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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Transformation

OK, so the poem is called The Metamorphoses; it doesn't take a genius to figure out that "Transformation" is going to be the most important theme. That said, you might be surprised by the wide rang...

Love

For the most part, Ovid portrays love in a highly positive way, as something natural that arises on its own between two people. One of the typical signs of love in The Metamorphoses is when the two...

Sex

By breaking up "Love" and "Sex" into two distinct Themes, we're not saying that Ovid thinks they don't mix (even though, if you read through the poem, there are surprisingly few couples who enjoy a...

Man and the Natural World

From the beginning of The Metamorphoses, Ovid portrays humans as having a special relationship with the natural world. This is because they are made in the image of the gods, out of mud that still...

Memory and the Past

In ancient Greece and Rome, there was a very popular form of literature called aetiology. (This same word is used in modern medicine, where it is more often spelled "etiology.") This word comes fro...

Foolishness and Folly

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" These words, spoken by Oberon in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, would apply to many episodes in The Metamorphoses. The only problem is that his gods a...

Revenge

Revenge may well be "a dish best served cold" (as the movie Kill Bill! would put it). However, it rarely is. Revenge and justice are far from the same thing, and most of the acts of vengeance in Ov...

Gender

What would a book about the infinite variety and fluidity of the universe be without some gender-bending? It wouldn't be Ovid's Metamorphoses, that's for sure. Some of the poet's explorations of ge...

Science

Today, many scholars view Ovid as a "remythologizer," who took existing scientific and historical theories and sort of added the gods back into them. If this is true, however, it still means Ovid h...

Religion

Religion in The Metamorphoses is not a very complicated affair. Basically, in the worldview Ovid depicts, the relationship between mortals and the gods goes as follows: the mortals respect the gods...
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