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Metamorphoses: Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Venus and Adonis (1) Summary & Analysis

Although Myrrha is now a tree, her baby continues to grow in her womb. When it is time for the baby to be born, Lucina kneels by the myrrh tree and cracks open the bark, allowing the baby to exit. Naiads take the baby Adonis into their care, and he grows up to be very handsome.
Although Adonis is the child of incest, he is allowed to be born anyway, and is not himself punished for his mother Myrrha’s actions. In this way, the Metamorphoses shows that bad things can still give birth to good things.
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Meanwhile, Cupid gives his mother Venus a kiss and grazes her breast with his arrows. Venus then becomes very attracted to Adonis. Although she usually likes to pamper herself, she takes to running in the mountains and jumping over rocks alongside Adonis. She counsels Adonis in his hunting, telling him to beware of the dangerous animals she hates, like lions. Adonis asks her why she hates lions. Venus lies down in Adonis’s arms and tells him the story.
Cupid—as the one responsible for shooting people with love’s arrow—shows how love is comparable to an infection. Any person—even the goddess Venus—is susceptible to the love potion of Cupid’s arrow and completely changes under its power. This portrays love as a spell rather than a totally natural passion.
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