Classical Texts Library >> Ovid, Fasti >> Book 5
















[1] You ask whence I suppose the name of the month of May to be derived. The reason is not quite clearly known to me. As a wayfarer stands in doubt, and knows not which way to go, when he sees roads in all directions, so, because it is possible to assign different reasons, I know not where to turn; the very abundance of choice is an embarrassment. Declare to me, ye who haunt the springs of Aganippian Hippocrene, those dear traces of the Medusaean steed.1 The goddesses disagreed; of them Polyhymnia began the first; the others were silent, and noted her saying in their mind. “After chaos, as soon as the three elements were given to the world, and the whole creation resolved itself into new species, the earth subsided by its own weight, and drew the seas after it, but the sky was borne to the highest regions by its own lightness; the sun, too, not checked by gravity, and the stars, and you, ye horses of the moon, ye bounded high. But for a long time neither did Earth yield pride of place to Sky, nor did the other heavenly bodies to Phoebus; their honours were all equal. Often someone of the common sort of gods would dare to sit upon the throne which thou, Saturn, didst own; not one of the upstart deities took the outer side of Ocean,2 and Themis was often relegated to the lowest place, until Honour and comely Reverence with her calm look united in lawful wedlock. From them sprang Majesty, them the goddess reckons her parents, she who became great on the very day she was born. Without delay she took her seat high in the midst of Olympus, a golden figure far seen in purple vest. With her sat Modesty and Fear. You might see every divinity modelling his aspect upon hers. Straightway respect for dignities made its way into their minds; the worthy got their due, and nobody though much of himself. This state of things in heaven lasted for many a year, till fate banished the elder god from heaven’s citadel. Earth brought forth the Giants,3 a fierce brood, enormous monsters, who durst assault Jove’s mansion; she gave them a thousand hands, and snakes for legs, and said, ‘Take arms against the great gods.’ They set themselves to pile up the mountains to the topmost stars and to harass great Jupiter in war. From heaven’s citadel Jupiter hurled thunderbolts and turned the ponderous weights upon their movers. These weapons of the gods protected Majesty well; she survived and has been worshipped ever since. Hence she sits beside Jupiter, she is Jupiter’s most faithful guardian: she assures to him his sceptre’s peaceful tenure. She came also to earth. Romulus and Numa worshipped her, and other after them, each in his time. She keeps fathers and mothers in honour due; she bears boys and maidens company; she enhances the lictor’s rods and the ivory chair of office; she rides aloft in triumph on the festooned steeds.”

[53] Polyhymnia ended. Clio and Thalia, mistress of the curved lyre, approved her words. Urania took up the tale; all kept silence and not a voice but hers could be heard. “Great was of old the reverence for the hoary head, and wrinkled eld was valued at its true worth. Martial exploits and doughty wars were work for youths, who in defence o their own gods kept watch and ward. In strength unequal, and for arms unfit, age often stood the country in good stead by its advice. The senate-house was then open only to men of mature years, and the very name of senate signifies a ripe old age. The elders legislated for the people, and certain laws defined the age at which office might be sought.4 An elder man used to walk between younger men, at which they did not repine, and if he had only one companion, the elder walked on the inner side. Who would dare to talk bawdy in the presence of an old man? Old age conferred a right of censorship. This Romulus perceived, and on the men of his choice he bestowed the title of Fathers: on them the government of the new city was conferred. Hence I incline to think5 that the elders (maiores) gave their own name to the month of May: they considered the interests of their own class. And Numitor may have said, ‘Romulus, grant this month to the old men,’ and the grandson may not have been able to resist his grandsire. No slight proof of the proposed honour is furnished by the next month, the month of June, which is named after young men (iuvenes).”

[80] Then Calliope, her unkempt hair bound up with ivy, thus began, first of her choir: “Tethys, the Titaness, who wedded of old by Ocean, who encompasses the earth, far as it stretches, with his flowing waters. Their daughter Pelione, as report has it, was united to Atlas, who upholds the sky, and she gave birth to the Pleiads.6 Of them Maia is said to have surpassed her sisters in beauty and to have lain with Sovran Jove. She on the ridge of Mount Cyllene, wooded with cypresses, gave birth to him who speeds through the air on winged foot. Him the Arcadians, and hurrying Ladon, and huge Maenalus – that land accounted older than the moon7 – worship with honours due. An exile from Arcadia, Evander came to the Latin fields and brought his gods on shipboard. On the spot where now stands Rome, the capital of the world, there were trees, and grass, and a few sheep, and here and there a cottage. When they had come hither, ‘Halt ye,’ said his prophetic mother, ‘for that rural scene will be place of empire.’ The Nonacrian8 hero obeyed the prophetess his mother, and halted as a stranger in a foreign land. He taught the natives many sacred rites, but first of all the rites of two-horned Faunus and of the wing-footed god.9 Faunus, thou half-goat god, thou art worshipped by the Luperci in their loin-cloths what time the severed hides purify the crowded streets.10 But thou didst bestow thy mother’s name upon the month, O thou inventor of the curved lyre, patron of thieves.9 Nor was this the first proof thout didst give of thine affection: thou art supposed to have given to the lyre seven strings, the number of the Pleiads.” Calliopea ended in her turn, and was praised by the voices of her sisters. What ma I to do? Each side has the same number of votes. May the favour of all the Muses alike attend me, and let me never praise anyone of them more or less than the rest.

