Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti
Ovid's Fasti, unlike his Metamorphoses, is anchored in Rome: religion, history and legend, monuments, and character. The poem interprets the Augustan period not as a golden age of peace and prosperity, Carole E. Newlands asserts, but as an age of experimentation, negotiation, compromise, and unresolved tensions.
Newlands maintains that, despite the Fasti's basic adherence to the format of the calendar, the text is carefully constructed to reflect the tensions within its subject: the new Roman year. Ovid plays with the calendar. Through the alteration or omission of significant dates, through skilled juxtapositions, through multiple narrators and the development of an increasingly unreliable authorial persona, Ovid opens to a critical and often humorous scrutiny the political ideology of the calendar. By adding astronomical observations and aetiological explanations for certain constellations, Newlands says, Ovid introduced the richly allusive world of Greek mythology to the calendar.
Newlands restores the poem to a position of importance, one displaying Ovid's wit and intellect at its best. The incompleteness of the Fasti, she adds, is a comment on the discord that characterized Augustus' later years and led to enforced silences.
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