Title: Dead Set
Author: Richard Kadrey
Publisher: Harper Voyager
When I think of horror, I think of Freddy Krueger or Nightmare on Elm Street or Stephen King, even.
If I were to categorize Richard Kadrey’s books, they would be urban fantasy, which also have a dark twisted underbelly to them.
But many have categorized Kadrey as horror, and since I’m not big on quibbling about labels, I’ll just say “‘Kay.” Because what it all comes down to is story. What is the story and how is the story told? That’s what makes a great read for me.
Dead Set is the story of Zoe and how her teenaged life got derailed after her father dies. The only thing good she can count on is visits with her dream brother, Valentine, when she goes to sleep. But then, (good stories always have a but then) …
But then, a black dog starts appearing in her dreams. And she meets a guy at a record shop storing records with souls captured on them. For a seemingly small price, he’ll let Zoe commune with her father.
And then, Zoe actually goes to her father and nothing is even close to how she imagined it might be.
Kadrey’s stories are creepy, that’s for damned sure. But they’re also interesting, well-thought out and entertaining. In Zoe’s story, he captures that heart-ache of a teenage girl trying to fit into her own life, and make sense of the changes that have happened. It’s the story of a girl longing to re-connect with the love she once felt from both her parents, and to use her teenage rebellion for something other than just being a rebel.
I love the Sandman Slim series. Love it. In Dead Set, we have a quieter protagonist whose world is almost as dangerous as Slim’s. And I loved it just as much.
Satanists make junior high school Goths look like NASA. (p. 143)
I’ve been taken with Sandman Slim from the very beginning. Not only is he a mostly unrepentant badass who embraces that part of him. He uses it to try to make life better for those he loves, and the world in general, although were the world to be aware of Slim, they wouldn’t thank him for his efforts.
At the end of Devil Said Bang, Slim is the only person to have escaped Hell twice. This is quite an accomplishment, given that no one is supposed to escape ever, especially if you’re a gladiator expected to fight to the death the first time you’re there.
Kadrey shakes the notions of Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, around a lot in his Sandman Slim books. His notions match mine that all is not so cut and dried as Christians would have us believe, there’s a lot of grey area. And to shake that notion even more, it’s revealed in the first book, Sandman Slim, that Slim, aka Stark, is a nephilim. This part angel, part human thing makes just about every supernatural being mad. To say Slim’s home life was screwed up wouldn’t even begin to cover it.
It is also the conjunction of many celestial mythologies which make the Sandman Slim books so interesting. Along with other supernatural beings you might not expect to mix with creation and destruction myths.
Devil Said Bang suffers from mid-series dementia. Something often found in other series by other authors. There’s just something about the fourth or so book which is messy. Kevin Hearne’s fifth book in the Iron Druid series, Trapped, suffered from this.
And I will say the same thing about Devil Said Bang as I did about Trapped, there’s too much information being thrown at us. Too many characters and too many machinations. I couldn’t keep up.
With that out of the way, what I like about this book was the continued battle Slim has with himself. He knows that maybe he could do better, but there are times when he just wants to break stuff. It’s what he knows best.
Nice people are fucking weird. (p. 244)
There are always interesting characters with “interesting” hobbies, which turn out to be some sort of key to the plot. In Devil Said Bang, it’s Teddy Osterberg and his collection of cemeteries. Yes, collection.
For generations, Teddy’s family has been moving cemeteries from their original plot of land to the family land outside Los Angeles. There’s a lot of detail about the supernatural aspects of the cemeteries, but it comes down to Osterberg as caretaker of the more “special” cemeteries. It is from this the scary little girl with the curved knife, who is running around killing people, comes.
Did I mention Sandman Slim is dark?
Not only am I fascinated by the mythology Kadrey uses, the machinations and politicking also fascinate me. How do people think like that? How do they know how to find that piece of information which will allow them to manipulate others? How do they think three, four, five steps ahead of the others? Reading Slim play off the others who think they have one up on him in Hell is fascinating. As are all the new and inventive tools used to kill the nasties for whom a shotgun isn’t enough.
