Book Notes

Notes on Objects & Places from Metamorphoses

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Metamorphoses Objects/Places

Styx River: The river Styx flows through the underworld, and a vow made by that river is binding even for the immortals.

Python: Python was a great snake created by Earth against her will after the flood that destroyed mankind. Python stretched across an entire mountainside, and it took a thousand of Apollo's arrows to kill the serpent. To honor his triumph over the beast, Apollo instated the sacred games known as Pythian, which are held at Delphi every four years since 6 B.C.

Laurel Tree: Daphne was transformed to a laurel tree trying to escape Apollo, and so that became his sacred tree.

Naiad: Naiads are water nymphs, the daughters of rivers.

Syrinx: It is a pipe reed that Pan created for music when the nymph he chased was transformed to marsh reeds.

Peacock: The peacock is a bird sacred to Juno and the myth claims that when Mercury killed Argus, Juno gathered the slain man's hundred eyes and put them in the feathers of her sacred bird.

Amber: Phaethon's sisters mourned him so long that they became poplar trees and the tears that they wept for him formed amber.

Swan: Cycnus, Phaethon's kinsman and lover, also mourned him grievously and he became a swan, a bird that trusts neither Jove, nor the sky because of the great lightning bolt that destroyed Phaethon.

Great Bear and Little Bear constellations: These neighboring constellations at the North Pole are the mother and son duo, Callisto and Arcas. Callisto had been transformed into a bear when she gave birth to Arcas, a son of Jove. Jove made them constellations in order to prevent Arcas, a hunter, from killing his mother.

Crow: In saving a beautiful young girl from the advances of Neptune, Athene turned her into a crow so that she could fly away.

Mare: Ocyrhoe, daughter of Chiron, is a prophetess who is turned into a mare after foreseeing the great healing power of Aesculapius and her own father's death.

Narcissus: The narcissus is a flower named after the young man who fell in love with his own reflection and pined away because he could not reach the object of his love.

Mulberry Tree: Pyramus and Thisbe planned to meet under the mulberry tree, and that is where they died. Their blood stained the white berries to the burgundy color they now maintain.

Frankincense: Phoebus fell in love with Leucothoe, but when her father heard a rumor of their affair, he killed the girl. Phoebus could not save her, but when she was prepared for burial, he poured nectar on her body and she became the fragrant frankincense bush.

Violet: Phoebus turned Clytie to a heliotrope, or violet.

Bats: The daughters of Minyas are turned into bats for denying that Bacchus is a true god.

Underworld (Hades): The Underworld is where the spirits of dead mortals go.

Coral: Coral first formed when Perseus wrapped Medusa's severed head in fresh seaweed. The plant became hard when it came in contact with Medusa's head.

Magpies: The nine Pierid sisters are turned into magpies for their insurrection against the nine Muses.

Screech Owl: Prosperine turned Ascalapus into a screech owl for telling that she has eaten seven pomegranate seeds.

Lynx: Ceres turned Lyncus into a Lynx when he tried to kill Triptolemus.

Spider: Arachne, a mortal, challenged Athene to a weaving contest. Athene turned her into a spider.

Frogs: The Lycian peasants denied Latona a drink from their pool of water, and so she turned them to frogs.

Nightingale: Philomela is transformed into a nightingale.

Swallow: Procne is changed to a swallow.

Hoopoe: Tereus is changed to a bird called a hoopoe.

Golden Fleece: Athamas' two children by his first wife, Nephele (Cloud), are threatened by their stepmother, Ino, daughter of Cadmus who founded Thebes. Nepehle rescued her children, and put them on the back of a golden fleeced ram. In their flight, Helle (Nephele's daughter) fell from the ram's back and drowned at what is now called the Hellespont. Phrixus, Helle's brother, came to Colchis and sacrificed the ram in gratitude for his escape. The Golden Fleece remained at Colchis until Jason took it away.

Osprey: King Nisus, Scylla's father, is transformed to an osprey when she kills him.

Partridge: Daedalus' nephew whom he'd killed by throwing him from the Acropolis becomes a partridge.

Guinea Fowl: Meleager is turned into a guinea fowl after his own mother kills him because he has killed her brothers.

Cornucopia: The horn Hercules broke from Achelous' head when he was a bull is made into the horn of plenty by Achelous' water nymphs.

Weasel: Galanthis, Alcmena's servant, is transformed into a weasel because she tricked the goddess Ilithyia.

Lotus Tree: Dryope is changed to a lotus tree for picking blossoms from a tree that was once a nymph.

Cypress: Once Cyparissus, a young boy loved by Apollo. The boy begged to die when he accidentally killed a sacred stag. He is changed to the cypress tree.

Hyacinth: Apollo named this flower for a boy he loved who was killed by a discus that Apollo had thrown.

Harlots: Venus invented prostitution when she turned the Propoetides into harlots to shame them for scorning her divinity.

Myrrh Tree: Myrrha is transformed to a myrrh tree after her incestuous relationship with her father resulted in pregnancy and she fled his home.

Lion: Atalanta and Hippomenes are changed to lions for defiling a sacred shrine.

Anemone: Venus made Adonis an anemone when a boar killed him.

Maenads: They are frenzied women who worshiped Bacchus.

Hawk: Apollo transformed Daedalion into a hawk.

King Fisher: Ceyx and Alcyone are transformed into these birds that mate for life and live on the water.

Elysium: Elysium is The Islands of the Blessed, like Heaven.

Dog: Hecuba is transformed into a dog after she clawed Polymestor's eyes out.

Dew Drops: The morning dew is Aurora's tears for her son, Memnon, killed by Hercules.

Doves: Bacchus turns Anius' daughters to doves.

Charybdis: Charybdis is a whirlpool across from the treacherous cliff known as Scylla.

Woodpecker: Circe turned King Picus into a woodpecker because he refused her love.

Phoenix: A phoenix is a bird that rises from the ashes of its deceased predecessor.

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