Cherwell

Top 3… Transformations

Metamorphosis of Narcissus

Salvador Dali (1937)

One of the most famous paintings by the mag­nificent Spanish surrealist, the Metamorpho­sis of Narcissus depicts the story of Narcissus. According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and, unable to embrace it, remained sitting on the bank until the gods turned him into a flower. In the painting, he gazes into the pool. To his right, a decaying stone figure bears a resem­blance, but is in fact a stone hand holding up an egg. A Narcissus flower grows out of it.

Arachne from Metamorphoses

Ovid (8 AD)

The Roman poet Ovid’s work the Metamorpho­ses related numerous different transforma­tions from throughout ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Arachne, the weaver, claimed to have more weaving skill than Minerva, goddess of wisdom. Since weaving and looking pretty were women’s primary roles in the ancient world, this was some chal­lenge. In a contest, Minerva defeated Arachne, and transformed her into a spider. Have fun drawing your own etymological conclusions.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare (1590)

In a metatheatrical construction within this classic Shakespeare play, a troupe of actors put on a production of Pyramus and Thisbe. They journey into the forest for rehearsals with di­sastrous and hilarious consequences. One of the actors, Nick Bottom, encounters Puck, ser­vant of Oberon, King of the Fairies. The sprite casts a spell on him, transforming his head into that of a donkey. The Fairy Queen Titania is later bewitched into falling in love with this unlikely ass.