The Metamorphoses of Ovid Book XIV: Questions and Answers

Ovid

Book XIV: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. According to the myth, Circe was the aunt of Medea. What similarities do you find in their characters ?

2. Explain the allusion that Venus, “angry about her father’s gossiping, / Had made her (Circe) what she was.”

3. The story of Aeneas and Dido, one of the chief plot elements of the Aeneid of Virgil, is told by Ovid in half a dozen lines. What effect, if any, do they have on the reader?

4. What well-known theme is repeated in the story of the wish of the Sibyl?

5. What great change has occurred in the fate of the Cyclops, Polyphemus, since his last appearance in the poem?

6. What common motifs appear in the tales about Scylla and about Canens?

7. How does Ovid manage to explain the appearance of a Greek chieftain, Diomedes, on Italian soil?

8. Why is Diomedes unable to help Turnus?

9. Why did the great goddess, Cybele, prevent Turnus from burning the ships of Aeneas?

10. How does the ending of the tale of Vertumnus and Pomona differ from that of the usual tales about lustful divinities?

Answers
1. Medea and Circe were both sorceresses. Their methods were similar; so was their motivation. Both acted out of fury when rejected by the men of their choice. Both punished their “rivals” by poison.

2. Circe was the daughter of the Sun-god, and Venus was once betrayed by his tattling on her.

3. The love-death of Dido and Aeneas’ betrayal of her were among the most celebrated scenes of ancient literature. Ovid’s version makes little or no impression on the reader.

4. The Sibyl’s story is another in the series of the Foolish Wish.

5. Since the time of his wooing of Galatea, Polyphemus had his eye poked out by Ulysses.

6. Both Canens and Scylla were victims of Circe’s spiteful revenge for being scorned by men she wanted for herself.

7. Diomedes explains that he married a local heiress.

8. Having been punished by Venus, Diomedes lost most of his men.

9. Cybele did not wish to have her precious trees burned. An early example of conservation effort, similar to the one in The Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Gilgamesh is punished for cutting down the Cedars of Lebanon. He loses his claim to immortality.

10. While Vertumnus if fully prepared to rape Pomona, the situation is saved when she, in her turn, is attracted to him.