R. L. Knutson

English 2337

Spring 2009


In-class Essay:

Ovid’s Metamorphoses


Instructions: Choose one (1) of the following questions. In class, pretend that this is an essay question on a test; that is, respond to the question as fully as you can in the time allowed.  Be sure to use quotations from Ovid’s poem to support your points (provide page numbers = p. 8, or pp. 9-10). Also, notice that the title of Ovid’s poem should be underlined (if you were typing, you’d use italics).




Question #1: (analysis of a single story) We’ve talked about plot, style, and cultural themes across many of Ovid’s stories, but we haven’t put all these points together to analyze a single story.  Here is your opportunity to do so.  Pick your favorite story (or the one you have the most to say about), and argue that it is “representative” of Ovid as storyteller by the way it handles the following features (feel free to add others if this list is inadequate):



            2. style (description, repetition, parallelism, literary devices)

            3. cultural themes (attitudes toward the gods, issues of gender)




Question #2: (analysis of a cultural theme, by way of several stories) We’ve talked about cultural themes and values across many of Ovid’s stories, but we haven’t tried to construct an argument based on a specific selection of these stories.  Nor have we tried in any coherent fashion to compare the cultural attitudes in Ovid’s stories to attitudes in our own world.  Here is your opportunity to do this.  Choose one of the following topics and explain (first) how it is depicted in Ovid’s stories (use at least three), and (second) how that depiction causes you to reflect on the attitudes, beliefs, and preferences that you see in your own culture:


  1. Relations with the Gods: what is the nature and importance of the gods and goddesses in Ovid’s stories and how do they relate to human beings (and humans to them)?



  1. Relations between Men and Women:  What power do men have in these stories? What power do women have? What kind of “balance of power” is there in gender relationships?