February 14, 2008
By: Ovid from book 1 of the Metamorphoses
Now Daphne—daughter of the river-god,
Notes & Commentary
- ↑ One of the most representational stories in The Metamorphoses, “Apollo and Daphne” shows how aesthetic beauty exists and often depends on violence, particularly that of a sexual nature (Nersessian 2021, p. 49). Ovid confronts this relationship between art and violence head-on throughout The Metamorphoses.
- ↑ Ovid (1993) . The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated by Mandelbaum, Allen. New York: A Harvest Book. pp. 20–25.
- ↑ Δάφνη, meaning “laurel” in Greek.
- ↑ Phoebus is Apollo, but Ovid’s use of this name aligns the god with the sun in particular, more so here, then, with its heat, rather than its light. Sometimes, Plato suggests, the light, or understanding, can follow the heat, or passion, in the ladder of love. Since Daphne is the “first of [his] loves,” the suggestion is that he is all desire. This suggestion, along with Cupid’s arrow (see below) will be unfortunate for Daphne.
- ↑ Eros is his Greek counterpart. Both of these gods are very Ovidian, in that their form of love is lust or desire—usually what Ovid means when he uses the word “love.”
- ↑ Beginning here with Python, the snake that Apollo had to kill in order to found his oracle at Delphi, notice the phallic imagery throughout this verse paragraph.
- ↑ The bow is associated traditionally with Apollo.
- ↑ Cupid’s arrows symbolize what it already there: desire or lack thereof. “Love” can usually be read as lust (cupiditas) in Ovid. Attraction is a mysterious force that seems to be a mixture of nature and nurture, to a part of the rational mind. It’s just men’s irrational desires and machismo contests that are often the bane of women’s lives.
- ↑ It seems that these arrows are just more phallic images that weren’t really necessary, or they just amplified the desires already there in both.
- ↑ Daphne’s hair becomes a symbol of her uncurbed nature that Apollo wished to tame. AS is evident by the preceding lines, Daphne does not desire traditional roles, wishing instead to remain free.
- ↑ Is this an expectation of patriarchy?
- ↑ An example of an apostrophe.
- ↑ The curse of beauty that even the poet laments. Nersessian writes: “A poem about bodies changed is also a poem about what having a body changes” (Nersessian 2021, p. 54). I can’t help, too, but think of Enkidu’s curse to the harlot in Gilgamesh.
- ↑ Passion has a way of clouding reason.
- ↑ Lines 61–64 are an epic simile, or maybe since Ovid is using them in his anti-epic, it is an anti-epic simile?
- ↑ If she would only conform to my desires.
- ↑ Men have a good imagination, but they tend to be more literal, if that they would prefer to experience directly.
- ↑ The idea here is that the person in love (lust) is the predator
- ↑ Her physical beauty is the most important thing.
- ↑ It’s nothing personal, Apollo, but Daphne would prefer “to enjoy / perpetual virginity” (ll. 48–49).
- ↑ All of these are centers of Apollos cults.
- ↑ Jupiter is the worst of the gods in the Metamorphoses, in that his desires are never curbed. This is not a good reference for Apollo. In fact, is Daphne supposed to be impressed by his résumé?
- ↑ He is also the god of healing.
- ↑ Poor baby.
- ↑ The thrill of the chase, right?
- ↑ The game is getting more sinister here, more real. Notice the tenor of the next epic simile, though l. 122, is explicitly about hunter and prey.
- ↑ A dog famous for its speed.
- ↑ Notice the disparity here: she is no match for him.
- ↑ Ovid seems to romanticize the situation, but in the context, it is most obviously satirical. This might be an attempt to soften the horror of the next few lines.
- ↑ Daphne calls for her own, what, disfigurement—as if Apollo’s lust is her fault.
- ↑ The laurel is sacred to Apollo and its leaves symbolized victory in war. The oak was sacred to Jupiter.
- ↑ The ambiguity of these last lines is heartbreaking: Apollo still claims Daphne as his own, possessing her symbolically, if not literally—though ll. 142–45 leave some room for interpretation.
- Nersessian, Anahid (2021). Keats’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.