Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 14: Pomona and Vertumnus Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
During the reign of one of the kings, Pomona—the goddess of fruits—was a prominent dryad in the region. She was skillful at gardening. Instead of hunting or fishing, she spent all day pruning and watering fruit trees in her orchard. She had no reverence for Venus, and therefore no desire for love or passion. She was afraid of any peasant, satyr, or god that might try to assault her.
Pomona’s story is another story about a woman who prefers to spend her time in other matters than those of love. In doing so, Pomona is refusing to worship Venus, who stands for love and marriage. This suggests that refusing love is akin to scorning a god and could likewise incur punishment.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
A god named Vertumnus falls in love with Pomona, but she rejects him. He visits her orchard in different disguises so he can be close to her. One day, disguised as an old woman, he draws Pomona’s attention to a grapevine climbing up a tree. He says that Pomona needs a mate the way the grapevine needs the tree. If she only realized this, she would have tons of suitors. Vertumnus says that he knows a man (meaning himself) who would not pursue lots of women but would devote himself to her alone. He says that this suitor is young and handsome and shares Pomona’s interests. He warns Pomona that Venus is vindictive towards women who reject lovers.
To persuade Pomona to be with him, Vertumnus draws an analogy between Pomona’s garden and marriage. In this way, Vertumnus uses nature to argue against her decision to remain a virgin, pointing out that, in nature, everything supports one another. He argues that humans should embrace nature’s examples rather than stray from them. In other stories, the man woos the woman by force, but here Vertumnus uses an argument to persuade Pomona. All in all, his method of wooing Pomona is more humane.
Themes
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
Love and Destruction Theme Icon