And now I have completed my work,

Which cannot be undone by the wrath of Jove,

By fire or sword, or corrosive time. That final day,

Which has power only over my body,

May come when it will and end my uncertain

Span of years. The better part of me

Will be borne forever beyond the high stars,

And my name will never die. Whenever Rome

Extends its power over the conquered world

I will be on men’s lips, and if a sacred poet

Has any powers to prophesy the truth,

Throughout the ages I will live on in fame.

Metamorphoses Book 15 line 981-992

Ovid’s Envoi sheds a light on Ovid’s opinion of his new work and how it will affect the future of myths. Metamorphoses focuses on change and movement from one form to another but what is so ironic/intriguing is Ovid’s certainty of his place in history. “I have completed my work, Which cannot be undone by the wrath of Jove,” (line 981-982). Ovid recognizes that he has created something that is larger than gods and thus is more powerful. These 15 books hold the power of Ovid’s translation of history and cannot be swept from the human history. Metamorphoses will be untouched “By fire or sword, or corrosive time.” (Line 983). Ovid achieves immortality through his work, he has joined the upper echelon of greek society as a man who is immovable in time. Ovid knows this, saying “Throughout the ages I will live on in fame.” (Line 992) Ovid’s declaration is a prophesy for the power of story, he is placing his faith in humanities ability to pass down knowledge.

One of the ways this is intriguing to a modern audience is the fact that Ovid achieved this immortality through being an artist. There have been many amazing figures in history that have not been remembered. Ovid is a figure who has stayed relevant through their attachment to writing. Ovid has also remained untouched by fire, sword, the gods, or time. The only outside stimulus to affect the Metamorphoses has been other artists, namely, translators. Translation is an art form of understanding and perspective. Throughout reading Metamorphoses we have constantly drawn the quality of translation into question. How does our understanding of the Metamorphoses affected from the translation that we used? How does Ovid live on? has his work truly been untouched, is it fulfilling it’s prophecy?

6 thoughts on “Envoi

  1. I think the concept of art living on forever and serving to make a person immortal is truly beautiful. I think it’s true too. Even if we are reading translated versions or retellings that change the original story, there is still the original work at the core of it all. In fact, I think that it is because stories often change over time that they are immortal and that they do continue to live on and allow the original artist to live on with it.

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  2. I think that it’s interesting how confidant Ovid is that the Met is going to survive for a long time, especially since it seems so blasphemous and provocative. Maybe all the blasphemy was partially motivated by him wanting to establish a legacy? It seems like it matters a lot to him that he is famous and that a lot of people hear what he has to say.

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  3. Ovid seems to be aware of the perpetual flux of human life and seems to be much more conscious of it than his contemporaries. At the time, a steady and stable universe was the picture that people worked with. Knowing this, I think that Ovid knew that people would continuously wonder about the constant change that is portrayed in the Met. Of course, it is not until recent times that perhaps Ovid’s notion of change makes more sense to us.

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  4. It’s so interesting because he obviously knew the importance of the Metamorphoses, and was subject to a time in which these myths would impact the population. Despite the numerous translations into different languages the story remains. The emotions and meanings are still attached to the narrative for hundreds of years and its so so impressive.

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  5. I thought this final story/passage gave a nice sense of closure to the whole work, but on a practical side of things, Ovid seems to be putting a lot of faith in his peers and humanity as a whole, as books are pretty easy to destroy… that being said, I think the question of why certain things are preserved is really interesting.

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  6. “Ovid has also remained untouched by fire, the sword, gods or time.”
    I find this quote very interesting. In a former classics course we read texts that were not, from the appearance, so well revered, for they were not intact (The Golden Ass, for example).
    I wonder what it is about Ovid that created for him an immunity to time and erosion.
    Of course having been translated has an effect on the stories, but Ovid is available still in its semi-original state.
    Is it chance, Fate, or meticulous care?
    Good question.

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