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Speech And Image In Ovids Metamorphoses Essay

Speech and image are constantly intertwined with one another in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Speech and image are also complementary of one another’s meanings. They work together in a way where someone who is taking in both speech and image can decisively understand a situation. On one’s own, speech can be used to create image, and image in a way can be used to tell a story. Having both of them complement each other, even as individuals, shows how strong they can be when used together.

Although, Ovid also shows that in some cases, individually, there can be a disconnection between speech and image causing conflict. He does this to emphasize the necessity of the cohesion between both of them. Stories like Diana and Actaeon and Tereus, Procne, and Philomela are great examples. They show individual characteristics of speech and image as well as the strength of their synergy. They also have numerous examples of the negative effects that can occur with the disjunctions of speech and image.

Having these counter examples of disjunction in Ovid’s stories helps him prove his case that together image and speech can only be positive, while individually, either a positive or negative outcome can occur. A positive outcome revolving around speech and image is hether someone understands the meaning or purpose of that speech or image. The morality or intentions of the communication do not matter, it is simply fact that information was relayed without miscommunication. In Diana and Actaeon, the first example of speech and image working together was when Actaeon first stumbles upon the cave.

Ovid wants the reader to understand what Diana and the nymphs opinions of men were. He does by writing, “Seeing a man, all naked as they were, the nymphs, beating their breasts, filled the whole grove with sudden screams and clustered around Diana” (Ovid, 57). Obviously the nymphs were very rattled that Actaeon sees them naked, and phrases like “beating their breasts” and “sudden scream” exemplifies that point even more. The combination of speech by screaming and image of women beating their chests not only clearly communicates their emotions to the reader, but also to Actaeon as well.

We know their intentions reached Actaeon with Ovid’s description of “setting terror in his heart” (Ovid, 58). A similar example of how one’s use of image and speech together clearly communicates one’s intentions can be found in Ovid’s Tereus, Procne, and Philomela. After eturning to their homeland, Procne asks Tereus where Philomela has gone. To answer, “He groaned as if in grief and tells a lying tale about her death, with tears to prove it true” (Ovid, 138). Immediately after and without question Procne begins to prepare a funeral.

What made Tereus so effective and so clearly communicated was again a combination of image and speech. Tereus groans while speaking a deceptive lie and adds tears to make it seem like he was emotional. It does not matter what Tereus’ intentions were when he had this interaction with Procne. It is still a positive outcome in regards o Tereus using speech and image together to get his point across. Ovid also includes an example of how devastating a lack of both speech and image can be. When Actaeon becomes a stag, he loses his ability to speak, and his ability to be recognized as a human.

When the pack of hunting dogs gained sight of Actaeon, he ran in fear, “But his friends with their glad usual shouts cheered on the pack, not knowing what they did, and looked around to find Actaeon; each louder than the rest calling Actaeon, as though he were not there” (Ovid, 58). ” Actaeon loses his identity without image and speech. Everyone e knew has no idea what he had become. He has no way of convincing them otherwise. Actaeon is just another stag being devoured by ravenous dogs. Ovid gives the lack of the speech and image and immense amount of power here.

Losing one’s identity and in Actaeon’s case, his life, is a very frightful thought. Including this example in his book gives power and importance of using one’s speech and image to communicate. Ovid not only provides examples of how speech and image work together, but also addresses them individually. He shows how they reflect each other and how alone they can also be very effective in ommunicating information. Alone, speech can be very effective at providing enough detail to imagine an image or give understanding. An instance of this is seen when Actaeon screams as a stag.

Ovid describes it as “a scream, not human, yet a sound no stag could voice, and fill with anguished cries the mountainside he knew so well” (Ovid 58). What those lines do so well is that they give us an image of how much distress Actaeon was in. The fact that he creates a sound so unnatural means that his body is going through a horrible unnatural phase. The reader is able to imagine and picture someone in their most nnatural state. Ovid connecting to the reader in this kind of way shows how individual speech can provide an image to better communicate his story.

Ovid also shows that speech can conjure and encompass images in a simplistic and everyday way. Simple dialogue between two parties usually consists of descriptions that help the listener understand. When Actaeon was still a human and talking to his fellow hunter he says, “come, friends, our nets are wet, our javelins drip with our quarries’ blood; today has brought success enough. ” (Ovid 56). Actaeon is summing up the day’s kills and successes without aying anything specific. The only thing he touches upon are the bloody javelins and wet nets.

