Classical Texts Library >> Ovid, Fasti >> Book 2
















[1] January is over. The year progresses with my song: even as this second month, so may my second book proceed.

[3] My elegiacs, now for the first time ye do sail with ampler canvas spread: As I remember, up till now your theme was slender. Myself I found you pliant ministers of love, when in the morn of youth I toyed with verse. Myself now sing of sacred rites and of the seasons marked in the calendar: who could think that this could come of that? Herein is all my soldiership: I bear the only arms I can: my right hand is not all unserviceable. If I can neither hurl the javelin with brawny arm, nor bestride the back of war horse; if there is no helmet on my head, no sharp sword at my belt – at such weapons any man may be a master of fence – still do I rehearse with hearty zeal thy titles, Caesar,1 and pursue thy march of glory. Come, then, and if the conquest of the foe leaves thee a vacant hour, O cast a kindly glance upon my gifts.

[19] Our Roman fathers gave the name of februa to instruments of purifications: even to this day there are many proofs that such was the meaning of the world. The pontiffs ask the King2 and the Flamen for woolen cloths, which in the tongue of the ancients had the name of februa. When houses are swept out, the toasted spelt and slat which the officer gets as means of cleansing are called by the same name. The same name is given to the bough, which, cut from a pure tree,3 wreathes with its leaves the holy brows of the priests. I myself have seen the Flamen’s wife (Flaminica) begging for februa; at her request for februa a twig of pine was given her. In short, anything used to cleanse our bodies went by that name in the time of our unshorn forefathers. The month is called after these things, because the Luperci4 purify the whole ground with strips of hide, which are their instruments of cleansing, or because the season is pure when once peace-offerings have been made at the graves and the days devoted to the dead are past.5 Our sires believed that every sin and every cause of ill could be wiped out by rites and purgation.

[37] Greece set the example: she deems that the guilty can rid themselves of their crimes by being purified. Peleus cleansed Acrorides,6 and Acastus cleansed Peleus himself from the blood of Phocus by the Haemonian waters. Wafted through the void by bridled dragons, the Phasian witch7 received a welcome, which she little deserved at the hands of trusting Aegeus. The son of Amphiaraus8 said to Naupactian9 Achelous, “O rid me of my sin,” and the other did rid him of his sin. Fond fools alack! to fancy murder’s gruesome stain by river water could be washed away! But yet, lest you should err through ignorance of the ancient order, know that the month of Janus was of old the first, even as now it is; the month that follows January was the last of the old year.10 Thy worship too, O Terminus, formed the close of the sacred rites. For the month of Janus came first because the door (janua) comes first; that month was nethermost which to the nether shades was consecrated. Afterwards the Decemvirs are believed to have joined together times which had been parted by a long interval.

KAL. FEB. 1st

[55] At the beginning of the month Saviour (Sospita) Juno, the neighbour of the Phrygian Mother Goddess. If you ask, where are now the temples which on those Kalends were dedicated to the goddess? tumbled down they are with the long lapse of time. All the rest had in like sort gone to wrack and ruin, had it not been for the far-seeing care of our sacred chief, under whom the shrines feel not the touch of eld; and not content with doing favours to mankind he does them to the gods. O saintly soul, who dost build and rebuild the temples, I pray the powers above may take such care of thee as thou of them! May the celestials grant thee the length of years which thou bestowest on them, and may they stand on guard before thy house!

[67] Then, too, the grove of Alernus11 is thronged with worshippers, fast by the spot where Tiber, coming from afar, makes for the ocean waves. At Numa’s sanctuary,12 at the Thunderer’s fane upon the Capitol, and on the summit of Jove’s citadel a sheep is slain. Often, muffled in clouds, the sky discharges heavy rains, or under fallen snow the earth is hid.

IV. NON. 2nd

[73] When the next sun, before he sinks into the western waves, shall from his purple steeds undo the jewelled yoke, someone that night, looking up at the stars, shall say, “Where is to-day the Lyre,13 he will mark that the back of the Lion also has of a sudden plunged into the watery waste.

III. NON. 3rd

[79] The Dolphin, which of late thou didst see fretted with stars, will on the next night escape thy gaze. (He was raised to heaven) either because he was a lucky go-between in love’s intrigues, or because he carried the Lesbian lyre and the lyre’s master. What see, what land knows not Arion?14 By his son he used to stay the running waters. Often at his voice the wolf in pursuit of the lamb stood still, often the lamb halted fleeing from the ravening wolf; often hounds and hares have couched in the same covert, and the hind upon the rock has stood beside the lioness: at peace the chattering crow has sat with Pallas’ bird,15 and the dove has been neighbour to the hawk. ‘Tis said that Cynthia16 oft hath stood entranced, tuneful Arion, at thy notes, as if the notes had been struck by her brother’s hand. Arion’s fame had filled Sicilian cities, and by the music of his lyre he had charmed the Ausonian land. Thence wending homewards, he took ship and carried with him the wealth his art had won. Perhaps, poor wretch, thou didst dread the winds and waves, but in sooth the sea was safer for thee than thy ship. For the helmsman took his stand with a drawn sword, and the rest of the conspiring gang had weapons in their hands. What wouldst thou with a sword? Steer the crazy bark, thou mariner; these weapons ill befit thy hands. Quaking with fear the bard, “I deprecate not death,” said he, “but let me take my lyre and play a little.” They gave him leave and laughed at the delay. He took the crown that might well, Phoebus, become thy locks; he donned his robe twice dipped in Tyrian purple: touched by his thumb, the strings gave back a music all their own, such notes as the swan chants in mournful numbers when the cruel shaft has pierced his snowy brow. Straightway, with all his finery on, he leaped plump down into the waves: the refluent water splashed the azure poop. Thereupon they say (it sounds past credence) a dolphin did submit his arched back to the unusual weight; seated there Arion grasped his lyre and paid his fare in song, and with his chant he charmed the ocean waves. The gods see pious deeds: Jupiter received the dolphin among the constellations, and bade him have nine stars.

