No, not that kind…
We’re all familiar with the idea and image of the insect emerging from it’s chrysalis, moving from a pupal stage to flight, however the Metamorphoses that I speak of here were written in the first year of the Common Era by the Roman poet Ovid.
Metamorphoses comes from the Greek word for “transformation” and this epic poem of fifteen books contains numerous transformative events. Like the pupal insect many of these transformations are physical: Daphne is turned into a Laurel tree, Cygnus into a swan, Callisto is changed into a bear and then is sent into the heavens and turned into the familiar Ursa Major. In one story Perseus uses the head of Medusa to turn Atlas to stone. In another Iphis is granted a gender change, girl to boy, by Egyptian gods. Other transformations are less tangible, more meta-physical: the Titans are displaced by the Olympians, mortal men like Hercules are deified, Prosperina (a symbol of the seasons) is fated to forever migrate between the Underworld and the Earth, neither alive nor dead.
The Metamorphoses of Ovid were a favorite topic of the great Venetian artist Titian who dedicated no less than seven canvases to depictions of these transformations. Above we see the unwitting Actaeon catching site of Diana while she bathes. The notoriously chaste goddess punishes him, turning hunter into prey.
This story is one of the subjects of reinterpretation in an exhibit at the National Gallery in London. “Metamorphosis: Titian 2012” is a celebration of the reunion of three of Titian’s Metamorphoses accompanied by contemporary works inspired by Titian. The following film is a stunning retelling of the story of Actaeon and Diana by Tell No One.
Credit Suisse - ‘Metamorphosis’ from Trim Editing on Vimeo.