In Liber VII of the Metamorphoses, Ovid retells the fable of the creation of the Myrmidon people. This section in the Metamorphoses follows the King of Crete, Minos, who is seeking revenge for the death of his son, Androgeus. Androgeus was murdered in Athens, and, for that, Minos is searching for allies to wage a war against Athens.
Ovid, while recounting the story of Minos’s pursuit for allies, also recounts the story of a great plague decimating the population of Aegina. The Prince of Aegina, Aeacus, survives this plague. Distressed by the loss of his people, Aeacus seeks his said-to-be father, Jupiter, for help. As Aeacus observes a tree, sacred to Jupiter, covered with many ants, he demands Jupiter to give him the same number of citizens as the number of ants on the tree. As Aeacus dozes off, he sees the tree shake off the ants vigorously. He observes the ants, now on the ground, turn into humans––the Myrmidons.
The tale then returns to Minos. After much defeat in securing allies, Minos turns toward Aegina for help. Not only is Minos turned down by Aeacus, but by the time that Minos arrives in Aegina, so does Cephalus, the ambassador of Athens. Aeacus recounts to both Minos and Cephalus the tragic plague that hit the people of Aegina, as well as the godly repopulation that he witnessed.
This website will specifically look at the scene in which Aeacus demands citizens from his father as well as the transformation of the ants into the Myrmidons.