KAL. MAI. 1st

[111] Begin the work with Jupiter. On the first night is visible the star that tended the cradle of Jupiter11; the rainy sign of the Olenian12 She-goat rises. She has her place in the sky as a reward for the milk she gave the babe. The Naiad Amalthea, famous on the Cretan Mount Ida, is said to have hidden Jupiter in the woods. She owned a she-goat, conspicuous among the Dictaean flocks, the fair dam of two kids; her airy horns bent over on her back; her udder was such as the nurse of Jove might have. She suckled the god. But she broke a horn on a tree, and was short of half her charm. The nymph picked it up, wrapped it in fresh herds, and carried it, full of fruit, to the lips of Jove. He, when he had gained the kingdom of heaven and sat on his father’s throne, and there was nothing greater than unconquered Jove, made his nurse and her horn of plenty into stars: the horn still keeps its mistress’ name.13

[129] The Kalends of May witnessed the foundation of an altar to the Guardian Lares, together with small images of the gods. Curius indeed had vowed them, but length of time destroys many things, and age prolonged wears out a stone. The reason for the epithet14 applied to them is that hey guard all things by their eyes. They also stand for us, and preside over the City walls, and they are present and bring us aid. But a dog, carved out of the same stone, used to stand before their feet. What was the reason for its standing with the Lar? Both guard the house: both are faithful to their master: cross-roads are dear to the god,15 cross-roads are dear to dogs: the Lar and Diana’s pack give chase to thieves; and wakeful are the Lares, and wakeful too are dogs. I sought for the images of the twin gods, but by the force of yearlong time they had decayed. In the City there are a thousand Lares, and the Genius of the chief, who handed them over to the public; the parishes worship the three divities.16

[147] Whither do I stray? The month of August has a rightful claim to that subject of my verse: meantime the Good Goddess17 must be the theme of my song. There is a natural knoll, which gives its name to the place; they call it the Rock18; it forms a good part of the hill. On it Remus took his stand in vain, what time, birds of the Palatine, ye did vouchsafe the first omens to his brother. There, on the gentle slope of the ridge, the Senate founded a temple which abhors the eyes of males. It was dedicated to an heiress of the ancient name of Clausi, who in her virgin body had never known a man19; Livia restored it, that she might imitate her husband and follow him in everything.

VI. NON. 2nd

[159] When next Hyperion’s daughter on the steeds of morn shall lift her rosy lamp, and the stars are put to flight, the cold north-west wind will sleek the topmost corn-ears, and white sails will put out from Calabrian waters. But no sooner shall the dusk of twilight lead on the night, than no single part of the whole flock20 of the Hyades will be invisible.21 The head of the Bull sparkles radiant with seven flames, which the Grecian sailor calls the Hyades after the word for rain (hyein). Some think that they nursed Bacchus; some believe that they are the granddaughters of Tethys and old Ocean. Not yet did Atlas stand bearing the burden of Olympus upon his shoulders when Hyas was born, of loveliness far-seen; to him and to the nymphs did Aethra, of the stock of Ocean, give birth in due time, but Hyas was the elder. While the down was fresh upon his cheeks, he was the terror of the bucks that shied at his snares, and he was glad to bag a hare. But when with his years his manly spirit grew, he dared to close with boars and shaggy lioness, and while he sought out the lair and the whelps of a lioness with young, he himself fell a blood-stained prey to the Libyan brute. For Hyas his mother wept, and for Hyas his sad sisters, and Atlas, soon to bow his neck to the burden of the pole, yet the love of the sisters exceeded that of both parents: it won for them a place in the sky, but Hyas gave them their name (of Hyades).

[183] “Come, Mother of Flowers, that we may honour thee with merry games; last month I put off giving thee thy due. Thou dost being in April and passest into the time of May22; the one month claims thee as it flies, the other as it comes. Since the borders of the months are thine and appertain to thee, either of the two is a fitting time to sing thy praises. The games of the circus and the victor’s palm, acclaimed by the spectators, fall in this month; let my song run side by side with the shows in the circus. Tell me thyself who thou art; the opinion of men is fallacious; thou wilt be the best voucher of thine own name.”

[193] So I spoke, and the goddess answered my question thus, and while she spoke, her lips breathed vernal roses: “I who now am called Flora was formerly Chloris: a Greek letter of my name is corrupted in the Latin speech.23 Chloris I was, a nymph of the happy fields where, as you have heard, dwelt fortunate men of old. Modesty shrinks from describing my figure; but it procured the hand of a god for my mother’s daughter. ‘Twas spring, and I was roaming; Zephyr caught sight of me: I retired; he pursued and I fled; but he was the stronger, and Boreas had given his brother full right of rape by daring to carry off the prize from the house of Erechtheus.24 However, he made amends for his violence by giving me the name of bride, and in my marriage-bed I have naught to complain of. I enjoy perpetual spring; most buxom is the year ever; ever the tree is clothed with leaves, the ground with pasture. In the fields that are my dower, I have a fruitful garden, fanned by the breeze and watered by a spring of running water. This garden my husband filled with noble flowers and said, ‘Goddess, be queen of flowers.’ Oft did I wish to count the colours in the beds, but could not; the number was past counting. Soon as the dewy rime is shaken from the leaves, and the varied foliage is warmed by the sunbeams, the Hours assemble, clad in dappled weeds, and cull my gifts in light baskets. Straightway the Graces draw near, and twine garlands and wreaths to bind their heavenly hair. I was the first to scatter new seeds among the countless peoples; till then the earth had been of but one colour. I was the first to make a flower out of Therapnaean blood, and on its petals the lament remains inscribed.25 Thou, too, Narcissus, hast a name in the trim gardens, unhappy thou in that thou hadst not a double of thyself.26 What need to tell of Crocus,27 and Attis,28 and the son of Cinyras,29 from whose wounds by my art doth beauty spring?

