Ovid Metamorphoses
Fourth Chat Transcript
February 18, 1999
Books Five and Six
Proserpina, Arachne, Niobe

20:59 Morgana Flavius enters...
20:59 Morgana Flavius: Hello!
21:03 Torrey Philemon enters...
21:03 Torrey Philemon: Morgana, I'm here. I just got back from work - was afraid I'd be late.....
21:06 Morgana Flavius: Hi Torrey! Just a moment, please.
21:08 Torrey Philemon: Well I'm glad you're there!
21:09 Morgana Flavius: Ok, I'm here now! :o)
21:11 Morgana Flavius: Myrrhine P is not coming... I read her posting in the board. Is there anybody else coming?
21:11 Torrey Philemon: Ok, look's like it's just the two of us! Did you have a topic you wanted to discuss? I know you were disappointed we didn't get into Proserpina last week.
21:12 Morgana Flavius: No, not disappointed... I end up by making that page about Proserpina to collect my thoughts about her.
21:12 Torrey Philemon: I wonder what happened to Lusinda.....We haven't heard from her in awhile.
21:13 Morgana Flavius: During the past 2 weeks, I accepted two applicants at MythQuest, saying that their interest in joining the group was our board on Ovid... I wonder if they're coming to the chat...
21:13 Torrey Philemon: Are there any thoughts you'd like to share now? I don't have much of an agenda myself, so I'm open in regard to what we cover.
21:13 Torrey Philemon: Maybe we ought to ask about chat interest. Perhaps there is some interest but it isn't a good time for people.....
21:15 Morgana Flavius: Yes, maybe we should re-evaluate the chat feasibility for most of the people interest in Metamorphoses...
21:16 Torrey Philemon: It appears that it is easier for people to simply post on the bulletin board....but you and I are clearly the most active. Myrrhine is really interested though.
21:17 Torrey Philemon: Or maybe we need less frequent chats.....and on a weekend.
21:17 Morgana Flavius: The more I think about Proserpina, the more I think that she and Europa are the ones who were happy after being "kidnapped"  by a god...
21:17 Torrey Philemon: In any case, do you have any topics you'd like to explore tonight? I have a few thoughts, but nothing I feel that strongly about.
21:18 Torrey Philemon: Happy?  You mean their situation wasn't so bad afterwards, or it was a mixed blessing, with some good to come of it.
21:18 Morgana Flavius: Weekends are not always the best for me... it is really tough to get people from all over the world together! *s*
21:19 Torrey Philemon: Have you read Jean Bolen's Goddesses in Every Woman? She does refer to the duality in Persephone. The innocent maiden and the guide to the dark side of life and the unconscious. (Yes, scheduling is so difficult!)
21:20 Morgana Flavius: Well, Europa was clearly happy afterwards... she had sons with Zeus, then she got married with the king of Crete and was the queen there.
21:20 Torrey Philemon: I was influenced a lot by her book, but even more so by Christina Downing's book Goddess, which also discusses Persephone.
21:21 Torrey Philemon: Do you think Persephone was happy with Pluto? Or is happy the right word? I'd think somehow or other more alive, more connected to her primal depths.
21:22 Morgana Flavius: Proserpina was given a very nice way off for her dual feelings about the underworld (queen vs relegation from outside world). She could spend part of her life here and part there. I wish I could get away with an agreement like that for my own dilemas! *s*
21:22 Morgana Flavius: (I haven't read Bolen nor Downing...)
21:23 Torrey Philemon: Right! On one level it's like people here in Boston and spend their winters in Florida....But it's also like honoring the introverted side of life for long periods of time, then going through an extroverted phase.....
21:24 Morgana Flavius: Well, I think she was satisfied, yes... It is Arethusa (or Hecate in some versions) that sees her in Hades and tells Ceres that she was satisfied with her status as a queen, although sad for being casted from earth.
21:24 Torrey Philemon: Bolen emphasizes the duality. Downing's emphasis is more that Persephone "had to be raped." That she was unwilling to give up her innocence and embrace her sexuality, and when we're unwilling to give up a regressive state of being and it's time to move on, the universe sometimes presents a violating experience to force us to move on.
21:25 Torrey Philemon: The question is what might have been most satisfying? Being queen? Being connected to the underworld? Being a sexual partner to Pluto? Or all of the above.....we can of course only speculate!
21:26 Morgana Flavius: Yeah... it does sound like a case of maniac-depressive disorder...
21:27 Morgana Flavius: But I rather believe that it is a case of getting down to the core of your problem and then coming up again...
