Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book I
Kings, Empires, Bigotries and Victories
There are two parts in this essay: the former part Kings and Empires compares the beginning of the universe with the formation of empires and looks at the several transformations of the world as the manifestations of the great power of the ruler; whilst the latter part Bigotries and Victories takes reference from the the quote “History is written by the victors” and the bias narrations in some stories to bring out the darker attributes of the worldly reality and its celebrated protagonists.
Kings and Empires
It is said that an unknown god commanded the jumbled elements in the universe to fall into ...view middle of the document...
Once again, the extent of power a ruler wields is shown in these transformations; their ability to revoke old edicts and rewrite new decrees allows them to bend the world to their will.
Bigotries and Victories
In the text, little is known of the Giants, except that they tried to overthrow the current rulers of Olympus. According to Roman mythology, Saturn had ruled before Jupiter, and the Giants before Saturn. With this knowledge at hand, we can see that the Giants were simply fighting to get back what they think had been rightfully been theirs. However, readers were only presented with one side of the story, which was the God’s view.
This partiality in Ovid’s stories occurs once again during the war between Lycaon and Jupiter. The narrative follows Jupiter closely as he goes on to tell of the wickedness of Lycaon, all from his own experience; while little is told of the incident from Lycaon’s perspective. Throughout Book I, the gods have been shown to be bigoted existences: they see only what they want to see and hear only what they want to hear; maybe that is why, the readers, looking at the story from Jupiter’s viewpoint, only read of the iniquitousness of Lycaon, hear only his evil words and only see the atrocious acts of the Giants; as those would be the only things that Jupiter would have noticed.
Then, when Jupiter finally passed the solemn judgment to destroy the entire human race simply based on his subjective opinion towards one single individual, the unquestioning support he received from his council may strike some as odd because his council seemed to be keen on ignorance and lacking a judgment of its own. However, such phenomenon could have occurred frequently during the Augustan Society that advocated strict hierarchy and rigid class system. As a third person, the readers can observe that the voice of the powerful, symbolized by Jupiter in the story, is so overwhelming to the extent that all those of lesser significance would simply echo his words, as represented by the other gods in Jupiter’s council; or face peril in his wrath, as epitomized by the demise of Lycaon and the Giants.
Ovid also allegorizes the story of Lycaon with the death of Julius Caesar. The House of Lycaon could be an emblem to the ungodly crowd that successfully murdered Julius Caesar, whilst Jupiter could be analogous to Augustus, who gained the support of the people seeking retribution...