Introduction to Western Literature and Arts
Lecture Note-4: Ovid's Metamorphoses, Books 3, 4

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Table of Contents

  1. The Theban Cycle: Transformation and Vision
  2. Robe & Necklace of Harmornia : An extraordinary family romance

The Theban Cycle: Transformation and Vision

[The Theban cycle contains stories which are ironical and paradoxical. The destiny of the house of Cadmus was closely related to "Serpent." The transformation of the family of Cadmus concerns about "vision" & "forbidden seeing."]

Name Ironical Reversal Forbidden Seeing & Mystery Transformation.
Cadmus The destroyer of serpent was turned into a serpent. The gazer (of the Serpent) was gazed by other (as serpent).. Serpent both Cadmus and Harmonia --> serpent
Actaeon The hunter was hunted by his hounds. Voyeur the bath of Diana -->boar
Semele Semele was the gazed one. She wanted to be the gazer in the love affair. She saw Zeus in person --> burned
Bacchus     -->fragmentation-->rebirth-->god
Tiresias The judge was judged. He saw two snakes mating twice. change of sex
blindness vs insight
Narcissus A self-lover, who adored his own sight, became a flower (a mere sight). Obsessed with his own self image --> flower
Echo A talkative speaker became the voice of the other (echo= mere imitating sound). She saw Zeus's affair but did not told Hera --> "echo"
Pentheus An unbeliever was frightened by what he saw. He saw the Dionysian mysteries with uninitiated eys. -->deformation
His deformation is contrast ot Bacchus's deformation.
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Robe & Necklace of Harmornia: An extraordinary family romance

Visit Carlos Parada's website: Greek Mythology Links and see the table about "Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1:
Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1. (Interesting Objects: read here this incredible and entangled story and follow its episodes of betrayal and other nonsensical behavior while you get acquainted with the origin of the city of Thebes, its unwise rulers and the scandals and destruction that their actions caused.)

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Composed and Edited by Chen Chi-szu
Revised: 2003/10/07