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Book Six

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


Minerva heard the story, and praised the song

And praised the righteous anger, but was thinking:

“It is very well, this praise, but I myself

Deserve some praise; I too should show resentment

Toward those who flout my power.” She was thinking

About Arachne, a Maeonian girl,

Who, she had heard, was boasting of her talent,

Calling it better even than Minerva’s,

In spinning and weaving wool. The girl was no one

In birth, nor where she came from; her father, Idmon,

Was a dyer, steeping thirsty wool with crimson.

Her mother was dead, a common sort of person,

With the same sort of husband, but the daughter

Was famous for her skill, and it had traveled

Through all the Lydian towns, though she herself

Lived in the little village of Hypaepa.

The nymphs themselves would often watch in wonder,

Leaving their vineyards or the river waters,

To see her finished work, or watch her working

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Book Three

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Story of Cadmus

And now the god put off the bull’s disguise,

Revealed himself at last. They had reached the shores

Of Crete, when the girl’s father, King Agenor,

Unknowing what had happened to his daughter,

Ordered his son, named Cadmus, to go and find her,

Threatening exile as a punishment

For failure, in that single action showing

Devotion toward his daughter, toward his son

Harsh wickedness. And Cadmus roamed the world

In vain—for who is good enough detective

To catch Jove cheating?—and became an exile

Leaving both fatherland and father’s anger.

He sought Apollo’s oracle, a suppliant

Asking what land to live in, and Apollo

Replied: “In lonely lands there will come to meet you

A heifer, one who has never worn the yoke

Nor drawn the curve of the plough. Follow the creature

Till she lies down to rest, and there establish

The city walls, and call the land Boeotia.”

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Book Thirteen

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Argument between Ajax and Ulysses for the Armor of Achilles

The leaders sat together, and the people

Stood in a ring about them. Ajax rose,

Lord of the sevenfold shield, seething with anger,

Glowering at the fleet and the Sigean waters,

And suddenly he made a gesture toward them

Crying: “So, this is where I do my pleading, here

Before these ships, and my rival is Ulysses!

Where was he, though, when Hector’s torches threatened

Those very ships? Running away! But I

Stood fast, and drove the fire away. It is safer

To fight with lies than hands, no doubt of that.

I am no good at speaking, any more

Than he is good at doing. He can beat me

In talking, by as far as I can beat him

In the fierce battle-line. As for my deeds,

O Greeks, I do not think I need to name them,

You have seen them. Let Ulysses tell of his,

The feats that no man witnessed, only darkness!

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Book One

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


My intention is to tell of bodies changed

To different forms; the gods, who made the changes,

Will help me—or I hope so—with a poem

That runs from the world’s beginning to our own days.

The Creation

Before the ocean was, or earth, or heaven,

Nature was all alike, a shapelessness,

Chaos, so-called, all rude and lumpy matter,

Nothing but bulk, inert, in whose confusion

Discordant atoms warred: there was no sun

To light the universe; there was no moon

With slender silver crescents filling slowly;

No earth hung balanced in surrounding air;

No sea reached far along the fringe of shore.

Land, to be sure, there was, and air, and ocean,

But land on which no man could stand, and water

No man could swim in, air no man could breathe,

Air without light, substance forever changing,

Forever at war: within a single body

Heat fought with cold, wet fought with dry, the hard

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Book Nine

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Story of Achelous’ Duel for Deianira

When Theseus asked him why the groan, the gesture,

The mutilated forehead, the old river,

With unadorned and reed-crowned hair, made answer:

“A sorrowful story; for what loser tells

His battles with any pleasure? But I will tell you.

It was not so bad to lose as it was glorious

To have made the fight, and the greatness of the winner

Gives me some satisfaction. You have heard,

Perhaps, of Deianira, once most lovely,

The hope of many suitors, and I myself

Was one of them, and came to her father’s house:

Receive me as a son-in-law, I said,

And Hercules said that too, and all the others

Left it to us to settle. He began

By claiming Jove as father, did some bragging

About his labors, and some mission or other

His stepmother had set him. I was thinking

No god should yield to a mortal; Hercules

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