Today’s reading covered part A of Ovid’s Metamorphoses II, which included stories about the rape of Persephone, the transformation of Arachne, and the slaughter of Niobe’s children. This collection of stories is an interesting one. Originally, I picked this unit to have a chance to reacquaint myself with Medea, but now that I read this version of Arachne’s transformation, I feel inspired to explore her story.

Persephone:

  • Are the origin of sirens described? How interesting.
    • “But why have you, Sirens, skilled in song, daughters of Acheloüs, the feathers and claws of birds, while still bearing human faces? Is it because you were numbered among the companions, when Proserpine gathered the flowers of Spring? When you had searched in vain for her on land, you wanted, then, to cross the waves on beating wings, so that the waters would also know of your trouble. The gods were willing, and suddenly you saw your limbs covered with golden plumage. But, so that your song, born, sweetly, in our ears, and your rich vocal gift, might not be lost with your tongues, each virgin face and human voice remained.”
  • I have always hated how Persephone had no say in the matter of what happened to her. Not only was she abducted and raped, figuratively and literally, but she had no agency in the decisions made about her life after the fact. However, the rewrite of this story is pretty popular, so I think I’ll try something different.
  • This is a rape story from so many different angles. Rape of woman, rape of earth.

Arachne beautifully portrayed in Dante’s Inferno superimposed onto some spiderwebs using the free site pixlr.com.

Arachne:

  • This is a classic story of arrogance in the face of competition, of the favorite flaw of Greek tragedies: hubris.
  • She called out and exposed the gods for the lecherous, deceitful creatures they were, and she was punished for it.
  • I did not realize that she committed suicide! How interesting!
  • What would it be like in modern day? Someone who exposes the crimes of the most powerful people and is punished for it.

Niobe:

  • “as beautiful as anger will let her be”
  • “gave up the ghost”
  • Graphic gory details!

Bibliography. “Minerva Weaves a Web” by Ovid from Ovid’s MetamorphosesWeb source.

Featured image source