What is this story about? (Context)

In book XIV of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Ovid pauses his recounting of political history to tell the love story of “Pomona and Vertumnus.” Pomona, a nymph in the region of Latium, has many suitors, including the God of Seasons, Vertumnus. While Vertumnus's love for Pomona is greater than the rest of the suitors’, not even he can reach Pomona's heart. Instead of men, Pomona's love and passion is described as being solely dedicated to her garden and its fruits. Ovid describes how she bans all men from her garden. With this, Ovid creates an extended metaphor throughout the poem, relating Pomona’s virginity to her secluded fruits.

Spurred by love, Vertumnus disguises himself as an old woman to capture access to Pomona’s garden. Once in the restricted garden, Vertumnus, as the metaphor would suggest, has physical access to Pomona, and thus is now able to give her kisses: “…he kissed her, / not once, but over and over: no real old woman / kissed that way, ever” (653-655 Humphries). Still disguised, he tries but fails to persuade Pomona to marry Vertumnus. He then tells Pomona the heartbreaking story of “Iphis and Anaxarete”––a story that describes the unreciprocated love of a young man named Iphis, who, time after time, tries to persuade Anaxerete to love him but to no avail. Overcome with defeat and sorrow, Iphis takes his own life; however, his act is only met with cynicism from Anaxerete, who is then punished by Venus for her selfishness and cold-heartedness. Anaxerete is thus turned into stone. Once Vertumnus finishes telling the story, he is about to overpower Pomona with force; however, moved by the story, Pomona accepts him with his same passion.

This project will examine the story of “Iphis and Anaxerete”––its language and its structure––to understand how Pomona comes to open her heart to Vertumnus’s affections.

Latin Text

Take a look at the literal translation of the metamorphosis of Anaxarete into a cold, hard stone, as well as see notes, vocabulary, scansion, and the original latin text with macrons.

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Latin Text

  1. 'Vīderat ā veteris generōsam sanguine Teucrī
  2. Īphis Anaxaretēn, humilī dē stirpe creātus.
  3. vīderat et tōtīs percēperat ossibus aestum
  4. luctātusque diū, postquam ratiōne furōrem
  5. vincere nōn potuit, supplex ad līmina vēnit
  6. et modo nūtrīcī miserum cōnfessus amōrem,
  7. nē sibi dūra foret, per spēs ōrāvit alumnae,
  8. et modo dē multīs blandītus cuique ministrīs
  9. sollicitā petiit prōpēnsum vōce favōrem;
  10. saepe ferenda dedit blandīs sua verba tabellīs.
  11. interdum madidās lacrimārum rōre corōnās
  12. postibus intendit posuitque in līmine dūrō
  13. molle latus trīstisque serae convīcia fēcit.
  14. saevior illa fretō surgente cadentibus Haedīs,
  15. dūrior et ferrō, quod Nōricus excoquit ignis,
  16. et saxō, quod adhūc vīvum rādīce tenētur,
  17. spernit et inrīdet, factīsque immītibus addit
  18. verba superba ferōx et spē quoque fraudat amantem.
  19. nōn tulit impatiēns longī tormenta dolōris
  20. Īphis et ante forēs haec verba novissima dīxit:
  21. "vincis, Anaxaretē, neque erunt tibi taedia tandem
  22. ūlla ferenda meī: laetōs mōlīre triumphōs
  23. et Paeāna vocā nitidāque incingere laurū!
  24. vincis enim, moriorque libēns: age, ferrea, gaudē!
  25. certē aliquid laudāre meī cōgēris, eritque
  26. quō tibi sim grātus, meritumque fatēbere nostrum.
  27. nōn tamen ante tuī cūram excessisse mementō
  28. quam vītam geminaque simul mihi lūce carendum est.
  29. nec tibi fāma meī ventūra est nūntia lētī:
  30. ipse ego, nē dubitēs, aderō praesēnsque vidēbor,
  31. corpore ut exanimī crūdēlia lūmina pāscās.
  32. sī tamen, ō superī, mortālia facta vidētis,
  33. este meī memorēs (nihil ultrā lingua precārī
  34. sustinet) et longō facite ut nārrēmur in aevō,
  35. et, quae dēmpsistis vītae, date tempora fāmae!"
  36. dīxit, et ad postēs ōrnātōs saepe corōnīs
  37. ūmentēs oculōs et pallida bracchia tollēns,
  38. cum foribus laqueī religāret vincula summīs,
  39. "haec tibi serta placent, crūdēlis et impia!" dīxit
  40. īnseruitque caput, sed tum quoque versus ad illam,
  41. atque onus īnfēlīx ēlīsā fauce pependit.
  42. icta pedum mōtū trepidantum et multa timentem*
  43. vīsa dedisse sonum est adapertaque jānua factum
  44. prōdidit. exclāmant famulī frūstrāque levātum
  45. (nam pater occiderat) referunt ad līmina mātris;
  46. accipit illa sinū conplexaque frīgida nātī
  47. membra suī postquam miserōrum verba parentum
  48. ēdidit et mātrum miserārum facta perēgit,
  49. fūnera dūcēbat mediam lacrimōsa per urbem
  50. lūridaque ārsūrō portābat membra feretrō.
  51. forte viae vīcīna domus, quā flēbilis ībat
  52. pompa, fuit, dūraeque sonus plangōris ad aurēs
  53. vēnit Anaxaretēs, quam jam deus ultor agēbat.
  54. mōta tamen "videāmus" ait "miserābile fūnus"
  55. et patulīs iniit tēctum sublīme fenestrīs
  56. vixque bene inpositum lectō prōspexerat Īphin:
  57. dēriguere oculī, calidusque ē corpore sanguis
  58. inductō pallōre fugit, cōnātaque retrō
  59. ferre pedēs haesit, cōnāta āvertere vultūs
  60. hoc quoque nōn potuit, paulātimque occupat artūs,
  61. quod fuit in dūrō jam prīdem pectore, saxum.
  62. nēve ea ficta putēs, dominae sub imāgine signum
  63. servat adhūc Salamis, Veneris quoque nōmine templum
  64. Prōspicientis habet.—quōrum memor, ō mea, lentōs
  65. pōne, precor, fastūs et amantī jungere, nymphē:
  66. sīc tibi nec vernum nāscentia frīgus adūrat
  67. pōma, nec excutiant rapidī flōrentia ventī!'