NON. 5th

[129] Now could I wish for a thousand tongues and for that soul of thine, Maeonides,17 which glorified Achilles, while I sing in distichs the sacred Nones. This is the greatest honour that is heaped upon the calendar. My genius faints: the burden is beyond my strength: this day above all others is to be sung by me. Fool that I was, how durst I lay so great a weight on elegiac verse? the theme was one for the heroic stanza. Holy Father of thy Country,18 this title hath been conferred on thee by the people, by the senate, and by us, the knights.19 But history had already conferred it; yet didst thou also receive, though late, thy title true; long time hadst thou been the Father of the World. Thou bearest on earth the name which Jupiter bears in high heaven: of men thou art the father, he of the gods. Romulus, thou must yield pride of place. Caesar by his guardian care makes great thy city walls: the walls thou gavest to the city were such as Remus could o’erleap. Thy power was felt by Tatius,20 the little Cures, and Caenina; under Caesar’s leadership whate’er the sun beholds on either side is Roman. Thou didst own a little stretch of conquered land: all that exists beneath the canopy of Jove is Caesar’s own. Thou didst rape wives: Caesar bade them under his rule be chaste.21 Thou didst admit the guilty to thy grove: he hath repelled the wrong. Thine was a rule of force: under Caesar it is the laws that reign. Thou didst the name of master bearer22: he bears the name of prince. Thou hast an accuser in thy brother Remus: Caesar pardoned foemen. To heaven thy father raised thee: to heaven Caesar raised his sire.

[145] Already the Idaean boy23 shows himself down to the waist, and pours a stream of water mixed with nectar. Now joy too, ye who shrink from the north wind; from out the west a softer gale doth blow.

V. ID. 9th

[149] When five days later the Morning Star has lifted up its radiance bright from out the ocean waves, then is the time that spring begins. But yet be not deceived, cold days are still in store for thee, indeed they are: departing winter leaves behind great tokens of himself.

III. ID. 11th

[153] Come the third night, thou shalt straightway remark that the Bear-Ward24 has thrust forth both his feet. Among the Hamadryads in the train of the archeress Diana25 one of the sacred band was called Callisto.26 Laying her hand on the bow of the goddess, “Thou bow,” quoth she, “which thus I touch, bear witness to my virginity.” Cynthia approved the vow, and said, “Keep but thy plighted troth and thou shalt be the foremost of my company.” Her troth she would have kept if she had not been fair. With mortals she was on her guard; it was with Jove she sinned. Of wild beasts in the forest Phoebe had chased full many a score, and home she was returning at noon or after noon. No sooner had she reached the grove – the grove where the thick holm-oaks cast a gloom and in the midst a deep fountain of cool water rose – than the goddess spake: “Here in the wood,” quoth she, “let’s bathe, thou maid of Arcady.” At the false name of maid the other blushed. The goddess spoke to the nymphs as well, and they put off their robes. Callisto was ashamed and bashfully delayed. But when she doffed her tunic, too plainly, self-convicted, her big belly betrayed the weight she bore. To whom the goddess spake: “Daughter of Lycaon forsworn, forsake the company of maids and defile not the pure waters.” Ten times the horned moon had filled her orb afresh, when she who had been thought a maid was proved a mother. The injured Juno raged and changed the damsel’s shape. Why so? Against her will Jove ravished her. And when in the leman she beheld the ugly features of the brute, quoth Juno, “Let Jupiter now court her embraces.” But she, who of late had been beloved by highest Jove, now roamed, a shaggy she-bear, the mountains wild. The child she had conceived in sin was now in his third lustre when his mother met him. She indeed, as if she knew him, stood distraught and growled; a growl was all the mother’s speech. Her the stripling with his sharp javelin would have pierced, but that hey both were caught up into the mansions on high. As constellations they sparkle beside each other. First comes what we call the Bear; the Bear-Ward seems to follow at her back. Still Saturn’s daughter frets and begs grey Tethys never to touch and wash with her waters the Bear of Maenalus.27

IDUS. 13th

[193] On the Ides the altars of rustic Faunus smoke, there where the island28 breaks the parted waters. This was the day on which thrice a hundred and thrice two Fabii fell by Veientine arms.29 A single house had undertaken the defence and burden of the city: the right hands of a single clan proffered and drew their swords. From the same camp a noble soldiery marched forth, of whom any one was fit to be a leader. The nearest way is by the right-hand arch of Carmentis’ gate:30 go not that way, whoe’er thou art: ‘tis ominous. By it, the rumour runs, the three hundred Fabii went forth. No blame attaches to the gate, but still ‘tis ominous. When at quick pace they reached the rushing Cremera31 (it flowed turbid with winter rain) they pitched their camp on the spot, and with drawn swords broke through the Tyrrhenian array right valiantly, even as lions of the Libyan breed attack herds scattered through spacious fields. The foemen flee dispersed, stabbed in the back with wounds dishonourable: with Tuscan blood the earth is red. So yet again, so oft they fall. When open victory was denied them, they set an ambush of armed men in wait. A plain there was, bounded by hills and forest, where the mountain beasts could find commodious lair. In the midst the foe left a few of their number and some scattered herds: the rest of the host lurked hidden in the thickets. Lo, as a torrent, swollen by rain or snow which the warm West Wind has melted, sweeps across the cornfields, across the roads, nor keeps its waters pent within the wonted limit of its banks, so the Fabii rushed here and there broadcast about the vale; all that they saw they felled; no other fear they knew. Whither away, ye scions of an illustrious house? ‘Tis ill to trust the foe. O noble hearts and simple, beware of treacherous blades! By fraud is valour vanquished: from every hand the foe leaps forth into the open plain, and every side they hold. What can a handful of the brave do against so many thousands? Or what help is left for them in such extremity? As a boar, driven afar from the woods by the pack, scatters the swift hounds with thunderous snout, but soon himself is slain, so do they die not unavenged, giving and taking wounds alternately. One day send forth to war the Fabii all: one day undid all they were sent to war. Yes may we believe that the gods themselves took thought to save the seed of the Herculean32 house; for a boy under age, too young to bear arms, was left alone of all the Fabian clan, to the end, no doubt, that thou, Maximus,33 mightest one day be born to save the commonwealth by biding time.

