Ovid Metamorphoses VIII 37-71

Set text + analysis for 2011 AS Latin


Text 37-43 OVID

37. quaeque manu premeret, felicia frena vocabat.

38. impetus est illi, liceat modo, ferre per agmen

39. virgineos hostile gradus, est impetus illi

40. turribus e summis in Cnosia mittere corpus

41. castra vel aeratas hosti recludere portas,

42. vel siquid Minos aliud velit. utque sedebat

43. candida Dictaei spectans tentoria regis,

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Trans/Analysis 37-43 OVID

...in his hand, she will call the bits happy. She has an impulse, if only she were allowed, to carry her maidenly feet across the enemy battle line. She has an impulse to cast her body from the highest towers into the camp of the Cretans, or rather to open her bronze gates to the enemy, or if there was anything else that Minos wanted. And as she was sitting there looking at the white tents of the Cretan king.

Repetition of 'impetus est': Suggests she is ruled by impulses and emotions; she doesn't think actions through: an anti-paradigm of the sensible Augustan woman.

Use of 'virgineos': Emphasizes that she is young, naive, and taking her sexual freedom into her own hands; more anti-paradigm behaviour. 

Phrase 'aeratas...portas': 'Opening her bronze gates' is a possible innuendo, again suggesting that she is acting immorally, both in lusting after Minos and considering betrayal.

Use of 'siquid': She is so obsessed with Minos, she will do anything for him.

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Text 44-50 OVID

44. 'laeter,' ait 'doleamne geri lacrimabile bellum,

45. in dubio est; doleo, quod Minos hostis amanti est.

46. sed nisi bella forent, numquam mihi cognitus esset!

47. me tamen accepta poterat deponere bellum

48. obside: me comitem, me pacis pignus haberet.

49. si quae te peperit, talis, pulcherrime regum,

50. qualis es ipse, fuit, merito deus arsit in illa. 

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Translation/Analysis, 44-50 OVID

'It is in doubt' she said 'whether I am happy or whether I am sad that this dreadful war is being waged; I am unhappy because he is an enemy to the one loving him, but had there not been a war, never would he have been known to me! However, with me accepted as a hostage, he would be able to put aside the war: he would have me as an ally, as a pledge of peace. If she who gave birth to you, was so very beautiful as you yourself are, deservedly did the god burn with love for her.

Juxta. of 'laeter/doleam': Contrast stresses struggle between love for Minos and her country.

'nisi bella forent': She is prepared to accept the slaughter of her countrymen, and actually considers the war a good thing, simply because it brought Minos to her.

Juxtaposition of 'hostis/amanti': Again the contrast shows how she is torn between the two.

Repetition of 'mihi' and 'me': The repeated 'me' words suggest she is selfish and greedy.

Use of 'obside', 'pignus': Over-dramatic mock heroics; she thinks she is being noble by giving herself as a 'pledge', when really she is acting selfishly to be with Minos.

Reference to 'deus': Scylla gives Minos the highest praise possible, he is the son of a woman so beautiful even Zeus, king of the gods, loved her.

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Text 51-57 OVID

51. o ego ter felix, si pennis lapsa per auras

52. Cnosiaci possem castris insistere regis

53. fassaque me flammasque meas, qua dote, rogarem,

54. vellet emi, tantum patrias ne posceret arces!

55. nam pereant potius sperata cubilia, quam sim

56. proditione potens!—quamvis saepe utile vinci

57. victoris placidi fecit clementia multis.

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Translation/Analysis, 51-57 OVID

O I would be 3 times happy, if I would be able to put my foot in the camp of the Cretan king, having slipped through the breezes on my wings, and having declared myself and my passion, I would ask by what dowry he would wish to be bought, provided only that he did not ask for my ancestral citadels! For may the desired union perish, rather than that I be gaining my wish through betrayal! - although often the mercy of a kind victor makes it of advantage to many, to be conquered.

Representation of passion as 'flammas': The flames are an image of a destructive, all consuming love; Scylla's love controls her and will be her downfall.

Use of 'emi': Scylla thinks that she is laying down her virginity to 'buy' Minos; as if she is giving herself up to help her country.

Repeated 'p' sounds: Ovid is referencing 'pudendum' which means 'shame'. He implies that her actions are shameful and immoral.

Use of 'quamvis': Scylla declares that she would never wish to betray her country to be conquered, then immediately follows it with the claim that many peoples have benefited from being conquered; she is still trying to justify her upcoming betrayal as helping her country.

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Text, 58-64 OVID

58. iusta gerit certe pro nato bella perempto:

59. et causaque valet causamque tuentibus armis.

60. at, ****, vincemur; qui si manet exitus urbem,

61. cur suus haec illi reseret mea moenia Mavors

62. et non noster amor? melius sine caede moraque

63. inpensaque sui poterit superare cruoris.

64. non metuam certe, ne quis tua pectora, Minos,

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Translation/Analysis, 58-64 OVID

At least, in return for his murdered son, he wages a just war and his cause is strong, and with his weapons he maintains that cause. And I think we shall be conquered, if such an outcome awaits the city, why does his army open up my city walls, and not my love? He will be able to win more easily without slaughter and without delay and the burden of his own blood. Certainly, I shall not fear that any one unaware wounds your...

Tries to justify Minos' attack: She claims that his vengeance for his son is fair, but it is Athens that is responsible, not Megara. Minos is unfairly testing his army against Nisus before moving onto Athens.

Use of 'noster amor': Implies that Scylla assumes her feelings for Minos will be returned.

Alliteration of 'mea...Mavors': Reflects 'me' words, stresses that Scylla considers them her city walls, to do with as she wishes.

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Text 65-71 OVID

65. vulneret inprudens: quis enim tam durus, ut in te

66. derigere immitem non inscius audeat hastam?

67. coepta placent, et stat sententia tradere mecum

68. dotalem patriam finemque inponere bello;

69. verum velle parum est! aditus custodia servat,

70. claustraque portarum genitor tenet: hunc ego solum

71. infelix timeo, solus mea vota moratur.

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Translation/Analysis, 65-71 OVID

chest: for who is so hard that he may dare to deliberately throw a harsh spear at you? The plans pleased her and her decision stands to hand over her country and herself as a dowry and put an end to war. And yet to wish is not enough! A guard watches over the entrance and my father holds the keys to the gate: I, unhappy woman, fear this man alone, this man alone delays my intentions.

Repetition of strong adjectives: 'durus' and 'immitem' 

'Coepta placent': Ovid uses the pompous language of the senate to describe Scylla's plan; makes her seem selfish and stupid.

'Verum' at the start of the sentence: The harsh word is sudden and shows us that Scylla is resolute and will go through with her plan.

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