Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Ovid, Metamorphoses

Delahoyde & Hughes


Jason and Medea:

Dodging a repetition of the events given in Euripides’ well-known play, Medea, Ovid instead offers Jason and Medea, the early years: Medea resists but falls in love, and we eavesdrop on her thinking through the decision to help him and run away with him. Medea gives Jason the solutions for overcoming obstacles involving a vicious bull and warriors sprung from a serpent’s teeth and the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece. In cooperation with Hecate’s black magic, Medea’s witchcraft rejuvenates Jason’s father Aeson (152-153), but they play a trick on usurping uncle Pelias and his daughters (155) — chopped-up daddy didn’t come back to life! The period covered in the Euripides play is scanned quickly in a few lines (156) and Ovid then segues into Medea as Aegeus’ wife and therefore Theseus’ evil stepmother (157).

War between Crete and Athens:

After an effective description of heat, drought, and pestilence brought by Juno, in which the earth and humans mutually suffer a blight, we hear mention of the Myrmidons.

  • What were the Myrmidons originally?
  • Where did we last encounter the Myrmidons in mythological texts?
  • How does the transformation make mythological sense?

Check out this separate commentary on the Myrmidons.

Cephalus and Procris:

Here’s a tragic distrusting couple. Cephalus is the husband, testing his wife’s fidelity while in disguise. She runs away; and while suspecting Cephalus of an affair, Procris sneaks about in the bushes. Cephalus heaves a javelin, bringing about another tragic hunting accident. So take note: the animal you’re shooting at may be your own wife.

Metamorphoses Book VIII
Ovid Index
Orpheus: Roman Mythology