Response to “Actæon”

by on February 20, 2013

Responses Takes

After reading Luke’s retelling of the story of Actæon, I sought another, more ancient source than Bullfinch: the Metamorphoses of Ovid.

Even Ovid draws attention to the ambiguity that surrounds this episode, as if it is a tabloid-reported story discussed on a Monday morning in the office: “Men heard his fate—and disagreed: some thought/ Diana was too cruel, too unjust;/ while others said her action, though severe, was worthy of a virgin so austere./ Both sides brought suasive arguments to bear.” Even in its reported form, this story lacks a satisfactory interpretation.

In Luke’s reading of the story, Diana acts mercifully, saving Actæon from a life of disappointment after his fateful eye-full. Though Diana is clearly acting out of surprise and some godly form of embarrassment, her curse gives meaning to Actæon’s life, which would otherwise continue in emptiness, forever haunted by the prey he can never catch.

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