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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses


by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Memory and the Past 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

"We see
that eras change: for here some nations gain
and grow in strength, there others lose the day.
So, Troy had might and men and wealth: she could
afford for ten long years to shed her blood;
now, razed, all she can show are ancient ruins –
her only riches are ancestral tombs.
Sparta was famed, and great Mycenae claimed
much might; so did Amphion's citadel
and Cecrops', too. The land of Sparta now
is worthless; proud Mycenae is laid low;
what has the Thebes of Oedipus to show
except for her own name? And what is left
to Cecrops' Athens other than her fame?
And now the rumor runs that Rome, the town
that sons of Dardanus had founded, grows;
along the Tiber's banks – the stream that flows
down from the Apennines – that city lays
the base of a great state. (15.420-433)

This survey of past human societies shows how the great have fallen. At the time when Pythagoras is speaking, Rome is still the new kid on the block. Do you think that Ovid thinks history will be different for Rome, or is he here dropping the hint that it, too, will both rise and fall?

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