21:27 Torrey Philemon: Right, I thought of manic-depression too. But I don't think of Persephone as really being depressed in the underworld.....Just deep within herself and connected to the primal part of her nature and Pluto. (I keep seeing that Bernini sculpture in my mind and thinking of Pluto's powerfully sensual appeal!)
21:29 Morgana Flavius: That's interesting... Pluto's sex appeal... In the art book I have, based only on mythological characters, Pluto is always depicted as a very sensuous guy! I had never thought about him in that way. Proserpina started to make me notice it! LOL!
21:29 Torrey Philemon: That's an interesting way of saying it, Morgana. Getting connected to the core....
21:30 Torrey Philemon: Well that Bernini statue is incredibly almost frighteningly sensual....
21:30 Torrey Philemon: But our response (from the other side of virginity) might not be the same to that of Proserpina in her virgin state. Powerful male sensuality is likely to be frightening to a young virgin....
21:30 Torrey Philemon: (And to nonvirgins too if against their will of course)
21:31 Morgana Flavius: Well, of course, myths are there to be interpreted by each individual... and talk to us sometimes at a very personal level... For me, Proserpina was able to show me that even in the underworld there might be some appeal... *s*
21:33 Morgana Flavius: Yes, it is frightening... until you get to know it. *s*
21:33 Torrey Philemon: I did some writing once about western civilizations rejection of the innerworld/ underworld. It's like the womb part of being female, the hidden dark side of the feminine....Western civilization is so youth-oriented. It's like we need to embrace the "winter" side of life and the introversion or inner deepening.
21:34 Morgana Flavius: Another thing that Proserpina's myth makes me think of (as every myth I read about) is how Roman's (and Greeks) would have perceived it.
21:34 Torrey Philemon: How so? How do you think they perceived it?
21:35 Morgana Flavius: Yes... Modern Western civilization worships youth and beauty. These are our gods today.
21:36 Torrey Philemon: It's interesting that Pluto is male though. I think of the underworld as being more feminine. Which is why Pluto needs a consort perhaps.....
21:36 Morgana Flavius: But I can imagine a Roman matrona telling Proserpina's myth to her young daughter, on the night before her wedding day, and trying to show her that getting a house to govern can be very attractive... and you can always visit mom whenever you want!
21:37 Torrey Philemon: Yes, apparently the idea of rulership and queendom was a big part of the appeal....
21:38 Torrey Philemon: You know here in Boston we have cold winters and hot summers. It's very easy to relate to the Persephone duality. There's little  fall and spring. It's one extreme or the other, and winter IS half the year.
21:39 Morgana Flavius: About the feminine side of the underworld... apparently, the underworld for Greeks could be either nice or bad... clear (like the Elysium) or dark, like the Tartar...
21:40 Torrey Philemon: I wonder what the "equinoxes" are like....Those days in which Persephone leaves or returns. There could be some interesting dramas in those times of transition for her.
21:40 Morgana Flavius: Same here. We have the rainy season and the dry season. Each ones last about 6 months.
21:41 Torrey Philemon: From what I've read there's  little concept of Elysium for the Greeks. The underworld is very shadowy for them. But Virgil and the Romans were attuned to a more complex underworld with Tartarus and Elysium and the Orphic influence of Lethe and reincarnation.....
21:41 Torrey Philemon: I find book six of the Aeneid fascinating. A very advanced concept of the underworld and afterlife and reincarnation, so influenced by the Orphic mysteries and Plato's Myth of Er...
21:43 Torrey Philemon: I'm not aware of myths about Persephone in the underworld AFTER the abduction...Are you?
21:44 Torrey Philemon: Actually I just opened Bolen and found a few references to Persephone after....
21:45 Torrey Philemon: In Odysseus journey, Persephone shows him the souls of women of legendary fame...
21:45 Morgana Flavius: No, I'm not familiar with myths after the abduction... what I know is that Eleusine Mysteries were based on the "death" and "re-birth" of Proserpina... and that this was related to the seed that has to stay underground before coming up...
21:46 Torrey Philemon: Aphrodite and Persephone also battle for possession of Adonis...
21:48 Morgana Flavius: Well, it seems that Persephone really liked her life after losing her "innocence", huh? She really went for it! LOL!
21:48 Torrey Philemon: Yes, I find the Eleusinian mysteries very interesting....and right now I'm very attuned to the "awakening of the seed of spring" in late winter....There's a lot of winter light here, like the promise of spring, like Persephone in Hades knowing only one more month, preparing for her return.
21:49 Morgana Flavius: Another interesting thing about Proserpina's myth... so far, she was the only goddess abducted, the other women were nymphs or mortal.