Richard Kadrey’s books are not for the squeamish, or for those who hold their mythology dear. I find them very entertaining, if sometimes gross, and I always learn something new about mythology; especially Christian mythology. Kadrey sends me scurrying into the stacks to look up information, and gives me things to think on deeply which allows me space to reframe what I think I already know.
Title: The Dark Wind
Author: Tony Hillerman
Series: Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee #5
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
The typical Hillerman mystery involves Navajo culture; either an action meant to look Navajo or something which disturbs the Navajo Way of harmony with the universe.
There’s always conflict between the White people (men) who have strict rules and believe they know what’s best for everyone, especially the Native Americans. They are usually portrayed as arrogant buffoons who know absolutely nothing about the case or the people against whom the crime was committed.
Sometimes, there’s conflict between two Indian tribes, which is usually resolved by being respectful.
In The Dark Wind, Jim Chee is handed three cases, which all become entwined with a fourth. The fourth is a small plane crash right in front of Chee while he’s on stakeout waiting for the vandal of the windmill, part of a complicated political gesture by the BLM towards the Hopi Nation.
The plane crash is most decidedly not assigned to Chee, the white FBI, and his captain, make that clear. He is to stay away from it. So as he goes about his days driving long distances to chase down clues, he does his best to not get involved in the crash and what turns out to be missing cocaine worth about $15M.
It becomes obvious that the federal agents are up to no good and keep trying to set Chee up for the fall over the missing drugs. The brutality of these thugs made me wince as they tossed Chee’s small travel trailer he calls home and smack him around. At first, I thought they were just stupid, prejudiced white men. Later, it’s revealed that’s only part of their makeup.
While trying to identify a Navajo John Doe discovered by some Hopi men gathering sacred spruce for a ceremonial, Chee encounters the trading post’s owner, Jake West. West performs magic tricks, which Chee mulls over throughout the book, trying to solve how they’re done. This proves to be a crucial key to the solution of the missing drugs and the dead bodies which keep piling up.
What keeps me re-reading Hillerman’s mysteries (this is at least my second time through) is the use of Navajo culture and sensibilities to solve the crimes which are jurisdictionally complex. I read them to re-visit a part of my life in which I was surrounded by Native Americans of several nations, and maybe for a better understanding of my own life.
I also read them because they expose me to other ways of thinking, relating and solving problems. The Navajo Way is explained as keeping in harmony with the universe, and making course adjustments as necessary.
If I listed every quote which resonated with me in this book, I would be quoting the entire thing.
Anne Lamott’s writing speaks to me. Her complete honesty, no doubt. The way she speaks her truth about her life. The words she strings together to make me understand how she feels. I recognize myself in some of what she writes about.
That scared, mixed up woman who can barely keep herself going, much less be expected to do anything else. The woman who panics for what appears to be no good reason to others, but is a very good reason to her. Like, “OHMYGAWD, I have no money, I can’t buy the groceries I want, I’m going to have to move my books to the underpass, I’m going to DIE. The world is going to END!” Yup, that’s me.
Of course, in my clearer moments I know being poor doesn’t mean the end of the world or anything dire. It just means no money, and reminding myself that the universe is constantly taking care of me, even when it’s hard to see through the panicked fog.
Her junk food binges in the essay titled “The Muddling Glory of God?” Frequent flyer here. Her fraught and confusing relationship with her mother in “Dandelions?” I still have the scars.
And while I teared up over Anne’s life and the way my heart hurt for both of us, I keep thinking, “She lived through it. She got to a good place in her life where she can afford groceries and lives in a nice home and has a wonderful community around her.” I can live through it too.
She makes me think. And then she makes me giggle as I think about how I might also panic because my dog ran off out of sight on our walk. Although I think I’d be more worried about the rattlesnakes.
And while I was reading, I was reminded how oddly grace works in my life. How, really, it’s not so bad. How when I’m not paying attention and wallowing around in my own mire, grace comes along and does something unexpected. Then I feel all right and ready to keep going.
