Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 2: The Raven and the Crow Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Queen Juno gets in her chariot, drawn by peacocks whose feathers are set with Argus’s 100 eyes. Around the same time that her peacock’s feathers were set, the raven (which used to be white) was turned black. This is how it happened: Apollo’s raven catches his beloved sleeping with another man. The raven sets out to tell Apollo of his beloved’s infidelity when a crow flies up to him and warns him not to tattle.
“The Raven and the Crow” is another embedded story that tells first how Argus’s eyes became peacock feathers and then how the raven was turned black. These embedded stories reveal that everything in the universe has an origin story, usually involving the gods and a transformation of some kind.
Themes
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The crow tells the raven of the time when the goddess Pallas hid a baby who was born from the earth in a basket and gave it to three sisters, making them swear not to look inside it. Minerva and Herse obeyed, but Aglauros broke her oath and looked in the basket. The crow—who was Minerva’s raven attendant at the time—saw and told Pallas. Instead of rewarding Minerva’s attendant, Pallas turned her into a crow.
Within the story of how the raven turned from white to black, the crow tells the story of how it became a crow. The crow—who used to be a raven—was punished for gossiping about another’s crime, a story that acts as a warning that nothing can ever be sure of maintaining its current form.
Themes
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Before being Minerva’s attendant, the crow was a royal princess. She was very beautiful, and Neptune fell in love with her. He chased her aggressively, and she called on gods and men for help. A virgin goddess transformed her into a raven so she could escape Neptune. Then, she became Minerva’s attendant. But now, she is a worthless crow because of her tattling.
Before the crow was a raven, it was a beautiful princess. This story of how the princess was first turned into a raven to escape being raped shows how many forms one being can transform into, and for a variety of different reasons.
Themes
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The raven ignores the crow’s warning and tells Apollo that his beloved was unfaithful to him. Apollo takes his spear and strikes the unfaithful woman. The woman cries out that she wishes she could have given Apollo his child before she died. Apollo regrets killing the pregnant woman and clasps her dead body, moaning, but his healing powers fail to revive her. He takes the baby from her womb before her body is burned and carries it to a centaur’s cave. He curses the messenger raven, turning him black.
The raven, like the crow, is punished for tattling. The story of Apollo’s revenge against his unfaithful mistress reveals how tattling—although it may seem like the right thing to do—can often lead to more harm than the harm of the event the tattler relays. However, it does seem that Apollo, in his anger at his own short temper, “shoots the messenger” by unjustly punishing the raven.
Themes
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