Author Topic: New Stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses  (Read 13531 times)


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Re: New Stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses
« Reply #160 on: May 06, 2016, 10:06:21 AM »

We begin again on Monday May 2 with Jason and Medea, and this is probably a Medea that was never covered in any school, so brace selves.

We think of Jason and the Golden Fleece but our retold stories for children do not include much of the reason he managed to do his deeds: the witch (and she was) Medea.

The intro lines are in the previous chapter and they are:

....the young men sailed
With the Minyans as Argonauts, on that first ship,
Seeking the shining wool of the Golden Fleece.

And we're OFF on another adventure!
See you on the 2nd of May~

Bk VII:1-73 Medea agonises over her love for Jason

Bk VII:74-99 Jason promises to marry Medea

Bk VII:100-158 Jason wins the Golden Fleece

Bk VII:159-178 Jason asks Medea to lengthen Aeson’s life

This will be our first section to cover so we have a lot to talk about and not just a few things.

This may help explain the demise of Pelias.  From the same source....

Uncertain fatherhood

There is no agreement concerning the paternity of Pelias, for some say that his father was Cretheus  (the son of Aeolus, son of Hellen, son of Deucalion, the man who survived the Flood), whereas others assert that he was Poseidon. On the other hand, there is no controversy concerning his mother: she was Tyro, the daughter that Alcidice (daughter of Aleus, son of Aphidas, son of Arcas, son of Zeus and Callisto) bore to impious Salmoneus (another son of Aeolus), the founder of Elis.

Twins exposed

Now Zeus, tired of Salmoneus' arrogance struck him with a thunderbolt, and so Tyro was brought up by her uncle Cretheus, king of Iolcus (the city in Thessaly on the coast of the Gulf of Pagasae). Having later married the same uncle, she had children by him: Aeson (father of Jason), Amythaon, Pheres, and Talaus. But Pelias and Neleus, she bore to Poseidon: For living in Thessaly, some say, Tyro fell in love with the river god Enipeus, and as she came often to the waters of the river to chant her love, Poseidon, taking the form of the river, lay with her. Since this had been done in secret, she, on giving birth to the twins Neleus and Pelias, abandoned them, but when they were exposed, a horse-keeper found them and saved them. Yet, one of the mares kicked with its hoof one of the children, leaving a livid mark on his face, and because of this mark the child was called Pelias. But others have said that they were found by an old goat-herd, who, noticing that the children were of a better stock than himself, took them home years later, giving them the little leather bag of tokens by which they were recognized. Others have said that Tyro recognized the children she had once exposed by the boat or ark in which she had placed them.

His fate sealed in his youth

Otherwise, it is told that Neleus and Pelias were reared by Sidero, their stepmother and Salmoneus' second wife, and while they lived in Elis, some say, they held the Olympian games after Aethlius, the father of Endymion. Now, this Sidero treated Tyro unkindly; so when the twins, being grown-up, discovered the truth about their mother, they attacked Sidero, who took refuge in the precinct of Hera to no avail; for Pelias, caring nothing about the holiness of the shrine, killed her on the altars. In such manner he incurred the hate of the goddess, thereby setting up a firm base for his own destruction. After Sidero's death, the twins fell out and Neleus, banished by Pelias from Iolcus, migrated to Messenia, where he was received by Aphareus. And whereas Amythaon  went to Pylos, Pheres founded Pherae, and Talaus settled in Argos, Aeson and Pelias stayed in Iolcus nurturing their rivalry with regard to Cretheus's throne.

And this....

Extermination of Jason's family

In any case, Pelias, despairing of the return of Jason, caused the death of his father Aeson, and those of his mother and brother Promachus, still an infant. According to some, Aeson asked to be allowed to take his own life, and his request being granted, he drank of a bull's blood and died. His wife hanged or stabbed herself after cursing the man who caused her to die, and little Promachus was slain by Pelias. This is what Jason found at his return. Nevertheless he surrendered the Golden Fleece, and bided his time, sailing with the ARGONAUTS to the Isthmus of Corinth to dedicate the ship to Poseidon.

2131: Medea and the daughters of Pelias, 420-410 BC. Pergamon Museum, Berlin.