If I could ask Anne Lamott one thing, it would be if she would be my life sponsor. One of my tribe to hold me when my face is red from crying and snot is running over my lips. One who will take my hand, look me straight in the eye, and say, “You will get through this.”
Her books have literally been life changing for me. bird by bird taught me about the discipline of writing, of being creative, every day. Whether I want to or not. Grace (Eventually) reminds me to wait patiently for the grace which envelops me and takes care of me. Reading Anne Lamott is like meeting a new, old friend with whom I could share an afternoon talking about the deep things in life, while cracking each other up.
... his manhood celebrated by the monstrous codpiece he wore. (p. 12)
Nits: As in Low Treason, Matthew Stock is described again as Argus of the hundred eyes. Not only do I doubt the reference as one someone of Matthew Stock’s class would recognize, the use of that description in a second book makes me cringe a little. It smacks of either laziness, or “aren’t I a clever writer?” And why does the magistrate go nameless the entire book?
Matthew and Joan Stock are back on home turf in Familiar Spirits. The town of Chelmsford is caught up in witch fever. The opening chapter is a description of the hanging of three people, one of them a witch. Tourney gets this atmosphere right, describing the delight of the spectators and the business-like demeanor of the gaolers and hangman.
Being accused of witchcraft was a nasty business, a veritable catch-22. To prove you weren’t a witch you would have to go through trials which would surely kill you, if you survived then you were definitely a witch and would be hanged (or burned). Horrible stuff.
And, as is usual in witchcraft trials, suspicion falls upon everyone associated with the witch. Especially after Ursula’s master dies all of a sudden, after her ghost has been seen in the window by the master’s wife.
Then, the master’s wife’s sister and her family are accused. A mob forms to drive the witches out, etc. etc. etc.
Matthew takes nothing at face value and is perplexed at the ghostly sightings of Ursula, the death, and the burning of the barn behind the master’s home where Ursula was purported to have conducted her tricks.
Superstitious townspeople are all calling for righteous living to be returned to with a speedy witch trial and hangings at the end. Only Matthew is unconvinced. Not because he doesn’t believe in witches, but rather, because the testimony given in Ursula’s trial makes no coherent sense.
Against the wishes of the townspeople, including the aldermen, Matthew continues to investigate. What he turns up is more sinister than witchcraft, and does not come from Satan. One man’s cover-up kills two more innocent people and nearly gets his wife and in-laws hanged.
Although Tourney’s pseudo-Elizabethan continues to bother me, and this is a fairly straightforward whodunnit, I am still charmed by Matthew Stock, and his wife Joan. In addition, there is the kind and stubborn Jane Crispin who speaks up in court for herself. Something no woman would have done, would be allowed. In fact, she states that she is doomed either way, so why shouldn’t speak up and address the absurdities of the witch trial? Especially, the “specialist” who brings his assistant along because the boy has himself once been possessed by demons and can point out those who are also possessed.
I suppose these absurdities are no more absurd than some of the political yammerings we suffer through today.
High treason they call it in the law. They would with more reason call it low treason, for a man must stoop low – indeed, must crawl upon his belly like a serpent – to practice it. (Robert Cecil, p. 211)
Leonard Tourney’s Elizabethan mysteries featuring Matthew and Joan Stock of Chelmsford, England are slight books. Of the two I’ve read, whodunit has been fairly obvious from early in the book, the protagonists must provide proof so justice can be served.
In Low Treason, the Stocks’ son-in-law tell them his brother has gone missing. William Ingram has received a letter from Thomas’ employer, a jeweler in London, stating that Thomas has left for adventures on the sea.
Knowing this to be untrue, Matthew sets off to London to visit the jeweler and find out what’s really happened. Shortly after he leaves Chelmsford, Joan answers her door and finds a filthy and nearly naked Thomas asking for Matthew.
After sorting out that Thomas’ life has been threatened and he was nearly killed, Joan packs her bags and heads for London to apprise Matthew of the new situation.
