He still does not understand that she is running away from him because she does not love him. Another aspect that sets Phoebus and Daphne’s story apart from the others is due to the fact that the female actually has a voice and some freedom of choice. Although it is true that Cupid caused Daphne to hate Phoebus, she was the one who made the choice to remain a virgin: Though many suitors seek her, she spurns all; she wants to roman uncurbed; she needs no man; she pays no heed to marriage, love, or husbands… Allow me to enjoy.
Perpetual virginity… (Book I, 22) Not only does Daphne voice her claim to remain a virgin, she supports her claim with a divine example: Phoebus’ own sister, Diana. Since Daphne made the decision to say “no,” she is not totally without blame for her metamorphosis. Despite the fact that she is dehumanized when she is transformed into a laurel tree, it was still her decision. Finally, this tale can be interpreted as an example of love conquering all. Cupid defeats Phoebus by taking away his powers of shooting, prophecy, and medical healing.
Using Phoebus’ favorite choice of weapon, the arrow, Cupid showed the superiority of an arrow of love over an arrow of violence. The oracles tell Phoebus that he has no future, but he still hopes that he read the oracle incorrectly (Book I, 22). Cupid defeats Phoebus even further by making him doubt his own power of seeing the future, a power that has never been wrong. In conclusion, although Daphne and Phoebus’ tale appears like the rest of the rape/lust narratives, upon closer examination it is actually quite different.
Here the male protagonist actually loves instead of just lusts after the female virgin. Unlike the other stories, where either the male or the female is in control, here an outside force overrules. Neither Daphne or Phoebus dominate over the other, instead they are dominated by the power of love. As a result, Ovid’s first account of love illustrates that love is not just a complex, and invincible force; it is also an impartial employer, affecting both men and women.
Work Cited Ovid. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: A Harvest Book, 1993. 3-34.