[229] Mars, too, was brought to birth my contrivance; perhaps you do not know it, and I pray that Jupiter, who thus far knows it not, may never know it. Holy Juno30 grieved that Jupiter had not needed her services when Minerva was born without a mother. She went to complain of her husband’s doings to Ocean; tired by the journey, she halted at my door. As soon as I set eyes on her, ‘What brings thee here,’ I said, ‘daughter of Saturn?’ She set forth her journey’s goal, adding its reason. I consoled her with friendly words. ‘My grief,’ quoth she, ‘is not to be assuaged with words. If Jupiter has become a father without the use of a wife, and unites both titles in his single person, why should I despair of becoming a mother without a husband, and of bringing forth without contact with a man, always supposing that I am chaste? I will try all the drugs in the wide world, and I will explore the seas and the depths of Tartarus.’ Her speech would have flowed on, but on my face there was a sudden look of doubt. ‘Thou seemest, nymph,’ said she, ‘the to have some power to help me.’ Thrice did I wish to promise help, but thrice my tongue was tied: the anger of great Jupiter filled me with fear. ‘Help me, I pray,’ she said, ‘the helper’s name will be kept secret, and I will call on the divinity of the Stygian water to be my witness.31’ ‘Thy wish,’ quoth I, ‘will be accomplished by a flower that was sent me from the fields of Olenus. It is the only flower of the kind in my garden.’ He who gave it me said, ‘Touch also with this a barren heifer; she will be a mother.’ I touched, and without delay she was a mother. Straightway I plucked with my thumb the clinging flower and touched Juno, and she conceived when it touched her bosom. And now being with child, she passed to Thrace and left the shores of the Propontis; her wish was granted, and Mars was born. In memory of the birth he owed to me, he said, ‘Do thou also have a place in the city of Romulus.’

[261] “Perhaps you may think that I am queen only of dainty garlands; but my divinity has to do also with the tilled fields. If the crops have blossomed well, the threshing-floor will be piled high; if the vines have blossomed well, there will be wine; if the olive-trees have blossomed well, most buxom will be the year; and the fruitage will be according to the time of blossoming. If once the blossom is nipped, the vetches and beans wither, and thy lentils, O Nile that comest from afar, do likewise wither. Wines also bloom, laboriously stored in great cellars, and a scum covers their surface in the jars. Honey is my gift. ‘Tis I who call the winged creatures, which yield honey, to the violet, and the clover, and the grey thyme. [‘Tis I, too, who discharge the same function when in youthful years spirits run riot and bodies are robust.]”

[275] I silently admired her as she spoke thus. But she said, “Thou art free to learn the answers to any questions thou mayest put.” “Say, goddess,” I replied, “what is the origin of the games.” Scarce had I ended when she answered me. “The other instruments of luxury were not yet in vogue: the rich man owned either cattle or broad lands; hence came the name for rich, and hence the name for money itself.32 But already some amassed wealth from unlawful sources: it had become a custom to graze the public pastures, the thing was suffered long, and no penalty was exacted. Common folk had no champion to protect their share in public property; and at last it was deemed the sign of a poor spirit in a man to graze his cattle on his own land. Such licence was brought to the notice of the plebeian aediles, the Publicii33; till then men’s hearts had failed them. The case was tried before the people: the guilty were fined: the champions were praised for their public spirit. Part of the fine was given to me; and the winners of the suit instituted new games with great applause. With part of the fine they contracted for making a way up the slope, which then was a steep rock: now it is a serviceable road, and they call it the Publician road.” 34

[295] I had thought that the shows were annual; the goddess denied it and added to her former discourse a second speech. “We, too, are touched by honour; we delight in festivals and altars; we heavenly beings are a greedy gang. Often by sinning has a man disposed the gods against him, and a sacrificial victim has been a sop for crimes. Often have I seen Jupiter, when he was just about to launch his thunderbolts, hold his hand on the receipt of incense. But if we are neglected, we avenge the wrong by heavenly penalties, and our wrath exceeds just bounds. Remember Thestiades35: he was burnt by flames afar; the reason was that no fire blazed on Phoebe’s altar. Remember Tantalides36: the same goddess detained the fleet; she a virgin, yet she twice avenged her slighted hearths.37 Unhappy Hippolytus,38 fain wouldst thou have worshipped Dione39 when thy scared steeds were rending thee asunder! ‘Twere long to tell of cases of forgetfulness redressed by forfeitures. I myself was once neglected by the Roman senate. What was I to do? By what could I show my resentment? What punishment exact for the slight put on me? In my gloom I relinquished my office. I guarded no the countryside, and the fruitful garden was naught to me. The lilies had dropped; you might see the violets withering, and the tendrils of the crimson saffron languishing. Often Zephry said to me, ‘Spoil not thine own dowry.’ But my dowry was worthless in my sight. The olive-trees were in blossom; the wanton winds blighted them: the crops were in blossom; the crop was blasted by the hail: the vines were promising; the sky grew black under the south wind, and the leaves were shaken down by a sudden shower. I did not will it so, nor am I cruel in my anger; but I did not care to ward of these ills. The senate assembled and voted an annual festival to my divinity if the year should prove fruitful. I accepted the vow. The consuls40 Laenas and Postumius celebrated the games which had been vowed to me.”

