Tragedy of Forbidden Lov in Metamorphoses

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One major theme is that is present in The Aeneid and is further built on in Ovid's Metamorphoses is the theme of forbidden love. Is it is the theme of love that is impossible, impossible in the sense that it is if the love is placed above all else, tragedy and negative outcomes will most certainly become present. We see the examples of the consequences of forbidden love with Dido and Aeneas in The Aeneid, and with the story of Pygmalion and his maiden in Metamorphoses.

The theme of impossible love in The Aeneid is represented with the story of Dido and Aeneas. Dido is the queen of Carthage and is loyal to her city and understands the importance of remaining loyal in order to benefit the city as a whole. She is also extremely loyal to her dead husband, whom she vowed to never remarry after his death, in order to honor his memory. On the other hand, Aeneas is loyal to his fate and destiny to purse his journey as a warrior and hero. But the imposed love of Cupid on Dido creates an unfortunate situation that proves to be difficult for all those involved.

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This love served to distract Aeneas from his divine purpose, even though he knew his purpose in his heart. The love between the two characters brought forth difficult choices that both were forced to make. Dido was forced to abandon her city and disregard her loyalty to her city and dead husband, while Aeneas was forced to abandon Dido, someone who he actually did love, in favor of his true destiny. Love that could not be overcome proved to be Dido's eventual death, and placed that burden upon Aeneas. Adding to the tragedy between the two was that Dido was not acting against the Gods or in fact do anything to deserve it, but that this love was placed on her by the Gods themselves.

The theme of consequences brought on by forbidden love was built upon in the Metamorphoses, with the sculptor Pygmalion. The sculptor desigins a statue that depicts his perfect idea of a woman, and eventually falls deeply in love with the object, as no other woman meets his needs. As his love grows for the statue, his yearning for it to be real grows as well. Eventually Venus turns this love into a reality and makes the statue real. Part of the consequences of this forbidden loves comes from the child that the statue has.

Pygmalion and the statue bear a daughter, who eventually has a son of her own, Cinyras. Cinyras soon creates his own daughter, Myrrha, which is where the consequence of the original love comes to fruition. Myrrha is in love with her father, creating obvious challenges for both the father and daughter. Myrrha is torn apart by her love for her father, and tricks him into sleeping with her. This eventually leads Cinyras to attempt to murder his own daughter. The original forbidden love created a rift of extreme tragedy and hardship for all those involved.

Love is clearly shown as a dangerous thing in both the epics of Virgil and Ovid. They build on the difficult choices and situations that can arise if love in not kept in check. Individuals can be forced to take actions that ultimately may not be of their choosing, and ones that would never be considered if love was not a factor in the first place.

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