Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Songs and singers in Book 10

Jean-Léon Gérôme

Throughout Metamorphoses 10, we need to remind ourselves that all the tales of the book after the story of Eurydice are sung by Orpheus to his attendant anthology of trees and creatures. Perhaps no tale is more Orphic than that of Pygmalion and the statue.

We note that the series of tales from Pygmalion to Adonis are "all in the family," as Pygmalion and the statue are the great-grandparents of Myrrha (via Paphos and Cinyras), and great-great ancestors of Adonis.

Orpheus's stories begin with Ganymede, plucked from Earth by Zeus on Mt. Ida, and end with Adonis gored by a boar. These songs frame the tale of Atalanta and Hippomenes, sung by a second narrator, Venus.

- Ovid sings of Orpheus and Eurydice.
- Orpheus in turn sings of Ganymede, Cyparissus and Hyacinth; of Venus transforming Pygmalion's work of art into a woman, of Adonis's mother's incest with her father, of the birth of Adonis, of Venus's love for Adonis.
- Venus sings of Atalanta to her beloved Adonis.
- Orpheus sings the death of Adonis.
- Ovid sings the death of Orpheus.

Characters in stories -- depicted representations -- are turning into singers of stories.

Thanks to Arline for our recent images of Ganymede and Pygmalion.

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