[331] I was about to ask why these games are marked by greater wantonness and broader jests; but it occurred to me that the divinity is not strait-laced, and that the gifts she brings lend themselves to delights. The brows of wassailers are wreathed with stitched garlands, and the polished table is buried under a shower of roses. Maudlin the guest dances, his hair bound with linden bark, and all unwitting plies the tipsy art. Maudlin the lover sings at the hard threshold of his lady fair: soft garlands crown his perfumed locks. No serious business does he do whose brow is garlanded; no water of the running brook is quaffed by such as twine their hair with flowers: so long s they stream, Achelous, was dashed with no juice of grapes, none cared to pluck the rose.41 Bacchus loves flowers; that he delights in a floral crown, you may know from Ariadne’s clustered stars.42 A rakish stage fits Flora well; she is not, believe me she is not, to be counted among your buskined goddesses. The reason why a crowd of drabs frequents these games is not hard to discover. She is none of your glum, none of your high-flown ones: she wishes her rites to be open to the common herd; and she warns us to use life’s flower, while it still blooms: for the thorn, she reminds us, is flouted when the roses have fallen away.

[355] But why is it that whereas white robes are given out at the festival of Ceres, Flora is neatly clad in attire of many colours? Is it because the harvest whitens when the ears are ripe, but flowers are of every hue and every shape? She nodded assent and at he motion of her tresses the flowers dropped own, as falls the rose cast by a hand upon a table.

[361] There yet remained the lights, the reason whereof escaped me; when the goddess thus removed my doubts: “Lights are thought to befit my days either because the fields do glow with purple flowers; or because neither flowers nor flames are of a dull colour, and the splendour of both attracts the eye; or because nocturnal licence befits my revels. The third reason comes nearest the truth.”

[369] “There is yet a small matter about which it remains, with thy leave, to put a question.” “thou hast my leave.” Said she. “Why, instead of Libyan lionesses, are unwarlike roes and shy hares pent in thy nets43?” She replied that her province was not woods, but gardens and fields, where no fierce beast may come.

[375] Her tale was ended, and she vanished into thin air. A fragrance lingered; you could know a goddess had been there. That Naso’s lay may bloom for aye, O strew, I pray thee, goddess, thy boons upon my breast!

V. NON. 34rd.

[379] In less than four nights the semi-human Chiron, who is compounded with the body of a tawny horse, will put forth his stars.44 Pelion is a mountain of Haemonia45 which looks southward: its top is green with pinewoods: the rest is draped with oaks. It was the home of Philyra’s son.46 There remains an ancient rocky cave, which they say was inhabited by the righteous old man. He is believed to have employed, in strumming the lyre, those hands which were one day to send Hector to death. Alcides had come after accomplishing a part of his labours, and little but the last orders remained for the hero to obey. You might see standing by chance together the two masters of the fate of Troy, on the one side the boyish descendant of Aeacus, on the other the son of Jupiter.47 The Philyrean hero received Hercules hospitably and asked the reason of his coming, and Hercules informed him. Meantime Chiron looked askance at the club and lion’s skin and said, “Man worthy of those arms, and arms worthy the man!” Nor could Achilles keep his hands from daring to touch the skin all shaggy with bristles. And while the old man fingered the shafts clotted with poison,48 one of the arrows fell out of the quiver and stuck in his left foot. Chiron groaned and drew the steel from his body; Alcides groaned too, and so did the Haemonian boy. The centaur himself, however, compounded herbs gathered on the Pagasaean hills and tended the wound with diverse remedies; but the gnawing poison defied all remedies, and the bane soaked into the bones and the whole body. The blood of the Lernaean hydra, mingled with the Centaur’s blood, left no time for rescue. Achilles, bathed in tears, stood before him as before a father; so would he have wept for Peleus at he point of death. Often he fondled the feeble hands with his own loving hands; the teacher reaped the reward of the character he had moulded. Often Achilles kissed him, and often said to him as he lay there, “Live, I pray thee, and do not forsake me, dear father.” The ninth day was come when thou, most righteous Chiron, didst gird thy body with twice seven stars.49

III. NON. 5th

[415] The curved Lyre50 would wish to follow the Centaur, but the road is not yet clear. The third night will be the proper time.

PR. NON. 6th

[417] The Scorpion51 will be visible from its middle in the sky, when we say that to-morrow the Nones will dawn.

VII. ID 9th

[419] When from that day the Evening Star shall thrice have shown his beauteous face, and thrice the vanquished stars shall have retreated before Phoebus, there will be celebrated an olden rite, the nocturnal Lemuria: it will bring offerings to the silent ghosts. The year was formerly shorter, and the pious rites of purification (februa) were unknown, and thou, two-headed Janus, wast not the leader of the months. Yet even then people brought gifts to the ashes of the dead, as their due, and the grandson paid his respects to the tomb of his buried grandsire. It was the month of May, so named after our forefathers (maiores), and it still retains part of the ancient custom. When midnight has come and lends silence to sleep, and dogs and all ye varied fowls are hushed, the worshipper who bears the olden rite in mind and fears the gods arises; no knots constrict his feet; and he makes a sign with his thumb in the middle of his closed fingers,52 lest in his silence an unsubstantial shade should meet him. And after washing his hands clean in spring water, he turns, and first he receives black beans and throws them away with face averted; but while he throws them, he says: “These I cast; with these beans I redeem me and min.” This he says nine times, without looking back: the shade is thought to gather the beans, and to follow unseen behind. Again he touches water, and clashes Temesan53 bronze, and asks the shade to go out of his house. When he ahs said nine times, “Ghost of my fathers, go forth!” he looks back, and thinks that he has duly performed the sacred rites.

