Metamorphoses

by: Ovid

Jupiter

If the Metamorphoses can be said to have a protagonist, Jupiter, the king of heaven, is that protagonist. He is the first god on the scene in Book I as he encounters the impious Lycaon, and he is present at the end of the poem in the Book XV at the deification of Julius Caesar. Jupiter’s frequent presence in the poem does not, however, mean that he is a character worthy of respect. In most instances, Ovid portrays Jupiter as foolish, rash, and lustful. Jupiter destroys the world out of anger at one man, he rapes countless women (Io, Europa, Callisto, and Semele, to name a few), and he constantly deceives his wife, Juno, whom he fears. When Jupiter does attempt to do good deeds, he bungles them. When he tries to defend Dis, for example, he tells Ceres that at least her daughter, Proserpina, was raped by a god with good lineage. Ovid’s portrayal of Jupiter is sometimes comic and nearly always dark.