Ovid and the Fasti: An Historical Study

By Geraldine Herbert-Brown | Go to book overview
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Omissions in the Fasti
THE need for this appendix has been occasioned by Syme's treatment of the Fasti in chapter 2 of his History in Ovid ( 1978). There he provides a summary catalogue of the Augustan anniversaries registered in the six book of the poem, concludes that the total sum is not large, and makes note of the omissions. It is the omissions, which 'may (or may not) prove instructive for some purpose or other', which most attracted Syme's attention. Two of them consume the major part of his study of Ovid's calendrical verse.It is those same omissions which will be the subject of the present study. Syme lists five in all, in ascending order of seriousness. They are:
1. Octavian's assumption of imperium on 7 January 43 BC.
2. Dea Dia, 'the goddess to whom sacrifice was made by the Arvales, a confraternity revived by Augustus from ancient desuetude and intended to convey high prestige'.
3. The Ludi Saeculares.
4. The three closures of Janus.
5. The adoption of Tiberius on 26 June AD 4.

Of these omissions, it is (4) and (5) which received in-depth treatment by Syme. I propose to provide a similar treatment to all of them now with the exception Of (4) 'The Three Closures of Janus', which has been treated at length elsewhere in the present work (see Ch. 5, 'Gormanicus and Janus'). The other omissions to receive scrutiny here will reveal that Syme was not only unjustified in scolding Ovid for his negligence; they will also suggest that his dating of the Fasti to the years AD 1-4 is erroneous, and support the theory, postulated throughout this book, that Ovid was stating the truth when he said that the composition of the Fasti was interrupted by his banishment ( T 2. 551-2). That the poem was written, in other words, in the years immediately prior to AD 8. This is the purpose for which I believe the omissions noted by Syme indeed 'prove instructive'.

1. Caesar's Assumption of Imperium, 7 January 43 BC

'Though Ovid refers to the young Caesar at Mutina (April 14 and 16), nothing is said about his assumption of imperium on January 7, 43 BC


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