A Drama Pro Special
The Primary Source
Ø An epic poem of 15 books from Classical
Antiquity (approx. 380 pages)
Ø Ovid’s peers: Virgil (parents probably
weren’t too worried about his influence)
Ø describes history of the
world from its creation to the
Content of the Poem
15 books of myths
deification of Julius Caesar
within a loose mythico-
Ø recognized as a masterpiece
of Golden Age Latin
Ø One of the most-read of all
classical works during the
Ovid: The Man
Ø Married 3 times
Ø Had 1 daughter
Ø Born March 20, 43 BC
Ø Banished to Tomis, on the Black Sea by the Emperor
Augustus. (8 A.D.)
Ø Died 17 AD at Tomis
Ø Many poems contain expressions of his grief at living in
Ø Died 17 A.D.
Ø Now butterflies are named after him by sweet, teenage
actors in urban Canadian cities, right Sidney?
What does Metamorphoses, our
“In one sense there is no mystery as to what
the Metamorphoses is “about”, because
the author tells us: it is about
metamorphosis, transformation, change.”
Ø Oxford World Classics Ovid’s Metamorphoses translated by A.D. Melville
Metamorphosis: A Dictionary
Biology .1. a profound change in form from one
stage to the next in the life history of an organism,
as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the
pupa to the adult butterfly. Compare complete
2. a complete change of form, structure, or
substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.
3. any complete change in appearance, character,
4. a form resulting from any such change.
a. a type of alteration or degeneration in
which tissues are changed: fatty metamorphosis of
b. the resultant form.
Dictionary Definition of
1525–35; < Neo-Latin metamorphōsis < Greek
Ø See meta-, -morph, -osis
Ø non·met·a·mor·pho·sis, noun, plural
Synonyms = mutation or transmutation.
Antonyms = stasis.
Theme of Love
Ø How is Love expressed in the play?
Opening Lines of Metamorphoses
The opening lines of the poem:
“In noua fert animus” (Latin)
My inspiration carries (me) on to new
things.” (English translation)
Opening Lines of our play
Ø “Bodies, I have in mind, and how they can
change to assume new shapes– I ask the
help of the gods, who know the trick:
change me, and let me glimpse the secret
and speak, better than I know how, of the
world’s birthing,and the creation of all
things, from the first to the very latest.”
How to study for the exam
Ø Review the plots of the five major myths
in our play.
Ø Know the character names, the events,
the lessons learned and the outcomes of
these five myths.
Review the Themes
Ø Review the themes of the play and how
they are expressed.
How is this theme expressed?
Disobedience toward the Gods
How is the theme expressed in the
Ø Carefully review the plot of the myths.
Ø What lessons are learned about sin?
Ø E.g. greed, gluttony or pride?
What lessons learned are learned about a a
sin, e.g. greed, gluttony, pride?
Theme of Redemption
Ø Zimmerman has stated, "These myths
have a redemptive power in that they are
so ancient. There's a comfort in the
familiarity of the human condition."
Ø How does this play express redemption?
Motifs of Death and Love
Ø Consider: Death, which is typically
presented as an absence in Western
culture is presented differently.
Ø What messages are given about death in
Genre Elements of the Play
Ø How can we classify Metamorphoses as a
2 key features in genre
2. Reader’s Theatre
Ø used to present a narrative text, like a
poem, to an audience rather than a typical
Ø relies on narrators.
Theme of Change and Setting
Ø This theme of change is strongly tied to
the reliance of the play upon which
Ø Not only does the water change function
throughout Metamorphoses, but water
itself is described as "the most protean (lit:
diverse or varied) of elements"
How does Love cause Change?
1. Midas changes from a noveau riche superfifical
person to a humble person who travels to the
ends of the world out of love for his daughter.
2. Alcyone and Ceyx are transformed into
seabirds because of their love for each other.
3. Baucis and Philemon are turned to trees at the
moment of their death so that neither must live
without the other.
Final Thoughts on Love in the Play
Ø Central to Metamorphoses is the
changing power of love.
Ø Mary Zimmerman herself states,
"[Metamorphoses] makes it easy to enter
the heart and to believe in greater change
as well... that we all can transform."
Good Luck on your Exam
Ø Read the play…again.
Ø Consider the plot outcomes of the play.
Ø Consider the themes and how they are
expressed in the mise en scene (acting,
scenery, music, magic, images etc.)
Ø Consider how the themes resonate with
the audience today.
Ø Bonne chance mes amis! J