Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Metamorphoses can help.
Themes and Colors
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Time, Fate, and Poetry  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Metamorphoses, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis, or transformation, is the driving force of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The gods exercise their power to transform for a huge variety of reasons, illustrating the claim that Roman academic Pythagoras makes near the end of the poem: that human souls are transitory and can take different forms. Most commonly, the transformations in the Metamorphoses take place when a character is in a helpless state or has done something extreme. For instance, the gods often…

read analysis of Metamorphosis

Humanity vs. Nature

In the Metamorphoses, Ovid portrays humanity’s attempt to wield power over nature. Significantly, this tendency to control nature seems to stem from the unique position in which human beings were created. In contrast to the earth’s landscape and animals, the gods create human beings as “holier creature[s] […] which could hold dominion over the rest.” Even so, although human beings are made to be capable of dominion over nature, they don’t wield it right…

read analysis of Humanity vs. Nature

Love and Destruction

The Metamorphoses portrays love as a destructive passion. Often, a character in love is afflicted by a passion that causes them to betray their family, kingdom, or values. For instance, when Scylla falls in love with Minos, her kingdom’s enemy, she betrays her father and her kingdom to be with him. Similarly, when Myrrha falls in love with her father, she betrays the laws of nature. Even the gods are not exempt from the…

read analysis of Love and Destruction
Get the entire Metamorphoses LitChart as a printable PDF.
Metamorphoses PDF

Gods and Humans

Throughout the Metamorphoses, many human characters dare to think they are superior to the gods. Often, characters anger the gods by refusing to worship them, such as when the daughters of Minyas refuse to join Bacchus’s festival and he turns them into bats. In another instance, Niobe not only refuses to worship the goddess Latona, but also asserts she is superior to Latona because of her wealth, royalty, and dozens of beautiful…

read analysis of Gods and Humans

Time, Fate, and Poetry

In the first chapter of the Metamorphoses, Ovid describes the world as a jumble of indistinct parts “called Chaos.” The gods give order to this chaos by sorting out the elements by their weight and qualities. In this way, it seems that the gods are responsible for the universe, especially as they go on to have a huge influence over the world’s affairs. However, Ovid’s work presents other forces over which the gods themselves have…

read analysis of Time, Fate, and Poetry