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The Gods in Metamorphoses and the Aeneid

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The gods in Metamorphoses are different than they are in the Aeneid. Though they are the same Roman gods, they act different and that affects the people in the stories too. Although some might say since the gods in the Aeneid and Metamorphoses are the same gods, there is no difference between them. Nevertheless, the authors have very different opinions and are writing for different reasons. Consequently, their gods should be different. Virgil was writing to tell Aeneas’s story. Ovid was writing to teach about transformations and the different ways they can take place. In most of the ones he tells, a god or goddess transforms a human. Both Virgil and Ovid made their gods struggle through very human emotions. Desire, anger, and love are the most common. Therefore, because of these reasons, we can conclude that Ovid and Virgil believe very different things and though their gods experience similar emotions, they are very different sets of characters.

In Virgil’s story The Aeneid, he portrays the god as very powerful and all knowing. They are more god than human, and the opposite in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Virgil was writing to tell the tale of Aeneas, and you can tell in just the first few lines of the story:

I sing of warfare and a man at war./ From the sea-coast of Troy in early days/ He came to Italy by destiny,/ To our Lavinian western shore,/ A fugitive, this captain, buffeted/ Cruelly on land as on the sea/ By blows from powers of the air - behind them/ Baleful Juno in her sleepless rage./ and cruel losses were his lot in war,/ Till he could found a city and bring home/ His gods to Latium, land of the Latin race (I. 1-11).

The first few lines of epic poems are usually a preview of the story, and the Aeneid is no exception. The gods in the Aeneid are more powerful and more in control of everything than they are in Metamorphoses. This is mostly because of the authors’ opinions and beliefs and how they think these events happened.

In all of Ovid’s stories about change, most of them have to do with the gods or goddesses transforming humans into plants or animals. They also lie to a great extent, especially to spouses or lovers, usually in order to be with someone else. An example of this is when Jupiter turns Io into a cow and lies to Juno about it: “Having intuited his wife’s approach,/ Jove had already metamorphosed Io/ into a gleaming heifer - a beauty still,/ even as a cow.” (I. 846-9). Though the gods are known for doing things that aren’t considered “good” in today’s society, that is how they are portrayed in most all of Greek and Roman stories. They tell of people who accomplished great things, but they would not be who they are without the gods.




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