[455] Why the day was called Lemuria, and what is the origin of the name, escapes me; it is for some god to discover it. Son of the Pleiad,54 thou reverend master of the puissant wand, inform me: oft hast thou seen the palace of the Stygian Jove. At my prayer the Bearer of the Herald’s Staff (Caducifer) was come. Learn the cause of the name; the god himself made it known. When Romulus had buried his brother’s ghost in the grave, and the obsequies had been paid to the too nimble Remus, unhappy Faustulus and Acca,55 with streaming hair, sprinkled the burnt bones with their tears. Then at twilight’s fall they sadly took the homeward way, and flung themselves on their hard couch, just as it was. The gory ghost of Remus seemed to stand at the bedside and to speak these words in a faint murmur: “Look on me, who shared the half, the full half of your tender care, behold what I am come to, and what I was of late! A little while ago I might have been the foremost of my people, if but the birds had assigned the throne to me. Now I am an empty wrath, escaped from the flames of the pyre; that is all that remains of the once great Remus. Alas, where is my father Mars? If only you spoke the truth, and it was he who sent the wild beast’s dugs to suckle the abandoned babes. A citizen’s rash hand undid him whom the she-wolf saved; O how far more merciful was she! Ferocious Celer,56 mayest thou yield up thy cruel soul through wounds, and pass like me all bloody underneath the earth! My brother willed not this: his love’s a match for mine: he let fall upon my death – ‘twas all he could – his tears. Pray him by your tears, by your fosterage, that he would celebrate a day by signal honour done to me.” As the ghost gave this charge, they yearned to embrace him and stretched forth their arms; the slippery shade escaped the clasping hands. When the vision fled and carried slumber with it, the pair reported to the king his brother’s words. Romulus complied, and gave the name Remuria to the day on which due worship is paid to buried ancestors. In the course of ages the rough letter, which stood at the beginning of the name, was changed into the smooth; and soon the souls of the silent multitude were also called Lemures: that is the meaning of the word, that is the force of the expression. But the ancients shut the temples on these days, as even now you see them closed at the season sacred to the dead. The times are unsuitable for the marriage both of a widow and a maid: she who marries then, will not live long. For the same reason, if you give weight to proverbs, the people say bad women wed in May. But these three festivals fall about the same time, though not on three consecutive days.

V. ID. 11th

[493] If you look for Boeotian Orion in the middle of these three days, you will be disappointed.57 I must now sing of the cause of the constellation. Jupiter, and his brother who reigns in the deep sea, and Mercury, were journeying together. It was the time when the yoked kine draw home the upturned plough, and the lamb lies down and drinks the milk of the full ewe. An old man Hyrieus, who cultivated a tiny farm, chanced to see them as he stood before his little cottage; and thus he spoke: “Long is the way, but short the hours of daylight left, and my door is open to strangers.” He enforced his words by a look, and again invited them. They accepted the offer and dissembled their divinity. They passed beneath the old man’s roof, begrimed with black smoke; a little fire was glimmering in the log of yesterday. He knelt and blew up the flames with his breath, and drawing forth the stumps of torches he chopped them up. Two pipkins stood on the fire; the lesser contained beans, the other kitchen herbs; both boiled, each under the pressure of its lid. While he waited, he served out red wine with shaky hand. The god of the sea received the first cup. When he had drained it, “Now serve the drink,” said he, “to Jupiter in order.” At the word Jupiter the old man paled. When he recovered himself, he sacrificed the ox that ploughed his poor land, and he roasted it in a great fire; and the wine which s a boy he had laid up in his early years, he brought forth stored in its smoky jar. And straightway they reclined on mattresses stuffed with river sedge and covered with linen, but lowly still. The table shone, now with the viands, now with the wine set down on it: the bowl was of red earthenware, the cups were beechen wood. Quoth Jupiter: “If thou has any fancy, choose: all will be thine.” The clam old man thus spoke: “I had a dear wife, whose love I won in the flower of early youth. Where is she now? you ask. The urn her ashes holds. To her I swore, an called you gods to witness, ‘Thou shalt be my only spouse.’ I gave my word, and I keep it. But a different wish is mine: I would be, not a husband, but a father.” All the gods assented; all took their stand at the bullock’s hide – I am ashamed to describe what followed – then they covered the reeking hide by throwing earth on it: when ten months had passed, a boy was born. Him Hyrieus called Urion on account of the mode of his begetting58: the first letter of his name has lost its ancient sound. He grew to an enormous size; the Delian goddess took him to be her companion; he was her guardian, he her attendant. Heedless words excite the wrath of gods. “There is no wild beast,” said he, “which I cannot master.” Earth egged on a scorpion: its mission was to attack the Goddess Mother of Twins with its hooked fangs. Orion threw himself in the way. Latona set him among the shining stars, and said, “Take thy well-earned reward.”

