Metamorphoses Characters


Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Jove, the Thunderer, god of the sky. He appears in two guises: as king of Mount Olympus and as habitual seducer of nymphs and young girls. As ruler, he is so offended by the evil excesses of the men of the Iron Age, especially Lycaon, that he transforms Lycaon into a wolf and cleanses the earth with a great flood. As seducer, he is unable both to restrain his passion for Io, Europa, Callisto, Semele, and others and to protect them from the jealous ire of his wife, Juno.


Apollo, also known as Phoebus (FEE-buhs), the god of the sun. He also exhibits two natures. In his sterner guise, he is both the driver of the great sun chariot, the reins of which he is disastrously persuaded to hand over to his son Phaeton, and the avenger of Latona, his mother, who had been insulted by Niobe. He often also appears as a frustrated lover of both boys and girls, unable to win the affections of Daphne and losing those of Ciparissus and Hyacinthus.


Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth, the queen of Mount Olympus, and the jealous wife of Jove. She appears throughout the work, intent on punishing the hapless victims of Jove’s lust.


Bacchus (BA-kuhs), the god of wine and founder of the Bacchanalian mysteries. He is quick to reward those who follow him and to loose vengeance on those, such as Pentheus and the daughters of Minyas, who deny his divinity.


Diana, the goddess of the moon and the hunt. She jealously guards the virgins in her troupe, expelling any like Callisto who, willingly or not, lose their virginity. Fiercely protective of her own privacy, she not only transforms Actaeon into a deer when he stumbles upon her bathing but allows his dogs to tear him apart.



(The entire section is 787 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Gregory, Horace. Introduction to Metamorphoses, by Ovid. Translated by Horace Gregory. New York: New American Library, 1958. Discusses Ovid’s play with emotional extremes and conflicting impulses, which infuses Metamorphoses with psychological insight. Discusses Ovid’s interest in the subject of women and how this interest illumines his conflict with the Emperor Augustus.

Innes, Mary M. Introduction to Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated by Mary M. Innes. 1955 Reprint. New York: Penguin, 1975. Includes sections on Ovid’s life and works, a commentary on Metamorphoses, a discussion of its influence on later European literature, and a note on Innes’ translation.

Mack, Sara. “Metamorphoses.” In Ovid. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988. Chapters on the reception of Ovid in his own time and later, on his love poetry, on Metamorphoses, and on Ovid the poet. Chapter on Metamorphoses focuses on such difficult aspects of the poem as its structure, transitions, and the inclusion of less appealing tales.

Otis, Brooks. Ovid as an Epic Poet. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1966. Describes the plan and structure of the poem. Finds the unity of the poem in its order or succession of episodes, motifs, and ideas. Argues that this unity is marred by disharmony between the poem’s Roman-Augustan element and its amatory element.

Rand, Edward Kennard. “Poet of Transformations.” In Ovid and His Influence. New York: Cooper Square, 1963. Devotes a chapter to each of Ovid’s major works; analyzes Ovid’s influence on medieval and Renaissance authors.