Third style. Late 1st cent. BCE — first half of the 1st cent. CE. Inv. No. 9555.Naples, National Archaeological MuseumPhoto by Egisto Sani
Third style. Late 1st cent. BCE — first half of the 1st cent. CE.
Naples, National Archaeological Museum
(Napoli, Museo archeologico nazionale).
The location of this scene are the banks of the Nile river, where Io regained her human aspect. When she reached the river, she fell forward onto her knees and turning back her long neck with her face upwards, in the only way she could, looked to the sky, and with groans and tears and sad lowing seemed to reproach Jupiter and beg him to end her troubles. Jupiter threw his arms round his wife’s neck and pleaded for an end to vengeance. Appeased the wrath of Hera, so Ovid describes the return of the heifer Io to her previous human forms [Met. I, 736-746]:
|Ut lenita dea est, vultus capit illa priores
fitque, quod ante fuit: fugiunt e corpore saetae,
cornua decrescunt, fit luminis artior orbis,
contrahitur rictus, redeunt umerique manusque
ungulaque in quinos dilapsa absumitur ungues:
de bove nil superest formae nisi candor in illa;
officioque pedum nymphe contenta duorum
erigitur metuitque loqui, ne more iuvencae
mugiat, et timide verba intermissa retemptat.
“The wrath of the goddess [Hera] is soothed; lo gams back her former looks, and becomes what she was before. The rough hair falls away from her body, her horns disappear, her great round eyes grow smaller, her gaping mouth is narrowed, her shoulders and her hands come back, and the hoofs are gone, being changed each into five nails. No trace of the heifer is left in her save only the fair whiteness of her body. And now the nymph, able at last to stand upon two feet, stands erect; yet fears to speak, lest she moo in the heifer’s way, and with fear and trembling she resumes her long-abandoned speech” (Translation: Frank Justus Miller, “Ovid - Metamorphoses”).