BMCR 2020.03.05

Ovid. Fasti: Book III

, Ovid. Fasti: Book III. Cambridge Greek and Latin classics . Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. ix, 288 p.. ISBN9781107602465 $32.00 (pb).

This slim, elegant volume constitutes a most welcome addition to the well known series of Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Detailed, well referenced, and meticuluosly edited, this volume will make the teaching and study of Book 3 of Ovid’s Fasti a pleasure for colleagues and their students. Vast erudition and considered judgement undergird what will be the standard textbook for many years to come. This book consists of an introduction (pp. 1-45), text (pp. 49-73), commentary (pp. 75-265), bibliography (pp. 267-278), and indices (pp. 279-288).

The introduction is dedicated to discussing the author’s biography (pp. 1-5), the relationship between the Fasti and the Metamorphoses (pp. 5-9), the relationship of the Fasti to the poet’s exile (pp. 10-13), the relationship of the Fasti to calendars (pp. 13-18), analysis of Book 3 in terms of a variety of themes (pp. 18-28), analysis of Ovidian poetic language (pp. 28-42), and establishment of the text (pp. 43-45). Those being introduced to Ovid are well served, but those enjoying a long acquaintance with the author are also likely to find new and useful items. Cutting-edge scholarship rests easily beside a comprehensive vision of the basics, and the need to document affirmations never so clutters the text as to risk smothering the flow of Heyworth’s lucid prose in a swelter of learned citations. With admirable succinctness and clarity, the introduction accomplishes the goal of wide-ranging and thorough coverage.

The Latin text that follows is free of misprints. Well informed by a fine poetic sensibility (e.g. erudit in place of edidit at line 294 and the adoption of E. H. Alton’s emendation cratera et at line 766), it represents an improvement upon the excellent Teubner edition. Whether all obelised passages ought to have been emended might be debated, but there is no doubt that this edition will prove extremely useful for students and their teachers. Textual variants are listed in the introduction and discussed in the commentary, as is usual for this series fashioned for students. The lack of even an elementary critical apparatus is regrettable (e.g. the nearly unanimous transmission of esse in place of isse at line 145 is of no little interest for an understanding of how the text was construed by earlier generations of readers), but comprehensible and standard. Somewhat odd is the providing of dates in English on the margins of the Latin text. On the other hand, the use of Latin as found in the epigraphic record (in the Teubner, for instance) might mislead readers into believing that they were transmitted as an integral part of the text, even though the presence of Arabic numerals there should serve as a warning detail that they are a later, editorial addition.

The commentary is everything that one might wish of a commentary: learned, pertinent, and readable. So, for example, the discussion of the palm trees that were seen in a dream by Silvia elegantly interweaves quotations from the Odyssey and Herodotus with analysis of the significance of this tree’s symbolism (p. 84). Readers are helped to choose between “untaught” and “unteachable” when pondering the meaning of indociles (p. 105) as well as alerted to basic grammatical concepts, as in the case of the possessive dative faeno (p. 105). Discussion of Ovid’s etymological treatment of the name of Veiovis and a seemingly insignificant detail such as infanti nicely reminds us of the fact that the Roman poet had a Callimachean model in mind even when dealing with an indigenous divinity (p. 171). Poetry is given specific, solid attention, as in the treatment of elision in primo et at line 585 (p. 201) and Ovid’s use of tri– or ter– in groups of three (p. 248). Unusual words also evoke comment, as in the case of draconigenam and recollection of the mythical history of Thebes (p. 262). In offering guidance and assistance to first-time readers of Book 3 of the Fasti, Heyworth covers all of the essential points and then offers material for further reflection. Language, verse, myth, history, religion, and society all receive their due. As historians of Roman culture will appreciate, Heyworth pays due attention to the epigraphic evidence, such as when discussing the relationship between the Matronalia and the festival of Mars celebrated on 1 March (p. 127-128), dealing with the anniversary of the day on which Augustus became pontifex maximus (pp. 164-165), and noting the significance of the Tubilustria (p. 258). Readers will find precious nuggets time and time again in this commentary. So, for instance, Heyworth offers an ingenious, and plausible, explanation for what Ovid means when he speaks of babes compelled to cry out “Grandpa” (line 224: et qui uix poterat posse coactus erat) so as to halt the looming conflict between Sabine fathers-in-law and Roman sons-in-law (p. 126). Overall, this commentary compares favorably with its illustrious predecessors.

