Metamorphoses

by: Ovid

Orpheus

Although Orpheus appears in only two Books (X and XI), his presence resonates throughout the work. He is an artist, and the Metamorphoses is a poem preoccupied with the problems of art. Ovid portrays Orpheus as a being who transcends his limitations through art. Orpheus is a flawed man; in a matter of seventy lines, he loses his wife, Eurydice, twice. But when he starts singing, his shortcomings fade in importance. His songs comprise some of the most memorable and beautiful lines in the Metamorphoses. By the end of his song, we can no longer doubt his skill. Ovid creates a metamorphosis in our perception of Orpheus, transforming our pity into appreciation.