21:49 Torrey Philemon: From Bolen: "Aphrodite conceled Adonis in a chest and sent him to Persephone for safekeeping. But on opening the chest, the Queen of the Underworld was charmed by his beauty and refused to give hm back...The dispute was brought before Zeus who decided that Adonish should spend 1/3 of the year with Persephone and 1/3 with Aphrodite, and should be left to himself the remaining time."
21:50 Torrey Philemon: Interesting, Morgana. The only goddess abducted....Is she also the only goddess raped?
21:52 Morgana Flavius: Aha! Another "solomonic decision" by Jupiter. I didn't remember that Adonis story.
21:52 Torrey Philemon: I wonder how Pluto liked sharing Persephone with Adonis!
21:53 Torrey Philemon: That's another dual side to her. Pluto the powerful macho male, Adonis the more youthful, feminine superficial male.
21:54 Torrey Philemon: I don't know the source of the Adonis story. It's in Bolen but she doesn't indicate the source....maybe could find it at Perseus.
21:54 Torrey Philemon: Solomonic?  Like cutting the baby in two? Dividing things into two equal halves?
21:55 Morgana Flavius: No, a lot of goddesses were raped... Including Ceres, who was raped by Neptune, in the form of mare and horse...
21:56 Torrey Philemon: Though with Adonis we have a division into three. Some versions of the Persephone myth are three four-month time periods not two six month time periods.....Interesting! I don' t think they took the two hemispheres into consideration. You all are in summer when we're in winter so Persephone is above ground for you when she's below ground for us.
21:56 Morgana Flavius: (sorry, my connection is really slow now...)
21:58 Torrey Philemon: One thing I wonder is that why male gods were always RAPING women. Why they couldn't just ask or  seduce? Was it that they would have been refused or that it was very masculine to forcibly take a  woman? And love and desire aren't portrayed as intimacy or partnership but as power ploys. And also, love isn't  distinct from desire....There doesn't seem to be much conception of love, only desire and its fulfillment in a totally selfish way.
21:58 Morgana Flavius: Talking about sources (and changing from Proserpina to Arachne for a whle, if you don't mind), Ovid is the only writer who mentions the Arachne myth. I wonder where he got it from...
21:59 Torrey Philemon: Really? Only Ovid mentions Arachne?
22:00 Morgana Flavius: I guess the 3/4 or 2/6 periods do relate with the climate where the myth is told! *s* In southern Mediterranean regions the 3/4 would sound more reasonable, while in Northern Italy, the 2/6 would make more sense... or is it the other way around? (I guess I'm getting sleepy, LOL!)
22:02 Morgana Flavius: Oh, but Jupiter seduced Europa... I don't see her abduction as a abduction/rape situation... and also, Cyane, the nymph, did try to make Pluto persuade Proserpina in a nicer way... but she was a woman... *sigh*
22:03 Morgana Flavius: Yes, only Ovid tells the Arachne story. Funny, huh?
22:04 Torrey Philemon: Right, there are indeed some seductions and chosen partnerships....but at least in Ovid, the focus seems to be more on rape. Sometimes the god apparently prefers to take the woman forcibly rather than have her agree and want him in return....
22:04 Torrey Philemon: I wonder what earlier myths there might be about spiders that could have influenced Arachne....
22:05 Torrey Philemon: Certainly, bragging about one's skills or claiming to be equal to or superior to the gods is asking for big trouble.....
22:07 Morgana Flavius: Yes, it does intrigues me this constant raping in Ovid... But then again, apparently he chose "metamorphoses" as the theme of his epic... And I guess the fame of that particular book maybe lies in the "spicy" parts of those rape accounts too... Let's not forget that in his Ars Amatoria he is a master of seduction, both male and female, teaching "us" how to get what we want in the nicest possible way.
22:07 Torrey Philemon: When I was reading Arachne and thinking about spiders and the WEB (Internet) I was thinking of Bill Gates as god and Netscape challenging him and Bill Gates having to destroy anyone who dares to challenge his godliness....LOL!
22:08 Torrey Philemon: Have you read his Art of Love? I really want to read at least some of that. Never seen it....
22:09 Morgana Flavius: Yes... bragging about one's skill and bragging about one's children (case of Niobe). Actually, I remember I read a book based on a story in medieval China, where mothers used to paint ugly masks on her children's faces in order not to attract gods envy.
22:10 Torrey Philemon: It also occurred to me - Ovid apparently had trouble restraining his own desire nature, right? In moralistic times, he was advocating extramarital affairs.......A kind of I do my thing, you do your thing, let's get all our needs met no matter what theconsequences approach to life. No wonder he portrays the gods as eager to satisfy their desires. I don't think Ovid was likely to be high on frustration tolerance. He sounds like an epicurean!
