Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




Pythagoras' speech at the climax of Metamorphoses (15.60-478) has frustrated all attempts to pin it down. To many it seems playfully vacuous, a harmless intellectual exhibition. Mack, for instance, calls it "vehement and impassioned...but signifying little." Solodow argues that it does not have "any special significance in itself nor lends any to the poem as a whole." Little sees only "superficial correspondence with [Ovid's] subject matter." Particularly troublesome is its culminating injunction to "empty the mouth of meats and choose harmless foods " (ora vacent epulis alimentaque mitia carpant! 478), which seems not only out of place in the context of Latin poetry but was in fact a trope often used to spoof Pythagoras. Of all the moral qualities for which this sage was known, this is an odd one to emphasize, especially at the finale of an epic cosmogony.

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Faculty Mentor

Mark Damen

Departmental Honors Advisor

Susan Shapiro