Ovid was a Roman poet who lived during the time of Augustus. One of his most well known written works’ is his work known as the Metamorphoses, which was a written work that contained stories that were often ethical revolving around the Roman gods. These ethical stories often showed the gods punishing humans for their wrongdoings, but also showed how those gods behaved, which was often in a questionable manner. From what I have read from Metamorphoses, what was Ovid’s view of the god’s ethical performance?
On the note of these gods’ ethical performance in general it was quite low. They were actually quite atrocious in their behavior, which Ovid portrayed quite openly in his work. For example, in one of the stories contained in the Metamorphoses, it tells that story of Arachne and Minerva. In this story Arachne who was a gifted weaver, who gained her knowledge from the goddess Minerva was bragging of her skill, and refused to admit that it was partially credited to Minerva. Minerva of course was angry, so she disguises as an old woman, and goes to Arachne. She eventually reveals herself to Arachne, this interaction eventually leads to them both having a contest in weaving. Arachne had better skill than Minerva, and her weaving was flawless. THis angered Minerva more to the point that tore apart Arachne’s work and physically hit her a couple of times, this led to Arachne eventually attempting to hang herself. Minerva felt some pity towards Arachne, so she thus gave Arachne life by turning her into a spider, she also cursed Arachne to be a spider forever and so would her descendants.
This story in my opinion showed how petty the gods were. Minerva was very prideful and jealous, which led her to act in a violent way. Arachne was no better, but Minerva was far out of line. The other stories contained in the Metamorphoses, showed many examples of godly pride, which often led to them being violent or doing some sort of horrible deed. Also these other stories show examples of gods committing adultery, and other ethically wrong deeds. Which comes into question of Ovid’s view of the god’s ethical performance.
Truly I have no idea what was Ovid’s view of the gods in general let alone on their ethical performance, because he never really showed his personal views in these stories. Regardless, these stories did not ease off on showing the gods in a dark light, for example in the example of the story of Arachne and Minerva, which showed how destructive Minerva’s pride was. Perhaps his view of the gods ethical performance was that of slight distaste, or disapproval.
One can gather so much of an author’s view from their writing, especially if they offer no details on it, Ovid’s Metamorphoses is no different. From the lack of detail on this matter from what I have gathered perhaps Ovid’s view of the gods in regards to their ethical performance is that of slight disapproval, but I truly do not know.