Changing Stories: Ovid’s Metamorphoses on canvas, 70 – Galatea’s lover crushed by jealousy

The Eclectic Light Company

As Ovid nears the end of Book 13 of his Metamorphoses, Aeneas and his companions are in transit across the Mediterranean towards Italy and destiny. The poet rushes them through a rapid succession of adventures, told in detail in Virgil’s earlier Aeneid, before bringing them to Sicily for the closing stories in this book.

The Story

Ovid summarises much of the Aeneid in just a few lines, which take Aeneas from Crete through Ithaca, Samos, Dodona, and Phaeacia, to land on Sicily, where Scylla and Charybdis threaten the safety of mariners. Scylla is combing the hair of Galatea, as the latter laments her tragic love-life. Wiping tears from her eyes, Galatea then tells us her story.

When he was only sixteen, Galatea had fallen in love with Acis, the son of the river nymph Symaethis, but the Cyclops Polyphemus fell in love with her. The latter did his best to…

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