"Metamorphoses," Vocabulary from Book 6

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. hamlet
    a community of people smaller than a village
    Yet she their daughter, tho' her time was spent
    In a small hamlet, and of mean descent,
    Thro' the great towns of Lydia gain'd a name,
    And fill'd the neighb'ring countries with her fame.
  2. deprecate
    This the proud maid with scornful air denies,
    And ev'n the Goddess at her work defies;
    Disowns her heav'nly mistress ev'ry hour,
    Nor asks her aid, nor deprecates her pow'r.
  3. admonition
    cautionary advice about something imminent
    Young maid attend, nor stubbornly despise
    The admonitions of the old, and wise;
    For age, tho' scorn'd, a ripe experience bears,
    That golden fruit, unknown to blooming years:
  4. reprove
    reprimand, scold, or express disapproval of
    Thou doting thing, whose idle babbling tongue
    But too well shows the plague of living long;
    Hence, and reprove, with this your sage advice,
    Your giddy daughter, or your awkward niece;
    Know, I despise your counsel, and am still
    A woman, ever wedded to my will;
  5. hallowed
    worthy of religious veneration
    Haste, haste, ye Theban matrons, and adore,
    With hallow'd rites, Latona's mighty pow'r;
    And, to the heav'nly twins that from her spring,
    With laurel crown'd, your smoking incense bring.
  6. vagrant
    a wanderer with no established residence or means of support
    Seven are my daughters, of a form divine,
    With seven fair sons, an indefective line.
    Go, fools! consider this; and ask the cause
    From which my pride its strong presumption draws;
    Consider this; and then prefer to me
    Caeus the Titan's vagrant progeny;
  7. spurious
    born out of wedlock
    To whom, in travel, the whole spacious Earth
    No room afforded for her spurious birth.
    "Spurious" also means "plausible but false"--this definition is suggested in Niobe's questioning of Latona's divinity ("What madness this, to court a Goddess, founded merely on report?"), but the example sentence is focused on the shameful circumstances surrounding Latona's pregnancy--no land would let Latona give birth there because they were all afraid of what Juno would do to them. Unlike Niobe's lawfully fathered children, Latona's twins were fathered by a cheating Zeus.
  8. timorous
    timid by nature or revealing timidity
    The timorous throng their sacred rites forbore,
    And from their heads the verdant laurel tore;
    Their haughty queen they with regret obey'd,
    And still in gentle murmurs softly pray'd.
  9. repine
    express discontent
    Nay more, the imp of Tantalus has flung
    Reflections with her vile paternal tongue;
    Has dar'd prefer her mortal breed to mine,
    And call'd me childless; which, just fate, may she repine!
  10. sinewy
    consisting of tendons or resembling a tendon
    But Damasichthon, by a double wound,
    Beardless, and young, lay gasping on the ground.
    Fix'd in his sinewy ham, the steely point
    Stuck thro' his knee, and pierc'd the nervous joint:
    "Sinewy" also means "possessing physical strength and weight; rugged and powerful"--this could describe the young Damasichthon who was a young man and required two arrows shot by the god Phoebus to kill him.
  11. obdurate
    showing unfeeling resistance to tender feelings
    Stunn'd, and obdurate by her load of grief,
    Insensible she sits, nor hopes relief.
  12. churlish
    rude and boorish
    Some churlish peasants, in the days of yore,
    Provok'd the Goddess to exert her pow'r.
  13. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    Here, as we saunter'd thro' the verdant meads,
    We spied a lake o'er-grown with trembling reeds,
    Whose wavy tops an op'ning scene disclose,
    From which an antique smoky altar rose.
  14. expostulate
    reason with for the purpose of dissuasion
    The Goddess came, and kneeling on the brink,
    Stoop'd at the fresh repast, prepar'd to drink.
    Then thus, being hinder'd by the rabble race,
    In accents mild expostulates the case.
