Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 14: Achaemenides’ Story: Ulysses’ Men in Polyphemus’ Cave Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Trojans leave Sybil’s island and land next on an unnamed island. Macareus—one of Ulysses’s former companions—is stranded on the island. Macareus recognizes Achaemenides—a man left behind by Ulysses and taken in by Aeneas—among the group of Trojans. Macareus greets Achaemenides and asks him what he’s doing here.
Aeneas and Ulysses—survivors from opposite sides of the Trojan War—are both currently wandering about the Mediterranean. In this way, although the war has ended, the Trojans and the Greeks are still engaging in a subtle battle with each other for their respective homeland.
Themes
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Achaemenides explains that he would rather stay with Aeneas than rejoin the Greeks. Achaemenides reveres Aeneas and is deeply grateful to him. When Ulysses and the Greeks had sailed away, Achaemenides wanted to call after them, but he was afraid the Cyclops, who was wandering nearby, would hear him and kill him. The Cyclops tore through the forest, uprooting trees and rocks and cursing the Greeks. The Cyclops wished aloud that Ulysses would return so he could tear him to pieces.
Achaemenides’s story connects the many storylines happening in the same area at the same time. Ulysses encountered the Cyclops who was angry after Galatea had rejected him. Ulysses leaves Achaemenides who then joins Aeneas, and finally runs into Macareus, who used to be with Ulysses. In having Achaemenides and Macareus meet, Ovid demonstrates how history is passed down orally, becoming a coherent story in the process.
Themes
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Achaemenides was afraid the Cyclops would eat him, just as he ate several of the Greeks before they managed to sail away. Achaemenides hid in a cave, surviving on acorns, hopeless and lonely. When Aeneas’s ship came, Achaemenides moved the Trojans to pity, and they took him on board.
Aeneas’s conduct in this scene contrasts with Ulysses’s conduct with Hecuba and Polyxena—the prisoners of Troy. Aeneas takes pity on Achaemenides—a Greek and a rival—and lets him join the crew rather than killing or imprisoning him.
Themes
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