The fundamental theory encasing the contentions of Ovid is that pure love endures even unto death. However, human nature prevents something as beautiful as love to blossom by nipping it in the bud. The ego, jealousy, anger hatred and wickedness in people blind their eyes to humanity, honesty, faith, hope, virtuousness and justice thus paving the way for his downfall.
As one of the most tragic poems 'Metamorphoses' has raked in a lot of mixed reviews from both its readers as well as other poets and critics. But even so it has served to be a great toll of inspiration to them by enabling them to come out with their own works using the ideas contained in Ovid's poem. Several of Ovid's critics and opponents both in the past and present have criticized the poem as being too tragic, but it is this tragic element that has stood the test of time and used over and over again in many of the best works of renowned writers.
Quite on the same lines of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' are many of Sontag's works which has exploited the same theme in Ovid's poem. She has an uncanny method of rewriting or retelling a story previously told. A good example of this is her novel titled 'The Volcano Lover' which exudes love at every step. This is clearly seen in the ensuing passage that states - 'Beneath the layering of history, everything speaks of love.' (Sontag, The Volcano Lover) Another clear example of traces of Ovid's poem in her novel is 'Once these places were men and women, who, because of unhappy or frustrated love, underwent a metamorphosis into what one sees today. Even the volcano Vesuvius was once a young man, who saw a nymph lovely as a diamond.' (Sontag, The Volcano Lover)
In Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' the tale relates to the dead lovers being finally immortalized through the symbol of the fruits of the mulberry tree that become black when ripe. The redness of the mulberry fruits symbolizes the blood they had shed which reminds us to mourn for the dead lovers. This sacrificial act makes Pyramus and Thisbe fixed emblems of love and sacrifice proving that their love was true and they were faithful even unto death. Sontag too makes use of this tool but combines both the tragic as well as the comic together. In her 'Sontag's story of Vesuvius' she depicts the mount as threatening - "burns and burns and burns" (Sontag) Though the situation seems tragic, it also is made to seem a bit comic by depicting it as a burning lover. Arthur Golding (translations of 1567) points out that there is a touch of comedy in Ovid's poem too, as there are doubts on the aspect of arrestation when Thisbe cries over the body of her lover Pyramus saying -
Make aunswere O my Pyramus: it is thy Thisb, even she
Whome thou doste love most heartely that speaketh unto thee.
Give eare and rayse thy heavie head. He hearing Thisbes name,
Lift up his dying eyes, and having seene hir closde the same.
Keats's poem "Ode on a Grecian Um", quite like Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' makes use of the effect of arrestation in metamorphoses. In such a situation when men pursue women in love and when their desire is not satisfied or quenched, they are transformed into inanimate objects such as a star, tree, river or rock which serves to arrest the onslaught. Just like Ovid, Keats too portrays visions of movements that