  15. debar
    prevent from entering; keep out
    Water I only ask, and sure 'tis hard
    From Nature's common rights to be debar'd:
  16. genial
    agreeable, conducive to comfort
    This, as the genial sun, and vital air,
    Should flow alike to ev'ry creature's share.
  17. reproach
    express criticism towards
    Yet they the Goddess's request refuse,
    And with rude words reproachfully abuse:
  18. clamorous
    conspicuously and offensively loud
    Often upon the bank their station take,
    Then spring, and leap into the cooly lake.
    Still, void of shame, they lead a clamorous life,
    And, croaking, still scold on in endless strife;
  19. foment
    try to stir up
    Tereus surveys her with a luscious eye,
    And in his mind forestalls the blissful joy:
    Her circling arms a scene of lust inspire,
    And ev'ry kiss foments the raging fire.
    In the example sentence, "foment" simply means "stir up"--because the object of his lust is his wife's virgin sister and a daughter of the king of Athens, Tereus would not want the public's opinion. Although he considers bribing Philomela, her attendants, and her governess or using the resources of his kingdom and going to war, in the end, he secretly rapes Philomela and then lies about it.
  20. importune
    beg persistently and urgently
    Her piercing accents to her sire complain,
    And to her absent sister, but in vain:
    In vain she importunes, with doleful cries,
    Each unattentive godhead of the skies.
  21. perfidious
    tending to betray
    Oh happy! had it come, before I knew
    The curs'd embrace of vile perfidious you;
    Then my pale ghost, pure from incestuous love,
    Had wander'd spotless thro' th' Elysian grove.
  22. writhe
    move in a twisting or contorted motion
    And, as a serpent writhes his wounded train,
    Uneasy, panting, and possess'd with pain;
    The piece, while life remain'd, still trembled fast,
    And to its mistress pointed to the last.
  23. dissemble
    make believe with the intent to deceive
    At last he ventures to his Procne's sight,
    Loaded with guilt, and cloy'd with long delight;
    There, with feign'd grief, and false, dissembled sighs,
    Begins a formal narrative of lies;
  24. tumultuous
    characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
    But when the cyphers, figur'd in each fold,
    Her sister's melancholy story told
    (Strange that she could!) with silence, she survey'd
    The tragic piece, and without weeping read:
    In such tumultuous haste her passions sprung,
    They chok'd her voice, and quite disarm'd her tongue.
  25. bacchanalian
    used of riotously drunken merrymaking
    From thence, her sister snatching by the hand,
    Mask'd like the ranting Bacchanalian band,
    Within the limits of the court she drew
    Although the modern definition of the word is focused on partying, in the example sentence's situation, Procne uses the religious celebration of Bacchus (god of wine and ecstasy) as an opportunity to dress in disguise, slip away from the palace, and retrieve her sister (whom her husband had raped and mutilated).
  26. expiate
    make amends for
    Tears, unavailing, but defer our time,
    The stabbing sword must expiate the crime;
    Or worse, if wit, on bloody vengeance bent,
    A weapon more tormenting can invent.
  27. conjugal
    relating to the relationship between a wife and husband
    O Procne, see the fortune of your house!
    Such is your fate, when match'd to such a spouse!
    Conjugal duty, if observ'd to him,
    Would change from virtue, and become a crime;
  28. imprecation
    the act of calling down a curse that invokes evil
    The Thracian monarch from the table flings,
    While with his cries the vaulted parlour rings;
    His imprecations echo down to Hell,
    And rouse the snaky Furies from their Stygian cell.
  29. sylvan
    a spirit that lives in or frequents the woods
    Two of these sisters, of a lovelier air,
    Excell'd the rest, tho' all the rest were fair.
    Procris, to Cephalus in wedlock tied,
    Bless'd the young sylvan with a blooming bride:
  30. callow
    young and inexperienced
    But when, in time, the budding silver down
    Shaded their face, and on their cheeks was grown,
    Two sprouting wings upon their shoulders sprung,
    Like those in birds, that veil the callow young.

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