Ovid’s Metamorphoses is pretty much central to a lot of what I am currently thinking about, what I have been churning around in my brain for about the last 4 years while working on my phD thesis. Actually, it pretty much underpinned a lot of my thinking through my Master’s thesis as well. And then I always had a fascination for all things mythological right through high school. I’m getting long in the tooth, so it’s safe to say I have a long enduring love for the poet and his masterpiece which has survived human history right up till now. He is always full of surprises, twists and new ways of thinking things. Clearly, I am not by any means the first who has thought this, and I am fascinated by the way in which his words and the stories we know from his lines have meant different things to different people over the centuries. And of course I just love the way in which these stories, various translations and different lines and verses evoke a range of vivid images.
The other day my research reading led me to Dryden’s translation of Metamorphoses, where he presents Ovid’s case against the consumption of flesh:
O Mortals! from your fellow’s blood abstain,
Nor taint your bodies with a food profane…
We, by destroying life, our life sustain,
And gorge the ungodly maw with meats obscene
Not so the golden age, who fed on fruit
Nor durst with bloody meats their mouths pollute.
– Dryden, Works, ed. Sir Walter Scott, vol.12 (Edinburgh, W. Paterson, 1882-1893)