“Metamorphoses” (The Giants’ War, V) – Ovid


     Allegory of Gluttony and Lust (1490 – 1500) 


             Hieronymus Bosch



             This was a single ruin, but not one
             Deserves so just a punishment alone


the punishment of Lycaon, Jove says,

was not an isolated incident, more 

miscreants need to be held 

accountable for deeds equally as 

blameworthy, equally as horrid

             Mankind’s a monster, and th’ ungodly times
             Confed’rate into guilt, are sworn to crimes. 


Jove doesn’t think much of the human 

race, nor of th’ ungodly times, for that

matter, that promise more crimes, are

sworn, he believes, consigned to them


confed’rate is an adjective here, 

meaning participating, in agreement,

party to the events


             All are alike involv’d in ill, and all
             Must by the same relentless fury fall. 


Jove here, much like the Christian God,

intends to subject the entire human race, 

not just Lycaon, to punishment for its 

pervasive monstrosities, its innate


             Thus ended he; the greater Gods assent;
             By clamours urging his severe intent;
             The less fill up the cry for punishment. 


all Gods are in agreement, the greater, 

and [t]he less, by very clamours urging

Jove’s blanket, and severe, censure,

once he has ended, completed, his 


             Yet still with pity they remember Man;
             And mourn as much as heav’nly spirits can. 


there remains among the Gods, 

however, the memory of early Man, 

which is to say the people of the

Golden Age, but the trials and 

tribulations of earthlings generally 

would not be of much consequence  

to the deities, it is suggested, who 

as immortals, and as a function of 

their infinite longevity, wouldn’t be 

very likely, anyway, to mourn, 

would find it an unfamiliar concept


             They ask, when those were lost of humane birth,
             What he wou’d do with all this waste of Earth: 


if, the Gods ask, all humans were

obliterated from the Earth, what 

would he, Jove, do with what 

remained, bereft as it would be 

of human stewardship


             If his dispeopl’d world he would resign
             To beasts, a mute, and more ignoble line;
             Neglected altars must no longer smoke,
             If none were left to worship, and invoke. 


if Jove were to grant the dispeopl’d 

world, a world without humans, to 

beasts alone, the mute, and more

ignoble species, who would tend 

the altars, who would worship

             To whom the Father of the Gods reply’d,
             Lay that unnecessary fear aside:
             Mine be the care, new people to provide. 


leave it to me, Jove, Father of the

Gods, tells them, I will provide 

a new and improved model

             I will from wondrous principles ordain
             A race unlike the first, and try my skill again. 


from new and wondrous principles,

Jove promises, I will create from the 

scratch, as my German teacher used

to say, a better humanity


let’s see how that turns out


R ! chard