To resist sleep, Argus asks Mercury about his pipe. Mercury tells him this story: in the mountains, there lived a beautiful naiad named Syrinx. Syrinx avoided everyone who tried to sleep with her and followed the goddess Diana—the goddess of chastity. When Pan saw Syrinx, he chased her, trying to catch her, but she called on some stream nymphs to transform her. Pan found himself clutching river reeds instead of Syrinx. Then, Pan heard a whistling music among the reeds. Excited, he fashioned a pipe out of reeds so he and Syrinx could communicate with each other.
This interlude testifies to the embedded nature of the stories in the Metamorphoses. Within some stories, other stories are told that often explain the origin of something—in this case the reed pipe—through a transformation. The stories’ focus on transformations to reveal origins shows that metamorphosis creates change and therefore history.