IV. ID. 12th

[545] But why do Orion and the other stars haste to withdraw from the sky? And why does night shorten her course? Why does the bright day, heralded by the Morning Star, raise its radiant light faster than usual from the watery main? Do I err, or was there a clash of arms? I err not, there was a clash of arms, Mars comes, and at his coming he gave the sign of war. The Avenger descends himself from heaven to behold his own honours and his splendid temple in the forum of Augustus.59 The god is huge, and so is the structure: no otherwise ought Mars to dwell in his son’s city. That shrine is worthy of trophies won from giants; from its might the Marching God fitly open his fierce campaigns, whether an impious foe shall assail us from the eastern world or whether another will have to be vanquished where the sun goes down. The god of arms surveys the pinnacles of the lofty edifice, and approves that the highest places should be filled by the unconquered gods. He surveys on the doors weapons of diverse shapes, and arms of lands subdued by his soldiery. On this side he sees Aeneas laden with his dear burden, and many an ancestor of the noble Julian line. On the other side he sees Romulus carrying on his shoulders the arms of the conquered leader,60 and their famous deeds inscribed beneath the statues arranged in order. He beholds, too, the name of Augustus on the front of the temple; and the building seems to him still greater, when he reads the name of Caesar. Augustus has vowed it in his youth at the time when he took up arms in duty’s cause.61 Deeds so great were worthy to inaugurate a prince’s reign. While the loyal troops stood on the one side, and the conspirators on the other, he stretched forth his hands and spoke these words: “If my father,62 Vesta’s priest, is my warrant for waging war, and I do now prepare to avenge both his divinity and hers, come, Mars, and glut the sword with knavish blood, and grant thy favour to the better cause. Thou shalt receive a temple, and shalt be called Avenger, when victory is mine.” So he vowed, and returned rejoicing from the routing of the foe. Nor is he content to have earned once for all the surname of Avenger for Mars: he tracks down the standards detained by the hands of the Parthians. These were a nation whom their plains, their horses, and their arrows rendered safe, and surrounding rivers made inaccessible. The pride of the nation had been fostered by the deaths of Crassus and his son, when soldiers, general, and standards perished together.63 The Parthians kept the Roman standards, the glory of war, and a foe was the standard-bearer of the Roman eagle. That shame would have endured till now, had not Ausonia’s empire been guarded by Caesar’s powerful arms. He put an end to the old reproach, to the disgrace of the whole generation: the recovered standards knew their true owners again. What now availed thee, thou Parthian, the arrows thou art wont to shoot behind thy back? What availed thy deserts? What the use of the fleet steed? Thou bringest back the eagles; thou tenderest, too, thy conquered bows. Now thou hast no tokens of our shame. Justly have the temple and the title of Avenger been given to the god, who has earned that title twice over; and the well-deserved honour has paid the debt incurred by the vow. Quirites, celebrate the solemn games in the Circus: the stage seems little to befit a valiant god.

III. ID. 13th

[599] You will behold all the Pleiads, even the whole bevy of sisters, when there shall be one night remaining before the Ides. Then summer begins, as I learn from sure authorities, and the season of warm spring comes to an end.

PR. ID. 14th

[603] The day before the Ides marks the time when the Bull lifts his starry front.64 This constellation is explained by a familiar tale. Jupiter in the shape of a bull offered his back to the Tyrian maid65 and wore horns on his false brow. She held the bull’s mane in her right hand, her drapery in her left; and her very fear lent her fresh grace. The breeze fills the robe on her bosom, its stirs her yellow hair; Sidonian damsel, thus indeed it became thee to meet the gaze of Jove. Oft did she withdraw her girlish soles from the sea, and feared the contact of the dashing wave; often the god knowingly plunged his back into the billows, that she might cling the closer to his neck. On reaching the shore, Jupiter stood without any horns, and the bull was turned into the god. The bull passed into the sky: thou, Sidonian damsel, wast got with child by Jupiter, and a third part of the earth doth bear thy name. Others say that this constellation is the Pharian heifer, which from a human being was made a cow, and from a cow was made a goddess.66

[621] Then, too, the Virgin67 is wont to throw the rush-made effigies of ancient men from the oaken bridge. He who believes that after sixty years men were put to death, accuses our forefathers of a wicked crime. There is an old tradition, that when the land was called Saturnia those words were spoken by soothsaying Jove: “Do ye cast into the water of the Tuscan river two of the people as a sacrifice to the Ancient who bears the sickle.” The gloomy rite was performed, so runs the tale, in the Leucadian manner68 every year, until the Tirynthian hero came to these fields; he cast men of straw into the water, and now dummies are thrown after the example set by Hercules. Some think that the young men used to hurl the feeble old men from the bridges,69 in order that they themselves alone should have the vote. O Tiber, inform me of the truth: thy bank is older than the City: thou canst well know the origin of the rite. The Tiber raised his reed-crowned head from the mid channel, and opened his hoarse mouth to utter these words: “These regions I have seen when they were solitary grass-lands without any city walls: scattered kin pastured on either bank; and I, the Tiber, whom the nations now both know and fear, was then a thing to be despised even by cattle. You often hear mention of the name of Arcadian Evander70; he came from far and churned my waters with his oars. Alcides also came, attended by a troop of Greeks. At that time, if I remember aright, my name was Albula.71 The Pallantian hero72 received him hospitably; and Cacus73 got at last the punishment he deserved. The victorious Hercules departed and carried off with him the kine, the booty he had taken from Erythea. But his companions refused to go farther: a great part of them had come from Argos, which they abandoned. On these hills they set their hope and their home; yet were they often touched by the sweet love of their native land, and one of them in dying gave this brief charge: ‘Throw me into the Tiber, that, borne upon his waves, my empty dust may pass to the Inachian shore.’ His heir disliked the charge of sepulture thus laid on him: the dead stranger was buried in Ausonian ground, and an effigy of rushes was thrown into the Tiber in stead of him, that it might return to his Greek home across the waters wide.” Thus far did Tiber speak, then passed into the dripping cave of living rock: ye nimble waters checked your flow.