XVI. KAL. MART. 14th

[243] Three constellations lie grouped together – the Raven, the Snake, and the Bowl, which stands midway between the other two. On the Ides they are invisible: they rise the following night,34 Why the three are so closely linked together, I will tell to thee in verse. It chanced that Phoebus was preparing a solemn feast for Jupiter: my tale shall not waste time. “Go, my bird,” said Phoebus, “that naught may delay the pious rites, and bring a little water from running springs.” The raven caught up a gilded bowl in his hooked claws and few aloft on his airy journey. A fig-tree stood loaded with fruit still unripe: the raven tried it with his beak, but it was not fit to gather. Unmindful of his orders he perched, ‘tis said, under the tree to wait till the fruit should sweeten lingeringly. And when at last he ate his fill, he snatched a long water-snake in his black talons, and returning to his master brought back a lying tale: “This snake was the cause of my delay: he blocked the living water: he kept the spring from flowing and me from doing my duty.” “You aggravate your fault,” quoth Phoebus, “by your lies, and dare attempt to cheat the god of prophecy by fibs? But as for you, you shall drink cool water from no spring until the figs upon the tree grow juicy.” He spake, and for a perpetual memorial of this ancient incident the constellations of the Snake, the Bird, and the Bowl now sparkle side by side.

XV. KAL. 15th

[267] The third morn after the Ides beholds the naked Luperci, and then, too, come the rites of two-horned Faunus. Declare, Pierian Muses, the origin of the rites, and from what quarter they were fetched and reached our Latin homes. The Arcadians of old are said to have worshipped Pan,35 the god of cattle, him who haunts the Arcadian ridges. Witness Mount Pholoe,36 witness the Stymphalian waters,37 and the Ladon that seaward runs with rapid current: witness the ridges of the Nonacrine38 grove begirt with pinewoods: witness high Tricrene39 and the Parrhasian snows. There Pan was the deity of herds, and there, too, of mares; he received gifts for keeping safe the sheep. Evander brought with him across the sea his woodland deities; where now the city stands, there was then naught but the city’s site. Hence we worship the god, and the Flamen Dialis still performs in the olden way the rites40 brought hither by the Pelasgians.41 You ask, Why then do the Luperci run? and why do they strip themselves and bear their bodies naked, for so it is their wont to run? The god himself loves to scamper, fleet of foot, about the high mountains, and he himself takes suddenly to flight. The god himself is nude and bids his ministers go nude: besides, raiment sorted not well with running. The Arcadians are said to have possessed their land before the birth of Jove, and that folk is older than the moon.42 Their life was like that of beasts, unprofitably spent; artless as yet and raw was the common corn: water scooped up in two hollows of the hands to them was nectar. No bull panted under the weight of the bent ploughshare: no land was under the dominion of the husbandman: there was as yet no use for horses, every man carried his own weight: the sheep went clothed in its own wool. Under the open sky they lived and went about naked, inured to heavy showers and rainy winds. Even to this day the unclad ministers recall the memory of the olden custom and attest what comforts the ancients knew.

[303] But to explain why Faunus should particularly eschew the use of drapery a merry tale is handed down from days of old. As chance would have it, the Tirynthian youth was walking in the company of his mistress43; Faunus saw them both from a high ridge. He saw and burned. “Ye mountain elves (spirits},” quoth he. “I’m done with you. Yon shall be my true flame.” As the Maeonian damsel tripped along, her scented locks streamed down her shoulders; her bosom shone resplendent with golden braid. A golden parasol kept off the sun’s warm beams; and yet it was the hands of Hercules that bore it up. Now had she reached the grove of Bacchus and the vineyards of Tmolus,44 and dewy Hesperus rode on his dusky steed. She passed within a cave, whereof the fretted roof was all of tufa and of living rock, and at the mouth there ran a babbling brook. While the attendants were making ready the viands and the wine for the wassail, she arrayed Alcides in her own garb. She gave him gauzy tunics in Gaetulian purple45 dipped; she gave him the dainty girdle, which but now had girt her waist. For his belly the girdle was too small; he undid the claps of the tunics to thrust out his big hands. The bracelets he had broken, not made to fit those arms; his fig feet split the little shoes. She herself took the heavy club, the lion’s skin, and the lesser weapons stored in their quiver. In such array they feasted, in such array they resigned themselves to slumber, and lay down apart on beds set side by side; the reason was that they were preparing to celebrate in all purity, when day should dawn, a festival in honour of the discoverer of the vine.

[331] ‘Twas midnight. What durst not wanton love essay? Through the gloom came Faunus to the dewy cave, and when he saw the attendants in drunken slumber sunk, he conceived a hope that their masters might be as sound asleep. He entered and, rash lecher, he wandered to and fro; with hands outstretched before him he felt his cautious way. At last he reached by groping the beds, where they were spread, and at his first move fortune smiled on hi. When he felt the bristly skin of the tawny lion, he stayed his hand in terror, and thunderstruck recoiled, as oft on seeing a snake a wayfarer freezes in alarm. Then he touched the soft drapes of the next couch, and its deceptive touch beguiled him. He mounted and reclined on the nearer side, his swollen penis harder than horn, and meanwhile pulling up the bottom edge of the garment; there he met legs that bristled with thick rough hair. Before he could go further, the Tirynthian46 hero abruptly thrust him away, and down he fell from the top of the bed. There was a crash. Omphale called for her attendants and demanded a light: torches were brought in, and the truth was out. After his heavy fall from the high couch Faunus groaned and scarce could lift himself from the hard ground. Alcides laughed, as did all who saw him lying; the Lydian wench laughed also at her lover. Thus betrayed by vesture, the god loves not garments which deceive the eye, and bids his worshippers come naked to his rites.

