Lesson 1: “The Metamorphoses” and Genesis: A Comparison of Creation-Flood Stories

A comparison can cast light on the contrasting values of two civilizations or, conversely, point out that despite differences in the details, we humans all share certain universal constructs and personality traits.

In this lesson, students compare the stories of creation as told by Ovid in Book I of The Metamorphoses with the Biblical narrative of creation as told in Genesis: 1–2. They identify the significance of those elements and the emphasis placed on them.

“The Bible is the cultural heritage of the nation we live in, and also the heritage of the creation of literature in English,” states Robert Polhemus, Stanford University's English department. Many 21st-century students lack even basic layman’s Biblical literacy which can handicap them in discussing recurrent themes in Western cultural discourse. In order to fully engage students in Lesson 1, you may need to offer them background and context for the creation-flood stories in Genesis. (See Preparation and Resources)

The lesson’s initial comparison of creation narratives will be reinforced through a further comparison of the Biblical story of destruction by flood with Ovid’s story of destruction by flood.

This lesson is one part of a three lesson unit on The Metamorphoses. The three lessons may be taught in sequence, or each lesson can stand on its own. Teachers may link to the full unit with Guiding Questions, College and Career Readiness standards and Background. Lesson 1 aligns with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2

Guiding Questions

No guiding questions

Learning Objectives

Compare creation and destruction narratives found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book I, and in the biblical accounts in Genesis.