| Quote #7
And when she reached
In this scene, Latona comments on property rights as they relate to Nature. She argues that certain things in the world – like the sun, water, and air – are not anyone's property, and so should be used by anyone. The locals don't seem convinced, however. In fact, they even dirty the water by stirring up the bottom, so that neither one of them can use it. Why would they do such a thing? Is such behavior natural?
| Quote #8
This passage depicts Daedalus, the great inventor, altering nature by making himself wings. Ovid works many levels of irony into this passage. On the one hand, he alters nature by imitating nature – in this case, the wings of birds. On the other hand, Ovid also includes a comparison with pan-pipes, suggesting that Daedalus is also imitating human art. Why do you think he wove these strands together in this way? On a different note, you might like to know that the line about how Daedalus "starts / to work on unknown arts" is also used as the epigraph of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The hero of this novel is called Stephen Dedalus; the story is about his efforts to flee metaphorical "imprisonment" in Ireland – just as Ovid's Daedalus flees real imprisonment on the island of Crete. Joyce, of course, uses the Latin form of the phrase: "Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes."
| Quote #9
(Myrrha, in Orpheus's song):
In this passage, a young woman named Myrrha is wrestling with the fact that she is sexually attracted to her father. In an attempt to justify her own desires to herself, she makes a distinction between Nature and human culture, which she calls "the law." According to her, incest is widely practiced in nature, and it's only squeamish human rules that have prevented it. As it happens, many modern scientists think that incest is not widely prevalent among animals (though there is some dispute about this), and that there are good genetic (not to mention psychological) reasons for humans and animals to avoid it. In any case, Myrrha's way of setting up the question reflects a common human way of approaching life's questions: looking to Nature as a standard against which human customs can be measured.