[359] To foreign reasons add, my Muse, some Latin ones, and let my steed career in his own dusty course. A she-goat had been sacrificed as usual to hoof-footed Faunus, and a crowd had come by invitation to partake of the scanty repast. While the priests were dressing the inwards, stuck on willow spits, the sun then riding in mid heaven, Romulus and his brother and the shepherd youth were exercising their naked bodies in the sunshine on the plain; they tried in sport the strength of their arms by crow-bars and javelins and by hurling ponderous stones. Cried a shepherd from a height, “O Romulus and Remus, robbers are driving off the bullocks across the pathless lands.” To arm would have been tedious; out went the brothers both in opposite directions; but ‘twas Remus who fell in with the freebooters and brought the booty back. On his return he drew the hissing inwards from the spits and said, “None but the victor surely shall eat these.” He did as he had said, he and the Fabii together. Thither came Romulus foiled, and saw the empty tables and bare bones. He laughed, and grieved that Remus and the Fabii could have conquered when his own Quintilii could not. The fame of the deed endures: they run stripped, and the success of that day enjoys a lasting fame.47

[381] Perhaps you may also ask why that place48 is called the Lupercal, and what is the reason for denoting the day by such a name. Silvia, a Vestal, had given birth to heavenly babes, what time her uncle sat upon the throne. He ordered the infant boys to be carried away and drowned in the river. Rash man! one of those babes will yet be Romulus. Reluctantly his servants carry out the mournful orders (though they weep) and bear the twins to the place appointed. It chanced that the Albula, which took the names of Tiber from Tiberinus,49 drowned in its waves, was swollen with winter rain: where now the forums50 are, and where the valley of the Circus Maximus lies, you might see boats floating about. Hither when they were come, for farther they could not go, one or other of them said: “But how like they are! how beautiful is each! Yet of the two this one has more vigour. If lineage may be inferred from features, unless appearances deceive me, I fancy that some god is in you – but if some god were indeed the author of your being, he would come to your rescue in so perilous an hour; surely their mother would bring aid, if only aid she lacked not, she who as borne and lost her children in a single day. Ye bodies, born together to die together, together pass beneath the waves!” He ended, and from his bosom he laid down the twins. Both squalled alike: you would fancy they understood. With wet cheeks the bearers wended their homeward way. The hollow ark in which the babes were laid supported them on the surface of the water: ah me! how big a fate the little plank upbore! The ark drifted towards a shady wood, and, as the water gradually shoaled, it grounded on the mud. There was a tree (traces of it still remain), which is now called the Rumina51 fig-tree, but was once the Romulan fig-tree. A she-wolf which had cast her whelps came, wondrous to tell, to the abandoned twins: who could believe that the brute would not harm the boys? Far from harming, she helped them; and they whom ruthless kinsfolk would have killed with their own hands were suckled by a wolf! She halted and fawned on the tender babes with her tail, and licked into shape their two bodies with her tongue. You might know they were scions of Mars: fearless, they sucked her dugs and were fed on a supply of milk that was never meant for them. The she-wolf (lupa) gave her name to the place, and the place gave their name to the Luperci. Great is the reward the nurse has got for the milk she gave. Why should not the Luperci have been named after the Arcadian mountain? Lycaean Faunus has temples in Arcadia.52

[425] Thou bride, why tarry? Neither potent herbs, nor prayer, nor magic spells shall make of thee a mother; submit with patience to the blows dealt by a fruitful hand, soon will your husband’s sire enjoy the wished for name of grandsire. For there was a day when a hard lot ordained that wives but seldom gave their mates the pledges of the womb. Cried Romulus (for this befell when he was on the throne). “What boots it me to have ravished the Sabine women, if the wrong I did has brought me not strength but only war? Better it were our sons had never wed.” Under the Esquiline Mount a sacred grove, untouched by woodman’s axe for many a year, went by the name of the great Juno.53 Hither when they had come, husband and wives alike in supplication bowed the knee, when of sudden the tops of the trees shook and trembled, and wondrous words the goddess spake in her own holy grove: “Let the sacred he-goat,” said she, “go in to Italian matrons.” At the ambiguous words the crowd stood struck with terror. There was a certain augur (his name has dropped out with the long years, but he had lately come an exile from the Etruscan land): he slew a he-goat, and at his bidding the damsels offered their backs to be beaten with thongs cut from the hide. When in her tenth circuit the moon was renewing her horns, the husband was suddenly made a father and the wife a mother. Thanks to Lucina! this name, goddess, thou didst take from the sacred grove (lucus), or because with thee is the fount of light (lucis). Gracious Lucina, spare, I pray, women with child, and gently lift the ripe burden from the womb.

[453] When that day has dawned, then trust no more the winds: at that season the breezes keep not faith; fickle are the blasts, and for six days the door of the Aeolian54 gaol unbarred stands wide. Now the light Water-Carrier (Aquarius) sets with his tilted urn: next in turn do thou, O Fish, receive the heavenly steeds. They say that thou and thy brother (for ye are constellations that sparkle side by side) did support twain gods upon your backs. Once on a time Dione,55 fleeing from the dreadful Typhon, when Jupiter bore arms in defence of heaven, came to the Euphrates, accompanied by the little Cupid, and sat down by the brink of the Palestinian water. Poplars and reeds crowned the top of the banks, and willows offered hope that the fugitives also could find covert there. While she lay hid, the grove rustled in the wind. She turned pale with fear, and thought that bands of foes were near. Holding her child in her lap, “To the rescue, nymphs!” she said, “and to two deities bring help!” Without delay she sprang forward. Twin fish received her on their backs, wherefore they now possess the stars, a guerdon meet. Hence scrupulous Syrians count it sin to serve up such fry upon the table, and will not defile their mouths with fish.

