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Ovid’s Theory of Metamorphoses

August 28, 2011

I finished up Ovid’s Metamorphoses (translation by Charles Martin) about a week ago or so.  I’ve been reading it off and on for ….a while.  One of the books that stuck with me was the section that sounded amazingly like the Law of Conservation of Energy.  Now admittedly it was stuck amid a Pythagorean rant about not eating animals, but it stuck with me so I put it in poem form.  I took phrases or paraphrased what Ovid said to produce this poem.

Ovid’s Theory of Metamorphoses

Everything changes and nothing dies.
The spirit wanders where it wishes,
changing shape yet always the same
for Nature is always engaged in renewal.
Nothing perishes, only changes shape.
Birth is a change from the former existence.
Death is the start of being  born anew.
Nothing is lost, only moved around.
When corpses decay, whatever the reason,
they turn into wee tiny beasties;
from bullocks come bees,
from horses come hornets,
from crabs come scorpions,
worms become butterflies
(emblems of the spirit departing),
mud seeds become frogs,
bear cubs come from bear-pulp
tongue-shaped into mother bear’s image,
and bee larva later develop legs and wings.
The star spangled peacock of Hera,
the arm-bearing eagle of Zeus,
and the doves of Aphrodite, all come from an egg
while a dead man’s marrow becomes a snake.
Each life brought forth from another,
save the Phoenix who births itself.
Heaven and everything under it changes form
as will the earth and as will we,
for we are not just bodies but wing’d spirits.

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