Once they are both in London, it becomes obvious that the plot against Thomas is based on the possibility of his having overheard something which puts the jeweler’s plot against England with Spain in jeopardy. Because Matthew and Joan have also stumbled onto this information, their lives are in danger as well.
They are arrested on trumped up charges and sent to Newgate Prison, a horrible place which makes the American prison system seem fair and just in comparison. During service in the prison chapel, an explosion goes off setting the chapel on fire and allowing the Stocks to escape, despite the intentions of their enemy and his bomb.
Matthew has a very powerful friend, Sir Robert Cecil, chief minister and spymaster for Queen Elizabeth I. It is Cecil, working with Matthew and Joan, who puts plans in motion to catch the jeweler and prove he is plotting with Spain against England.
I enjoy reading these books as a break from some of the heavier fare in my stacks, but find Tourney’s pseudo-Elizabethan style uneven. and some of the plot devices annoyingly convenient. Nonetheless, Matthew and Joan are sweet, lovely characters who stay true to their convictions and their love for each other. They prove whodunit and go back to their simple lives in Chelmsford.
To tell you my dreams are odd would be an understatement. They are weird, vivid, brightly Technicolor, and often, violent. The last week or so they’ve settled for just being odd.
Last night, I had a dream about a snake named Jesus. Jesus, as in the son of Mary. Not Jesus, the son of Maria. And somehow, I was working for the Director.
I got the impression I was working for a movie director, and my job hinged on catching a snake after it had done its bit on film. Actually, my job hinged on getting over my fear of snakes. Because being afraid of snakes was going to get me fired.
Jesus was an opalescent color, which scales turned gorgeous rainbow colors. It was to come out of a pile of food, and I was to catch it and put it in a bin for safe-keeping. Only, when the time came, I couldn’t find a bin and Jesus escaped me.
The next thing is all of a sudden snakes are coming out of the walls, and people I barely knew in a past long gone were walking the halls of the mall looking to kill snakes with pitchforks and long sticks.
I found myself stopping groups of people and telling them not to kill Jesus. Other snakes were fair game, but not Jesus.
When I write about books, I strive more for commentary than recap or review. In the case of Metamorphoses, I am not qualified to give a close or technical read. This is some heavy going and I could easily take several classes about Roman literature, Ovid and Metamorphoses itself, just to learn more about the time and context. Not to mention the fun of taking art history and literature classes devoted to the impact Ovid had on Western art and literature.
Metamorphoses has been studied since first published in 8CE, just a few years before Ovid died. The body of work devoted to this epic poem is prodigious.
It seems to me that reading it at least once is worthy of the effort, if only to be exposed to this grand writing, and learn the origin stories of things we already know in our contemporary lives. Black ball, Midas touch, hyacinth and Pygmalion come to mind.
I encourage anyone who has wondered if they should read it, to give it a go. My views on what people should or shouldn’t read are pretty clear; people should read what they want.
At the start of Metamorphoses, Ovid states his ambition; to tell the story of the founding of Rome from chaos to the present. That is a lot of ground to cover. When I first looked at the page count, 636, I thought it would just take a couple of weeks. Hah! Two months later.
Raeburn’s translation helped, as did the trick I finally figured out of reading to the punctuation instead of the meter. I am horrible with meters and they just make the poem choppy and ugly to me. But ignoring the meter and reading to the punctuation made things so much easier.
There’s so much going on in this work. It is grand and sweeping, and sometimes choppy and even more difficult. I would like to have a better grounding in the literature of the time so that I could understand the allusions and homages more easily. Romans loved their blood and guts and adventure tales.
In fact, Metamorphoses is rife with violence, gruesome in its detail and astonishing in the litany of names of characters involved in all the “stabbity-stab-stab.” Rape is another prevalent topic, as is punishment by the gods and goddesses.
This is not a nice, tidy look at the story of Rome, fiction or not. There were numerous times when I had to stop and remind myself that Metamorphoses was written for an audience who had certain expectations for a great story, and for whom violence was nothing to be squeamish about.
