The Metamorphoses of Ovid Book III: Questions and Answers

Ovid

Book III: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Which god is Cadmus attempting to honor when he sends his men into the forest?

2. Which god does he unintentionally offend?

3. Cite an obvious overstatement in the description of the serpent.

4. What prophecy does Cadmus hear after killing the serpent?

5. What was the name of the city founded by Cadmus?

6. Is it believable that the dogs would not have recognized their master, even if metamorphosed?

7. Characterize Jove’s behavior toward Semele before and after her destruction.

8. What is the meaning of Tiresias’ answer regarding Narcissus’ future?

9. Narcissus gave his name not only to a flower but to a psychological problem as well. What does it mean when a person is characterized as “narcissistic?”

10. What was the result of Pentheus’ death in the City of Thebes?

Answers
1. He wishes to honor Jove.

2. He offends Mars, to whom the serpent (some call it a dragon) is sacred.

3. It is said to have been as huge “as the great serpent of the constellations,” with the whole world beneath him.

4. He is told that he, too, will some day be a serpent.

5. The city of Cadmus and his descendants was Thebes.

6. It is difficult to believe that dogs would not recognize their master, no matter what; Ovid and his readers would have known that. This is an example which shows that these myths were intended to be symbolic and poetic, not realistic or factual.

7. While Semele was his lover, he tried to please her by promising to fulfill her wish, and even swore on the River Styx that he would do so. After her death, he went on relaxing and joking with his wife, Juno.

8. Tiresias’ riddling answer means that Narcissus will have a long life only if he never knows himself: he must not see his image either physically or emotionally—not know how beautiful and desirable he is.

9. A person is characterized as “narcissistic” when he or she becomes overly proud of some personal trait such as beauty, attractiveness, and, by extension, accomplishments, intelligence, etc., and treats others with disdain.

10. After the Thebans saw what happened to Pentheus, they thronged to the altars of Bacchus.