IDUS 15th

[663] Come, thou famed grandson74 of Atlas, thou whom of old upon the Arcadian mountains one of the Pleiads bore to Jupiter. Thou arbiter of peace and war to gods above and gods below, thou who dost ply thy way on winged foot; thou who dost delight in the music of the lyre, and dost delight too in the wrestling-school, glistening with oil; thou by whose instruction the tongue learns to discourse elegantly, the senate founded for thee on the Ides75 a temple looking toward the Circus: since then the day has been thy festival. All who make a business of selling their wares give thee incense and beg that thou wouldst grant them gain. There is a water of Mercury near the Capene Gate: if you care to take the word of those who have tried it, there is a divinity in the water. Hither comes the merchant with his tunic girt up, and, ceremonially pure, draws water in a fumigated jar to carry it away. With the water he wets a laurel bough, and with the wet bough he sprinkles all the goods that soon are to change owners; he sprinkles, too, his own hair with the dripping laurel and recites prayers in a voice accustomed to deceive. “Wash away the perjuries of past time,” says he, “wash away my glozing words of the past day. Whether I have called thee to witness, or have falsely invoked the great divinity of Jupiter, in the expectation that he would not hear, or whether I have knowingly taken in vain the name of any other god or goddess, let the swift south winds carry away the wicked words, and may to-morrow open the door for me to fresh perjuries, and may the gods above not care if I shall utter any! Only grant me profits, grant me joy of profit made, and see to it that I enjoy cheating the buyer!” At such prayers Mercury laughs from on high, remembering that he himself stole the Ortygian76 kine.

XIII. KAL. IVN. 20th

[693] But I put up a far better prayer. Unfold to me, I beseech thee, at what time Pheobus passes into the sign of the Twins. “When thou shalt see,” he answered, “that as many days of the month remain over as are the labours of Hercules.” “Tell me,” I replied, “the cause of this constellation.” The god in answer explained the cause in eloquent speech. The brother Tyndarids, the one a horseman, the other a boxer, had ravished and carried away Phoebe and Phoebe’s sister.77 Idas and his brother prepare for war and demand the restitution of their brides; for both of them had convenanted with Leucippus to be his sons-in-law. Love prompts the one pair to demand the restitution of their brides; for both of them had covenanted with Leucippus to be his sons-in-law. Love prompts the one pair to demand the restitution, the other to refuse it; each pair is spurred on to fight by the like motive. The Oebalids might have escaped their pursuers by superior speed; but it seemed base to win by rapid flight. There is a place free from trees, a suitable ground for a fight: in that place they took their stand (its name is Aphidna). Pierced through the breast by the sword of Lycneus – a wound he had not looked for – Castor fell to the ground. Pollux comes up to avenge him, and runs Lynceus through with his spear at the point where the neck joins on to and presses upon the shoulders. Idas attacked him, and scarcely was repulsed by the fire of Jupiter; yet they say that his weapon was not wrested from his right hand by the thunderbolt. And already the lofty heavens opened its door for thee, Pollux, when thou sadist, “Hear my words, O Father. The heaven that thou dost give to me alone, O share between us two; one-half the gift will be greater than the whole.” He spoke, and redeemed his brother from death by changing places with him alternately. Both stars are helpful to the storm-tossed bark.78

XII. KAL. 21st

[721] He who would learn what the Agonia re, may turn back to January, though they have a place in the calendar at this season also.79

XI. KAL 22nd

[723] In the night that follows the day the dog of Erigone rises80: I have the explanation of this constellation in another place.81

X. KAL. 23rd

[725] The next day belongs to Vulcan; they call it Tubilustria.82 The trumpets which he makes are then cleansed and purified.

IX. KAL. 24th

[727] The next place is marked by four letters, which, read in order, signify either the custom of the sacred rites or the Flight of the King.83

VIII. KAL 25th

[729] Nor will I pass thee over, thou Public Fortune of the powerful people, to whom a temple was dedicated next day. When that day shall have sunk into Amphitrite’s wealth of waters, thou wilt see the beak of the tawny bird, dear to Jupiter.84

VII. KAL. 26th; VI. KAL. 27th

[733] The coming morn will remove Bootes from thy sight, and next day the constellation of Hyas will be visible.

1. Aganippe and Hippocrene, two springs associated with the Muses, on Mount Helicon. Hippocrene (not A.) was supposed to have gushed from the rock where the hoof of Pegasus struck the ground. Here the two are identified. For Medusa see iii. 450.
2. For latus claudere or legere, to take the left hand in walking together (i.e. to be exterior); originally to defend the unshielded side, then a mode of honour (cf. 58 below). Ocean and Themis were among the primaeval deities.
3. See iii. 439.
4. The first such law was passed in 180 B.C. by L. Villius.
5. Accepting the conjecture and interpretation of Josef Delz (Mus. Helv. 28 [1971] 57): the MSS have tangor et … consuluisse.
6. See iv. 169.
7. See i. 469.
8. Nonacris, a city of Arcadia.
9. Mercury (Hermes).
10. See above, ii. 267.

