Julius Caesar may not have ever been an emperor in Rome but he was revered as being an even more important figure. One of the last stories in the Metamorphoses is entirely about how Caesar has become a god. I find it interesting how Ovid barely mentions much about Caesar’s military conquests and how important a military figure he has become but he mentions him as being important in the fact that he was the father of Augustus who became the first emperor of Rome. He didn’t even mention Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon which ultimately led to his rule over Rome. Ovid seems to write this story to give credit to him but only in a way to quickly wrap up his work. In the beginning of this section Ovid writes “For in all Caesar has done, nothing is greater than this, that he became the father of our emperor”(15 834-836). In the few lines preceding this quote, Ovid briefly mentions his becoming of a constellation and that he was illustrious in war and peace or anything he had done. However, he goes into no detail about this and goes straight into the story of how Venus wanted to do something to save him but was unable to due to the decision of the Fates.

It was fated for Caesar’s death and as we have read about previously, you can’t mess with fate even if you’re a God or Goddess. While this is true, Venus still found a way to save him in a sense. Even in death, Caesar had become a God. Venus is said to have “Caught her Caesar’s soul as it left his body, and not allowing it to diffuse in the air, she bore it upward to the stars of heaven”(15 948-950). Not much is said after this but only that being part of the stars, he is now able to watch the good deeds of his son and see how they are better than his own. There is no talk of Caesar’s death but only that Venus had saved his soul and this shows how much Ovid glorifies the children of great leaders but under represents their actions such as this case. Despite Caesar being a dictator, he was an important political figure and was a very important part of the story of Rome’s beginnings.

3 thoughts on “Is Caesar underrepresented in the Metamorphoses?

  1. The whole way that he glorified the Caesars was very surprising to me. Knowing that he was banished by Augustus, and looking at the way he portrayed authority figures in the Met, it was weird to see him praising them so much. I like to think that the only reason he did it was so he would have deniability, so that no one could accuse him of actually being anti-authority.

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  2. I agree with erbarret70. Caesar’s military conquests merely set the stage for Augustus. At the moment when it is obvious he is discussing Augustus, Ovid cannot be critical. To represent Caesar in the Met would be to somehow undercut Augustus.

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  3. I think the main point of undermining Caesar’s accomplishments and favoring his role as the “father of the emperor” is to make Augustus look all the better. If all of Caesar’s military achievements, which helped make Rome into the vast empire it would become, still do not even measure up to the grandiose of Augustus’ power, than Augustus must be pretty great, right? Although we do see hints of Ovid’s possible disdain towards the emperor in other aspects of the Met, in this instance he must make it abundantly clear that Augustus receives a certain level of respect and admiration, or else he risks further punishment than banishment.

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