The attitudes towards women are difficult, but again, this was written in first century CE, when the very idea of women speaking up for themselves and showing agency was frowned upon at best, punishable at worst. Ancient Rome was a very stratified society, even wealthy women were held to be barely better than the slave class. So it is no surprise this found its way into the literature.
There are very few happy endings in Metamorphoses. Love goes unrequited, and is frequently punished with grim results. Happy love stories are reserved for those who are pious in their thoughts and actions. Even those end sadly, as the characters nearly always die.
The parts I most enjoyed were the personifications of emotions and dreams. Envy, Rumour and Sleep are all represented here, imagined with entertaining lines.
I enjoyed reading the details of how Ulysses’s men turned into pigs on Circe’s island, from the point of view of one of the men. And, although Polyphemus was a monster in all meanings of the word, it was fun to read how he tried to make himself into something Galatea could love. Jove as a golden shower getting Danae pregnant is another favorite bit.
There’s so much to enjoy, and revile, in Metamorphoses, it’s impossible to recount them in any way that makes sense. I could comb back through each book’s commentary and look for things to write about here. But I won’t.
What I will say is that reading Metamorphoses was a journey worth taking. One which I am just as happy to have completed, leaving me to move on to less complicated books in my stacks. One lasting effect I am sure of, nothing I see or read will ever be the same since reading it.
If you’re up for an adventure, and don’t mind working for your read, give Metamorphoses a try. I can’t guarantee what you’ll get from it, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t get into it. There are far too many books to be read; don’t read the ones you can’t get into. As for me, I’m glad to have had the experience.
So here we are at the end of this epic poem, considered to be one of the most influential works in Western arts and literature. It’s easy to understand why, Ovid’s stories focus not only on change, he focuses on the humanness of his characters, even the gods. As much as I rail at men who won’t stay faithful to their spouses, and angry women who take it out on the victim, isn’t that what humans do? It isn’t easy to think about the flaws of us, but Ovid reflects us back to ourselves ultimately.
As an introduction to Croton and its famous citizen, Pythagoras, Ovid tells the story of the city’s founding. Myscelus is visited in his dreams by Hercules twice. Each time, Hercules exhorts Myscelus to leave his country and sail to the place where he would found Croton.
However, the laws in Myscelus’ country forbade anyone to leave. As he tried to sneak out, he is caught and put on trial. The vote is held by collecting white or black pebbles in an urn. If all the balls are black, he will be executed. Since Myscelus is breaking the law of his country, it’s a foregone conclusion that all the pebbles will be black.
He prays to Hercules basically saying, “It’s your fault I’m in this predicament, so help me out here.” When the urn is emptied, all the pebbles have turned white and Myscelus is released to leave the country.
Heard of the phrase “black balled?” The tradition of voting related in the story Myscelus is where that phrase comes from.
(Note: I was reminded of the Greek practice of ostracism which used pieces of pottery called ostracon to vote for the ostracism of a citizen from Athens. Although similar to being black balled, voters would write the name of the citizen they were voting to ostracize. The pot sherds were usually black, but it was the name that was counted, not the color of the pot sherd. For the time being, I stand by my presumption that “black balled” came from the story of Myscelus and Hercules. 31 August, 2015)
And so Croton is founded in Italy and Pythagoras, great philosopher and mathematician, becomes one of its citizens. Ovid uses Pythagoras as a mouthpiece to discuss how everything transforms, how humanity is connected to each other and everything else on the planet.
One of the more interesting themes here is that of reincarnation. Not in terms of whether it happens, it’s plainly stated that it does. But Pythagoras’ reasoning to be vegetarian and stop killing and eating animals is that we could very well be displacing the soul of a relative. In sum:
All of these nets and traps and snares and crafty devices – have done with them! Cease to deceive the birds with your treacherous limed twigs, duping the deer by stringing feathers on ropes to unnerve them, luring the fish with bait on the hidden hooks of your lines. If an animal harms you, destroy it; but do no more than destroy it. Cleave to a diet that sheds no blood and is kind to all creatures. (lines 473 ~ 468)
Next, in the “oh you think you have problems” department, Hippolytus determines to cheer up grieving widow Egeria by relating his own woes.
