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The Metamorphoses Sex 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 #1

He looks at Daphne's hair
as, unadorned, it hangs from her fair neck,
and says: "Just think, if she should comb her locks!"
He sees her lips and never tires of them;
her fingers, hands, and wrists are unsurpassed;
her arms – more than half-bare – cannot be matched;
whatever he can't see he can imagine;
he conjures it as even more inviting. (1.497-502)

These lines depict the moment when Apollo develops and overpowering crush on Daphne. In Ovid's day, just like today, nothing adds spice like leaving something to the imagination.

Quote #2

And as Jove came and went,
renewing that dear land, he saw a nymph,
a virgin of Arcadia, Callisto;
at once a flame erupted in his bones. (2.409-410)

If you've read our "In A Nutshell" section, you'll know that Ovid started out as a love poet. In Ancient Rome, one of the most common ways in which love poets described the passion of sexual desire was as a burning flame. Ovid's rival, Virgil, the other master of Latin epic, uses very similar imagery to this in Book 4 of his poem the Aeneid. There, he is describing the passion of the Carthaginian Queen Dido. If you haven't read Virgil's poem, you can learn more about it by looking at our Shmoop module.

Quote #3

When Echo saw
Narcissus roaming through the lonely fields,
she was inflamed with love, and – furtively –
she followed in his footsteps. As she drew
still closer, closer, so her longing grew
more keen, more hot – as sulphur, quick to burn,
smeared round a torch's top bursts into flame
when there are other fires close to it. (3.370-374)

This passage is very similar to the previous one in its depiction of sexual desire. What makes it a bit different is it goes into more detail about how this desire can increase or decrease. Here, Ovid is saying that being near to one another makes passion's flame burn brighter.

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