The Metamorphoses Revenge 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.
"But Clytie was jealous (for the Sun's
love of Leucothoe was more than warm).
Incensed, she told the world, and she informed
her rival's father: she defamed her name.
And in the face of his fair daughter's shame,
the king is cruel: though his daughter prays,
beseeching mercy, even as she claims –
her arms stretched to the Sun – that she was raped
against her will, he pays no heed, inflicts
a brutal burial in a deep ditch;
the sand heaped over her is heavy, thick." (4.234-240)
This sickening story follows the same theme as the others here. Revenge is enacted against someone who did nothing to deserve it, and so became a victim twice over. Maybe thrice over, since Leucothoe was the victim, first of the Sun-god, then of the jealous Clytie, and then of her own father, who killed her just to cover up his shame. There might have been some people in the ancient world who would have thought that Leucothoe's father, at least, was acting out of justice, by enforcing his patriarchal rights. Ovid doesn't agree with this: he says straight up that her father acted that way because he was "cruel."
It's true that when her son comes up to her
and greets her, as he throws his tiny arms
around her neck and, in his boyish way,
embraces her, she's moved, her wrath is tamed,
her eyes grow damp with tears she can't restrain.
But sensing that maternal love has swayed
her purpose, Procne turns aside her gaze
from Itys to her sister, thinking this:
"And why can he still speak endearingly,
while she is mute, her tongue cut out? If he
can call me mother, why can't she say 'sister'?" (6.625-633)
In these lines, we see how the desire for revenge can trump even the feelings of a mother for a son – though it is true that Procne only manages to achieve this through an act of will. The sufferings of Procne's son amount to "collateral damage"; he is an innocent victim in the revenge enacted by Procne against her husband for his brutal rape of her sister.
Althaea, grateful for the victory
of Meleager, her dear son, was bringing
gifts for the gods into the sanctuary;
she saw them carry in her brothers' bodies.
Althaea beat her breast; she filled the city
with sad laments; she changed her gilded dress
and now wore black. But when she learned who was
the author of their death, she left behind
her tears and mourned no more; her heart was bent
on vengeance. (8.445-450)
This passage is similar to the previous one. Here, once again, the desire to avenge a sibling trumps the love of a mother for her son. In this case, these two commitments come into conflict because it is Althaea's son, Meleager, who killed her brothers. He will pay the ultimate price.