XIII. KAL. 17th

[475] Next day is vacant, but the third is dedicated to Quirinus, who is so called (he was Romulus before) either because the ancient Sabines called a spear curis, and by his weapon the warlike god won his place among the stars; or because the Quirites gave their own name to their king; or because he united Cures56 to Rome. For when the father, lord of arms, saw the new walls and the many wars waged by the hand of Romulus, “O Jupiter,” he said, “the Roman power hath strength: it needs not the services of my offspring. To the sire give back the son. Though one of the two has perished, the one who is left to me will suffice both for himself and for Remus. Thou myself hast said to me that there will be one whom thou wilt exalt to the blue heavens.57 Let the word of Jupiter be kept.” Jupiter nodded assent. At his nod both the poles shook, and Atlas shifted the burden of the sky. There is a place which the ancients call the She-goat’s Marsh. It chanced that there, Romulus, thou wast judging thy people. The sun vanished and rising clouds obscured the heaven, and there fell a heavy shower of rain in torrents. Then it thundered, then the sky was riven by shooting flames. The people fled, and the king upon his father’s steeds soared to the stars. There was mourning, and the senators were falsely charged with murder, and haply that suspicion might have stuck in the popular mind. But Julius Proculus58 was coming from Alba Longa; the moon was shining, and there was no need of a torch, when of a sudden the hedges on his left shook and trembled. He recoiled and his hair bristled up. It seemed to him that Romulus, fair of aspect, in stature more than human, and clad in a goodly robe, stood there in the middle of the road and said, “Forbid the Quirites to mourn, let them not profane my divinity by their tears. Bid the pious throng bring incense and propitiate the new Quirinus, and bid them cultivate the arts their fathers cultivated, the art of war.” So he ordered, and from the other other’s eyes he vanished into thin air. Proculus called the peoples together and reported the words as he had been bid. Temples were built to the god, and the hill also was named after him, and the rites observed by our fathers come round on fixed days.

[512] Learn also why the same day is called the Feast of Fools. The reason for the name is trifling but apt. The earth of old was tilled by men unlearned: war’s hardships wearied their active frames. More glory was to be won by the sword than by the curved plough; the neglected farm yielded its master but a small return. Yet spelt59 the ancients sowed, and spelt they reaped; of the cut spelt they offered the first-fruits to Ceres. Taught by experience they toasted the spelt on the fire, and many losses they incurred through their own fault. For at one time they would sweep up the black ashes instead of spelt, and at another time the fire caught the huts themselves. So they made the oven into a goddess of that name (Fornax); delighted with her, the farmers prayed that she would temper the heat to the corn committed to her charge. At the present day the Prime Warden (Curio Maximus)60 proclaims in a set form of words the time for holding the Feast of Ovens (Fornacalia), and he celebrates the rites at no fixed date; and round about the Forum hang many tablets, on which every ward has its own particular mark. The foolish part of the people know not which is their own ward, but hold the feast on the last day to which it can be postponed.

IX. KAL. 21st

[533] Honour is paid, also, to the grave. Appease the souls of your fathers and bring small gifts to the tombs erected to them.61 Ghosts ask but little: they value piety more than a costly gift: no greedy gods are they who in the world below do haunt the banks of Styx. A tile wreathed with votive garlands, a sprinkling of corn, a few grains of salt, bread soaked in wine, and some loose violets, these are offerings enough: set these on a potsherd and leave it in the middle of the road. Not that I forbid larger offerings, but even these suffice to appease the shades: add prayers and the appropriate words at the hearths set up for the purpose. This custom was introduced into thy lands, righteous Latinus, by Aeneas, fit patron of piety. He to his father’s spirit solemn offerings brought; from him the peoples learned the pious rites.

[547] But once upon a time, waging long wars with martial arms, they did neglect the All Souls’ Days. The negligence was not unpunished; for tis said that from that ominous day Rome grew hot with the funeral fires that burned without the city. They say, though I can hardly think it, that the ancestral souls did issue from the tombs and make their moan in the hours of stilly night; and hideous ghosts, a shadowy throng, they say, did howl about the city streets and the wide fields. Afterwards the honours which had been omitted were again paid to the tombs, and so a limit was put to prodigies and funerals.

[557] But while these rites are being performed, ye ladies change not your widowed state: let the nuptial torch of pine wait till the days are pure. And O, thou damsel, who to thine eager mother shalt appear all ripe for marriage, let not the bent-back spear comb down the maiden hair! O God of Marriage (Hymenaeus), hide thy torches, and from these sombre fires bear them away! Far other are the torches that light up the rueful grave. Screen, too, the gods by shutting up the temple doors; let no incense burn upon the altars, no fire upon the hearths. Now do the unsubstantial souls and buried dead wander about, now doth the ghost batten upon his dole. But this only lasts until there remain as many days of the month as there are feet in my couplets.62 That day they name the Feralia, because they carry (ferunt) to the dead their dues: its is the last day for propitiating the ghosts.

[571] Lo, an old hag, seated among girls, performs rites in honour of Tacita63 (“the Silent Goddess”), but herself is not silent. With three fingers she puts three lumps of incense under the threshold, where the little mouse has made for herself a secret path. Then she binds enchanted threads together with dark lead, and mumbles seven black beans in her mouth; and she roasts in the fire the head of a small fish which she has sewed up, made fast with pitch, and pierced through and through with a bronze needle. She also drops wine on it, and the wine that is left over she or her companions drink, but she gets the larger share. Then as the goes off she says, “We have bound fast hostile tongues and unfriendly mouths.” So exit the old woman drunk.

[583] At once you will ask of me, “Who is the goddess Muta (‘the Mute’)?” Hear what I learned from the old men gone in years. Conquered by exceeding love of Juturna, Jupiter submitted to many things which so great a god ought not to bear. For now she would hide in the woods among the hazel-thickets, now she would leap down into her sister waters. The god called together all the nymphs who dwell in Latium, and thus in the midst of the troop he spake aloud: “Your sister is her own enemy, and shuns that union with the supreme god which is all for her good. Pray look to her interests and to mine, for what is a great pleasure to me will be a great boon to your sister. When she flees, stop her on the edge of the bank, lest she plunge into the water of the river.” He spake. Assent was given by all the nymphs of Tiber and by those who haunt, Ilia divine,64 thy wedding bowers. It chanced there was a Naiad nymph, Lara by name; but her old name was the first syllable repeated twice, and that was given her to mark her failing.65 Many a time Almo66 had said to her, “My daughter, hold thy tongue,” but hold it she did not. No sooner did she reach the pools of her sister Juturna than, “Fly the banks,” said she, and reported the words of Jupiter. She even visited Juno and, after expressing her pity for married dames, “Your husband,” quoth she, “is in love with the Naiad Juturna.” Jupiter fumed and wrenched from her the tongue she had used so indiscreetly. He also called for Mercury. “Take her to the deadland,” said he, “that’s the place for mutes. A nymph she is, but a nymph of the infernal marsh she’ll be.” The orders of Jupiter were obeyed. On their way they came to a grove: then it was, they say, that she won the heart of her divine conductor. He would have used force; for want of words she pleased with a look, and all in vain she strove to speak with her dumb lips. She went with child, and bore twins, who guard the cross-roads and ever keep watch in our city: they are the Lares.67

