What is the basic philosophy behind Ovid's Metamorphoses?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The overall philosophy of Ovid's "The Metamphoses" is that everything on heaven and earth experiences change. Think of a butterfly, or a tree, or a baby: all go from one state of being to another.

The first four lines of tht 12,000 line poem reveal the purpose and philosophy behind Ovid's work. The poet is considering, in chronological order, how the world began and how things have changed from those origins until his own time, 8 a.d.

My intention is to tell of bodies changed
To different forms; the gods, who made the changes,
Will help me — or I hope so — with a poem
That runs from the world’s beginning to our own days.

Of course, the meddling gods have a lot to do with how man is forced to change or cause change. Jupiter flooding the world, for example. Every action of gods and of men propells change.

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dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The basic philosophy behind Ovid's "The Metamorphoses" lies in the fact that he was sponsored by Augustus.  To understand the philosophy of Ovid's work one must understand why Augustus sponsored his writings.  Augustus wanted to bring Rome under his control, hire a court poet to write about the virtures of morality, from the Emperor's point of view.  There is no doubt that Ovid wrote what he wrote beautifully, words filled with patriotism, devotion to religion, living a just and moral life.  However, when speaking of Ovid's philosophy we cannot forget that there was a strong arm behind his words.  The fact that he was sponsored by Augustus, most historians would preclude that his stories ended the way they were "supposed" to.

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The Metamorphoses of Ovid

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