22:11 Morgana Flavius: (I liked your Bill Gates/Athena and Netscape/Arachne image. It does look like that, yes! LOL!)
22:11 Torrey Philemon: That "don't challenge the gods" theme is in the Old Testament too.  The Tower of Babel.
22:12 Torrey Philemon: (But the U.S. government is now trying to put Bill Gates in his place...for acting like HE'S Zeus/Jupiter!)
22:13 Morgana Flavius: Ovid was an hedonist. He liked all pleasures that "urban" life could give. That's why the relegation to a "barbarian land" was one of the intollerable punishment for him.
22:14 Torrey Philemon: Here's a question for you. How do you udnerstand the scenes that Arachne wove? Was she expsoing the underside of the gods? Their involvement with mortals, their rapes, their "lower" sides, trying to put them in their place?.......(Yes, poor Ovid. His exile sounds SO unhappy!)
22:14 Morgana Flavius: (bad phrasing and spelling. I meant "was the most intolerable punishment")
22:16 Morgana Flavius: Oh, definitely yes! And in my opinion, so far, Arachne IS Ovid's alter ego in Metamorphoses. In a highly skilled way, portray and disclose how weak the gods were! I think Augustus felt like Minerva and stroke him, turning him into a poor crawling animal...
22:19 Torrey Philemon: Hmm. Very interesting. Are you implying that in a way Ovid was thumbing his nose at the authority of Augustus...and was therefore exiled himself? If one's body was one's land/territory, then in a sense Ovid was metamorphosized himself as a result of his own hubris....
22:19 Torrey Philemon: Didn't Ovid finish the Metamorphosis before his exile though? I'm not sure o f this ....will look up the dates.
22:22 Torrey Philemon: According to the Ovid timeline online, he wrote Metamorphoses 2-8 A.D. and was exiled to Tomi in 8A.D. in his last year of writing.
22:22 Morgana Flavius: Yes. I tend to see Ovid as always trying to rebel against his mecenas (Augustus). He's an incredibly talented poet, he knows it, he lives in an hypocrite society... he is always "itching" to point that out... (He finished Metamorphoses in exile, although he started it before being relegated)
22:24 Torrey Philemon: Hmm. Just thinking of how Ovid was snatched away by Pluto/Augustus into the underworld of Tomi where unfortunately he wasn't "queen"....
22:25 Morgana Flavius: Yeah... poor Ovid... wasn't a "queen" at all after being sent to Hades!
22:26 Torrey Philemon: Like Ovid was trying to deny the shadow side of life, wanted to live a life of pleasure and total freedom without acknowleding authority or consequences, and he had to pay for his disrespect for limits....
22:27 Morgana Flavius: Torrey, did you find any particular appeal in Niobe myth? I thought it rather dull reading all the names of those boys being killed one after another...
22:28 Torrey Philemon: I'm curious about the word Metamorphosis in the latin. In English, metamorphosis means transformation but it has the connotation of the chrysalis of the caterpillar becoming the butterfly. It's used to express that kind of transformation. Is that true in Latin....or Portuguese?
22:29 Morgana Flavius: yes... he trespassed and he knew and recognized it... that's the difference between him and Arachne... although, I keep wondering if Arachne was sorry about what she had done "after" being "banished" from her human form to that of a spider...
22:29 Torrey Philemon: No, I wasn't  drawn to the Niobe story either. Another story of hubris, trying to prove oneself superior to the gods....though I don't have children and   can't relate to a mother's "superiority." One thing I wonder ... who is Latona?
22:29 Myrrhine Philemon enters...
22:30 Torrey Philemon: Well maybe it's not so bad being a spider!! And besides, spiders have symbolically gained favor since the development of the WEB! Grin!
22:30 Morgana Flavius: Yes, metamorphosis (metamorfose in Portuguese) has exactly the same Latin meaning: a transformation (usually in someone or something's appearance)
22:31 Torrey Philemon: Oh Myrrhine, you made it after all........thought you were at class for 2 more hours!
22:31 Morgana Flavius: Welcome Myrrhine!!
22:32 Myrrhine Philemon: Hello Morgana, Torrey, I'm on my lunch break and got hold of a computer
22:32 Torrey Philemon: We talked about Proserpina and then Arachne and just mentioned that we can't really relate to Niobe.
22:32 Morgana Flavius: Torrey, I always thought that Latona was a mortal woman, another of Jupiter's victims, the mother of Apollo and Diana. But reading Metamorphoses I realized that she was a kind of deity too...
22:33 Myrrhine Philemon: I was just reading back and wondering who Letona was too - oh thanks Morgana
22:33 Torrey Philemon: Just doing a search in Perseus....alternate name,  Leto...hang on folks!
