Week 6: Ovid's Metamorphoses

Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Book 6: Marysas

Reading time: 1 minute. Word count: 200 words.

After the anonymous storyteller tells how the farmers were turned into frogs, another storyteller explains how the god Apollo got angry at the satyr Marsyas. Marsyas had challenged the god Apollo to a music contest, and when Marsyas lost the contest, Apollo decided to strip the skin from Marsyas's body. All of Marsyas's friends and companions wept so much at this sight that their tears formed a river which was called the "Marsyas."

When whoever it was had finished relating the ruin of the men of Lycia, another storyteller remembered the satyr, Marsyas, whom Apollo, Latona's son, had defeated, playing on the flute, that Tritonian Minerva invented. He had exacted punishment. Marsyas cried 'Why do you peel me out of myself? 'Aah! I repent', he screamed in agony. 'Aah! Music is not worth this pain!'

As he screams, the skin is flayed from the surface of his body, no part is untouched. Blood flows everywhere, the exposed sinews are visible, and the trembling veins quiver, without skin to hide them: you can number the internal organs, and the fibres of the lungs, clearly visible in his chest.

The woodland gods, and the fauns of the countryside, wept, and his brother satyrs, Olympus, his friend and pupil, still dear to him then, and the nymphs, and all who pastured their fleecy sheep and horned cattle on those mountains. The fertile soil was drenched, and the drenched earth caught the falling tears, and absorbed them into its deep veins. It formed a stream then, and sent it into the clear air. From there it ran within sloping banks, quickly, to the sea, the clearest river of Phrygia, taking Marsyas's name.


Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did the god Apollo punish Marsyas for having dared to challenge him in music?
  • how did Marsyas react to his punishment?
  • where did the river "Marsyas" come from?

Source: Ovid's Metamorphoses. English translation by A.S.Kline. 2000. "This work MAY be FREELY reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any NON-COMMERCIAL purpose." Website: Ovid and Others.

Modern Languages MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:48 PM