Ovid and the Fasti: An Historical Study

By Geraldine Herbert-Brown | Go to book overview
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AFTER the death of Augustus in AD 14, Ovid rededicated the Fasti and revised sections within it to incorporate the new dedicatee. That rededication was not, as might be expected, to the successor of Augustus, the new Princeps and Pontifex Maximus, but to Germanicus Caesar, nephew and adopted son of the new ruler. Yet Ovid's reworking of the poem to honour his new dedicatee did not last long. Except for a brief outburst in the proem to book 4 (79-82), nothing beyond book 1 reveals any revisions to incorporate Gerinanicus. Even in book 1, the passages honouring him are few.

The present chapter is devoted to a study of Germanicus in relation to Ovid's poem. Not only are the passages honouring him to be examined; the question of why Ovid overlooked Tiberius in favour of his youthful heir, when recall from exile was uppermost in his mind, must be considered. So too must the question of why the poet abandoned his revision of the Fasti in favour of its new dedicatee so soon. We begin with the most pressing problem first.

Why Germanicus?

The new proem to the Fasti reads thus ( 1. 1-26):

Tempora cum causis Latium digesta per annum
lapsaque sub terras ortaque signa canam.
excipe pacato, Caesar Germanice, voltu
hoc opus et timidae derige navis iter,

officioque, levem non aversatus honorem, 5
en tibi devoto numine dexter ades.
sacra recognosces annalibus eruta priscis
et quo sit merito quaeque notata dies.
invenies illic et festa domestica vobis
saepe tibi pater est, saepe legendus avus, 10


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