VIII. KAL. 22nd

[617] The next day received its name of Caristia from dear (cari) kinsfolk. A crowd of near relations comes to meet the family gods. Sweet it is, no doubt, to recall our thoughts to the living soon as they have dwelt upon the grave and on the dear ones dead and gone; sweet, too, after so many lost, to look upon those of our blood who are left, and to count kin with them. Come none but the innocent! Far, far from here be the unnatural brother, and the mother who is harsh to her own offspring, he whose father lives too long, he who reckons up his mother’s years, and the unkind mother-in-law who hates and maltreats her daughter-in-law. Here is no place for the brothers, scions of Tantalus,68 for Jason’s wife,69 for her who gave to husbandmen the toasted seeds,70 for Procne and her sister,71 for Tereus, cruel to them both, and for him, who’er he be, who amasses wealth by crime. Give incense to the family gods, ye virtuous ones (on that day above all others Concord is said to lend her gentle presence); and offer food, that the Lares, in their girt-up robes, may feed at the platter presented to them as a pledge of the homage that they love. And now, when dank night invites to slumber calm, fill high the wine-cup for the prayer and say, “Hail to you! hail to thee, Father of thy Country, Caesar the Good!” and let good speech attend the pouring wine.

XII. KAL. 23rd

[639] When the night had passed, see to it that the god who marks the boundaries of the tilled lands receives his wonted honour. O Terminus, whether thou art a stone or stump buried in the field, thou too hast been deified from days of yore. Thou art crowned by two owners on opposite sides; they bring thee two garlands and two cakes. An altar is built. Hither the husbandman’s rustic wife brings with her own hands on a potsherd the fire which she has taken from the warm hearth. The old man chops wood, and deftly piles up the billets, and strives to fix the branches in the solid earth: then he nurses the kindling flames with dry bark, the boy stands by and holds the broad basket in his hands. When from the basket he had thrice thrown corn into the midst of the fire, the little daughter presents the cut honeycombs. Others hold vessels of wine. A portion of each is cast into the flames. The company dressed in white look on and hold their peace. Terminus himself, at the meeting of the bounds, is sprinkled with the blood of a slaughtered lamb, and grumbles not when a suckling pig is given him. The simple neighbours meet and hold a feast, and sing thy praises, holy Terminus: “Thou dost set bounds to peoples and cities and vast kingdoms; without thee every field would be a root of wrangling. Thou courtest no favour thou art bribed by no gold: the lands entrusted to thee thou dost guard in loyal good faith. If thou of old hadst marked the bounds of the Thyrean land,72 three hundred men had not been done to death, nor had the name of Othryades been read on the piled arms. O how he made his fatherland to bleed! What happened when the new Capitol was being built? Why, the whole company of gods withdrew before Jupiter and made room for him; but Terminus, as the ancients relate, remained where he was found in the shrine, and shares the temple with great Jupiter.73 Even to this day there is a small hole in the roof of the temple, that he may see naught above him but the stars.74 From that abide in that station in which thou hast been placed. Yield not an inch to a neighbour, though he ask thee, lest thou shouldst seem to value man above Jupiter. And whether they beat thee with ploughshares or with rakes, cry out, ‘This is thy land, and that is his.’” There is a way that leads folk to the Laurentine fields,75 the kingdom once sought by the Dardanian chief: on that way the sixth milestone from the City witnesses the sacrifice of the woolly sheep’s guts to thee, Terminus. The land of other nations has a fixed boundary: the circuit of Rome is the circuit of the world.

VI. KAL 24th

[685] Now have I to tell of the Flight of the King76: from it the sixth day from the end of the month has taken its name. The last to reign over the Roman people was Tarquin, a man unjust, yet puissant in arms. He had taken some cities and overturned others, and had made Gabii his own by foul play.77 For the king’s three sons the youngest, true scion of his proud sire, came in the silent night into the midst of the foes. They drew their swords. “Slay an unarmed man!” said he. “’Tis what my brothers would desire, and Tarquin, my sire, who gashed my back with cruel scourge.” In order that he might urge this plea, he had submitted to a scourging. The moon shone. They beheld the youth and sheathed their swords, for they saw the scars on his back, where he drew down his robe. They even wept and begged that he would side with them in war. The cunning knave assented to their unwary suit. No sooner was the installed in power than he sent a friend to ask his father to show him the way of destroying Gabii. Below the palace lay a garden trim of odoriferous plants, whereof the ground was cleft by a book of purling water: there Tarquin received the secret message of his son, and with his staff he mowed the tallest lilies. When the messenger returned and told of the cropped lilies, “I take,” quoth the son, “my father’s bidding.” Without delay, he put to the sword the chief men of the city of Gabii and surrendered the walls, now bereft of their native leaders.

[711] Behold. O horrid sight! from between the altars a snake came forth and snatched the sacrificial meat from the dead fires. Phoebus was consulted.78 An oracle was delivered in these terms: “He who shall first have kissed his mother will be victorious.” Each one of the credulous company, not understanding the god, hasted to kiss his mother. The prudent Brutus feigned to be a fool, in order that from thy snares, Tarquin the Proud, dread king, he might be safe; lying prone he kissed his mother Earth, but they thought he had stumbled and fallen. Meantime the Roman legions had compassed Ardea, and the city suffered a long and lingering siege. While there was naught to do, and the foe feared to join battle, they made merry in the camp; the soldiers took their ease. Young Tarquin79 entertained his comrades with feast and wine: among them the king’s son spake: “While Ardea keeps us here on tenterhooks with sluggish war, and suffers us not to carry back our arms to the gods of our fathers, what of the loyalty of the marriage-bed? and are we as dear to our wives as they to us?” Each praised his wife: in their eagerness dispute ran high, and every tongue and heart grew hot with the deep draughts of wine. Then up and spake the man who from Collatia took his famous name80: “No need of words! Trust deeds! There’s night enough. To horse! and ride we to the City.” They saying pleased them; the steeds are bridled and bear their masters to the journey’s end. The royal palace first they seek: no sentinel was at the door. Lo, they find the king’s daughters-in-law, their necks draped with garlands, keeping their vigils over the wine. Thence they galloped to Lucretia, before whose bed were baskets full of soft wool. By a dim light the handmaids were spinning their allotted stints of yarn. Amongst them the lady spoke on accents soft: “Haste ye now, haste, my girls! The cloak our hands have wrought must to your master be instantly dispatched. But what news have ye? For more news comes your way. How much do they say of the war is yet to come? Hereafter thou shalt be vanquished and fall: Ardea, thou dost resist thy betters, thou jade, that keepest perforce our husbands far away! If only they came back! But mine is rash, and with drawn sword he rushes anywhere. I faint, I die, oft as the image of my soldier spouse steals on my mind and strikes a chill into my breast.” She ended weeping, dropped the stretched yarn, and buried her face in her lap. The gesture was becoming; becoming, too, her modest tears; her face was worthy of its peer, her soul. “Fear not, I’ve come,” her husband said. She revived and on her spouse’s neck she hung, a burden sweet.

