This passage is a very descriptive and crucial section of this novel. In these short three pages Ovid reflects on his own life and looks into the future to see what is in store for him after his death. This section begins with Ovid finally arriving to the place that he has been searching for his whole life where he will rest and eventually die “And so we come to it, the place. I have taken my last step”. He says that this is the place from where he will ascend to the hands of the gods and live the rest of his life away from this world.
There is a great deal of imagery and descriptive language that is used in this section. This diction is very effective as the arrival to this place and Ovid’s death have both been highly built up throughout the novel and this use of language helps describe in detail the event that has been anticipated for so long. Once Ovid begins to tell us about this place he paints the picture of a clear spring day that in his mind is the perfect setting for his circle of life to be complete.
Ovid now begins to reflect on his life and the road he has taken to finally reach his destiny “Strange to look back on the enormous landscape we have struggled across all these weeks, across the sea, across my life in Rome, across my childhood to observe how clearly the footprints lead to this place and no other”. This contributes to the theme of destiny as Ovid is looking back at his life journey to reach this final and decisive moment. Ovid makes a reference to a goatherd from his childhood.
He is sleeping up against an olive tree with his flock beside him and says he has stayed like that since he can last remember for nearly sixty years. He then goes on to say that there is then one goat which jerks up on its hind legs too much on a vine shoot. It seems that Ovid is referring to himself and is using this example as a metaphor. Ovid in fact has (like the goatherd) for nearly sixty years not accomplished anything until now when he has finally gotten up like that one goat to reach the ‘vine shoot’ which represents in this sense Ovid’s destiny.
Finally there is the last addition to this section in the novel which is Ovid’s description of the child as he takes his final steps away from Ovid. The child walks away from Ovid and is every now and again picking up a snail as a source of food. Then he stops just before the stream to pick up a couple more snails and then finally takes walks over the stream to the other side lost in a moment of his own childlike pleasure of being free.
This analysis of the child is a great metaphor for what Ovid went through to eventually ‘pass through the stream’ and finally reach his destiny. This is a prime example of how the child does represent Ovid himself, his childhood and his destiny. Ovid travelled his whole life picking up “snails” that would keep him alive as he continued his journey. Until he finally reached his stream (the River of Ister) and passed it to his freeing of himself which results in his undying childlike pleasure.
Ovid chooses not to call out to the child as he doesn’t want to ruin the perfectness that is this moment. His life has reached that point of being perfect and without any form of influence form the rest of the world. His realisation of his final steps is expressed in this line “The living edible snails that are no longer necessary to my life and may be left now to return to their own”. ‘The snails’ which were what helped him make it past the ‘stream’ to his destiny is no longer needed as he has reached the place where he will rest for eternity.
“He is walking on the waters light. And as I watch, he takes the final steps off it, moving away slowly now into the deepest distance, above the earth, above the water, on air.”