5. Interesting Facts

Interesting Stories
external image ovid-scythians.jpg

The Creation is the first story told. It speaks of Chaos as the only aspect of Nature that existed. Because everything was in constant flux, the world was unstable when it arose out of this Chaos. Some unnamed god separated each aspect to its own domain—earth to one, the sea to another, breathable air in the lowest areas, and aether to the outer circle—then shaped everything into a globe. Though this god did not create everything, he ordered it.

Apollo and Daphne is of primary importance. Daphne was a follower of Diana who wished to remain a virgin. Her father granted her the right to do so, but she attracted Apollo’s notice. The god pursued her, in a somewhat silly manner. At one point, he becomes afraid that she will injure herself while running from him and promises that he will slow down if she will. When it became apparent that Apollo would catch her, Daphne prays for transformation and it is granted. She becomes the laurel tree. Apollo is distraught, but consoles himself that if he cannot have the girl he will have the tree. This is how the laurel became sacred to Apollo.

Jove (an epithet of Jupiter) saw Io and was instantly in love. Io fled, but the god wrapped the world in a dense fog, so she could not escape. Juno saw the fog and realized that Jupiter was up to his usual tricks, so she visited Earth. Sensing his wife’s arrival, Jupiter transformed Io to a beautiful cow. Juno knew something was wrong and demanded the cow as a gift. The King of Gods knew he was caught. If he refused, Juno would have proof. So, he gave the cow to her. She set Argus of the one hundred eyes to guard Io and only Mercury himself was able to rescue the maiden. Poor Io was further harassed by Juno, until Jupiter swore on the River Styx that he was finished with the maiden. Io returned to her true form and became a goddess of the Egyptians.

Jove kidnapped Europa by transforming himself into a beautiful, gentle bull. He raped her and intended to keep her, but she was eventually rescued by her brother, Cadmus. Cadmus receives help from Apollo.

Ceres had a daughter, Proserpina, who was her greatest joy. Proserpina attracted the notice of Dis, or Pluto, who abducted her. Ceres appealed to Jupiter, Proserpina’s father, for help. He first said that Pluto was a fitting husband for Proserpina, but was moved by Ceres. He decreed that Proserpina could return to her mother, so long as she had eaten nothing while in the Underworld. Proserpina had consumed a few pomegranate seeds, though, so she could not be returned. Jupiter was torn between his sister and his brother, so he divided the year into two parts. Half of the year, Proserpina spends with her mother, while the other half is spent in the Underworld.

Telethusa was pregnant, but had been ordered by her husband to let her child die if it was born female. She appealed to Io, who was now an Egyptian goddess (Isis), for help, and her cry was answered. Io told Telethusa to disobey her husband and the child would be protected. The child was named Iphis and raised as a son. Everything went well, until Iphis was to be married. Iphis loved her betrothed and she was heartsick over her unnatural desire. Telethusa once more appealed to Isis, who changed Iphis into the man he was thought to be. He married his love and all was well. Isis had kept her vow to Telethusa and Iphis had not suffered for his mother’s disobedience to her husband.
Pymalion was a great sculptor. He looked around and found the women lacking, so he carved a perfect woman from stone. So taken was he with his own creation that he appealed to the gods to have her transformed into a real woman. Paphos was transformed from stone by his touch and they were married.

Cinyras was there son. He was extremely lucky, except for the fact that he had a daughter. Myrrha was the daughter of Cinyras and she fell in love with her own father. Myrrha knew this was horribly wrong and evil, but she could not overcome her feelings. She tried to kill herself, but was stopped by her nurse. The nurse begged her not to die, saying she should do whatever she must to live. So it was that Myrrha hatched a plan to marry her father. She married under a veil, unknown to the groom. She spent her wedding night in the dark, still unknown. When Cinyrus finally discovered her treachery, he tried to kill her. Myrrha was able to escape and begged the gods to transform her. She was changed into the weeping tree, Myrrh, and her tears cleansed her sin. She was pregnant when she was transformed, though, and her child continued to grow. Lucina (Juno) was nearby. As the goddess of childbirth, Lucina aided in the delivery of the innocent babe. The baby was named Adonis, who was the most beautiful man to ever live, even attracting the love of Venus with his beauty.

Tereus marries Procne, the daughter of Pandion. Procne misses her sister, Philomela, and asks for a visit. Pandion consents, but Tereus is filled with lust for Philomela and the two sisters are never united. Instead, Tereus locks Philomela up and tells Procne that she is dead. He repeatedly rapes Philomela, who swears to tell everyone who will listen. Tereus cuts her tongue out and continues to assault her. Philomela cannot speak, but she can weave. She weaves the story into a tapestry and gets it to her sister. Procne understands what has happened and frees Philomela. In order to get revenge on Tereus for his atrocities, she slays her own son, Itys, and feeds him to his father.