Ovids Metamorphoses and the Odyssey - FREE Essay Example

Ovid's Metamorphoses is a brilliant collection of Greek and Roman myths of world creation and presents metamorphoses, or transformations, of gods, humans, animals, birds, stones as a way of constant process leading the world development…
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Ovids Metamorphoses and the Odyssey

Extract of sample Ovids Metamorphoses and the Odyssey

Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Odyssey Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the most significant examples of ancient mythology. It is a brilliant collection of Greek and Roman myths of world creation and presents metamorphoses, or transformations, of gods, humans, animals, birds, stones as a way of constant process leading the world development. In Ovid's Metamorphoses there is no main protagonist - it depicts about the process of world creation through numerous interactions of different subjects indicated above. The Odyssey is another example of great ancient literature which reflects the story of Odysseus's adventures and his numerous connections with humans and gods, and the main character of the poem is Odysseus who tries to get home to Ithaca from the Trojan War and goes trough multiple adventures. So, the main protagonist's presence is the basic difference of Ovid's Metamorphoses and Homer's Odyssey. In addition to that, the both poems give different notion of problematic and dangerous relations of humans and gods.

In Ovid's Metamorphoses gods play the main role - all basic events of life depend on them. In this poem the relationships between humans and gods take place through metamorphoses, and these metamorphoses reflect the essence of life. There are positive and negative metamorphoses: the positive metamorphoses' purpose is to help human beings and protect them, while the negative metamorphoses are made for punishment. There are many examples of such metamorphoses in the poem, and problematic and dangerous relationship of gods and human beings are uncovered by them. One of the examples of such reflections is the story of Diana and Actaeon (The Metamorphoses, book III, 138-205): Actaeon who was a hunter saw Diana, a goddess of hunt, naked, and he was transformed into a stag for he wouldn't tell anybody what he had seen. In one another example Arachne, a skilled weaver girl, was transformed into a spider by Athena (The Metamorphoses, book VI, 129-145): Arachne was taught by Athena, but she considered that she was more skilful in weaving than the goddess, and the result of the contest between them made Athena angry, and she transformed the girl into a spider. The examples indicated above illustrate problematic and dangerous relationships between gods and humans; they show that gods take much higher place over humans, and human beings cannot be equal to gods. The Ovid's poem Metamorphoses shows examples of positive relationships between humans and gods, but they also illustrate more advantageous position of gods over humans. For example, the story of Cyparissus (The Metamorphoses, book X, 106-142): Cyparissus was a boy, who killed his beloved stag by chance. His grief was so much that he wanted to mourn forever, and Phoebus transformed Cyparissus into a cypress tree, a symbol of mourn and funeral rite. So, numerous examples of relationships of gods and humans are rather problematic and dangerous for humans, and the examples indicated above show that gods have absolute power over humans - they can punish, help and console human beings by transforming them into animals and tries. In the Odyssey the nature of relation between humans and gods is different.
In the Odyssey the main protagonist of the poem, Odysseus, shows his character in his attempt to get home and meet his family. He displays independence in his actions. In the Odyssey he had no support from Athena and Zeus, some gods prevented his way to Ithaca, and he suffered misfortunes while returning home, and these misfortunes strengthened his character. All his adventures in the Odyssey prove that the most powerful gods didn't support Odysseus; and Poseidon, the sea god (Neptune in Latin), as Homer wrote, "Persecuted him without ceasing and would not let him get home" (The Odyssey, book 1). In the Odyssey Odysseus has to develop his character as he and his crew went through numerous problems and obstacles while returning to Ithaca. He also displays his intelligence ability, but it was directed mainly to outwit such characters as Cyclopes (The Odyssey, book 9), Scylla and Charybdis (The Odyssey, book 12), the Sirens (The Odyssey, book 12). Odyssey was an object of love for such heroes as Calypso (The Odyssey, book 5) and Circle (The Odyssey, book 10), but in spite of these facts his love for Penelope and the son became the driving force for Odysseus in his adventures and return home. So, in the Odyssey problematic and dangerous relationships between gods and humans are clearly shown through Odysseus' adventures on his way home and his dealing with gods and mythological creatures. The advantage of humans (Odysseus) is identified in the plot of the poem, while in Ovid's Metamorphoses gods play the main role, and humans play more subordinated role. The both poems are fascinating examples of ancient epic literature reflecting mythological views of people of that time, and gods and humans play significant role in them.

The Metamorphoses. Ovid. Translated by A. S. Kline. (http://www.tkline.freeserve.co.uk/Ovhome.htm)

The Odyssey. Homer. Translated by Samuel Butler. (http://www.uoregon.edu/joelja/odyssey.html) Read more
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