"Metamorphoses," Vocabulary from Book 5

Ovid's "Metamorphoses" are tales full of shape-shifters and the supernatural, but the storytelling is grounded in a realism which transcends the mythology. (etext found here).

Learn these word lists for the tales: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. nuptial
    of or relating to a wedding
    Not like the songs which cheerful friends prepare
    For nuptial days, but sounds that threaten'd war;
    And all the pleasures of this happy feast,
    To tumult turn'd, in wild disorder ceas'd:
  2. boisterous
    violently agitated and turbulent
    Chief in the riot Phineus first appear'd,
    The rash ringleader of this boisterous herd,
  3. vile
    morally reprehensible
    But he for safety to the altar ran,
    Unfit protection for so vile a man;
  4. succor
    help in a difficult situation
    But Cepheus left before the guilty room,
    With grief appealing to the Gods above,
    Who laws of hospitality approve,
    Who faith protect, and succour injur'd right,
    That he was guiltless of this barb'rous fight.
  5. aloof
    remote in manner
    But Phineus stands aloof, and dreads to feel
    His rival's force, and flies his pointed steel:
  6. sage
    a mentor in spiritual and philosophical topics
    This impious war
    Cease, cease, he cries; these bloody broils forbear.
    This scarce the sage with high concern had said,
    When Chromis at a blow struck off his head,
  7. sever
    cut off from a whole
    While clinging to the horns, the trunk expires,
    The sever'd head consumes amidst the fires.
  8. transfix
    pierce with a sharp stake or point
    Ampycus next, with hallow'd fillets bound,
    As Ceres' priest, and with a mitre crown'd,
    His spear transfix'd, and struck him to the ground.
  9. scoff
    laugh at with contempt and derision
    Thee, when fierce Pettalus far off espied,
    Defenseless with thy harp, he scoffing cried,
    Go; to the ghosts thy soothing lessons play;
    We loathe thy lyre, and scorn thy peaceful lay:
    And, as again he fiercely bid him go,
    He pierc'd his temples with a mortal blow.
    "Thee" refers to Iapetides the bard (a lyric poet) whom Pettalus scoffs at, loathes ("find repugnant"), and scorns ("look down on with disdain"), because the bard is defenseless and sings of peace, while Pettalus is armed and wants to kill.
  10. obliquely
    to, toward or at one side
    A whizzing spear obliquely gave a blow,
    Stuck in his groin, and pierc'd the nerves below;
  11. doleful
    filled with or evoking sadness
    With shrieks, and doleful cries they rend the air:
    Their shrieks confounded with the din of war,
    With dashing arms, and groanings of the slain,
    They grieve unpitied, and unheard complain.
  12. insensate
    devoid of feeling and consciousness and animation
    While yet he spoke, the dying accents hung
    In sounds imperfect on his marble tongue;
    Tho' chang'd to stone, his lips he seem'd to stretch,
    And thro' th' insensate rock wou'd force a speech.
  13. affront
    treat, mention, or speak to rudely
    These for affronting Pallas were chastis'd,
    And justly met the death they had despis'd.
  14. credulous
    disposed to believe on little evidence
    Thence, to Seriphus with the head he sails,
    Whose prince his story treats as idle tales:
    Lord of a little isle, he scorns to seem
    Too credulous, but laughs at that, and him.
  15. folly
    a stupid mistake
    Friends, shut your eyes, he cries; his shield he takes,
    And to the king expos'd Medusa's snakes.
    The monarch felt the pow'r he wou'd not own,
    And stood convict of folly in the stone.
  16. rapture
    a state of elated bliss
    O happy Muses! she with rapture cried,
    Who, safe from cares, on this fair hill reside;
    Blest in your seat, and free your selves to please
    With joys of study, and with glorious ease.
  17. licentious
    lacking moral discipline
    But maids are frighten'd with the least alarms,
    And none are safe in this licentious time;
  18. portend
    indicate by signs
    Stop, stop, ye Muses, 'tis your friend who calls,
    The tyrant said; behold the rain that falls
    On ev'ry side, and that ill-boding sky,
    Whose low'ring face portends more storms are nigh.
    "Portend" and "bode" are synonyms and both usually indicate something ill rather than good. In the example sentence, the dark clouds indicate more storms are coming, but the tyrant is actually using the weather as an excuse to lure the Muses into his house in order to rape them. But on seeing a sign of his intentions, the Muses transform themselves into birds and escape.
  19. complaisant
    showing a cheerful willingness to do favors for others
    Oblig'd to stop, by the united force
    Of pouring rains, and complaisant discourse,
    His courteous invitation we obey,
    And in his hall resolve a-while to stay.
  20. indignation
    a feeling of righteous anger
    But he, by lust and indignation fir'd,
    Up to his highest tow'r with speed retir'd,
    And cries, In vain you from my arms withdrew,
    The way you go your lover will pursue.
  21. thespian
    a theatrical performer
    No more, ye Thespian girls, your notes repeat,
    Nor with false harmony the vulgar cheat;
    In voice or skill, if you with us will vie,
    As many we, in voice or skill will try.
  22. insolence
    an offensive disrespectful impudent act
    She too our empire treats with awkward scorn;
    Such insolence no longer's to be borne.
    Revenge our slighted reign, and with thy dart
    Transfix the virgin's to the uncle's heart.
  23. pliant
    capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out
    Her varied members to a fluid melt,
    A pliant softness in her bones is felt;
    Her wavy locks first drop away in dew,
    And liquid next her slender fingers grew.
    The body's change soon seizes its extreme,
    Her legs dissolve, and feet flow off in stream.
  24. diminutive
    very small
    His arms are turn'd to legs, and lest his size
    Shou'd make him mischievous, and he might rise
    Against mankind, diminutives his frame,
    Less than a lizzard, but in shape the same.
  25. quondam
    belonging to some prior time
    Amaz'd the dame the wondrous sight beheld,
    And weeps, and fain wou'd touch her quondam child.
    Yet her approach th' affrighted vermin shuns,
    And fast into the greatest crevice runs.
    In Latin, quondam="who once"--the quondam child once would not have minded his mother's touch, but transformed into a very small type of vermin (specifically, an eft or newt), he is scared and shuns ("avoid and stay away from deliberately") her by running into a crevice.
  26. ravish
    force (someone) to have sex against their will
    Without her father's aid, what other Pow'r
    Can to my arms the ravish'd maid restore?
  27. irrevocable
    incapable of being retracted
    Upon these terms she may again be yours
    (Th' irrevocable terms of fate, not ours),
    Of Stygian food if she did never taste,
    Hell's bounds may then, and only then, be past.
  28. adverse
    contrary to your interests or welfare
    The Goddess now, resolving to succeed,
    Down to the gloomy shades descends with speed;
    But adverse fate had otherwise decreed.
  29. gambol
    light-hearted recreational activity for amusement
    My arms a thousand ways I mov'd, and tried
    To quicken, if I cou'd, the lazy tide;
    Where, while I play'd my swimming gambols o'er,
    I heard a murm'ring voice, and frighted sprung to shore.
  30. prevail
    use persuasion successfully
    Help me, Diana, help a nymph forlorn,
    Devoted to the woods, who long has worn
    Thy livery, and long thy quiver born.
    The Goddess heard; my pious pray'r prevail'd;

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