Pygmalion – Ovid

Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE – CE17/18) was a Roman poet during the reign of Augustus, when he enjoyed enormous popularity, until Augustus sent him into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid wrote love poetry and Ars Amatoria (“Art of Love”), concerned the crime of adultery, as well as a book on Roman religion and a tragedy that was lost. Metamorphoses is a collection of 15 books on the mythological transformations from Greek to Roman times that Ovid write in the meter of epic, dactylic hexameter, the meter of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Almost 250 myths are mentioned and the collection remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology, a chronology, that recounts the creation of the world to the death of Julius Caesar, a year before Ovid’s birth. Metamorphoses has inspired such authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante and Boccaccio. The first English translation was by William Caxton in 1480. One source for the book was the Heteroioumena by Nicander of Colophon (Galinsky 1975: 2). The unifying theme is that of transformation: “In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas/ corpora” (“I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities;”) There is a huge variety among the types of transformations that take place: from human to inanimate objects, constellations to animals, from animals to plants and humans, sex changes, changes of colour, and so on. Brooks Otis has identified four divisions in the narrative (2010: 83). Section I: Book I–Book II (end, line 875): The Divine Comedy; Section II: Book III–Book VI, 400: The Avenging Gods; Section III: Book VI, 401–Book XI (end, line 795): The Pathos of Love; Section IV: Book XII–Book XV (end, line 879): Rome and the Deified Ruler.

Ovid’s narrative, Libro X: The story of King Pygmalion of Cyprus, who carved a ivory statue named her Galatea (Greek: she who is milk-white). In answer to his prayers, the goddess Venus/Aphrodite brought Galatea to life and united the couple in marriage. Galatea is also the name of Polyphemus’s object of desire in the story of Acis and Galatea” also in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In The White Goddess and The Greek Myths (64.1), Robert Graves has given a socio-political interpretation of the story as a mythologized account of a matrilineal cult. 1 English Translation 2. Traducción al castellano 3.

La Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea (The Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea) by Spanish poet Luis de Góngora y Argote, completed in 1613 and published in 1627 after Góngora’s death. The work demonstrates Góngora’s highly accentuated, erudite and impressionistic poetic style known as culteranismo. Dedicated to the Count of Niebla, a Castilian nobleman renowned for his generous patronage of 17th century Spain’s most preeminent artists, the work’s predominant themes – jealousy and competition- reflect Gongora’s actual environment. He was one the most influential poets of the Spanish Baroque and would later inspire French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine as well as the Spanish Federico García Lorca and fellow members of the Generation of ’27.

 The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It tells the story of a travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa who one day wakes to find himself transformed into a large, monstrous insect-like creature. The rest the tale deals with Gregor’s attempts to adjust to this repulsive condition and the problems he causes to his parents and sister. The novella is inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs (1870), whose sexual imagination gave rise to the idea of masochism. Kafka’s sentence construction in German (with subordinate verbs at the end) phonetically emphasize transformation, thus recreating ekphrastic experiences. Kafka (1883 –1924) was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His three sisters died during the Holocaust. Trained as a lawyer, he began to write short stories in his spare time. Around 1915, when he wrote and published The Metamorphosis, he contracted tuberculosis. Kafka feared that people, particularly women (he had a number of love affairs), would find him mentally and physically repulsive. Some scholars have claimed that his writings show certain characteristics of schizoid personality. He suffered from anorexia and was occasionally suicidal. He died in 1924 after his laryngeal tuberculosis worsened. English Translation 4. Traducción al castellano 5.

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1. http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/NereisGalateia.htm
2. http://www.webwinds.com/thalassa/ovid.htm
3. http://www.edu.mec.gub.uy/biblioteca_digital/libros/O/Ovidio%20-%20Metamorfosis.pdf
4. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5200/5200-h/5200-h.htm 5
5. http://www.edu.mec.gub.uy/biblioteca_digital/libros/K/Kafka%20-%20La%20metamorfosis.pdf

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