Каминяр Дмитрий Генаддьевич : другие произведения.

Ovid's Thebes

Самиздат: [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Обзоры] [Помощь|Техвопросы]

 Ваша оценка:

   Dmitri Kaminiar
   Student #995059083

Ovid's Thebes

   In the third volume of his multi-tome work Metamorphoses, Ovid has covered many of the Greek myths from the so-called Theban cycle, but he had never included the most famous ones - the myths of Oedipus and his immediate family. Instead, he decided to include the more obscure myths of Narcissus and Echo as apparently worthy substitutes. This essay analyzes these myths regarding as to why Ovid chose to include Narcissus and Echo and omit Oedipus.
   Ovid's Metamorphoses was no compilation of the Greco-Roman folktales, but rather a highly structured work of fiction, where the original folk tales and myths transformed into something more closely related to the modern novels and other pieces of fiction into literary myths, where every transformation story is connected somehow to the following one... Therefore, where does it leave Narcissus and Echo?
   The third volume of Metamorphoses ties themes of divine wrath and mortal dynasties together by talking in the beginning about Cadmus, the founder of Thebes and brother of the kidnapped Europa, and talking in the end about Pentheus, one of the Oedipus' predecessors (and distant relatives) who opposed Dionysus and was laid low by the latter's divine wrath. Therefore, it is obvious, that Echo and Narcissus will too experience wrath of gods in their lives - and so they do.
   Narcissus - "May he himself love as I have loved him," he said, "without obtaining his beloved," and Nemesis assented to his prayer (Ovid, Metamorphoses, lines 521-23) - is a `victim' of Nemesis, divine retribution, which takes form of unrequited love, albeit a rather perverted one. Hera (Roman Juno) punished Echo - and in her love for Narcissus, Echo is unrequited as well. This marks a difference in fates from the situations of Cadmus and Pentheus, but what about Oedipus' situation?
   It requires a better explanation than the fact that Oedipus is not mentioned in the third volume of Metamorphoses because his parents were not born yet for he and his closest family were not mentioned. Oedipus is one of the Theban kings and a relative of Cadmus and Pentheus, who were mentioned, and so, a further study of his character - literary character - is required, and here is what develops.
   It is unknown if Oedipus and Jocasta had some sort of feelings for each other, but they had four children together - loveless couples don't really boast that sort of number of progeny; thus the `love problem' requirement of Echo and Narcissus' myths is fulfilled. Therefore, just as both Narcissus and Echo suffered from divine wrath and love problems... so did Oedipus: Sophocles' play began with a description of how Apollo's wrath brought plague onto Thebes, and ends with the realization as to how Oedipus' wife Jocasta is really his mother. This combines the elements of divine wrath and love, just as the myths of Narcissus and Echo do, even if on a much grander scale than those two myths.
   However, all of the above information is based on the literary version of the folk tale, on the play of Sophocles, unlike the original versions of the myths of Narcissus and Echo... now long forgotten in favour of the literary versions of their myths, told by Ovid. Thus, the three mythological characters acquire another similarity - all three of them are folk characters that became literary characters instead, yet only two of those literary characters belong to Ovid.
   Therefore, it is here that lies the main reason as to why Ovid preferred the myths of Narcissus and Echo to the myth of Oedipus: when he was writing Metamorphoses, the first two myths were still folk tales, while the third one became an established literary work in its own right. Apparently, this was something Ovid apparently tended to avoid, namely using already established mythological works in his Metamorphoses. Ovid certainly mentions all sorts of famous or at least renowned events in mythological slash literary history - from establishment of the Cretan kingdom to the kingdom and republic of Rome. However, as a rule, he leaves the main event behind the scene, so to speak, focusing instead on various private characters, like Teiresias, who first transformed from a man into a woman, and then back.
   Narcissus' own connection to the Theban cycle in Ovid's version is receiving his future by Teiresias (who was a prominent character in Thebes-related myths otherwise):
   First to consult him was Liriope, the sky-blue nymph who had been ravished by the river god Cephisus when he snared her between his winding banks; she bore a child, who even as infant was adorable, and whom she called Narcissus. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, lines 441-446).
   Moreover in this way all of the characters involved in the myths about Narcissus and Echo had no true established literary presence before Ovid took them for his own work, unlike, say, Oedipus, who very well had.
   This, essentially, makes Oedipus an improbable character to be in Ovid's Metamorphoses - he had an established literary presence by Ovid's time, he was Oedipus, the man who murdered his father and married his mother, and then, to redeem himself, blinded himself and wandered the world as a beggar till he disappeared into the underworld somewhere in the Athenian suburbs. In other words, his life was well known already, and there was no potential to attach any transformation to it - and that made it unsuitable for Metamorphoses. After all, as the opening lines of Metamorphoses tell the readers, Ovid's goal is to tell about bodies, which in one way or another have been twisted into shapes of a different kind, even if that twist took place in the end of a story, even if they are attached just as an afterthought.
   However, it was impossible to do with Oedipus; his literary life was already too well established for that. Moreover, that was exactly what Ovid did - he ignored Oedipus and the rest of his immediate family, and instead concentrated on the rest of the house of Cadmus, like Cadmus himself and also Pentheus, who unlike Oedipus had experienced a transformation of sorts - he disguised himself as a woman to spy on the Maenads.
   Furthermore, Ovid had also thrown Echo and Narcissus into the Thebes-related mix for his reasons. Just like Oedipus, Narcissus behaved in an unnatural way, shunning all love until he fell in love with himself and received the kind of lack of interaction from the object of his attraction - none whatsoever, and this divine retribution cost him his life. And just like Oedipus, Echo was a good person, who got caught on the wrong end of the stick by the vengeful and relentless gods, and got punished for something that she didn't do, or rather, not intended to do, but in her case, even more so than in Oedipus', the punishment had outweighed the crime by far. Together, Narcissus and Echo (and their myths intertwine in Ovid's narrative) form the innocent and the sinner, the martyr and the villain - in other words, the same character whom Oedipus manages to embody by himself!
   Ovid basically used Narcissus in a pair with Echo to create - or re-create - Oedipus' counterpart of the earlier, Greek literature, namely Sophocles' Theban cycle, while avoiding the unsuitable (for him) literary character altogether, and that is the reason why Narcissus, alongside with Echo, is part of Ovid's Theban cycle, while Oedipus is not. Narcissus and Echo simply replace Oedipus and his role in the third volume of Metamorphoses, making him irrelevant there after all.
   Metamorphoses. Trans. Charles Martin. Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004.
 Ваша оценка:

Связаться с программистом сайта.

Новые книги авторов СИ, вышедшие из печати:
О.Болдырева "Крадуш. Чужие души" М.Николаев "Вторжение на Землю"

Как попасть в этoт список
Сайт - "Художники" .. || .. Доска об'явлений "Книги"