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Metamorphoses | Character Analysis

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Jupiter

Jupiter is name of the king of the gods in Roman mythology. He is also referred to in the poem by the name Jove. One of the characters who recurs most often, Jupiter is involved in everyone's business, whether hiding his infidelities and the children they produce from his wife, Juno, meddling in the lives of mortals, or coming to the aid of his fellow gods. Much like his son Apollo, he can be impulsive, stubborn, and headstrong. As god of the sky he holds a thunderbolt, which he often throws at humans who misbehave to punish them.

Juno

Juno is Jupiter's sister, his wife, and queen of the gods. She is prone to bursts of jealousy and rage when she catches her husband in the act of pursuing other women, many of whom he takes by force. But Juno tends to punish the women rather than her husband, and her revenge can be very harsh. Like Jupiter and the other deities, however, Juno also steps in to help mortals who seek her aid or for whom she feels sympathy. Juno's actions call attention to the tempestuous and fickle actions and reactions of the gods.

Venus

Venus is also known as Cytherea. She is born from sea foam and therefore has no parents. (Though some versions of her myth list Saturn as her father, while others list Uranus.) As the goddess of love, she aids both gods and mortals in matters of the heart. Venus is kind and sympathetic unless she is crossed, in which case she can become vengeful. Married to Vulcan, she has an affair with Mars, the god of war, and has a child with him named Cupid. Cupid, the god of desire, shoots his arrows to cause people to fall in love, and Venus enlists him in her schemes to get revenge or extend her power.

Apollo

Apollo is the god's Roman name. Apollo is the god of the sun as well as prophecy and music. He is also known by his Greek name, Phoebus, and is sometimes simply called the Sun. Characters in the poem often go to Apollo's oracle at Delphi, which is dedicated to the god, to hear prophecies. Often characterized throughout the myths as headstrong and rash, Apollo is prone to pursuing the object of his lusts no matter what the cost to the mortal involved, but he is also capable of real sorrow when one of his favorites dies. Apollo often carries a lyre, or harp, as his symbol, as well as leaves or branches of the laurel tree.

Minerva

Minerva is also known by part of her Greek name, Pallas (from Pallas Athena). She has no mother but is born from the skull of her father, Jupiter. Like her sister Diana, she is an avowed virgin. It is a good idea to make Minerva an ally. A fierce warrior who wears armor in the form of a breastplate and helmet and carries a sword, she is a formidable foe in any battle. Minerva is also the goddess of the arts and a fine weaver. She respects and rewards artistic talent and skill but loathes hubris.

Diana

Diana, the goddess of animals and the hunt, often wanders the woods with her bow and arrows. Like her sister Minerva, she is a sworn virgin, as are her followers, who are devoted to maintaining their chastity. Protecting her privacy is especially important to the goddess, who swiftly punishes anyone who invades it. Like the other gods, Diana also steps in to protect mortals who ask for her help, such as the nymph Arethusa whom she surrounds with a protective cloud so she can escape from Alpheus, who pursues her against her will.

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