Jupiter “Amputates” the Human Race

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses 1.90-91, Jupiter resolves to extirpate the human race because its ferocious malignity threatened ruin to the gods at every turn:

“All options must be tried, but ultimately the part of the body which does not admit of healing must be cut off, lest the good part be lost.”

cuncta prius temptanda, sed immedicabile corpus

ense recidendum est, ne pars sincera trahatur.


Compare this to the sentiment expressed by Caligula, as recorded in Suetonius biography (chp. 30):

“Oh, I wish that the Roman people had but one neck!”

Utinam p. R. unam cervicem haberet!


By way of a more recent comparison, there is A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad, XLV:

If it chance your eye offend you,
Pluck it out, lad, and be sound:
’Twill hurt, but here are salves to friend you,
And many a balsam grows on ground.

And if your hand or foot offend you,
Cut it off, lad, and be whole;
But play the man, stand up and end you,
When your sickness is your soul.

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