|In 1636, Ovid's
version of the story became the model for a painting by Peter Paul Rubens,
which he entitled "The Feast of Tereus", in which the artist pays
homage to both Ovid's vision of this myth. This painting is remarkable in
comparison to the Greek artistic representations of this myth for its
emphasis on Tereus, without whom none of the subsequent horror of this story
would have unfolded. This scene is indeed the crux of the play - it bridges
the crimes and punishment of the barbarian king. By choosing to depict this
scene of Tereus' just desserts, both Rubens, the artist, and Ovid, the poet
he honors, redirect our attention to the very cause of all the ill fortune in
this myth: Tereus' insatiable appetite for power at the expense of an
| His wife furnishes the ignorant Tereus with
this meal and,
| lying about a sacred fatherly ritual at
which it is right
| for a man to sit alone, she removes the
attendants and slaves.
| Sitting high on his ancestral throne,
Tereus eats and
| piles his own flesh into his stomach,
| and so unaware is he that he says
"Bring Itys here!"
| Procne is unable to disguise her cruel joy
| desiring to be the messenger of his
destruction, now says
|655 "You have him, whom you seek,
inside." He looks around
| and asks where he is; and as he asks and
| Philomela, just as she was with hair
bespattered by the furious slaughter,
| springs forth and shoves the bloody head of
Itys into his father's face.
| Never was there a time when she wished she
could speak more,
|660 so that she could show testament to her joy
with deserved words.
| The Thracian overturns the table with a
| and calls the snaky sisters forth from the
| and now he longs to expel from his opened
breast, if he could,
| the horrible meal inside him, his own flesh
|665 And he cries and calls himself the
miserable tomb of his own son,
| and now, with sword drawn, he pursues the
daughters of Pandion.
|from Ovid’s Met.
Book 6, tr: Janice Siegel