Proofreading observed very high standards. With the exception of the name of Hersilia, where the final “a” becomes an “e” on occasion (pp. 124,127), the reviewer has found nothing untoward. The archaising form of Volcanus (line 514) may be a slip (cf. the lemma at p. 185), but is an orthographic form that is conceivably defensible. Whether it is appropriate to utilise the medieval and early modern rendering of Virgil for Vergil is another matter altogether. What matters is that the text and references of the commentary are reliable and unlikely to mislead readers.

The bibliography offers a very high ratio of English-language publications as opposed to those written in other languages. This arguably reflects not only the intended readership of this volume in the first instance, but also the engagement of the English-speaking world with the figure of Ovid in recent decades. Nothing of urgent relevance in German, French, or Italian would seem to have been omitted.

Two indices conclude this useful commentary. The first is an index of Latin words (pp. 279-281), which lists those that receive treatment. Attentive to detail, this is a model of philological care. Indeed, Heyworth has even sign-posted discussions of prosody by employing italics for the pages of those instances (e.g. –iit, Luceres). The second index is a general index (pp. 282-288). From “addressees” to “wounds”, this offers readers rapid access via a useful selection of themes and topics. Exemplary of the thorough care with which this index has been prepared is the fact that there are nearly 70 entries under the lemma “grammar, syntax, accidence” (p. 284) and nearly 20 entries under the lemma “metre, versification” (p. 286). The schema Alcmanicum, postponed conjunctions, the Greek accusative, the future imperative, the purposive dative, and the ablative of extent of time are merely a few of the many items discussed at length and clearly located thanks to the care invested in this jewel of an index. It is further to be remarked that this general index also includes references to those passages in other authors that are cited and considered in some detail in the course of the commentary. So, one will find listed Aeschylus, Aratus, Augustine, Augustus, Aulus Gellius, Ausonius, Callimachus Catullus, Cicero, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ennius, Euripides, Fabius Pictor, Germanicus, Hesiod, Homer, Horace, Livy, Lucretius, Lycophron, Propertius, Silius, Statius, Tibullus, Valerius Antias, Valerius Flaccus, Varro, Verrius Flaccus, and Virgil (sic) as well as Ovid himself. Notwithstanding the restricted format, the presentation of textual references in the index is extremely effective. In short, these two indices form a felicitous complement to the foregoing commentary, making it all the more serviceable.

Detailed, but not to the point of being burdensome, the commentary is enviably efficacious in accomplishing the goals of the series to which it belongs. Students and scholars find useful assistance in engaging with one of the most evocative and detailed literary texts on Roman religion to survive from antiquity. In a manner appropriate to Ovid and that author’s poetic voice, Heyworth has produced what is a brilliant, playful, learned commentary.

Table for Ovid, Fasti 3 :

Date Lines Topic Commentary


Introduction    1-10 Invocation pp. 75-78
  11-78 Romulus and Remus pp. 78-95
  79-98 Mars patron of Latium pp. 95-100
 99-150 Romulean calendar pp. 100-111
151-154 Reforms of Numa pp. 111-112
155-166 Reforms of Caesar pp. 112-114
1 March 167-258 Matronalia pp. 115-132
259-392 Salii pp. 133-160
393-396 When to marry pp. 160-161
397-398 Flamen Dialis & wife p. 161
3 March 399-402 Pisces p. 162
5 March 403-406 Bootes pp. 162-163
407-414 Vindemitor pp. 163-164
6 March 415-428 Augustus Pont. Max. pp. 164-167
7 March 429-448 Veiovis pp. 167-172
449-458 Pegasus pp. 172-173
8 March 459-516 Ariadne’s crown pp. 173-186
14 March 517-522 The second Equirria pp. 186-187
15 March 523-696 Anna Perenna pp. 187-224
697-710 Assassination of Julius Caesar pp. 225-228
16 March 711-712 Scorpio pp. 228-229
17 March 713-790 Liberalia pp. 229-244
791-792 Argeii pp. 244-245
793-808 The kite pp. 245-249
19 March 809-848 Quinquatrus pp. 249-257
23 March 849-850 Tubilustria pp. 257-259
851-876 Aries pp. 259-263
26 March 877-878 Equinox p. 264
30 March 879-882 Janus, Concordia, Salus, & Pax pp. 264-265
31 March 883-884 Luna p. 265