Changing Stories: Ovid’s Metamorphoses on canvas, 1 – Lycaon, cannibalism, and werewolves

The Eclectic Light Company

The first book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses starts, just like the Bible and several other major compilations of ancient writing, with the creation of the world. You may be tempted to view Metamorphoses as the classical Roman version of a pagan Bible, but that would be extremely misleading. All cultures and civilisations have had their own creation myths, and Ovid simply offers his account of a Roman view.

This leads Ovid into a short summary of pre-history through four ages, starting in the Golden Age, and ending in the Iron Age, which is quite a perceptive metaphorical account of human pre-history, perhaps, considering the very limited knowledge of the Romans. Ovid then mentions what is generally known as the Age of the Titans or gigantomachy, which preceded the reign of the classical gods. This leads the text in to the first mythical story involving a metamorphosis: that of Lycaon, narrated…

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