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Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

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Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby hlawson38 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:51 pm

Juno had changed a maid into a bear, to punish the girl for involvement in one of Iuppiter's philandering exploits. But, out of pity, Iuppiter has changed the bear into the the constellation the big bear. Juno complains bitterly that her own act has been negated, and her standing impugned.

This is direct quotation of Juno speaking:

et vero quisquam Iunonem laedere nolit
offensam tremat, quae prosum sola sola nocendo?

My effort:

And why would anybody fear to hurt Juno or quake before her resentment
who [ i.e. Juno] alone profits by harming.

But I don't grasp the sense of "quae prosum sola nocendo", and my translation of it is mechanical rather than meaningful.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby huilen » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:47 pm

quae prosum sola nocendo?

I would translate:
the only one who helps by injuring
(with prosum in 1st. person because is Juno who is speaking)

It is an oxymoron, meaning that she indeed has helped Callisto become a star (which is a good thing I suppose) by turning her into a bear (not a good thing). Who would injure her? She is soo good that even when she injures someone she benefits him.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:17 pm

et vero quisquam Iunonem laedere nolit
offensamque tremat, quae prosum sola nocendo?


quae prosum sola nocendo This is a little obscure but I think the sense is that Juno alone benefits others when she tries harm them. As huilen notes, prosum here means "to benefit others," not "to be benefited." Juno has switched from talking about herself in the third person to the first person.

Juno has changed Callisto into a bear--Callisto's crime was to have been raped by Zeus and to have given birth to a son, Arcas. At age 15, Arcas is out hunting one day and encounters his mother. Callisto recognizes him, and hesitates to attack her son, but Arcas doesn't recognize her and is about to kill her, when Jupiter transforms them both into constellations. When Juno sees this, she is indignant. Her efforts to punish Callisto have resulted in Callisto's catasterism. She has benefited Callisto by harming her.

Ovid's characterization of Juno is consistent with, and reminiscent of, Vergil's characterization of her in the Aeneid, as jealous, indignant and arbitrarily punitive. But in Vergil, her jealous rage is godlike; in Ovid, she is a comic figure, the object of Ovid's irreverent humor. There is a large dose of Vergilian parody in this.

The story of Callisto is told in the first third of the Metamorphoses, in which a major theme is the "crimes of the gods." The male gods are lecherous and aggressive, raping nymphs and mortals right and left (other examples are Jupiter and Europa, Apollo and Daphne), while the goddesses are jealous, cruel and arbitrarily vindictive (Diana and Actaeon, Athena and Arachne). As Juno is here, the gods are in large measure comic figures. As Ovid moves into the second third, the stories are more concerned with human suffering, largely through love, and the human figures are portrayed with deep sympathy, even when they are tormented by illicit passion.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby mwh » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:38 pm

Being catasterized is a very good thing, whether in ursified form or not. Just ask the lock of Berenike II, celebrated by Callimachus and Catullus’ translation. Incidentally, a recently published poem written after the death of Nero’s wife Poppaea (as in L’incoronazione di Poppea) gives a wondrous account of her apotheosis, swept up by Aphrodite to the gods and through the zodiacal constellations and beyond, going the apotheosis of the Ptolemaic queens one better. There, up in space, she awaits her beloved husband, who it is to be presumed would join her after his apotheosis.

The clause is a characteristic piece of Ovidian wit, set up by the earlier part of the couplet. I wouldn’t agree it’s obscure, not in the slightest. sola gives added point. It's so unfair.

Surely there's nothing "arbitrary" about Juno's punitiveness, either. It's systematically directed against all who receive her husband's lecherous attentions. Callimachus' Hymn to Delos, his very best poem in my opinion, has her suddenly relinquishing her anger against Asterie (Delos-to-be), who alone had dared to defy the goddess by giving refuge to Leto, because Asterie, unlike Leto, had successfully resisted Zeus' advances (she "chose the sea over Zeus"). It's a delectable para prosdokian. (I should have given a spoiler alert.)
Last edited by mwh on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:09 pm

In the end, Juno finally gets some small satisfaction. She goes to Ocean and, in an indignant speech of which this couplet is a part, persuades him not to allow Callisto, her husband's paelex, as Juno contemptuously refers to her, in his waters. So the circumpolar Bear, unlike all the other constellations, never gets a bath.

Paelex is a very nasty word, usually translated "concubine," but almost a whore. The irony is that Callisto, a chaste nymph who was part of Diana's entourage, strenuously resisted--but who can resist Jupiter?

Juno's punishment is "arbitrary" because Calllisto was raped and there was nothing consensual about her union with Jupiter. Arbitrary cruelty is a persistent feature of the gods in Ovid. It's not clear whether Ovid completed the Metamorphoses before or after his exile, but perhaps his portrayal of the gods has something to do with his treatment at Augustus' hands.
Last edited by Qimmik on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby mwh » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:12 pm

Asterie. (in answer to the rhetorical question; we've been crossing in our edits)

And clearly we're using "arbitrary" in different senses. Gods don't punish people on a whim, just because they feel like it. They have a reason: the victim has given offence to the god in question (with or without mens rea). That is not to say the punishment is just, or proportionate, or uncruel. Euripides made that point, as did Callimachus in the Baths of Pallas (another fine poem). It's not unique to Ovid.
Last edited by mwh on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:52 pm

The question was posed a little earlier in the Callisto story:

Illa quidem contra, quantum modo femina possit
(adspiceres utinam, Saturnia: mitior esses !),
illa quidem pugnat: sed quem superare puella,
quisve Iovem poterat
?

Another bit of Ovidian wit: in the first clause, the interrogative is the object of the shared verbs; in the second, the subject.
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Re: Ovid, Metam., Book ii, begin line 518

Postby hlawson38 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:17 am

Thanks for the replies. I've noticed that Ovid seems to give some characters Rodney-Dangerfield moments, "I don't get no respect, no respect at all."
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