By Bruce Ingham
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Both Vergil and he, and presumably many educated Romans, knew the general outlines of the myth. But Ovid's account represents an Ovidian elaboration of the data. First he makes his transition from the last story of Book 5. Minerva, who has listened to the Muses tell of their contest with the Pierides, approves of the mortals' punishment Page 15 and directs her attention toward the mortal Arachne, who has insulted her and challenges her to a contest in weaving. Once the transition has linked the stories by the theme of contest, Ovid devotes a section to description of Arachne (5-23).
116. Another kind of terminal sententia can be noted at 23: scires a Pallade doctam. That is, having appealed to the Nymphs, Ovid now turns to his audience and, by this potential subjunctive, draws it into the narrative to give final testimony. Initial sententiae are also common. In fact, as both Seneca and Quintilian show, Ovid was perhaps the most brilliant creator of sententiae in his day. Cf. 7-8, 288, 301, 357, 366, 370. When he uses sententiae and various forms of rhetorical repetition, Ovid calls attention to himself, the narrator.
Who is she? Is she the obedient daughter of the king, as everyone assumes her to be, or is she the lover of Jason, as she increasingly feels herself to be? How can she make her father see her as an independent woman, with her own valid needs and desires, and not just as an extension of his political plans? How can she make Jason, on the other hand, see her as a woman endowed with rich emotions and personality, not just as an instrument to the acquisition of the Golden Fleece? Psychologically, then, the girl becomes a woman during this passage, breaking free from parental dominance but making what proves to be a foolish choice in Jason.