Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Summary
Analysis
Orpheus sings of Pygmalion, a sculptor who noticed the Propoetides’ lascivious way of life. Tired of female vices, Pygmalion decided not to marry for many years. Meanwhile, he carved an ivory statue of a beautiful woman. The statue was so realistic that Pygmalion fell in love with it. He caressed and kissed the statue, believing that it kissed him back. He brought the statue gifts and beautiful clothes and tucked it into bed at night.
Pygmalion swears off women but immediately starts carving a statue of a beautiful woman. This shows how passion and love are often inevitable in a person’s life, demanding expression in some way. Even a person—such as Pygmalion—who notices that passion leads to destruction cannot resist desiring someone or something.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
When it was time for Venus’s festival, Pygmalion made his offering on her altar and then asked for a woman that resembled his ivory statue. When Pygmalion returned to his house and embraced his statue, it started to soften and respond to his touch. Pygmalion kissed the living woman and thanked Venus profusely. Pygmalion and his new wife had a daughter named Paphos.
Pygmalion—who had decided that real women were destructive—creates his own perfect woman in the form of a statue which Venus then turns into a real woman. Thus, Venus reintroduces positive love into the world, healing Pygmalion’s skepticism and creating his ideal companion.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon