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Book Notes Book 2: The Raven and The Crow Notes from Metamorphoses

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Metamorphoses Book 2: The Raven and The Crow

The raven was once a white bird, but his tongue was his undoing. The story is that Coronis was Phoebus' love, but the raven discovered that she was unfaithful to the sun god. As he was winging his way to tell Phoebus the bad news, the crow warned that he might be better off keeping his beak shut.

The crow had been in a similar situation with Athene, and tattling had not served her well. When Vulcan had made an attempt to seduce chaste Athene, he had ejaculated on her leg. The semen she wiped onto the ground combined with the earth to produce Erichthonius. She hid the child in a sealed basket and gave the basket to the three daughters of Cecrops on the condition that they were not to open it. After Athene left them, the crow stayed behind to see if they kept their promise, and of the three, Aglauros scornfully broke her word. Inside the basket she saw the baby, and she knew Athene's secret. The crow rushed away to tell her goddess what she knew. Athene banished the prattling crow, and this shocked the bird because Athene had transformed the girl into a crow to begin with.

Before she became a crow, she had been a beautiful girl pursued by men. One day as she walked along the beach, the sea god, Neptune, saw her and fell in love. When she was not willing to give herself to him, he tried to force her. As she ran across the beach, the sand kept hindering her escape and so she cried out for help. Athene, also a virgin, pitied her plight and transformed her into a bird so that she could escape the sea god. She and Athene were close companions until the goddess banished the crow and put her in rank lower than that of the owl, a girl transformed to a bird for her incestuous desire for her own father.

The raven ignored the crow's warning and sped to Phoebus to tell of his love's betrayal, and Phoebus immediately acted out and shot her through the heart with an arrow. As she died, she told him of his son that she carried in her womb that would now die with her because of his rash actions. Phoebus was heartbroken, but nothing could be done to save Coronis. Before her body was burned on the funeral pyre, Phoebus took the unborn child from her womb and gave him to Chiron, the noble centaur and tutor of Greek heroes, to raise. And although the raven had been right, Phoebus turned him black and forever exiled him from the breed of white birds.

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