Death of Pelias

But when this was done, he asked Medea to devise revenge on Pelias 1. This is why she appeared at the king's palace disguised as a priestess of Artemis, and having met the king's daughters, persuaded them to cut their father into pieces and boil him, promising that this bizarre procedure, added to her drugs, should make the old man young again. Now, who, some may ask, could be so naïve to believe in such absurd promises? Could that perchance be some girls from ancient times? For as some suppose, ancient girls were not as smart as modern ones, who defend themselves very nicely against deceivers, and in addition may carry powerful weapons to secure their own defence. Yes, they were "ancient." But Medea did not underrate the girls (who at that time were not "ancient"), and in order to win their confidence, she cut up a ram and made it into a lamb by boiling it, probably saying, "Do you believe me now?" Being persuaded by such a strong evidence, they then made mince meat of their father and boiled him, as the witch had instructed them to do. Others say that Medea cast mist before them, and by means of drugs formed phantoms that looked real, putting an old ram in a brazen vessel, from which a young lamb seemed to come forth. And so, all the daughters of Pelias (including the noble Alcestis, some affirm) slew their father and cooked him in a brazen caldron. When the girls realized they had been deceived, they fled from the country. It is said that Jason then made himself master of the palace at Iolcus, and handed over the rule to Acastus, himself departing freely with Medea to Corinth (instead of being expelled by Acastus, as others assert). But it has also been said that Jason, moved from Iolcus to Corcyra after the death of Pelias. In any case, it is told that when the daughters stood around Pelias's bed, they hesitated, but Medea encouraged them saying:

"Come, draw your swords, and let out his old blood that I may refill his empty veins with young blood again. In your own hands rests your father's life and youth." (Medea to the daughters of Pelias. Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.333).

And as the poet says, they did the wicked deed in order not to be wicked by denying youth to their father. And they turned their eyes away as they struck the deadly blows. And having plunged Pelias's body into the boiling water, Medea escaped through the air drawn by her winged dragons.
Just hit me - that is the metamorphose in this story - the change in Medea from a meek and proper wife to this killing banshee.

Medea morphed several times, didn't she?  From a spoiled princes to a young woman in love, to a sorceress, using her powers to help Jason, then a kind and loving wife and finally to, as Barb says, a killing banshee.  Did her powers grow or was she holding back?  It seems to me everything she did was only for her benefit.  So, did she really change?


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Re: New Stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses
« Reply #161 on: May 06, 2016, 10:50:16 AM »
I think she was holding back.  She was already an accomplished sorceress, disciple of Hecate.  The herbs and spells she gave Jason were already known to her, as were the herbs she gathered from all over to rejuvenate Aeson.  She does seem to use her powers in increasingly evil ways, but is this a change, or just the greater scope she has as her life goes on.


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Re: New Stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses
« Reply #162 on: May 06, 2016, 10:59:05 AM »
aha - yes, did she really change - her change was more like putting on various costumes wasn't it and with each change of costume there were skills that accompanied the look - Thanks so much for filling us in Halcyon - this is great to have the background on Pelias - his early life sure had a strange group of parents or step parents or care takers - whew... and the line of parents for Tyro - sounded like that excerpt in the Bible where heritage goes back and back and back.

In fact several times reading these stories there is a similarity to stories in the Bible and since we know these came first hmm you have to wonder - having read and attended a class on Bible History and learning the changes over the years when, both hand writing copies with additions written in the margins that later were included as if part of the originals and the translations from the original often changed the intent of phrases and then not really knowing who wrote the various Bibles that made up the canon we now refer to as 'the' Bible I am now wondering how many of the early Bible stories were 'borrowed' from these myths that show human nature at work.

I wonder if when Jason gets the Golden Fleece and Medea has to put up with not being publicly recognized nor could she jump into his arms as she would have liked if that is the beginning of the saying today about a woman scorned - although I think today's version of the woman scorned is more about a man choosing another woman. Maybe it still fits since Medea does her most brutal act of killing her own children after Jason had remarried.

Spending a little bit of time with each of the stories has been amazing - I've learned so much...


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Re: New Stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses
« Reply #163 on: May 12, 2016, 06:29:54 PM »
Don't you just love this - half way remember reading this quote years ago and it was in a British article about how the Greek miracle was its contribution to the formation of Europe's western ideals... anyhow the quote...

Jefferson argued in Notes on the State of Virginia (1782) the main goal of education in a democracy: to enable us to defend our liberty. History, he proposed, is the subject that equips citizens for this. To stay free also requires comparison of constitutions, utopian thinking, fearlessness about innovation, critical, lateral and relativist thinking, advanced epistemological skills in source criticism and the ability to argue cogently. All these skills can be learned from their succinct, entertaining, original formulations and applications in the works of the Greeks.