The Power Of Love In Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Some say love is what the world needs to rebuild and rejoice but in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” this is not the case. Throughout the book we see the opposite instead. Love is basically vile, and it dehumanizes most of those affected by it. Specially speak about the nature of love in the myths of Narcissus, Echo, Deucalion, and Pyrrha tells us that Ovid wanted people to think that is was a dangerous and a negative force. That once you catch the lovebug it’s takes over you completely, you’re so deep in it you can’t see past it. Even if you see that love is destroying everything, you ignore it because no one can resist its nature. In the myth’s above love often brings misery to those who endure it.

In Echo’s myth we see the constant theme of wanting something that you can’t have and how the effect of that want can be devastatingly dangerous. In the myth we come along a simple yet beautiful forest nymph who has already endured a lot in her life. In her past Echo was known for talking a lot and one day it changed her forever. Echo was telling tales to Juno while a nymph was with her husband Jupitar. The nymph escaped from the castle, which left Juno with no use her wrath on. Until she remembered who held her up, Echo. So, Juno ultimately made her live up to her name on the basis of having to repeat everything someone says. With the past discuss we move on to nature of love in this myth. One day Echo was walking through the forest when she sees Narcissus and suddenly its love at first sight, or obsession at first sight. Echo’s love for this man made her basically stalk him until her finally notices her. But once he does, she can’t talk back since Juno gave her the penalty of repeating others, ultimately Narcissus rejects her. This rejection doesn’t end her love or obsession for him, it just causes her more pain. Echo’s “…great love increases with neglect; her miserable body wastes away, wakeful with sorrows;”. The power of love and how it can take over someone is apparent throughout Echo’s story. With Echo always wanting Narcissus even though the love she feels for him is destroying her being, she never gives up hope on fulfilling her dreams on being with him. Which causes her to slowly fade away with nothing, but her voice left.

The nature of love isn’t forgiving in Narcissus fate either. similar to Echo’s myth, Narcissus love is so powerful that it takes over everything he is. As it takes over him, we see how it destroys him as well. Echo wasn’t the only nymph to declare their undying love for him. It got to the point where Narcissus prayed to the gods about it “If he should love deny him what he loves!”. his prayer was answered by Nemesis but would be the end of him. There was an untouched fountain in hills of the forest, where Narcissus decided to rest after a grueling day of hunting. As he drank from the fountain he froze, there was the most beautiful angelic man looking right at him. He sees “All that is lovely in himself he loves…” (Ovid 407), which makes him want only himself. As he sits there looking at himself, he has an indescribable desire to be with himself. He tries to hold and kiss the reflection but every time he does it disappears. While staring at the water “He knows not what he there beholds, but what he sees inflames his longing, and error that deceives allures his eyes.” He doesn’t know what he has but he knows that just by looking at it he has an intense longing to love it, but this longing cause by love is detrimental error in his fate. Once he realizes that if he looks away, he will lose his love, he ignores his every need for his crazed love. In the end Narcissus dies because love was such a powerful but negative force that ended up destroying who he was.

Both myths of Echo and Narcissus nature of love was such a powerful force that they could not see past it or ignore how toxic and miserable it made them. The power of love took and left terrible affects that both could not see, only us as readers can see. Love hit these two like a freight with no end. The pain and misery of not being able to be with the one you love drives them to their demise. But at the same time, they still don’t give up on their love. It was terrible cycle for both to endure but they could not avoid due to the desirable features of it.

The myth containing Deucalion and Pyrrha is more on the side of the gods being affect by love, and how their love drove them to extreme circumstances. It all started when the Jupitar quickly realized that their beloved creations were not as innocent as they thought. The ones they were made to pray and love them weren’t doing what they were made to do. Jupitar made the connection that “…all men conspire in evil.” (240 Ovid), so he “Let them therefore feel the weight of dreadful penalties so justly earned”. So, Jupitar and the other gods were betrayed by the ones that they love the most, which angered them. The love and anger they felt towards man set them into a blind rage that they made man pay for. As Jupitar thought this through, he created a huge store to wipe out all of humanity. When the storm set off to do its purpose the humans went into turmoil. But as the destruction was happening, he saw an innocent man and woman still worshipping the gods as their world is being destroyed around them. As he watches these to pray to the gods his love and hope for humanity return because of these two. So being the almighty one that he was he stopped the flooding and dangers that where Deucalion and Pyrrha lay praying at. He gave them enough room to survive. After that whole ordeal the loyal creations decided to walk and as they walked, they noticed a temple. When going inside the temple they notice an oracle. The oracle saw how dedicated to the gods they were and gave them some advice on rebuilding humanity. The oracle said to toss “…the bones of your great mother.”, both were confused at first until Deucalion realized that their great mother was. So, they threw rocks as the bones and suddenly humans started to appear. This myth shows more negatives to love, and how betrayal can turn love into an uncontrollable rage. We see that love basically dehumanized gods to their creations because what was in place of their creations weren’t the ones they loved. Which ultimately caused them to ignore how man changed to evil by destroying man completely, so all they remembered was the good parts they loved not the bad parts they hated. Until Jupitar saw how Deucalion and Pyrrha’s love for the gods caused them to ignore all that was happening around them. Basically, the gods wanted to wipe out humanity for their love of how it used to be, but Deucalion and Pyrrha changed their minds to rebuilding man to be like Deucalion and Pyrrha. So, the gods loved being worship and this loved caused them to take extreme measurement to fix their misery of not being worshipped. This misery almost caused them to ignore innocents that still loved and worshipped them.

In the end Ovid’s book really highlights the negatives that love can bring to those affected by it. Especially in the myths above we see the nature of love take everyone to point of ignoring the destruction of themselves or the world they created. In the myths we see the common theme of wanting the perfect kind of love even if it produces a negative force to those who endure it and are around it. Love causes people to ignore its destructive characteristics just to feel its superficial vibes. 

16 December 2021
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