Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Summary
Analysis
Orpheus then sings that Apollo once loved a young boy named Hyacinthus who lived in Sparta. Apollo wanted to bring Hyacinthus up to the heavens, so he disguised himself to be Hyacinthus’s companion. One day, Apollo and Hyacinthus played a game of throwing discs. Apollo threw first, tossing the disc high into the clouds. When the disc finally fell back to earth, Hyacinthus tried to catch it, but it hit him in the face with huge force. Apollo caught Hyacinthus in his arms. He tried to heal Hyacinthus’s wound, but he didn’t succeed, and Hyacinthus died.
The story of Hyacinthus and Apollo shows how the gods often desire to be a part of the human world. Although Hyacinthus is not a god, Apollo wants to bring him up to the heavens. First, however, he tries to participate in Hyacinthus’s daily life. Apollo clumsily tries to contain his power but ends up killing the boy he admires, showing how the gods’ attachment to the human world is their weakness.
Themes
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Apollo laments Hyacinthus’s death and feels that he is to blame. Apollo promises to sing about Hyacinthus in his songs and to turn him into a flower. As he is speaking over the body, a deep red flower blooms with the sounds of mourning written in its petals. Every year, Sparta honors Hyacinthus with a festival.
Hyacinthus is turned into a flower—a flower that becomes an emblem for grief in the future. In this way, many transformations commemorate the person who has died by populating the earth with a certain natural phenomenon.
Themes
Metamorphosis Theme Icon