22:34 Morgana Flavius: But she's probably a minor deity... moreover, she had to ask for her daughter and son help in order to get her revenge on Niobe...
22:37 Myrrhine Philemon: and a brutal revenge too - the ultimate cruelty is to rob one of their children ...
22:37 Torrey Philemon: Am getting confused at Perseus.  "to Coeus and Phoebe were born Asteria and Latona"  And "But Latona for her intrigue with Zeus was hunted by Hera over the whole earth, till she came to Delos and brought forth first Artemis, by the help of whose midwifery she afterwards gave birth to Apollo"
22:39 Morgana Flavius: Yes, very brutal revenge, Myrrhine. Niobe lost her husband and children all at once!
22:39 Torrey Philemon: I THINK Coeus and Phoebe were either Oceanids or Nereids but it's not clear. The reference is from Hesiod.  Also Pseudo-Apollodorus Library vol. 1.13 etc.
22:41 Morgana Flavius: There should be more than one Latona, Torrey. The one related to Niobe is the one who had to run away from Juno to give birth to her twins (Apollo & Diana) and Delos was the only place on earth that did not refused to receive her.
22:42 Torrey Philemon: Niobe sounded like she had marbles in her heads anyway. She lost all her sons, and still she challenged the gods, so she lost her daughters too.
22:42 Morgana Flavius: Anyway, Latona must have been some kind of deity, as she had an altar on her behalf in Thebes, where Niobe was the Queen.
22:43 Myrrhine Philemon: I found her metamorphoses quite poetic - that she cries forever is so sad, it really hit a chord with me
22:43 Torrey Philemon: Pseudo-Apollodurus equates them together: the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe IS the Latona who is hunted down by Hera and gives both to the twins.
22:44 Torrey Philemon: Myrrhine, since you just arrived.....I'm just wondering if there's anything you want to say or ask about Proserpina and Arachne?
22:45 Myrrhine Philemon: Ugh - I have to go, sorry to be with you for such a short period.  I'll catch up with transcripts when I'm at home.
22:45 Morgana Flavius: Well, Myrrhine, before you arrived, I was just asking Torrey if she had found any appeal in Niobe's myth. (I don't have any children... I found it kind of dull reading all those boys names and watching them dying one after another...)
22:46 Morgana Flavius: Oh, ok, Myrrhine! See ya!
22:46 Myrrhine Philemon exits...
22:47 Morgana Flavius: (I was hoping Myrrhine could tell us something interesting to talk about Niobe.) *s*
22:47 Torrey Philemon: Ah well. At least she came by and said hello! We still have the bulletin board....
22:49 Torrey Philemon: Well the Niobe story taps into the theme that a woman's value is in her childbearing capacity. That her life satisfaction is as a mother.....And yet Niobe seems like a spoiled child herself "Yah! Yah! I'm better than you are! I have more kids than you do! Yah Yah!"22:51 Torrey Philemon: I follow ice skating and I read about this...mothers who will nearly poke each other's eyes out to make sure that THEIR SUPERIOR kids get the best skating times and best skating costumes. The need to aggrandize oneself through one's children.....AND at the expense of the children. 
22:51 Morgana Flavius: Yeah... I've seen that sort of mother behavior in school parents meetings... Yuck!
22:51 Morgana Flavius: Well, Torrey, I need to go too... Maybe we should bring our concern about the chat to the board and see if there are people willing to come to chat about Ovid and when... (but I guess you've heard that story before, huh? I read in FB that people did not want to chat about Aeneid anymore) I guess this is natural with epics... there's an initial interest, then it gets sort of boring for a while...
22:52 Torrey Philemon: Yes, interest in the Aeneid dropped off, but then again the last six books of the Aeneid are not exactly captivating....Yes, let's bring up the chat question and   ask about times....I don't think  Myrrhine can do this time anymore anyway because her class was rescheduled.....so maybe we should wait to schedule another chat.
22:53 Torrey Philemon: Pleasant dreams, Morgana....As always, I enjoy dialoguing with you, though I too wish more people would show up!
22:54 Morgana Flavius: Ok, Torrey. Would you please post about this on the board then?
22:55 Torrey Philemon: Let's aim for the rest of book 6 and book 7in the next week or so though...I'm very interested in the Philomela story...then we have a lot on Medea....
22:55 Torrey Philemon: Ok....goodnight!
22:55 Morgana Flavius: You get some rest too, my dear friend... I understand that you had no break between work and the chat. And I do enjoy chatting with you too!
22:56 Morgana Flavius: Goodnight, Torrey!

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