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Book review of The Metamorphoses Ovid Essay

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Updated: Dec 14th, 2018

The theme of change is accorded great importance throughout the book with emphasis on aspects of vivid imagination. The book is elusive, ironic and mythical in its examination of in-depth reflection of the passions, inner strengths and limitations of people. Unique physical transformations play strategic roles in shaping the physical changes of the stories in The Metamorphoses Ovid. Ovid’s reason for going into exile relates to the unidentified indiscretion he made against the emperor’s decree.

As a result, The metamorphosis Ovid permeates the medieval literature and culture. The stories are clear in their unique metric skills and detailed analysis of passion. The Metamorphoses Ovid is perceived to be based on immorality. The separate stories have an elusive relationship, plots and characters that are a factual reflection of people and happenings in the society.

Popular tales or characters in The Metamorphoses Ovid include the story of Narcissus, the young man who disrespected the Nymph Echo, Syrinx and Pan, Heracles, Phaethon, Pygmalion, The rewarded sculptor, Daphne, Pentheus, Midas who had a distinctive touch, Epaphus, Phaethon, Icarus, Pyramus,Thisbe, Arachne, Achilles, Hercules and Medea among others.

All the characters in The Metamorphoses Ovid clearly bring out the idea of change. Though viewed as destabilizing, dangerous and robust, the concept of love emerges as a major force that effects change in the society. Transformation emerges as the main aspect of creation through the revelation of issues related to the formation of the world and the emergence of new beings. Focus is laid on the concept of continuous mutation.

Immortality emerges as a vital characteristic of Ovid’s poems with the core premise of transformation being revealed as a major aspect of creation. Through the description of the world, expression of the creation story by use of the Gregory Horace’s translation and the visionary aspect of the Emperor Augustus, critical issues of constant change, improvement on the previous undertakings and development of new concepts emerge as core issues of concern.

However, throughout the stories, the theme of transformation is not equated to continuous mutation. The Metamorphoses Ovid reveals that in essence, things in the world move from humanity to immutability with a possibility that such repeated tendencies can emerge as real in life. Immortality is therefore viewed to be a possibility through repeated practice. The Metamorphoses Ovid does not have forthright implication of reason of the intended demeanor needed to transform history into reality.

The story depicts an ironical reference to Augustan as “the purpose terminus” for the changes in the society. The changes bring out the possibility of real life scenarios that could help in shaping the way of life of people in the contemporary society. In the view of Ovid, people’s destinies are dictated by fate. However, fate tends to undermine the supernatural powers of the gods.

Augustus as a character

Augustus is a unique character. As the adopted son of Julius Caesar, Augustus emerges as the Roman emperor who had overseen a great revolutionary period of peace, tranquility and prosperity in the history of the Roman Empire. Throughout the life of Ovid, Augustus is revealed in different scenarios as a forthright, focused and determined leader. Though oppressive in a way, Augustus is insistent of the need to enhance fairness in any form of leadership.

To him, respect for the subjects by the leader is paramount. As a character in the Ovid, Augustus manages to reform the tax system as well as initiating people-centered development projects. Besides the success of developing symbolic characters, Ovid manages to establish the character, Augustus, as a person who effectively addresses varied psychological states as well as philosophical and ethical challenges.

By vividly subverting Rome’s glory in The Metamorphoses Ovid, Augustus proves that dictatorial leadership has no place in the contemporary society. Though Augustus amasses power for self-interest, he proves to be a peaceful, intelligent and successful leader who is focused on recruiting talented leaders and proficient army officers.

The glorification is believed to be a reflection of the ultimate transformation and reflection of the possible change in the society in which people live. Ultimate transformation is therefore portrayed to be the reflection of the best aspects of the society and the ideal scenario of the manner in which people should lead their lives and interact in society.

Lessons from the character

In spite of the variation in conceptualization of issues related to unity and people’s points of view, it is evident from the character of Augustus; the in-depth and critical analysis of The Metamorphoses Ovid that the aspect of loyalty exists in the people in Ovid.

Augustus reveals that it is crucial for the subjects to not only show love to the leader but also loyalty and be ready to be transformed as the circumstances may dictate. Augustus’ expulsion of Ovid from Rome to Tomis because of the presumed indiscretion and friendship of his daughter, Julia, is a reflection of the intolerance that exists among leaders.

This fact reveals that regardless of the amount of power that one controls, it is crucial to remain objective and rational in the decision that one makes as a leader and with due respect to the rule of law. The love that Augustus had for his subjects reveals an important attribute of effective leadership in the society. Cipus resists the responsibility of being leader of Rome. Aesculapius is later seen to be “the cure” of Rome.

Augustus helps the reader to understand that leadership is challenging. To enhance good leadership, people should have exemplary characters of being enthusiastic, truthful, confident, daring, focused, objective, steady, committed to excellence, calm and tolerant to divergent views. This fact is portrayed by the manner in which Augustus leads Rome through a vital period of freedom from strife and opulence. Augustan values emerge as fundamental revelations of the issues that people face in the modern society.

Through our diverse ways of life, it is evident that people in society have a relatively different view of life as depicted in the manner in which the decision making process should be undertaken. However, the fact that some poems and stories in The Metamorphoses Ovid are subversive to both the Roman Empire is not an illusion but a presumed reality. The concept of transformation is employed as a subversive principle focused on presenting the common societal failures among leaders and “role models”.

The character, Augustus, therefore helps to bring out critical issues of concern which if effectively addressed would help to make the best decision making process in human life. Though resented in both strange and ideal situations, it is evident that Augustus’ character is a true reflection of the perfect manner in which people in the modern society relate and live.

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IvyPanda. "Book review of The Metamorphoses Ovid." December 14, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/book-review-of-the-metamorphoses-ovid/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "Book review of The Metamorphoses Ovid." December 14, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/book-review-of-the-metamorphoses-ovid/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'Book review of The Metamorphoses Ovid'. 14 December.

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