"Metamorphoses," Vocabulary from Book 7

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. odious
    unequivocally detestable
    And those unwelcome guests, the odious race
    Of Harpyes, from the monarch's table chase.
  2. fickle
    marked by erratic changeableness in affections
    Thy native land, tho' barb'rous, can present
    A bridegroom worth a royal bride's content:
    And whether this advent'rer lives, or dies,
    In Fate, and Fortune's fickle pleasure lies.
  3. cozen
    cheat or trick
    Pull off the cozening masque, and oh! in time
    Discover and avoid the fatal crime.
  4. assuage
    satisfy, as thirst
    She finds the fury of her flames assuaged,
    But, seeing Jason there, again they rag'd.
  5. scepter
    a ceremonial or emblematic staff
    The king himself high-thron'd above the rest,
    With iv'ry scepter, and in purple drest.
  6. ambient
    completely enveloping
    With brazen hoofs they beat the ground, and choke
    The ambient air with clouds of dust and smoke:
  7. surmount
    be or do something to a greater degree
    One labour more remains, and, tho' the last,
    In danger far surmounting all the past;
  8. mirth
    great merriment
    Amidst these revels, why that cloud of care
    On Jason's brow? (to whom the largest share
    Of mirth was due)
  9. filial
    relating to or characteristic of or befitting an offspring
    To his ag'd sire such filial duty shown,
    So diff'rent from her treatment of her own,
    But still endeav'ring her remorse to hide,
    She check'd her rising sighs, and thus replied.
  10. nocturnal
    belonging to or active during the night
    The circling crescents of th' encreasing moon;
    Then, in the height of her nocturnal noon,
    Medea steals from court; her ankles bare,
    Her garments closely girt, but loose her hair;
  11. malefactor
    someone who has been legally convicted of a crime
    And stubborn lawless winds obey my call:
    With mutter'd words disarm'd the viper's jaw;
    Up by the roots vast oaks, and rocks cou'd draw,
    Make forests dance, and trembling mountains come,
    Like malefactors, to receive their doom;
    Mal (bad) + facere (to perform) = malefactor--in the example sentence, Medea describes the mountains as malefactors that need to be punished by the winds. But the winds could also be seen as malefactors since they are "lawless" and uproot oaks. And Medea is a malefactor since 1) she would be the one controlling the winds; 2) she worships Hecate, the goddess of sorcery and black magic.
  12. presage
    indicate by signs
    And you'll perform't-
    You will; for lo! the stars, with sparkling fires,
    Presage as bright success to my desires:
    And now another happy omen see!
  13. cull
    look for and gather
    Some by the roots she plucks; the tender tops
    Of others with her culling sickle crops.
  14. plunder
    goods or money obtained illegally
    Nor could the plunder of the hills suffice,
    Down to the humble vales, and meads she flies;
  15. mystic
    beyond ordinary understanding
    New wine she pours, and milk from th' udder warm,
    With mystic murmurs to complete the charm,
    And subterranean deities alarm.
    Note the alliteration that emphasizes the sound of Medea's mystic murmurs--these alarm the gods below the earth because she is magically trying to keep Aeson from them by helping him to live longer than the Fates had intended.
  16. stupefy
    make dull or muddle, as with intoxication
    Then calls to have decrepit Aeson brought,
    And stupefies him with a sleeping draught;
    On Earth his body, like a corpse, extends,
  17. lustrate
    purify by means of a ritual
    Piece-meal the consecrated wood she splits,
    And dips the splinters in the bloody pits,
    Then hurls 'em on the piles; the sleeping sire
    She lustrates thrice, with sulphur, water, fire.
  18. sundry
    consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds
    Then, from the bottom of her conj'ring bag,
    Snakes' skins, and liver of a long-liv'd stag;
    Last a crow's head to such an age arriv'd,
    That he had now nine centuries surviv'd;
    These, and with these a thousand more that grew
    In sundry soils, into her pot she threw;
  19. inveigle
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    His guiltless daughters, with inveigling wiles,
    And well dissembled friendship, she beguiles:
    The strange achievements of her art she tells,
    With Aeson's cure, and long on that she dwells,
    'Till them to firm persuasion she has won,
    The same for their old father may be done:
    From Middle French, aveugler, the word literally means "to delude, make blind"--"inveigle," "wile," "beguile," and "dissemble" all connect to deceit, which Medea uses to convince the daughters of Pelias to shed their father's blood.
  20. putrid
    in an advanced state of decomposition and having a foul odor
    Come-drench your weapons in his putrid gore;
    'Tis charity to wound, when wounding will restore.
    Since Pelias is not dead yet, his gore should not be putrid, but Medea could also be using "putrid" to mean "morally corrupt or evil"--while she would not want this meaning to be obvious to the daughters, she planned this in order to take revenge on the man who had stolen the throne from her beloved's father and then sent Jason on a dangerous mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece.
  21. consternation
    sudden shock or dismay that causes confusion
    Waking in consternation, he essays
    (Welt'ring in blood) his feeble arms to raise:
    Environ'd with so many swords-From whence
    This barb'rous usage? what is my offence?
  22. paramour
    a lover, especially a secret or illicit one
    Then Hyrie's lake, and Tempe's field o'er-ran,
    Fam'd for the boy who there became a swan;
    For there enamour'd Phyllius, like a slave,
    Perform'd what tasks his paramour would crave.
    The one enamored is Phyllius, and his desired paramour is Cycnus. But Cycnus does not love Phyllius--he is a young boy who only enjoys ordering Phyllius to bring him wild animals to play with.
  23. prudent
    marked by sound judgment
    Here Aegeus so engaging she addrest,
    That first he treats her like a royal guest;
    Then takes the sorc'ress for his wedded wife;
    The only blemish of his prudent life.
  24. dispatch
    kill intentionally and with premeditation
    Mean-while his son, from actions of renown,
    Arrives at court, but to his sire unknown.
    Medea, to dispatch a dang'rous heir
    (She knew him), did a pois'nous draught prepare;
  25. treacherous
    tending to betray
    The gen'rous king, altho' o'er-joy'd to find
    His son was safe, yet bearing still in mind
    The mischief by his treacherous queen design'd;
    The horrour of the deed, and then how near
    The danger drew, he stands congeal'd with fear.
    "Treacherous" also means "dangerously unstable and unpredictable"--this could be a fitting description for Medea, who killed her own children to get revenge on her cheating husband. But in the example sentence, the treachery that Aegeus is focused on is Medea betraying him and the kingdom by trying to kill his son.
  26. impregnable
    incapable of being attacked or tampered with
    Paros, with marble cliffs afar display'd;
    Impregnable Sithonia; yet betray'd
    To a weak foe by a gold-admiring maid,
  27. respite
    a pause from doing something
    That question does the Gnossian's grief renew,
    And sighs from his afflicted bosom drew;
    Yet after a short solemn respite made,
    The ruler of the hundred cities said:
  28. eloquence
    powerful and effective language
    Their common danger, ev'ry thing cou'd wake
    Concern, and his address successful make:
    Strength'ning his plea with all the charms of sense,
    And those, with all the charms of eloquence.
  29. frugal
    avoiding waste
    By chance a rev'rend oak was near the place,
    Sacred to Jove, and of Dodona's race,
    Where frugal ants laid up their winter meat,
    Whose little bodies bear a mighty weight:
  30. blandishment
    flattery intended to persuade
    Thou always art most welcome to my breast;
    I faint; approach, thou dearest, kindest guest!
    These blandishments, and more than these, I said
    (By Fate to unsuspected ruin led),

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.