Chapter 12

Ovid's Flood Story

This chapter represents the beginning of Part 2B, "Myths of Destruction." Just before this chapter, there is an introduction that can help orient you with respect to what you can learn from the upcoming series of chapters.

Although flood stories occur in many traditions, the only flood story we have from the Graeco-Roman mythological system is from the Roman poet's major work, the Metamorphoses. Ovid's writing style is introduced in Chapter 4, and some of his aims as a writer of mythology are discussed in Chapter 2. The literary style of the selection in this chapter is sophisticated, and the content is presented with wit and humor; you might think about what the scene between Pyrrha and Deucalion would look like if it were acted out on stage. However, despite the light-hearted aspects of his story, as Ovid's audience expected, the Metamorphoses presents ideas that the Romans would have recognized as "scientifically accurate" about their world.

In this chapter, you will also encounter a different version of the story of the ages of man that you can compare with Hesiod's (Chapter 3) and sections on Pyrrha and Deucalion to compare with the story of Noah and his family (Chapter 13) and with that of Utnapishtim and his wife, the survivors of the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh (Chapter 16).

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