I have this image of a Roman warrior coming upon a crying woman in a grove of trees. She’s been crying so loud and so long that all the nymphs are telling her she needs to quiet down because Diana is being disturbed by all the ruckus. In all his well-meant platitudes, he awkwardly pats her on the shoulder and says, essentially, “Lady, you think you have it bad. Let me tell you about this one time …”
And off Hippolytus goes telling the story of how when he wouldn’t sleep with his stepmom, Phaedra, she accused him of rape to his father, Theseus. Of course, Theseus believes his wife over his son and curses him and exiles Hippolytus.
As Hippolytus is driving his chariot down the coast, a huge wave comes out of the ocean, turns into a gigantic bull and spooks the horses. Mayhem ensues, Hippolytus loses control of his horses and chariot which crashes and kills him.
My weary spirit at last gave out, and there wasn’t a part of my body which could have been known as mine. It was all one wound. Now can you, Egeria, dare you compare your misfortune with mine? (lines 528 – 530)
Then he goes on to say, “’cause let me tell ya, that was just the beginning.” Just like the one annoying co-worker we’ve all had who just wants to tell his story and get your sympathy, under the guise of “cheering you up.”
After he dies, Hippolytus goes to the underworld to bathe in healing waters which bring him back to life all in one piece again. And then, and then, he can’t even be Hippolytus anymore, he has to become Virbius because Pluto was angry about Hippolytus coming back to life.
Of course, this story does nothing to make Egeria feel better about losing her husband. She lays down at the foot of a mountain and continues crying until Diana was moved enough to turn Egeria into a cooling spring.
The Epilogue to this grand work proves that Ovid was both arrogant and prescient. He ends his masterpiece by stating that nothing will ever destroy his work and that his name shall never be forgotten.
Wherever the might of Rome extends in the lands she has conquered, the people shall read and recite my words. Throughout all ages, if poets have vision to prophesy truth, I shall live in my fame. (lines 877 – 879)
As I come close to finishing this doorstop of a book, it’s not a bad time to remind myself that Ovid’s stated intent with his epic poem was to tell the story of Roman history from the beginning of time until Rome’s founding by Romulus.
That is a lot to write. As I said in my review of Book One, Ovid had an ambitious goal. I’m also discovering that while I may “know” some of the stories in Metamorphoses, I don’t know Ovid’s versions. I know Odysseus (Ulysses) from Homer. The same with the Trojan War. Ovid’s audience would have known Homer’s work well, so while Ovid pays homage to the authors who came before him, he does not tell the same stories. Which can be confusing.. To add to the confusion, Homer was Greek; Ovid Roman.
This book may be the most disjointed of all. The stories are all over the place, jumping from metamorphosis to metamorphosis without much plot cohesion.
It begins with a return to the story of Glaucus and Scylla. Book Thirteen ended with Scylla rebuffing Glaucus who, seemingly, went to Circe in a huff. Book Fourteen reveals that Glaucus was not seeking out Circe to heal his broken heart, but to plead for a spell or potion to be whipped up that would make Scylla love him. And, as we have become used to, jealousy rears its ugly head. Circe refuses Glaucus’ request, wanting him for herself. Instead, she turns Scylla’s lower half into dogs. Glaucus continues to spurn Circe, and no one ends up happy.
Ovid briefly mentions Scylla being turned into a headland of rock, just across the way from Charybdis’ whirlpool, making the strait of Messina difficult to navigate for sailors. Between Scylla and Charybdis is the origin of “between a rock and a hard place.” Scylla being the rock and Charybdis the hard place.
A poorly executed encounter between soldiers who once fought on opposite sides of The Trojan War, leads to the story of the aftermath of Ulysses’ men in Polyphemus‘ cave. Great care is taken with the details of a blind, angry cyclops who pulls Mt. Etna apart and grabs every human he can feel and eats them whole. This is some gory stuff which Ovid’s audience would have loved.