This means that his fellow hunters are remembering the images and events of the day. The descriptions also helps the reader conjure an image of the type of weapons they use, the success of the day, and the relationship between Actaeon and his men. Individually though, speech can also have a negative outcome and impair communication. This is evident when Tereus eats his own son that Procne murdered. Even though it is intentional that Procne wants to hide to Itys, there is a brief moment of where speech rings a negative outcome of unclear communication.

When Tereus asks for Itys, Procne replies with “You have him here’, she cries, ‘Inside! and he looks around, asks where he is. ” (Ovid 141). The lack of a visual or image of Itys confuses Tereus. Procne fails to express what she wanted Tereus to understand. Further explanation was needed for Tereus to identify his son’s location. Ovid includes this scene to show that speech itself is sometimes not strong enough to complement image and explain one’s intentions. Ovid recognizes that speech is not the only form of communication and provides many examples of ow image can act as a substitute.

An example of this is when Philomela escapes from the shed that Tereus was keeping her in. To escape “She wove a clever fabric, working words in red on a white ground to tell the tale of wickedness” (Ovid, 139). The fabric itself did not speak, but the image on it did. This example emphasizes the point that image complements speech and can clearly help two parties communicate. Ovid creates a steep contrast with Philomela’s inability to speak and the clarity of the image that she creates. He does this to distinguish and isolate image from speech to give image power.

Another, more ramatic way that Ovid shows how image can be used to positively communicate information was when Philomel “threw the head Itys, bleeding, in his father’s face. She never wanted more her tongue to express her joy in words that matched her happiness. ” (Ovid 142). This incident occurred promptly after Procne tried to explain the where Itys was. The image of the boy’s severed head made up for the lack of speech from Procne. When Tereus saw the head, it spoke an entire story to him about the Philomel’s escape, his wife’s revenge, and the fact that he just ate his son.

As compelling as image can be without peech, it can also falter to convey information. When Diana and the Nymphs “Saw a man, all naked as they were” (Ovid, 56), they immediately reacted negatively. The image of seeing Actaeon frightened them and without giving him a chance to speak, they immediately punished him. Diana “added words that warned with doom: ‘Now tell you saw me here naked without my close, if you can tell at all! ” (Ovid 57). Diana had no reason to change Actaeon into a stag and take away his speech. Actaeon most likely would of kept his mouth shut if Diana gave him a warning that he would be punished if he spoke out.

Ovid includes this to how that speech is sometimes a necessity and is needed with image to have a positive understanding between two parties. The result of this transformation of Actaeon into a stag again shows that image can miscommunicate. When Actaeon was running from his hounds “He longed to shout, ‘l am Actaeon, look, I am your master! But words failed his will” (Ovid, 57). If he was able to get these words out to his dogs, they may have recognized the voice and stopped their pursuit. Again, Ovid includes these moments of individualistic failures of speech and image to emphasize his point of synergy between them.

He is answering the reader’s curiosity of the “what if” scenarios when speech and image are not used together. What is the significance though, of the power between speech and image? Why does Ovid include such prominent examples of them in Metamorphoses? The answer not only comes from stories in Metamorphoses, but also the book itself. Ovid is attempting to say that to communicate, is to be alive. Communication allows one to build a life, and to ultimately understand. When a character in a story lacks the ability to communicate, they are most likely destined for despair or death.

This is prominently een in Actaeon’s inability to call his dogs off. Actaeon loses his identity, he loses what made him who he was before, image and speech. Characters that do survive are those who find a way to express themselves and communicate whether with speech, image, or both. This is seen with Philomel and her communication with the fabric she wove. Philomel found an alternative to speech with the use of image, giving herself identity. Now when you look at the book as a whole, Ovid is communicating his opinions and beliefs to the reader. Ovid is finding a way to speak, which gives himself life and identity.

Ovid may not have been mute, deaf, or blind as a person, but this way of written communication gave his life purpose. Proving that speech and image works so well in his stories, proves that his book effectively communicates to the reader. Again, individually speech and image can be fail to convey information, which is why Ovid provides so many similes and metaphors alongside detailed descriptions. That is why Ovid’s writings are so insightful and impactful. The points in his stories that he is making derive from his own writing style. Ovid is simply proving the power of speech and image by using speech and image in his writing.

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