This one volume work in the Loeb Classical Series (# 253) is
Ovid's remarkable combining of poetry, myth, astrology,
astronomy, and commentary on Rome.
Apparently the work was written, or completed, while
Ovid was in exile in what is today Romania (in the
ancient city of Tomis), having been sent there by the
Ovid's life there must have been misery, anguish, and
hardship (how different from the famous poet all
Rome had talked about before his fall!). The poems
about that exile, along with letters which he sent back
to Rome, can be found in Loeb Classical volume, # 151,
-Tristia, Ex Ponto- (ISBN: 0674991672).
This present volume "is a poetical treatise on the
Roman calendar, which it discusses in chronological
order, beginning with the first day of January and
ending with the last day of June, where it stops
abruptly." (Introduction.) Ovid had intended to
write 12 parts to the work, but we only have the
first six. The author of the Introduction makes
some scholarly speculations about what happened to
the other six parts, which are very interesting.
This Loeb version is translated by James G. Frazer,
who himself had orginally published a 5-volume edition
of the -Fasti-, but trimmed a bit of his scholarly
commentary in order to produce this one-volume edition
for the Loeb series. Frazer (1854 - 1941) was a
British anthropologist, folklorist, and classical
scholar; his 12 volume opus, -The Golden Bough-,
is a world-famous work on comparative ancient religions,
myth, and cultural rites.
Ovid, himself, was exremely interested not only
in poetry, but in myth and cultural rites as well. That
is clearly evidenced in the -Fasti-. Here is an example
of the combining of poetry, with myth, and astrology/
astronomy from March 5: "When from her saffron cheeks
Tithonous' spouse shall have begun to shed the dew /
at the time of the fifth morn, the constellation,
whether it be the Bear-ward or the sluggard Bootes,
will have sunk and will escape thy sight. But not
so will the Grape-gatherer escape thee." There is
more to the quote which expands on the myth of the
origin of the constellation. There are excellent
notes to explain allusions, as well as a scholarly
Introduction to the volume.
Though Ovid was trying to find some way to gain
either commutation or release from his exile, he was
not successful (either under Augustus or his successor,
the Emperor Tiberius). Still, though seeking clemency,
Ovid nonetheless takes satiric swipes at Rome's
losing of ancient values. Ovid died in exile and
was buried in Tomis. "Sic transit gloria mundi."
-- Robert Kilgore.