Friday, January 13, 2012

Foedera: A binding word in Book 7

A key word in Metamorphoses 7 is foedus (-era). It means a bond, a pledge of faith, a treaty, covenant, agreement as between cities, and on the individual level, the plighted troth of marriage.

Every major character in Book 7 except Theseus uses the word to emphasize the importance of a relationship - Medea to Jason, Aegina to Athens, the marital bed of Cephalus and Procris:
Medea:     et dabit ante fidem, cogamque in foedera testes esse deos. 46
Aeacus:    Cecropidis est hac tellus: ea foedera nobis.' 486
Minos:      tristis abit 'stabunt' que 'tibi tua foedera magno' 487
Cephalus:  auxilium foedusque refert et iura parentum, 503
Cephalus:  primaque deserti referebam foedera lecti: 710
Procris:     per nostri foedera lecti     850
Such words in Ovid interweave disparate elements in the tales and show them to be related, even as each story speaks in its own way about relationship.

Fresco from Crete

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