Ovid – “Actaeon” 97; “Callisto and Arcas” 42; “Tereus” 214; “Death of Cygnus” 156; “My

When a person’s desire or passion is motivated by revenge, lust, murderous rage, malice, jealousy, betrayal and other baser instincts, they transgress into the realm of “evil”. Ovid does not shy away from exploring the dark recesses of these characters’ hearts. In myths such as “Actaeon” 97; “Callisto and Arcas” 42; “Tereus” 214; “Death of Cygnus” 156; “Myrrha” 104; and “Bacchus and Pentheus” 171, Ovid takes us places where we ordinarily hesitate to go, or rather should not go because the actions of these characters are explosively violent, obscene, and inhuman. Yet, Ovid does not condemn these characters; instead, he “transforms” them into animals and birds and trees. One wonders whether Ovid wrote about such passions to shock us into silence or help us reflect on how unspeakable desires can overwhelm people who appear perfectly normal. Pick three characters from three myths and comment on whether circumstance, chance or a person’s inherently dark nature drives them to act in passionately destructive ways.


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