Ovid, Fasti 1: A Commentary

Ovid, Fasti 1: A Commentary

Ovid, Fasti 1: A Commentary

Ovid, Fasti 1: A Commentary

Synopsis

This commentary provides a detailed analysis of the first book of Ovids Fasti, a complex poem which takes as its central framework the Roman calendar in the late Augustan/early Tiberian period and purports to deal with its religious festivals and their origins. Book 1 covers the month of January, and has proven to be particularly challenging to readers in light of the apparent revision/reworking of the text undertaken by the poet whilst in exile. This commentary - the most extensive yet on any single book of the poem - locates the text of Book 1 firmly in its literary, historical and socio-political contexts and seeks both to incorporate and build on the recent scholarship on the poem. In light of the special nature of Book 1, the commentary is prefaced by two introductory sections, the second of which tackles head-on the problems (and dynamics) of post-exilic reworking of the text.

Excerpt

In spite of being a rich and varied work from a renowned classical poet, Ovid’s Fasti received very little attention until the mid 1970’s, especially from literary critics; when it was studied, it was typically regarded as either a reliable source from which to quarry religious information, or an unsound project from a poet too often prone to religious inaccuracies. It is no exaggeration to say, however, that the poem has undergone a revolution in the past twenty-five years. Scholars from a variety of disciplines have applied their critical skills to the poem, and have uncovered a work which is both rich in literary heritage and a powerful witness and critic of late-Augustan and early-Tiberian imperial Rome. It is, moreover, a revolution which shows no signs of losing momentum: the first ever collection of essays on the poem, edited by Herbert-Brown (2002), is both a celebration of recent scholarship and a call for further fruitful avenues of study.

The present commentary—the most detailed yet on any single book of the poem—concentrates on Book 1, a book which has proven particularly challenging to the reader in light of the apparent revision of text during the poet’s exile (see Introduction, II). In the spirit of the recent renewal of interest in the poem, my strategy has been to integrate the secondary scholarship fully into the commentary. Consequently, rather than remaining ‘neutral’—an unrealistic expectation for either the writing of a commentary or a study of Fasti— I venture my own views in the commentary, whilst endeavouring to provide readers with sufficient information to enable them to come to their own informed opinions. If it does not win over in all its parts, the commentary aims to stimulate debate and further the scholarly interest on this dynamic text for the next twenty-five years.

A commentary on part of Fasti 1 was presented for the doctoral degree at the University of Manchester in September 1999. First and foremost, the work has benefited greatly from the continuous encouragement and critical judgment of my supervisor, Roy Gibson. Furthermore, it is my pleasure to express sincere gratitude to a variety of scholars who have, since submission of the thesis, read some or all of the draft of the present commentary, offering some stimulating suggestions and delivering me from error: Tim Cornell and . . .

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