chapter  7
“Softening the Stony”: Eve and the Process of Spiritual Regeneration
Pages 28

Before the Fall, Eve is a nexus of mythic possibilities. It was appropriate that Ovid should have been the primary source for this mythic substructure because her volatile and constantly shifting identity unsurprisingly draws to itself the shape-shifting imaginative energy of Ovid’s poem. She is both one and many: first the solitary Narcissus, then the reluctant Daphne, hotly pursued; now the softly sensuous mater florum or even Venus herself, queen of the graces. She is both the all-powerful mother goddess Ceres and the frail, vulnerable Proserpina or the doomed Eurydice.1 As she leaves Adam to garden alone, Eve has the “Virgin Majestie” of Diana, yet she more nearly resembles the independent-spirited but unwary gardener Pomona, armed only with her gardening tools. Although after the Fall Eve is at first shorn of this mythic dimension, she undergoes one final literary metamorphosis: as she repents her sin with Adam, Eve is likened to Deucalion’s pious and virtuous wife, “chaste Pyrrha,” both to confirm her reconciliation to Adam and to symbolize that a process of inward spiritual regeneration has begun.