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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses


by Ovid

The Metamorphoses Religion 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 #7

Meanwhile the aged couple noticed this:
the wine bowl, which had served so many cups,
seemed to replenish its own self, fill up
again, again with welling wine. Dismayed –
this sight was unbelievable – afraid,
both Baucis and the old Philemon prayed
with hands – palms up – to heaven, begging pardon
for food so meager, and so scant a welcome.
Then they got set to kill their only goose,
the guardian of their poor patch of land –
they planned to serve it to their godly guests. (8.679-685)

The aged couple Baucis and Philemon provide a classic example of extreme piety – for which they receive an extraordinary reward. Baucis and Philemon's extreme piety is seen in their incredible generosity towards visitors to their home. (Hospitality was considered a religious duty in the ancient world, and the laws of hospitality were watched over by Jupiter.) Even though, in their poverty, they have barely anything, nonetheless, they offer what they have. Then, they pray to the gods for forgiveness for offering so little. As a result, Jupiter and Mercury – for this is who their guests really are – reward them by making them keepers of their temple; then, they let them die together and turn into a pair of trees.

Quote #8

This work of war, this battle, in its wake
was followed by a truce of many days:
both sides laid down their arms – no clash, no fray,
a time for rest. And while keen sentinels
stood guard around the trenches of the Greeks,
the festive day grew close: a solemn feast.
Achilles, victor over Cycnus, seeks
to placate Pallas with the heifer he
is offering to her. He sets the meat
in slabs on the warm altar; once the fragrance
in which the gods take such delight has risen
to heaven – for the rite, the rods receive
the innards – men can banquet on the rest. (12.146-154)

If you've read Homer's Iliad, which centers on Achilles, you'll know that the Greek warrior can be a pretty bad guy. (If you haven't read it, check out our Shmoop guide for more info.) Here, though, we see that even this meathead has a gentler side to him. This is shown by his piety.

Quote #9

Aeneas talked to his Cumaean guide:
"Although I do not know if you're indeed
a goddess, or are simply one most dear
unto the gods, for me you'll always be
a deity: and I shall always be
most grateful; for you have permitted me
descent to death's domain, and once I'd seen
death's self, you granted me a safe return:
in recompense, when I am back again
beneath the open sky, I shall erect
a shrine for you and offer fragrant incense."
Then, turning back to him, the prophetess
sighed deeply and replied: "I am no goddess;
mere mortals do not merit sacred incense." (14.122-131)

Here we see two characters acting piously, though at cross-purposes. For Aeneas, it is reasonable to assume that the Sibyl is a goddess. I mean, who else but a goddess would take you to the Underworld and back, right? But in fact, she isn't a goddess, and her response to Aeneas – "Don't worship me, I'm just a lowly mortal"– is the pious one.

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