Mythical epic "Metamorphoses" is a work by a Roman writer Ovid. It belongs to the middle phase of his literary work in which he wrote mythological poems, even though the influence of his first phase, in which he wrote love poetry, is felt.
"Metamorphoses" is consisted out of 246 stories of mythological thematic. The stories are about love troubles, have a lot of dramatic turns, betrayal, doubts and everything unrolls amongst gods. One of their special powers is the power of metamorphosis which allows them to transform into something else in order to get their revenge, get something they want or to transform other people and gods so they could punish them or ease someone’s tragic ending.
In "Metamorphoses" the gods’ lives, their rises and falls are being shown in a grotesque way. The relationships between them are dramatic and seldom have a happy ending because gods are by nature passionate, ruthless, prone to revenge and egoistic.
"Metamorphoses" have a clear, moral lesson because in them every flaw is being punished in some way, especially if that flaw is thoughtlessness. Every form of weakness, for example lack of own opinion, are shown in a negative way while the virtues like courage are always shown in the opposite way despite the fact that they are motivate with selfish intentions like revenge.
One of the most famous mythological stories is the one about Pyramus and Thisbe. The story wasn’t well known in Ovid’s time but her traces could be spotted in the picture remains in Pompeii. It is believed that the Greek poets from the Hellenism made it a novel, and from all the literary interpretations of this story the only one that was preserved was Ovid’s. The story is in Book 4.
Pyramus and Thisbe (Metamorphoses, Book 4)
Once upon a time Pyramus and Thisbe lived in a city built up by Semiramis. The two of them were the most beautiful and their neighborly relationships later on became love that grew stronger with each day. They would have gotten engaged if their parents had allowed it. The wall that stood between their houses was cracked and the two of them would tell each other love stories through the crack. They lusted for one kiss but they were grateful for the wall letting them speak to each other. When they had to go home they would kiss the wall. One night they arranged a runaway in the middle of the night and they made a deal to meet near Ninus’ tomb. They would sit under a mulberry tree.
The day went away slowly and when night arrived Thisbe managed to sneak out of her house, covered with a veil. She came to the tomb and sat under the tree. She saw a lioness and ran away into a dark cave but while she was running her veil fell off. When the lioness drank some water, she found the veil and tore it apart. Since her mouth were bloody the veil remained bloody. Later Pyramus came and saw the veil. Thinking Thisbe was dead he blamed himself for her death and asked the lions to tear apart his body. He took her veil and sat under the tree to cry. While he kissed the veil, he told it to drink his blood to and then ran a dagger through his heart. The mulberry tree fruit became black and when the roots were covered in his blood it turned red.
Thisbe decided to go back so Pyramus wouldn’t have to wait for her. She wanted to tell him the trouble she was in. Getting back she realized that the tree has changed color and she thought she was on the wrong place but then she saw Pyramus’ dead body. She hugged his corps and filled the injury with her tears. She kissed his cold face. Pyramus opened his eyes for a moment, saw his loved one, and then closed them again. When she saw her veil and the dagger she knew what had happened. He was killed by his own love and hand. She knew that love will give her the strength to follow him into death. Before she died she asked their fathers to place them into the same grave since love united them in death. The tree carried a bloody sign forever. Thisbe took the dagger still warm from Pyramus’ blood and ran it through her chest. Her whishes were conveyed to their fathers by gods.
Pyramus – faithful to his love for Thisbe. Despite the disapproval from their fathers he showed his life for her every day. He was patiently waiting for her while he thought of the ways to be with her. He was beauty and courage gathered in one person. He was a bit impulsive and he blamed himself for Thisbe’s death because he didn’t know she was actually alive. In the end he killed himself not knowing that his loved one is still alive.
Thisbe – an honest and beautiful girl that loved Pyramus in return, despite her father’s disapproval. She lusted for him but still remained patient and clever enough to fool the guards and run away to see her loved one. Even though the lioness scared her, she showed her prudence and hid in the cave. She decided to stay true to Pyramus and be where they agreed to see each other. Before she killed herself she asked her father to be buried next to Pyramus and she was strong enough to take away her life and follow her loved one to death.
Publius Ovidius Naso Biography
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