Well, Rhodopeius. It looks like it is just you and me.
Here are some more random musings about the opening of Ovid's first chapter.
On Pre-existing/eternal Matter
Lucretius argues the eternity of matter in De Rerum Natura. Nothing ever truly passes away; death always leads to life.
Lo, the rains perish which Ether-father throws
Down to the bosom of Earth-mother; but then
Upsprings the shining grain, and boughs are green
Amid the trees, and trees themselves wax big
And lade themselves with fruits; and hence in turn
The race of man and all the wild are fed;
Hence joyful cities thrive with boys and girls;
And leafy woodlands echo with new birds;
Hence cattle, fat and drowsy, lay their bulk
Along the joyous pastures whilst the drops
Of white ooze trickle from distended bags;
Hence the young scamper on their weakling joints
Along the tender herbs, fresh hearts afrisk
With warm new milk. Thus naught of what so seems
Perishes utterly, since Nature ever
Upbuilds one thing from other, suffering naught
To come to birth but through some other's death.
In Ovid, Creative act simply one of separating and creating divisions
1) nam caelo terras et terris abscidit undas
-He cut away the lands from the sky and the waters fromt he lands
2) et liquidum spisso secrevit ab aere caelum.
And he separated the liquid sky from the dense air
Ovid goes through the elements, explaining that fire is lightest, then air, earth,and water. Not sure what to do with Ovid's description of the creation of the world. I guess by showing how everything was at one point one big ball of matter, he helps to establish the physical world of his Metamorphoses, where the categories between things gets blurred. Also, creation, or change, is what his topic is about. But what of change? It happens. We see this in the first 300 lines. Does he develop this idea any further? And where does one go with this idea?
On to the Golden Age
Ovid rehashes a lot of the typical imagery about the Golden age.
1) no law
poena metusque aberant
2) no fear or punishment
poena metusque aberant
3) no ships
nondum caesa suis, peregrinum ut viseret orbem,
montibus in liquidas pinus descenderat undas,
4) no traveling
nullaque mortales praeter sua litora norant
5) no fortifications
nondum praecipites cingebant oppida fossae
Interesting thing. Ovid can see the value of the Golden Age without necessarily desiring it. He offers an argument against the Golden Age in Ars Amatoria. Now, he says referring to his own time, there is "cultus."
"ego me nunc denique natum gratulor; haec aetas moribus apta meis" Ars Amatoria 3.122
Funny thing about the arts that many will not accept is its connection to decay. This is a silly example, but I hear many say that while they love the "culture" of New Orleans, they hate the violence, decay, laziness, etc. I remember one person telling me "I just want to dance in the streets." When I pointed out to the person that dancing in the streets is directly connected to the things he hated about New Orleans, he became angry (shootings happen at a lot of the events this person wanted to participate in). The presence of a theater in a city can only occur once decay has set in. Odysseus is so curious because he is not the best husband/family man. Idle people need the arts. But what else can we do besides try to cultivate an appreciation of the arts. We don't farm anymore for God's sake. Add birth control to our rejection of Adam's occupation and we have a void to fill.
Notice that Ovid wrote right after the downfall of the Republic. One needs soft pillows and Egyptian courtesans in order to appreciate Ovid.
Anyway, Ovid mentions that the difference between men and beasts is that men look at the stars.
pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram,
os homini sublime dedit caelumque videre
iussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus:
So perhaps our "decay" is natural in that we are always oriented elsewhere. In Plato's Republic, Socrates has to restart his kalipolis when Glaucon claims that men cannot live on acorns and fruit alone. The souls of men demand nice things.
Interesting that Ovid mentions the distinction between men and the beasts only to tell stories of men who change into beasts.
When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. ~Swift