,
and then face foes that he himself begets –
sprung from the very soil that he will sow –
or else fall prey to the voracious dragon.
If I let him become their victim, then
I must confess that I'm a tigress' daughter,
who carries steel and stones within her breast.
And why don't I look on as Jason dies –
why would that sacrifice defile my eyes?
Why not incite the bulls, and savage foes
the earth engenders, and the sleepless dragon? (7.28-37)

Here, once again, Ovid shows a character walking a tightrope between love and hatred: at first, Medea says that she has to help Jason in his task of yoking the fire-breathing bulls; then, the very next moment, she says that she should urge them on to destroy him. Is there some connection between these two powerful emotions?

Quote #8

Their upward path
was dark and steep; the mists they met were thick;
the silences, unbroken. But at last,
they'd almost reached the upper world, when he,
afraid that she might disappear again
and longing so to see her, turned to gaze
back at his wife. At once she slipped away –
and down. His arms stretched out convulsively
to clasp and to be clasped in turn, but there
was nothing but the unresisting air.
And as she died again, Eurydice
did not reproach her husband. (How could she
have faulted him except to say that he
loved her indeed?) One final, faint "Farewell" –
so weak it scarcely reached his ears – was all
she said. Then, back to the abyss, she fell. (10.53-63)

The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is another example of Ovid's positive portrayal of married love – even though it doesn't turn out so well. Still, even if he makes the mistake of looking back at the very end, we at Shmoop still admire Orpheus's devotion; even his mistake is the result of love, after all. To get a full understanding of what Ovid's doing here, compare his retelling of this myth with that of Virgil, from Book 4 of his poem The Georgics. In Virgil's poem, Eurydice criticizes Orpheus just before she vanishes back into the Underworld; thus, when Ovid asks, "How could she / have faulted him except to say that he / loved her indeed," he is really criticizing his fellow poet. Which version of the myth do you think is more persuasive?

Quote #9

(Orpheus:)
"And Venus is now taken by the mortal
Adonis' beauty: she no longer cares
for her Cythera's shores; she cannot spare
the time to visit sea-encircled Paphos
and Cnidos, rich with fish; and she neglects
her Amathus, the city rich with ores.
She even finds the skies too tedious:
she much prefers Adonis. She stays close
to him; it is with him she always goes;
and she, who always used to seek the shade –
there she could rest at ease and cultivate
her beauty – now frequents the mountain slopes,
the woods, the rocks beset by spiny thorns
as if she were Diana." (10.529-536)

Have you ever been so head-over-heels for someone that you stopped doing the things you ordinarily do? Maybe you even started picking up some new hobbies – hobbies you wouldn't have been caught dead doing before – just to bring you closer to your special someone? If so, then you should have a pretty clear understanding of what Venus is going through here.

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