[761] Meanwhile the royal youth caught fire and fury, and transported by blind love he raved. Her figure pleased him, and that snowy hue, that yellow hair, and artless grace; pleasing, too, her words and voice and virtue incorruptible; and the less hope he had, the hotter his desire. Now had the bird, the herald of the dawn, uttered his chant, when the young men retraced their steps to camp. Meantime the image of his absent love preyed on his senses crazed. “’Twas thus she sat, ‘twas thus she dressed, ‘twas thus she spun the yarn, ‘twas thus her tresses lay fallen on her neck; that was her look, these were her words, that was her colour, that her form, and that her lovely face.” As after a great gale the surge subsides, and yet he billow heaves, lashed by the wind now fallen, so, though absent now that winsome form and far away, the love which by its presence it had struck into his heart remained. He burned, and, goaded by the pricks of an unrighteous love, he plotted violence and guile against an innocent bed. “The issue is in doubt. We’ll dare the utmost,” said he. “Let her look to it! God and fortune help the daring. By daring we captured Gabii too.”

[784] So saying he girt his sword at his side and best rode his horse’s back. The bronze-bound gate of Collatia opened for him just as the sun was making ready to hide his face. In the guise of a guest the foe found his way into the home of Collatinus. He was welcomed kindly, for he came of kindred blood. How was her heart deceived! All unaware she, hapless dame, prepared a meal for her own foes. His repast over, the hour of slumber came. ‘Twas night, and not a taper shone in the whole house. He rose, and from the gilded scabbard he drew his sword, and came into thy chamber, virtuous spouse. And when he touched the bed, “The steel is in my hand, Lucretia,” said the king’s son “and I that speak am a Tarquin.” She answered never a word. Voice and power of speech and thought itself fled from her breast. But she trembled, as trembles a little lamb that, caught straying from the fold, lies low under a ravening wolf. What could she do? Should she struggle? In a struggle a woman will always be worsted. Should she cry out? But in his clutch was a sword to silence her. Should she fly? His hands pressed heavy on her breast, the breast that till then had never known the touch of a stranger hand. Her lover foe is urgent with prayers, with bribes, with threats; but still he cannot move her by prayers, by bribes, by threats. “Resistance is vain,” said he, “I’ll rob thee of honour and of life. I, the adulterer, will bear false witness to thine adultery. I’ll kill a slave, and rumour will have it that thou wert caught with him.” Overcome by fear of infamy, the dame gave way. Why, victor, dost thou joy? This victory will ruin thee. Alack how dear a single night did cost thy kingdom!

[813] And now the day had dawned. She sat with hair dishevelled, like a mother who must attend the funeral byre of her son. Her aged sire and faithful spouse she summoned from the camp, and both came without delay. When they saw her plight, they asked why she mourned, whose obsequies she was preparing, or what ill had befallen her. She was long silent, and for shame hid her face in her robe: her tears flowed like a running stream. On this side and on that her father and her spouse did soothe her grief and pray her to tell, and in blind fear they wept and quaked. Thrice she essayed to speak, and thrice gave o’er, and when the fourth time she summoned up courage she did not for that lift up her eyes. “Must I owe this too to Tarquin? Must I utter,” quoth she, “must I utter, woe’s me, with my own lips my own disgrace?” And what she can she tells. The end she left unsaid, but wept and a blush o’erspread her matron cheeks. Her husband and her sire pardoned the deed enforced. She said, “The pardon that you give, I do refuse myself.” Without delay, she stabbed her breast with the steel she had hidden, and weltering in her blood fell at her father’s feet. Even then in dying she took care to sink down decently: that was her thought even as she fell. Lo, heedless of appearances, the husband and father fling themselves on her body, moaning their common loss. Brutus came, and then at last belied his name; for form the half-dead body he snatched the weapon stuck in it, and holding the knife, that dripped with noble blood, he fearless spake these words of menace: “By this brave blood and chaste, and by the ghost, who shall be god to me, I swear to be avenged on Tarquin and on his banished brood. Too long have I dissembled my manly worth.” At these words, even as she lay, she moved her lightless eyes and seemed by the stirring of her hair to ratify the speech. They bore her to burial, that matron of manly courage; and tears and indignation followed in her train. The gaping wound was exposed for all to see. With a cry Brutus assembled the Quirites and rehearsed the king’s foul deeds. Tarquin and his brood were banished. A consul undertook the government for a year. That day was the last of kingly rule.

[853] Do I err? or has the swallow come, the harbinger of spring, and does he not fear lest winter should turn and come again? Yet often, Procne,71 wilt thou complain that thou hast made too much haste, and thy husband Tereus will be glad at the cold thou feelest.

III. KAL. 27th

[856] And now two nights of the second month are left, and Mars urges on the swift steeds yoked to his chariot. The day has kept the appropriate name of Equirria (“horse-races”), derived from the races which the god himself beholds in his own plain. Thou Marching God (Gradivus), in thine own right thou comest. Thy season demands a place in my song, and the month marked by the name is at hand.

