Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Metamorphoses can help.

Metamorphoses: Book 11: Ceyx’s Story: Daedalion Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Peleus asks Ceyx why he is weeping. Ceyx draws Peleus’s attention to a bird of prey disturbing the other birds in the sky and says that bird used to be his brother, Daedalion. While Ceyx had a peace-loving nature, Daedalion had a passion for war. One day, Apollo and Mercury both catch sight of Daedalion’s beautiful daughter Chione and fall in love with her. Mercury immediately touches Chione with his sleep-inducing wand and rapes her. Meanwhile, Apollo waits till night comes, then disguises himself, sneaks into Chione’s bedroom, and rapes her.
When Ceyx is telling Daedalion’s story, he explains that Daedalion had a passion for war, suggesting that that is why he has now become a bird of prey who disturbs the other birds. However, it seems that conflict was first started in Daedalion’s life not by himself but by Apollo and Mercury. Since both gods rape Chione, it seems nonsensical that Daedalion’s transformation was a punishment.
Themes
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Nine months later, Chione gives birth to twins, Autolycus and Philammon, the sons of Mercury and Apollo respectively. The glory of giving birth to the sons of two gods causes Chione to boast that she is more important than the goddess Diana. Furious, Diana pierces Chione’s tongue with an arrow. Then Chione dies in Ceyx’s arms. When Ceyx tells Daedalion the news, Daedalion is overcome with grief. He tries to throw himself on the burning funeral pyre, but he is held back. He runs to the top of a mountain and throws himself off a cliff. Apollo transforms him into a hawk—a bird that vents its rage on other birds.
Ceyx explains that Daedalion is transformed because he tries to kill himself in grief. However, Apollo transforms Daedalion into a hawk that vents its rage on other birds, suggesting that he is punishing Daedalion for behavior akin to the hawk’s. It is unclear whether Apollo transforms Daedalion because he is honoring his grief, or if he is punishing Daedalion for his warring nature—a nature that had nothing to do with the events of the story. In this way, Daedalion’s story reveals that transformation can often be very arbitrary.
Themes
Metamorphosis Theme Icon