What is the Ovid’s Metamorphoses plot?
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is about transformation. Characters -female and male- turned into something different as a result of their experiences, often terrible and traumatic. Sometimes female and male characters face a cruel destiny because of their hubris or because they have challenged the gods but female characters, most of the time, are just victims with no possibility of reaction or decision. This essay is going to assess the extent to what female characters are portrayed in this manner through the study of three episodes -Daphne,Callisto, and Sémele -complemented by other examples- looking for common patterns and themes being the main ones rape and the consequences of losing virginity, the exemption of responsibilities from attackers and the impotence and silence of their victims.
Most of the women in the Metamorphoses are subjects of undesired sexual attention -most likely from powerful gods-. This ‘attention’ covers from persecution to assault and rape, involving sometimes marriage. Marriage can also be perceived as something highly undesirable: “marriage torches to Daphne were nothing less than anathema.” They are normally maidens and when their virginity is lost -no matter if it was against their will or not- they are rejected finding no support and falling into despair: “Be gone! This sacred spring must not be polluted” cried the goddess Diana to her devoted servant Callisto that was deceived becoming pregnant by Jupiter.