What are the cosmological insights in regard to the creation of women in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Hesiod's Theogony?

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In the Theogony, the birth of the gods, Titans, and early monsters is portrayed in sometimes cosmological terms. Chaos, for example, is the primordial being (line 116, cf. Ovid, Metam. I.7), followed by Earth, and both of them give birth to various aspects of the cosmos: Chaos to...

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In the Theogony, the birth of the gods, Titans, and early monsters is portrayed in sometimes cosmological terms. Chaos, for example, is the primordial being (line 116, cf. Ovid, Metam. I.7), followed by Earth, and both of them give birth to various aspects of the cosmos: Chaos to Day, Night, and Aether; Earth to Heaven, Ocean, and then the Titans.

The creation of human beings in general, however, is not given much focus in Hesiod, and the creation of woman in particular has little connection to these cosmological aspects. Instead, the creation of woman is linked to the ordinary life of mortals, and not in a positive way. Woman was created purely to cause trouble to man as the price of the benefit of fire, which had been stolen and given to men by Prometheus:

Immediately, in return for the fire, [Zeus] made a thing evil for men... (line 570)

He made a beautiful evil in return for the good thing... (line 585)

Zeus who thunders on high set women as an evil thing for mortal men... (line 600-601)

While cosmological powers are presented as feminine and give birth to gods, Titans, and all of nature, human women are not presented in a similar way: there is no discussion of human women giving birth or bringing life. Rather, they are simply portrayed as being trouble.

If we wish to give the poet the benefit of the doubt, however, and not just write him off as misogynistic, there may be a touch of satire here. The poet could be juxtaposing these views in order to critique the latter one. "How can we view women as nothing but trouble," he might be suggesting, "when we base our view of the very origin of the cosmos itself on the distinctively female characteristic of giving birth?"

Ovid, on the other hand, connects the creation of human beings to cosmological principles. After the primordial chaos—a confusion of the four elements—is separated into its constituent parts, humans are made from a heavenly origin:

[Either] the god who made all else, designing a more perfect world, made man of his own divine substance, or...the new earth, but lately drawn away from heavenly ether, retained still some elements of its kindred sky. (I.78-81)

This heavenly source of the soul is indicated by humans' posture (which is obviously shared by men and women):

Though all other animals are prone, and fix
their gaze upon the earth, he gave to man an uplifted face and bade him stand erect and turn his eyes to heaven. (I.84-86)

Ovid does not recount a separate creation of women: thus, all human beings are included in this noble origin, and women are defined as human in terms of that rational soul, rather than in terms of their biological nature.

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