Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Metamorphoses: Book 7: The Rejuvenation of Aeson Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When the Argonauts return to Greece, the parents bring gifts to the gods to thank them for their sons’ return. Jason’s father Aeson, however, is too old to participate. Jason entreats Medea to take a few years off his life to add to his father’s life. Medea is moved by Jason’s devotion to his father because she now regrets that she betrayed her father to marry Jason. Medea tells Jason that she won’t decrease his life, but that she will try to increase his father’s life.
Even though Medea had been unable to resist her desire for Jason and had been willing to help him, she now regrets that she betrayed her father to do so. This suggests that familial love is often stronger than romantic love, even though it also seems inevitable that romantic love often moves a person to forsake familial love.
Themes
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
The next full moon, Medea walks out barefoot. She turns around three times and sprinkles her head three times with water from a stream. She calls on the gods and thanks them for giving her the power to quiet the sea, gather the clouds, and raise spirits from their graves. She thanks them particularly for helping her save Jason. She then asks them to help her add years to Jason’s father’s life. The gods produce Medea’s chariot, drawn by serpents. She takes her chariot into high mountains and roams for nine days, collecting the herbs she needs for her task.
Medea is not a goddess, but the gods have gifted her magical powers. She derives her power from the forces in nature, walking out when the moon is full, performing rituals with water from a stream, and finding herbs for magic potions. Most of her power is the ability to control nature—quieting the sea and gathering the clouds—but she also wishes to meddle with time by raising spirits from the dead and reversing old age.
Themes
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
When Medea returns, she builds altars to Hecate, goddess of magic, and to the goddess of Youth. She then mixes sheep blood, milk, and honey and whispers an incantation. Aeson’s body is brought out and Medea sends everyone away so she can work alone. She dips a withered olive branch into the potion and pulls it out full of olives. Then Medea cuts Aeson’s throat, letting his blood drain out, and replaces his blood with her potion. Instantly, his white hairs and wrinkles disappear, and he becomes young again. Bacchus, seeing what Medea has done, calls on her to restore the youth of some of his companions.
Medea’s process of making Aeson younger appears similar to witchcraft. She creates a magic potion and whispers an incantation over it. Although she fulfills Jason’s wish to make his father younger, her witchcraft involves several barbaric steps. Her potion contains the blood of a sheep, and she essentially has to kill Aeson by slitting his throat and letting his blood drain out before she can make him younger.
Themes
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
Gods and Humans Theme Icon