Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Summary
Analysis
After many generations, a king takes the throne who unjustly captures a city called Ausonia from his brother. Ausonia is later recaptured by Romulus, its former king’s grandson, and renamed Rome. After Romulus’s army captures women from the rival Sabine army, the women’s fathers form an army, too, and silently approach Rome at dark. Juno had opened one of Rome’s gates to help them enter. Venus wanted to close the gate but couldn’t undo Juno’s spell. So, Venus goes to some naiads who live in an icy spring and ask them to flood the passage through Rome’s gates. The naiads agree and mix their flood with sulphur so it sprays flames. The invading army is delayed by the flood, giving the Romans time to organize their defense. The armies fight until they agree to a peace.
This passage shows both how the gods’ personal preferences and a tension between men and women move the world’s history forward. Romulus captures Ausonia, but wrongs the city’s women along the way, causing their fathers to unite in revenge. In this way, the tension between men and women creates a war. Also, Venus (who supports the relations between men and women as positive) and Juno (who believes that men always wrong women) involve themselves in Rome’s affairs. Their conflicting aims and values clash and therefore prolong the war.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Gods and Humans Theme Icon