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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
Ace your assignments with our guide to Metamorphoses!