Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Summary
Analysis
One day, Orpheus sits down on a high plateau and starts to play his lyre. Suddenly, trees of all kinds grow and surround the plateau. One of the trees is the cypress, which used to be a boy named Cyparissus. Once, Cyparissus had loved a sacred stag with golden antlers and jewels dangling from its neck. Cyparissus took the stag around with him and adorned it in purple reins. One day, when the stag was resting, Cyparissus accidentally struck it with his spear. As he watched his beloved stag die, Cyparissus wanted to die himself. Reluctantly, Apollo turned Cyparissus into a cypress tree, a tree that everyone will mourn under. 
After he accidentally kills the stag, Cyparissus wants to die, and Apollo responds accordingly. Instead of ending Cyparissus’s life, Apollo transforms him into a cypress tree, suggesting that completely ending a person’s life is impossible. As with other characters who waste away in grief, Cyparissus cannot go on living, but that doesn’t mean his existence disappears. In this way, transformation is an analogy for death, or it is what counts for death in this world. Cyparissus’s transformation suggests that a person never dies but only changes form.
Themes
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