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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

by Ovid

Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

(Pythagoras:)
"For you can gather grain, and there are fruits
that bend the branches with their weight; there are
delicious greens that cooking makes still more
inviting, still more tender. You need not
refrain from milk, or honey sweet with scent
of thyme. The earth is kind – and it provides
so much abundance; you are offered feasts
for which there is no need to slaughter beasts,
to shed their blood. Some animals do feed
on flesh – but yet, not all of them: for sheep
and cattle graze on grass. And those who need
to feed on bloody food are savage beasts:
fierce lions, wolves, and bears, Armenian
tigers. Ah, it's a monstrous crime indeed
to stuff your innards with a living thing's
own innards, to make fat your greedy flesh
by swallowing another body, letting
another die that you may live." (15.75-90)

The long speech of Pythagoras in Book 15 of The Metamorphoses brings many, many themes of the poem full circle. (You'll see it cropping up a lot in our discussions of the book's themes; this is a sign that it might be a good passage to look at if you're writing a paper on Ovid's poem.) Here, it marks a return (so to speak) to the Golden Age, as described in Book 1 (see the quotation above). As part of his argument in favor of vegetarianism, Pythagoras says that the earth still offers so many good things to humans that it simply isn't necessary to kill animals for food. Based on what you have read elsewhere in The Metamorphoses, do you think Ovid agrees with this character? Or is his own position somewhat different?

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