Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 4: Leucothoë and Clytië Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Minyas’s daughter’s story continues to tell how Venus got her revenge on the Sun god for telling her husband about her affair with Mars. She wants him to be thwarted in a strong passion like she was. At this time, the Sun god is in love with a beautiful girl named Leucothoë. He starts to set late and rise early because he wants to look at her. He desires her so much that he forgets his other lover, Clytië, who is deeply in love with him.
This story illustrates how the gods use the human world to get revenge against each other. Because Venus is angry that Phoebus spoiled her affair with Mars, she wants to ruin his affair with Leucothoë, not caring that Leucothoë is a human girl with feelings. In this way, the gods sometimes treat humans as their game pieces, an attitude which has the effect of lowering their prestige. 
Themes
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
One night, while he is off duty, the Sun god enters Leucothoë’s home where she is weaving wool with her sisters. Disguised as her mother, he asks the sisters for a private word with Leucothoë. When the sisters leave, he reveals his true identity to Leucothoë. She is afraid, but he possesses her and sleeps with her.
This is another example of how the gods use disguises in order to deceive and overpower humans. In this way, the gods don’t seem to really care about human beings’ feelings and often view them as objects to fulfill their own needs.
Themes
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Clytië grows extremely jealous when she hears of the Sun god’s affair and tells Leucothoë’s father of his daughter’s affair. He is furious and buries Leucothoë alive even when she protests that she had sex with the Sun god against her will. The Sun god tries to revive Leucothoë’s cold buried limbs with his warmth, but it is useless. He sprinkles the ground around her with a fragrant nectar.
Like Io and Callisto, Leucothoë is blamed for being raped. In this case, her father is furious that she has lost her virginity, and the fact that she lost her virginity against her will does not change his opinion. In this way, Phoebus’s love for Leucothoë destroys her life and leads to her death.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Clytië wants the Sun god to return to her, but he ends their affair. Her passion turns to madness, and she refuses to eat or drink. She lies staring at the Sun god until she turns into a heliotrope flower. When Minyas’s daughter finishes the story, her sisters remark that real gods—unlike Bacchus—can do amazing things.
Minyas’s daughters claim that the “real” gods are remarkable, but this last story of Phoebus, Leucothoë, and Clytië instead suggests that the gods tend to be petty, careless, and destructive of human life. The fact that they can transform things only enables them in these vices.
Themes
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
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