PR. KAL. 28th

[863] We have come to port, for the book ends with the month. From this pinot may my bark now sail in other waters.

1. Augustus. This passage is probably the original dedication of the Fasti.
2. The Rex Sacrorum.
3. Uncertain: perhaps the pine (28).
4. See below, l. 367.
5. See below, l. 533.
6. Patroclus, grandson of Actor.
7. Medea, named from Phasis, a river of Colchis. She went to Athens from Corinth in a flying chariot drawn by dragons.
8. Alcmaeon, who had slain his mother Eriphyle, for accepting the bribe of a necklace to persuade him to attack Thebes. He was purified by water from the Achelous.
9. A mistake: Naupactus was far from the Achelous.
10. Ovid seems to have supposed that in the old Roman year January was the first month and February the last, so that they were separated by the “long interval” of ten months; but the Decemvirs brought them together by making February to follow January immediately within the same year instead of immediately preceding it in the last year.

11. Near the mouth of the Tiber.
12. The temple of Vesta.
13. See i. 653 note.
14. The story is told by Herodotus, i. 24.
15. Diana.
16. The owl.
17. Homer: an epithet applied to him as, according to some writers, he was born in Maeonia, the ancient name for a portion of Lydia.
18. Augustus.
19. See Monumentum Ancyranum, vi. 35, in L.C.L Velleius Paterculus, p. 401.
20. Tatius was king and Cures capital of the Sabines: Caenina, a city of Latium associated with them.

21. Augustus encouraged marriage by legislation.
22. Augustus rejected the title dominus, “master of slaves.” see Suetonius, Aug. 53. I, preferring that of princeps, “foremost” or “chief.” There is nor proof that Romulus was ever called dominus.
23. Ganymede, popularly identified with Aquarius. The true morning rising was then on January 22, the apparent rising on February 22.
24. Arctophylax, also called Boötes.
25. Called also here Cynthia and Phoebe, in Ovid’s allusive way.
26. See Metam. ii. 409-507.
27. In the northern latitudes the Bear never sets.
28. The island of the Tiber.
29. The family of the Fabii offered to carry on the war against Veii alone. Three hundred and six went forth through the Carmental gate, and built a fort by the Cremera, which they held for two years. But in 477 B.C. they were all destroyed by an ambush. See Livy ii. 48-50.
30. The right-hand arch of the Porta Carmentalis, next to the temple of Janus, was unlucky.

31. A stream near Veii.
32. The Fabii claimed descent from Hercules and Evander.
33. Q. Fabius Maximus Cunetator.
34. The astronomical lore is incorrect.
35. Here identified with Faunus.
36. A mountain in Arcadia, source of the river Ladon.
37. A lake in Arcadia.
38. Nonacris, a town in Arcadia.
39. A mountain in Arcadia.
40. The Lupercalia.

41. Evander, as an Arcadian, for the Arcadians were said to be Pelasgians.
42. They were called proselênoi.
43. Hercules and Omphale, a princess of Lydia (Maeonia).
44. A mountain in Lydia.
45. Made by the murex dye, for which the north African coast was famous.
46. Hercules and Lydian Omphale. See ll. 305, 310.
47. Ovid is endeavouring to explain the foundations of the two colleges of Luperci, the Fabii or Fabiani, and the Quintilii or Quintiliales.
48. A cave on the E. of the Palatine, said to have been the she-wolf’s den.
49. See iv. 47.
50. Forum Romanum and Forum Boarium.

51. Rumina or Ruminalis, from ruma or rumis, a “dug.”
52. He now suggests a Greek derivation on the supposition that the Lupercalia had been brought from Arcadia. The mountain is Mt. Lycaeus, where was a sanctuary of Pan, whom he identified with Faunus.
53. Juno Lucina, who aided women in childbed.
54. Aeolus, king of the winds, kept them in his house (Homer, Od. x. 1-27, Virg. Aen. i. 52).
55. Mother of Venus, here for Venus herself.
56. See l. 135 n
57. Line 487 is borrowed from Ennius.
58. This story is told by Cicero. De rep. ii. 10. 20. and Livy i. 16. 5.
59. See i. 693.
60. Each tribe was subdivided into ten curiae, each with its curio or warden. These priests formed a college presided over by one of their number, the Curio Maximus.

61. At the Feralia, or feasts in memory of the dead, offerings were made to them. The chief day was Feb. 21. Parentalia is also a name of the festival.
62. Eleven, as Ovid reckoned (Am. i. 1. 27-30).
63. Or dea Muta (l. 583), whom Ovid identifies with the mother of the public Lares (l. 615). She averted evil words.
64. Mother of Romulus.
65. Lala, as if from lalein, “to prattle.”
66. God of the river, a tributary of the Tiber, and father of Lara.
67. The Lares Compitales or Praestites were the public guardians of the city. They were generally enshrined in pairs. They were usually worshipped at cross-roads, or compita. There was a yearly festival, the Compitalia.
68. Atreus and Thyestes.
69. Medea.
70. Ino; see iii. 853.

71. Procne and Philomela were daughters of King Pandion, Procne married Tereus, and had a son Itys. Tereus seduced Philomela, and cut out her tongue. Procne killed Itys, and served him up for his father to eat. In the end, Procne became a nightingale, Philomela a swallow, and Tereus a hoopoe. In Latin authors, Philomela is the nightingale, Procne the swallow.
72. Between Sparta and Argos: three hundred champions on each side fought for it, and Othryades was the only survivor of the Spartans.
73. This was taken as a sign that wherever a boundary-stone was once planted, it was to be sacred and immovable.
74. Apparently ritual demanded that the stone (or altar) which represented Terminus should stand under the open sky.
75. The Laurentine way ran towards the sea. The Dardanian chief, Aeneas, landed in the Laurentine territory.
76. Called Regifugium.
77. Sextus Tarquin took Gabii by a trick. The story is also in Livy i. 53.
78. Another anecdote, brought in abruptly, to introduce Brutus, author of the Regifugium. See Livy, i. 56. 4.
79. A third anecdote: the siege of Ardea, and the rape of Lucretia by Sextus Tarquin; Livy i. 57. 4.
80. Tarquinius Collatinus.