Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 13: Glaucus and Scylla (1) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Galatea ends her story, and Scylla returns to land and walks along the beach. Suddenly, a sea nymph named Glaucus notices Scylla and finds her very beautiful. He tries to talk to her, but she runs away up a nearby mountain. She looks down at Glaucus in the sea and wonders whether he is a god or a monster with his scaly fishtail and green body.
In the previous story, Galatea had remarked that she wished she could reject lovers without risking her life, as Scylla can. As a nymph, Scylla has many skills at her disposal for avoiding love’s threats, suggesting that humans are more vulnerable to love’s dangers.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Noticing Scylla’s wonder, Glaucus beaches himself against a rock and calls up to her. Glaucus says that he is not a monster but a god. He used to be a mortal and spent his time fishing in the sea beside a lush green meadow, untouched by animals. One day, Glaucus laid his fish in the meadow to count them. Suddenly, the fish started to move across the ground towards the sea and jumped back in the waves.
Glaucus’s story of the fish that jump back in the sea symbolizes humanity’s vain attempts to tame nature. Fishermen might believe that they can easily subdue the life of the sea to their needs, but these transforming fish prove that nature’s powers aren’t always conquerable.
Themes
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
Glaucus wondered if the meadow had magical powers. He picked some grass and ate it. Suddenly, his heart fluttered, and he felt a strong urge to live in the sea. He said goodbye to the earth and dived into the sea, where the sea-gods welcomed him as their equal. Glaucus immersed himself in the water, and when he came back to his senses, his body had changed.
In becoming a god, Glaucus proves that there is some kind of passage between the life of a human and the life of a god. Glaucus’s story shows that humans can transform into gods, a fact which suggests that humans contain something godly and eternal underneath their mortal bodies.
Themes
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Time, Fate, and Poetry  Theme Icon
Glaucus wonders what good his new form is if it doesn’t impress Scylla. Interrupting Glaucus’s speech, Scylla turns and runs away. Furious at being rejected, Glaucus goes to visit Circe, the sun god’s daughter.
From Glaucus’s enamored point of view, Scylla’s refusal is an offense. In this way, love shows itself to be a controlling and unsympathetic passion.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
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