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Metamorphoses: Book 11: Peleus at the Court of Ceyx (2) Summary & Analysis

As Ceyx is telling his story, Peleus’s herdsman runs into the palace. The herdsman explains that he had brought Peleus’s cows to drink at a stream near a small shrine for the local sea-gods. Suddenly, a menacing wolf had appeared from the swamp by the riverbank and attacked and eaten the cows. The herdsman says that if they gather their forces, they can kill the wolf and save some of the cows.
Peleus’s herdsman steers Peleus’s cows to drink at the shrine of local sea-gods, suggesting that the wolf is a manifestation of these sea-gods’ anger at the herdsman’s disrespect. This makes clear that disrespect of the gods is one of the most dangerous mistakes a person can make.
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Peleus and Ceyx grab their spears and order their men to put on their armor. As they are about to leave, Ceyx’s wife Alcyone runs from her bedroom and begs Ceyx to stay so that he won’t be killed. Peleus thanks Ceyx and Alcyone for their hospitality and tells Ceyx that he doesn’t want him to risk his life on Peleus’s account. Peleus prays to the river gods to send away the wolf, but they ignore him. When Thetis adds her prayers, the wolf is turned into marble. Peleus then goes to Magnesia, which is ruled by king Acastus.
In this scene, Alcyone introduces herself as a devoted wife who doesn’t want her husband to engage in conflict that might lead to his death. This suggests that Ceyx and Alcyone have a loving relationship that prevents them from engaging in travel, violence, and danger—the things that were labelled as corrupt shortly after the world’s creation.
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