Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 4: The Daughters of Minyas (1) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Only a few women refuse to participate in the revelry over Bacchus. For one, Alcithoë, Minyas’s daughter, doesn’t believe that Bacchus is Jupiter’s son. The priest of Thebes orders a festival for Bacchus and excuses everyone from their daily chores so they can attend. He orders everyone to dress in animal skins and threatens that Bacchus will severely punish anyone who refuses to attend. All the women gather, burning incense and calling Bacchus by all his names. They praise him as the god of the East who draws everyone’s admiration through his glory.
The Bacchic festival is mandatory, but it is also unclear what Bacchus stands for or what the rituals are in praise of. The rituals demand that everyone abandon their work, dress in skins, and dance around in revelry. These strange Bacchic rituals drive home the point that people should worship the gods unconditionally, whether or not it appears relevant to their daily lives.
Themes
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While the festival is going on, Minyas’s daughters stay inside, weaving wool. They believe that Minerva—goddess of wisdom and commerce—deserves their attention. One of the daughters suggests they each tell a story to pass the time.
Minyas’s daughters feel that Bacchus and his festivals are extremely impractical. Instead, they worship Minerva, who stands for commerce and weaving—practical skills that apply to their lives.
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