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

by richibi


    The Garden of Earthly Delights (1510 – 1515) 


             Hieronymus Bosch





              Nor from his patrimonial Heaven alone
              Is Jove content to pour his vengeance down; 


let me say something about Heaven 

here, a concept that is quite different 

from the earlier Ancient Greek and 

Roman understanding of the term, 

was it, for that matter, even a term

then, of the Ancients, that would’ve 

meant nothing other to them than 

the blue sky above, not at all an 

area reached by extraterrestrial 



the abode of the gods and goddesses 

at the time of Ovid was Mount Olympus

and had been for centuries, much closer 

to the earth than the more ethereal home 

we imagine of the gods today, every one

of them, however professedly uniquely  

supreme, otherworldly


all gods, note, no goddesses, what’s up  

with that, I’ve long wondered


the Underworld was for the Ancients 

the dwelling place of the departed, 

somewhere deep beneath the earth, 

or at the very ends of all the seas, 

never totally beyond the very 

cosmos, as our prevailing faiths 

now uniformly preach 


the image of Heaven, Hell, and 

Purgatory for that matter, that last

a completely Catholic invention – to 

account for the salvation, however 

partial, of innocent souls deprived 

of Heaven for not having been 

christened, though not able yet, at 

so early an age, to have sinned – 

was pretty well codified by Dante

in the 14th Century in his 

masterpiece, The Divine Comedy,​ 

a daunting, but profoundly

illuminating read, which has 

shaped our impression of these 

several possible afterlives ever 



see above


this particular translation, however 

magisterial, but crafted after over a

thousand years of Catholic cultural 

domination, cannot avoid the impact 

of the Catholic understanding of 



neither, now, can we, for that matter, 

intimately imbued as we are with

the binding faiths of our relatively

more recent forebears


be therefore perspicacious



              Aid from his brother of the seas he craves,
              To help him with auxiliary waves. 


later, we’ll learn that Jove’s brother 

of the seas is Neptune, god of all

aqueous things

            The watry tyrant calls his brooks and floods,
            Who rowl from mossie caves (their moist abodes); 


rowl, or roil, upset 


mossie, mossy

            And with perpetual urns his palace fill:
            To whom in brief, he thus imparts his will.


Neptune is stockpiling water, with

the help of his conforming waterways

            Small exhortation needs


no time, in other words, no need, 

to do much coaxing, much 



                                          your pow’rs employ: 


use, put into action, or employ, 

your pow’rs

            And this bad world, so Jove requires, destroy. 


Jove, god of gods, is here commanding, 

authorizing, orchestrating    

            Let loose the reins to all your watry store:
            Bear down the damms, and open ev’ry door.

             The floods

 will inexorably follow


stay tuned



R ! chard