  68. * R. J. Tarrant's suggested solution to contradicting
    transcripts and editors.
    Click here to see the scansion of the lines
  • • 702| What is the use of the inifinitive "vincere?"

  • • 704| What is the type of subjunctive clause started by the nē?

  • • 706| Propensus, propensa, propensum: "ready, eager, willing"

  • • 710| Tristis, Triste: "stern, harsh, severe"

  • • 711| Fretum, Fretī: "sea" | Haedus, Haedi: two stars in constellation Auriga, known as "The Kid" | Translate the clause "cadentibus Haedīs" as an ablative absolute;

  • • 712| Nōricus, Nōrica, Nōricum: a country lying between the Danube and the Alps, known for it's hard steal.

  • • 720| Paeān, Paeānis (m., 3rd Greek declension): "the god of healing (an epithet of Apollo)"

  • • 721| "ferrea" here is vocative and is translated as "made of iron;" "Anaxerete" is implied here.

  • • 724| The infinitve "excessisse" triggers an indirect command here.

  • • 727| "nē dubitēs" is just simply a purpose clause giving un-asked for closure to Anaxerete, and thus, gives reasoning to Iphis's decision of committing suicide on her doorstep and not in private.

  • • 726| Nuntia, Nuntiae: "a female messenger" | What is "ventūra?"

  • • 728| Pascō, Pascere, Pāvī, Pastus: "to feed, nourish, maintain, support"

  • • 731| Aevum, Aevī: "uninterrupted, never-ending time, eternity"

  • • 732| Dēmō, Dēmere, Dēmpsī, -: "to take off, take away, to withdraw, subtract, remove"

  • • 735| What type of clause exists here (hint: "religāret" is subjunctive)?

  • • 738| Faux, Faucis: "the upper part of the throat, from the root of the tongue to the entrance of the gullet, the pharynx, throat, gullet"

  • • 739| Ictus, Icta, Ictum: "to hit, strike; smite, stab, sting" | The "et" here creates a polysyndeton; however, it can be construed with “que” in the following line to be casually translated “both [this]… and [that]” with “vīsa… est” and “prōdidit” being the main verbs for each part respectively and “junua” being the subject of both.

  • • 740| The infinitive "dedisse" completes the main verb "vīsa...est"

  • • 743| Sinus, Sinūs: "the bend or belly"

  • • 747| Feretrum, Feretrī: "a litter, bier (for display in a procession)" | Why are "fretō," "ferrō," and "saxō" all in the ablative case? | "ārsūrō" is a future participe.

  • • 748| Flēbilis, Flēbile: "to be wept over, to be lamented, lamentable"

  • • 749| Plangor, Plangōris: "a striking, beating"

  • • 750| Ultor, Ultōris: "(1): a punisher, avenger, revenger; (2) the Avenger"

  • • 752| Patulus, Patula, Patulum: "spread out, spreading, extended, broad, wide"

  • • 753| Īphis, Īphis (m., 3rd Greek declension): "Iphis"

  • • 755| What's the use of the case in both "inductō" and "pallōre" (hint: the same use is used during a comparison earlier in the story)?

