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This classic poem by Ovid is a statement that begins the philosophical discussion of reality – does it reside in simply the visual look of things – what philosophers and lawyers call “ocular proof” – or in some “essence”, some unchanging characteristics of an object. As various things and animals change visual shape in Ovid’s work, the reader is led to realize that the essence, not the look, is what identifies things in real life. We have all been deceived by visual evidence – the mirage of a puddle on pavement, a magician’s trick, photo-shopped images, etc. – but no-one questions such essences as mother-love, loyalty, honesty, etc. Interestingly, Kafka’s novel of the same name is also about Gregor Samsa’s essence rather than his new exoskeleton.
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