Study Guide

The Metamorphoses Tone

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Witty, Humorous, Malicious

The most basic thing to keep in mind about Ovid's poem is that he isn't giving a straightforward retelling of the myths he has inherited. Instead, he is constantly twisting them around to his own purposes, making them look ridiculous, or fixating on details that are strange or grotesque. The trick to pulling this off is a witty, humorous tone. By keeping things light, the poet lets the reader in on the joke. At the same time, however, Ovid also deals with some pretty heavy stuff, and sometimes he does seem to take a strange amount of pleasure in his characters' suffering. For this reason, we also think there's a streak of maliciousness in his tone.

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