Cadmus / Actaeon / Semele / Tiresias / Narcissus & Echo / Pentheus
|Cadmus and Minerva (17th century)|
source Wikimedia Commons
Cadmus' first sorrow lay in his grandson, Actaeon, who when out hunting with his friends, came across Diana bathing in a pool, and for having viewed the sacred virgin, Actaeon is transformed into a stag by the goddess. Yet the goddess is not satisfied with such a benign punishment, he is hunted by his own hunting dogs until,
"Upon all side, his hounds have hemmed him in;
they sink their muzzles into every limb ---
the flesh of their own master in false guise
as stag. Diana was not satisfied
until, so mangled, young Actaeon died ..."
Thus, Juno's rage against Europa, and all her blood, stemming from the house of Agenor, is assuaged.
|Jove and Semele (1695)|
To settle an argument over whether men or women get more pleasure in love, Jove and Juno defer to Tiresias, who knew love as both genders (having been transformed by mating serpents to a woman and back again). Furious at Tiresias siding with Jove, Juno steals away his sight, and Jove gives him the gift of prophecy for recompense.
" ... he is the seeker and
the sought, the longed-for and the one who longs;
he is the arsonist --- and is the scorched."
He pines away, as had Echo, and eventually dies, but instead of a body, only a white-petalled flower with a yellow centre remains.
" ......................... and then
you will complain that, in my blindness, I
saw far too well."
Bacchus arrives and Pentheus is in a fury not even his grandfather, Cadmon, can assuage. He captures a priest of Bacchus, Acoetes, who tells of his encounter with a young Bacchus on a ship, and of his god-like appearance. When all the crew but Acoetes refused to take Bacchus to his destination, they were all turned into sea-monsters. Enraged by the story, Pentheus finds the revellers on Mount Cithaeron, but tragically his mother is the first to see him. Claiming that he is a boar, she incites her sisters to tear him to pieces, ripping off his head with her own hands.
Note: Tiresias also dispenses his prophecies in Sophocles, Antigone, Oedipus the King, and in The Odyssey Book XI.
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I'm noticing quite a bit of irony in this book: Cadmus' warrior's instead of killing an enemy, kill each other; Actaeon, the hunter, becomes the hunted; Semele is killed by the power/love of her lover, and in fact, unknowingly requests her own death; Narcissus rejects all, yet in the end also rejects himself; Tiresias' knowledge causes his blindness; Pentheus, through rejecting sacred rites, becomes a sacrifice himself, and Pentheus' mother kills her own son. Ovid's world is very bleak, and he ensures that we experience it to the fullest.
|The Boy Bacchus (1615)|
Viper's Teeth ❥ New men
Actaeon ❥ Stag
Semele ❥ Ash
Echo = nymph w/voice ❥ nymph w/echo ❥ echo
Narcissus alive ❥ Narcissus dead ❥ flower
Ship's crew ❥ Sea monsters
Ship's crew ❥ Sea monsters