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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

by Ovid
 Table of Contents

The Metamorphoses Memory and the Past Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

(Pythagoras:) "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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