  • • 757| "potuit" here is completed by an invisible infinitive "agere" | Paulātim: "by little and little, by degrees, gradually"

  • Scansion: See here
  1. Iphis, having been born from a humble family, had saw
  2. noble Anaxerete from blood of old Teucer.
  3. He had saw [her], and he had felt the fire in all [his] bones
  4. and having wrestled a long time, when he was not able to
  5. conquer [his] passion by reason, he begging came to [her] door
  6. and only having confessed [his] miserable love to her wet nurse,
  7. he begged through hopes to [her] foster-daughter that she would not be hard on him
  8. and only having flattered each from the many servants
  9. he requested a willing favor with a trembling voice;
  10. often he gave his own words to be delivered [to her] on soothing tablets.
  11. Occasionally he fastened garlands wet with the moisture of [his]
  12. tears to the door-posts and placed [his] tender flank on the
  13. hard threshold and he made outcry of the harsh bar.
  14. She fiercer than the sea attacking with The Kids descending,
  15. harder than both iron, which Norman fire refines,
  16. and stone, which living is still held by root,
  17. spurns and ridicules [him], and bold she adds arrogance words
  18. to [her] rude deeds and also robs [her] lover from hope.
  19. Iphis, intolerant of long anguish could not bear the torments
  20. and before [her] doors he said these very last words:
  21. “You conquer [me], Anaxerete, and finally there will not be any
  22. irksomeness to be endured by you from me: prepare the joyful triumphs
  23. and call the god of healing and gird [yourself] with a shining laurel.
  24. For you conquered [me], and willing, I die: go, [Anaxerete] made of iron, rejoice!
  25. You will be compelled certainly to praise something of me, there will be [something]
  26. of the type which I am agreeable to you, you will acknowledge out merit.
  27. However, remember that before [my] affection of you rather than [my] life
  28. surpassed [all], and at the same time [me] twofold was deprived from light by me.
  29. And a report of my death is not about to come to you by a messenger:
  30. I myself will be present so that you should not be in doubt and I in person will be seen,
  31. so that you should feed [your] cruel eyes with my lifeless body.
  32. If, however, heavenly bodies, you understand the mortal deeds,
  33. than you should be mindful of me (beyond [this] [my] tongue sustains
  34. to wish for nothing) and you celebrate [me] for a long [time] so that I am described for eternity
  35. and give those hours, which you took from [my] life, to fame.”
  36. He said, and raising [his] moistening eyes and [his] pallid arms
  37. to the door-posts, often having bean furnished with garlands
  38. when he fastened the ropes of the noose to the top of the door,
  39. He said, “these garlands are pleasing to you, cruel and wicked [woman]!”
  40. And he put his head in, but now also he having been turned to her,
  41. And the ill-fated load having been destroyed hung by the neck.
  42. The door, having been struck by the motion of the trembling feet, both
  43. seemed as much to have given a fearful sound and, having been thrown open, revealed
  44. the deed. The servants exclaimed, and in vain return the having been lifted
  45. [body] to the doors of [his] mother (for [his] father had perished);
  46. She accepts [him] on [her] lap, and having grasped the cold limbs
  47. of her own son, after that she produced the words of miserable
  48. fathers and executed the deeds of miserable mothers,
  49. She was leading the weeping funerals through the middle of the city
  50. and she was carrying the pale limbs on a bier about to be burned.
  51. By chance, [Anaxerete’s] house was neighboring the road, where lamentable
  52. procession was going, and the sound of loud mourning came to the ears
  53. of unfeeling Anaxerete, who now the punisher god was leading.
  54. However, moved, says, “let us watch [this] sad funeral”
  55. and went to elevated room with the open windows
  56. and scarcely she had well saw Iphis, having been placed on a bier:
  57. [Her] eyes stiffened, and [her] warm blood fled from [her]
  58. body with the paleness having been brought in, and, [she], having attempted to
  59. carry [her] feet back, remained and, having attempted to avert
  60. [her] looks was also not able [to do] this, and gradually the stone,
  61. which was now already in [her] hard chest, occupied [her] limbs.

Rhetorical Analysis

Take a look at the way that Ovid contrasts the parent story of "Vertumnus and Pomona" to that of "Iphis and Anaxarete," while also examining the structure of language within the story to understand how Pomona comes to opening her heart to Vertumnus’s affections.

