Ovid’s book VII and VIII

Subject: Literature
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 584
Topics: Book, Ancient Greece, Love

Rationality and love may not exist in the same space

In book VII, Ovid tells the story of Jason and Medea – a love story. One remarkable observation of the story is the physiological conflict of love and rationality. Medea knows she is falling in love with Jason, and she is weak to resist it. She says, “only, the cruel-hearted would not be moved by Jason’s youth, his manhood…And even if these were lacking, His beauty would move a heart of stone – at least it has moved mine.” The lines are important because they illustrate Medea’s justification of what she just about to do – betray her father for the sake Jason. In as much as Medea knows what she is supposed to, she finds herself doing the wrong thing because of love. She complains that, “but some new power Holds me against my will,” – love for Jason is controlling her. Her rationality and self-awareness is evident when she says, “reason calls one way, desires another. I see, approving, Things that are good, and yet I follow worse ones.” From this manifestation, the audience can confirm that love has won despite reasons begging Medea to act otherwise. Maybe it is true that love and rationality are not friends, but if they are, love always wins the argument – especially for women.

Could love be a source of pain?

Choices have consequences, but love makes it difficult to select an option that does not hurt. Ovid portrayed love a continuous source of pain when choices are mutually exclusive and involve families and loved ones. In book VIII, the characters Scylla and Althea find themselves at crossroads because of love. Scylla falls in love with Minos, yet Minos is waging war on her community. Scylla love for Minos is evident when we are told, “She was hardly her own mistress, hardly able To keep her senses,” in the presence of Minos. The war was important for her community and father, but Scylla followed love to destroy her people. “I, Scylla, Nisus’ daughter, Deliver to you my country, my household gods. I ask for no reward except yourself.” Here it is clear that Scylla wants Minos love as a reward for betrayal. She is disappointed when Minos leaves without her, and she follows him. It was a painful decision. Similarly, Althea must choose to stick with her brothers or her son. The options are difficult to select given that she owes allegiance to all both brothers and his son. As opposed to Scylla, Althea’s love conflict is strictly familial thereby making it a painful decision-making process. She eventually opts for her brothers and kills her son. I must admit that it was a stressful scenario.

Was greek society patriarchal or not?

The Calydonian’s Boar story paints a glimpse of Greek society treatment of women. The premise of the Calydonian story is killing a boar that has been terrorizing the Calydonians. They seek the assistance of Theseus and other heroes to kill the animal. However, most of them failed. Atalanta, the only woman warrior among men, grazes the boars back without killing it. Meleager shot the blow that killed the boar. A serious conflict emerges when Meleager decides to give victory to Atalanta – a move that angers men. In other words, they could not fathom the fact that a woman defeated them. It communicates how men in early Greek society looked down upon women. From Ovid’s story, I feel it is a highly male dominated society.

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  1. Ovid, and Rolfe Humphries. Metamorphoses. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955. Book VII –VIII. Print.
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