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Aeneid and Metamorphoses

In: English and Literature

Submitted By kistler73
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I really enjoyed reading both The Aeneid and Metamorphoses. I found that reading both of these assignments much more fluent than reading The Iliad was-meaning that it was easier for me to comprehend. The only aspects which I did not like for both assignments was the consistent need to refer to the footnotes for a more detailed explanation on those words which had footnotes associated with them. I felt that referring to those footnotes tended to slow down the pace of my reading. The other aspect which I did not like was that the Gods had different names-i.e. Jupiter as opposed to Zeus. That confused me somewhat in the beginning of the readings.
In regards to The Aeneid, I really enjoyed how the story begins with a storm which disperses Aeneas’s ships. This separates him and his comrades “For years they wandered as their destiny drove them on from one sea to the next: so hard and huge a task it was to found the Roman people.” (NAWL p.1056) Apparently Juno was still upset with the Trojans “baleful Juno in her sleepless rage.” (NAWL p.1055) Eventually Aeneas arrived in Carthage, where he is greeted by Dido, queen of Carthage. Here Aeneas recaps all of the events of how the Trojans were tricked by the Greeks with the implementation of the Trojan horse “Knowing their strength broken in warfare, turned back by the fates, and years-so many years-already slipped away, the Danaan captains by the divine handicraft of Pallas built a horse of timber, tall as a hill, and sheathed its ribs with planking of cut pine. This they gave out to be an offering for a safe return by sea, and the word went around.” (NAWL p.1063) I found this portion of the story quite interesting, because it gave me insight on how the Trojan people viewed the horse as an “offering”. I also found Aeneas’s journey to the underworld quite intriguing. It was interesting to me how Aeneas sees his father, who in turn informs Aeneas of the glorious generations of people who will follow once Aeneas fulfills his destiny by founding Italy “’Come,’ he said, ‘what glories follow Dardan generations in after years, and from Italian blood what famous children in your line will come, souls of the future, living in your name, I shall tell clearly now, and in the telling teach you your destiny.” (NAWL p.1120)
Aeneid Questions: 1) We know that Virgil considered his poem unfinished. How does this change the way in which you go about interpreting it? 2) How would you characterize Aeneas's behavior towards Dido after Mercury reminds him of his obligation to go to Italy? Who behaves in a more dignified manner, Aeneas or Dido? 3) How does Aeneas describe the Trojan War? How has he been affected by it?
I especially liked reading Metamorphoses. I found the short story aspect of Metamorphoses quite appealing. I really enjoyed Apollo and Daphne. The aspect of Cupid shooting two arrows-one at Daphne, and one at Apollo (both acted in an opposite manner) was quite entertaining in my opinion. Poor Daphne couldn’t seem to shake Apollo’s every advance. Ultimately, Daphne prays to her father Peneus for help “’help me, dear father; if the river-gods have any power, then transform, dissolve my gracious shape, the form that pleased too well!’” (NAWL p. 1141) She then is transformed into a laurel tree. What Amazed me was even after the transformation, Apollo still loved her! “And yet Apollo loves her still; he leans against the trunk; he feels the heart that beats beneath the new-made bark; within his arms he clasps the branches as if they were human limb; and his lips kiss the wood, but it still shrinks from his embrace, at which he cries: ‘But since you cannot be my wife, you’ll be my tree’” (NAWL p. 1141)
The other story which I enjoyed was Io and Jove. In the story, Jove (Jupiter) catches sight of Io, who was returning from her father’s stream. Jove says to Io “O virgin, you indeed would merit Jove and will make any man you wed-whoever he may be-most glad.” (NAWL p. 1142) Juno happens to cast her eyes down towards Earth and notices “hovering clouds in full daylight” (NAWL p. 1143). This alerts her that Jove may be up to no good. However, Jove had “foreseen his wife’s arrival; he had changed the daughter of Inachus (Io): she now was a white heifer.” (NAWL p.1143) Juno senses some form of betrayal, and instructed Argus to keep watch on the heifer in order to prevent Jove from indulging with the virgin Io “Yet Juno suspected treachery; to ward off any wiles, she now entrusted the heifer to Arestor’s son; for Argus was gifted with a hundred eyes, and he would sleep with only two of these eyes shut at any time, in turn-the rest he left awake and watchful.” (NAWL p.1143) Jove feels bad for Io, and therefore instructs his son Mercury to kill Argus. After Argus’s death, Jove “threw his arms round Juno’s neck; he begged his wife to end the punishment.” (NAWL p.1147) Juno relented, and soon Io regained her human form.
Metamorphoses Questions:
1) In Metamorphoses, Ovid suggests that love is a dangerous, destructive emotion which has more negative than positive results. How do the actions and characteristics of the god and goddess of love (Venus and her son Cupid) support this interpretation?
2) Ovid's poem depicts the thoughts and actions of a wide range of female characters. Some of these characters are essentially victims, while others are more like what we would today consider "strong women." Do you think Ovid's view of women is positive, negative, or somewhere in between?
3) When she is in the form of a cow, how does Io communicate with her father, Inachus?

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