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Rhetorical Analysis

Ovid meticulously structures the language in the story of “Iphis and Anaxerete” to not only illustrate the emotions of the storyteller, Vertumnus, but also to emphasize that Vertumnus’s motive behind telling the story is to persuade Pomona, the listener, to accept Vertumnus as a lover. Vertumnus uses the story to draw parallels between Iphis and himself as well as between Anaxerete and Pomona. Ovid, through Vertumnus, characterizes sweet and helpless Iphis as the victim, and the stubborn and cold-hearted Anaxerete as the victimizer. Through the first twelve lines of the poem, Iphis’s unconditional love is shown: he spends countless nights waiting on Anaxerete’s porch and giving “soothing letters” and other presents to her, such as garments (707-710). After this depiction of Iphis, Vertumnus immediately transitions to describing Anaxerete rejecting Iphis and cruelly mocking him (711-714). By juxtaposing these actions, Vertumnus emphasizes Iphis’s innocence and Anaxerete’s evilness. If the juxtaposition were not enough to soften Pomona’s heart, Vertumnus continues to use extreme metaphors to describe Anaxerete’s mentality: she is harsher than a surging sea and harder than both the iron of Noricum––a state in the Alps known for its strong steel––and a rock already set in place (711-713). Upon hearing this portion of the story, the listener is lead to be sympathetic towards Iphis and his kindness.

Once Iphis ends his suffering of unrequited love through suicide (737-738), Anaxerete’s cruelness is then compared to those grieving for Iphis: specifically Iphis’s mother. When the servants bring the lifeless body of Iphis to his mother, who accepts the body (743), the mother is described as saying all the words of a distraught father––for Iphis’s father passed away––and doing all the things of a distraught mother (744-745). Vertumnus proceeds by describing how the mother, “crying” (746), must lead Iphis’s funeral procession through the city. Vertumnus juxtaposes the grief of the mother to the cold-heartedness of Anaxerete. When the funeral passes Anaxerete’s house, she defiantly states: “lets us see this miserable funeral” (751). The listener, spurred by empathy for the grieving mother, naturally recoils from Anaxerete and her despicable actions.

Through comparing the actions of Anaxerete to those of Iphis and his mother, Vertumnus takes advantage of the listener’s feelings. The way in which Vertumnus tells the story causes the listener––Pomona––to dislike Anaxerete, ultimately wanting to distance herself from acting in a similar fashion. Vertumnus’s method proves effective: when Ovid finishes the story of “Iphis and Anaxerete,” Pomona, moved by the story and her dislike for Anaxerete, accepts Vertumnus and his affections. She no longer objects his advances, but rather she matches them with her own flirtations.

Feel like a pro?

Take this test to prove your knowledge!

Quiz your knownledge

1. What does the word "Anaxareten" in line 698 go with?
  1. Creatus
  2. Generosam
  3. Teucri
  4. None of the above
3. Which line has the most elisions?
  1. 726
  2. 727
  3. 753
  4. 754
5. What is the word “ferenda” in line 719?
  1. Nominative Gerund
  2. Accusative Gerund
  3. Ablative Gerundive
  4. Accusative Gerundive
7. What is the reason that "humilī" and "stirpe" in line 699 are in the ablative case?
  1. Object of preposition
  2. Ablative of cause
  3. Ablative by means
  4. Ablative absolute
9. What type of clause does the "quo" in line 723 create?
  1. Relative Clause of Characteristic
  2. Purpose clause
  3. Result clause
  4. Fearing Clause
11. What is the case of "crudelis" in line 736?
  1. Nominative
  2. Vocative
  3. Dative
  4. Ablative
13. What type of clause is the subjunctive verb "dubitēs" in line 727 in?
  1. It is the main verb!
  2. Result clause
  3. Fearing Clause
  4. Purpose clause
2. What is the correct tense and mood for the verb "foret" in line 704?
  1. Present subjunctive
  2. Imperfect subjunctive
  3. Future indicative
  4. Present indicative
4. What poetic device exists in line 708?
  1. Polysyndeton
  2. Tmesis
  3. Hyperbaton
  4. Synchysis
6. What is the case of "facite" in line 731?
  1. Ablative
  2. Vocative
  3. Dative
  4. Imperative Verb
8. What does the relative pronoun "quod" in line 713 describe?
  1. Undeclared
  2. ferrō
  3. Nōricus
  4. saxō
10. Which line contains a midline caesura in the correct place?
  1. 712
  2. 713
  3. 721
  4. 749
12. What is the case and case use of the noun "verba" in line 715?
  1. Nominative, Subject
  2. Accusative, Direct Object
  3. Ablative, Object of Implied Preposition
  4. Ablative, By Means
1=B | 2=B | 3=D | 4=C | 5=B | 6=D | 7=A | 8=D | 9=A | 10=A | 11=B | 12=B | 13=D

Thoughtfully built and coded by Matthew Stallone. All code can be found at: github.com/mstallone/Ovid-Project-2016

Email me  •  Last updated: 6/31/16