Now the other soldier in this encounter relates what it was like to be traveling with Ulysses and get stranded on Circe’s island. Entering her palace, twenty-two men are greeted by friendly animals of all kinds. The animals are wagging their tails and licking the hands of the new arrivals. Circe greets them kindly, while the men notice that her women are not carding wool or spinning thread, but rather sorting grasses, flowers and herbs.
Circe directs the women to make a potion for the visitors. As they drink, she taps each one on their head and they become pigs. Here again, Ovid dwells on the details of this transformation.
… I started to prickle all over with bristles. My voice had deserted me, all the words I could utter were snorting grunts. I was falling down to the earth, head first. I could feel my nose and my mouth going hard in a long round snout; my neck was swelling in folds of muscle; the hands which had lifted the cup just now to my lips were marking the soil with hoof prints. (lines 279 – 284)
One of the men, Eurylochus, does not drink the potion and is able to alert Ulysses, outside of the palace, who comes in and convinces Circe to return them all to human form.
While lingering at Circe’s, one of her maidens tells the story of the statue of Picus to Macareus. As is common in these tales, Picus is gorgeous and young. He is also married to Canens, a beautiful young woman who could move anyone and anything with her singing.
One day, while out picking herbs, Circe gets an eyeful of Picus and falls in love. She is determined to have him, but Picus keeps denying her because he’s married to Canens. Circe becomes so incensed she casts a spell and turns him into a woodpecker.
Picus is searched for but, of course, no one can find him. Canens wanders for six days and six nights and finds herself on the shore of the Tiber river. As Canens sings her sorrow, she wastes away to nothing.
Once again, I’m reminded of the Roman audience who would have loved this sort of gossipy story. That it also explains the name of a physical space called Canens is a bonus.
Pomona is the goddess of orchards, who cares only for trees which bear fruit and nuts. She’s decided to spend her life away from men, which is difficult because the males don’t take no for an answer.
One, Vertumnus, changes the seasons, and can change his appearance at will. He disguises himself as an old woman so he can go into the orchard and talk to Pomona. In this guise, he gives her many reasons why she should marry him.
He doesn’t wander all over the world in search of new women; he sticks to his own patch. Nor does he fall in love with the latest girl he has seen, like most of your suitors. You’ll be his passion, his first and his last; he’ll devote his life entirely to you. (lines 679 – 682)
Then old-lady-in-disguise Vertumnus tells her the story of Iphis and Anaxarete, which does not end well.
Iphis is a shepherd who falls in love with the lady Anaxarete. He fights his feelings because of their differences in class. When he can no longer fight them, he goes to her home and pleads with her. He asks her servants to help him woo her, but Anaxrete has a cold heart and spurns him repeatedly. She even makes fun of him.
In an act of desperation, he goes to her front door and beseeches her one last time. When Iphis is rebuffed yet again, from behind a closed door, he commits suicide where the servants find him.
Still Anaxarete is unmoved which makes “a vengeful” god angry and she is turned into a statue.
At the end of this story, Vertumnus changes form into his own beautiful self, ready to rape Pomona, if “necessary.” But his story has changed her mind about men and she gives herself willingly to him. At least it’s another rape avoided.
Which brings us, at last, to the founding of Rome by Romulus. Ovid does not mention the twin brother Remus or the myth of them being raised by a she-wolf here. As with most well-known stories written by other authors, Ovid either glosses over them or focuses on different details. As I’ve stated many times, his Roman audience would have been familiar with these stories, so Ovid didn’t need to retell them.
Rome has been founded during the festival of Pales, the god of shepherds. But war broke out with the neighboring Sabines, because the Roman men abducted and raped Sabine women for wives. After a sufficient amount of blood being spilled, peace is negotiated and Romulus rules over both Romans and Sabines.
The last story in Book Fourteen is brief and relates the story of how Romulus became a god. Mars fulfills his promise to Romulus who takes the name Quirinus once deified.
His wife Hersilie is left behind and grieves the loss of her husband. But Juno has plans for her and sends Iris to fetch her to Romulus’ Hill, where she is transformed into a goddess and joins her husband as Hora.