Delahoyde & Hughes


Achelous vs. Hercules for Deianera:

Achelous the river-god recounts his rivalry with Hercules in courting Deianera and their fight. Achelous transformed into a serpent, and then a bull, but lost.
Hercules, Nessus, and Deianera:
Nessus is a centaur, lusting for Deianera, and offers to help her cross a river. When Hercules realizes the intended betrayal, he shoots Nessus, who gives Deianera his magic robe. Later, Deianera, unaware of its nature, sends it to Hercules. It burns into his flesh. He tears at himself and provides a litany of his deeds before dying and being deified. Alcmena tells the story of Hercules' birth, requiring the foiling of Juno.
Dryope picks a lotus and transforms into a tree and asks that her son be taught
To say in sorrow: Here my mother hides.
But let him fear the ponds, and pick no flowers,
And let him think that all the bushes are
Bodies of goddesses. (220)
Caunus and Byblis:
Here's one of many stories in which Ovid can focus on abnormal psychology. Byblis has incestuous longings for her brother Caunus. Her behavior registers this during the day, but her semi-subconscious desires appear more directly in her dreams. She rationalizes about this forbidden desire (224, 227). She writes a love letter saying "don't be my murderer" and has a servant deliver it, but Caunus is disgusted and homicidal. When Byblis wants to die and imagines Caunus will come and kiss her dead body, we are reminded of the myth of Sleeping Beauty. Caunus flees and she turns into a bubbling fountain.
Iphis and Ianthe:
Daddy wants a boy and threatens to have a girl killed. The kid, Iphis, turns out a girl, so she is disguised and brought up as a boy. When marriage is arranged with old childhood friend Ianthe, Iphis agonizes about how the whole natural world seems hetero. Fortunately, divine intervention turns Iphis into a real boy, so all is fine, right?

Metamorphoses Book X
Ovid Index
Orpheus: Roman Mythology