11. Apparent morning rising of Capella was on April 7.
12. Perhaps from Olene in Achaea.
13. The horn of Amalthea, or cornucopiae, “Horn of Plenty,” which was supposed to produce for its possessor whatever he wished.
14. Praestites, “guardians,” because they “stand before” and so guard.
15. Lares Compitales.
16. Augustus made 265 vici in Rome, and each had a shrine of the Lares Compitales. The Lares were two: and the figure of Augustus was set up with them.
17. The Good Goddess was formerly an Earth-goddess. Men were not allowed to enter her temple.
18. The peak of the Aventine.
19. See iv. 305 note. Livia is the wife of Augustus.
20. He alludes to the derivation from hus (pig), whence they were called suculae.

21. True morning rising was on May 16, apparent June 9; true evening setting, May 3.
22. The Floralia extended over six days, April 28 to May 3.
23. Flora is obviously from flos, and has nothing to do with Chloris.
24. Boreas carried off Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus.
25. Purple iris, with marks of AI (aiai): said to have sprung from the blood of Hyacinthus, slain by Apollo. Therapnaean = Spartan, as Therapne was a town in Laconia and Hycainthus was the son of the Spartan King Amyclas. See Met. x. 162-219.
26. Narcissus, a beautiful youth, died for love of his own image reflected in a pool. See Met. iii. 402-510.
27. Crocus, another fair youth, who was turned into the flower so named. See Met. iv. 283.
28. Violets were thought to have sprung from the blood of his wound. See iv. 223 for the story.
29. Adonis: the red anemone is said to have sprung from his blood; see Met. x. 710-739.
30. That is, Juno Lucina; see above, iii. 841.

31. The great oath of the gods was taken by this water “eldest daughter of Oceanus” (Hesiod, Theog. 776).
32. locuples, i.e. loco-ples, from locus and the root of plenus, first in the sense of owning landed property; pecunia, from pecus. These derivations are correct, for a wonder.
33. L. and Marcus Publicius Malleolus, aediles, 240 B.C.
34. A road up the Aventine, made by L. and M. Publicii, as aediles, 240 B.C.
35. Meleager, son of Oeneus, king of Calydon, by Althaea, daughter of Thestius. Oeneus had neglected Diana (Artemis), and in revenge she sent a boar to ravage Calydon. In a dispute, Meleager killed his mother’s brothers; and she in revenge burnt a fatal brand upon which his life depended. See Met. viii. 270-525.
36. Agamemnon, as descended from Tantalus.
37. In the cases of Oeneus and of Agamemnon.
38. See iv. 265, vi. 737.
39. Used for Venus (Aphrodite).
40. Consuls 173 B.C.

41. Achelous is used for water simply. The meaning is, that there is a natural connexion between wine-drinking and chaplets of flowers.
42. See iii. 459-515.
43. That is, hunted in the arena at the Floralia.
44. The Centaur: true evening rising, May 3; apparent, April 15.
45. Thessaly.
46. Chiron.
47. The descendant of Aeacus is Achilles. Hercules, “son of Jupiter,” destroyed Troy, because Laomedon had broken faith with him.
48. See 405. Hercules poisoned his arrows with the hydra’s blood.
49. The constellation of Centaurus.
50. True evening rising, April 23; apparent, April 15.

51. True morning setting April 26; apparent, May 13. But there were many stars in it.
52. The charm to avert the evil eye; it is called in Italian “the fig,” la fica or mano fica.
53. Copper mines near Temesa in Bruttium.
54. Hermes (Mercury), son of Maia.
55. See iii. 55, iv. 584.
56. Who killed Remus, according to Ovid; see iv. 837.
57. May 11 was the true evening setting of one of the stars of Orion.
58. The absurd derivation of Orion from ouron, “urine,” explains what had been done upon the hide; thus Orion should have been created without a mother. Various tales are told of his death: here he is defender of Latonia, the goddess who brought forth her twins, Apollo and Artemis, in Delos.
59. See 577. The future Augustus had vowed a temple to Mars Ultor, if he should avenge the death of Julius Caesar: this he dedicated in 2 B.C., but on August 1, August had built another temple to the same god for the standards recovered from the Parthians in 20 B.C., which Ovid may have confused with this.
60. The spolia opima taken from Acron.

61. To punish Brutus and Cassius.
62. Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus; see iii. 699.
63. M. Licinius Crassus, killed with his son Publius, and his army destroyed, by the Parthians at Carrhae, 53 B.C. Augustus recovered the captured standards in 20 B.C.
64. Probably he really referred to the Hyades: their true morning rising was on May 16; apparent, on June 9.
65. Europa.
66. Io, often identified with Egyptian Isis.
67. The Vestals.
68. The “lover’s leap” at the promontory of Leucas is well known. A man used to be cast from it every year; but all possible means were taken to make his fall easy and to save him.
69. The pontes here are the raised passages, through which voters used to be ushered into the septa (i. 53).
70. See i. 469, iv. 65.

71. See ii. 389.
72. Evander, born at Pallantium in Arcadia.
73. See above, i. 550.
74. Mercury; he was worshipped by merchants at Rome, as the patron of gain. See above, l. 104. So the Greek Hermes of commerce, Empolaios.
75. 495 B.C.
76. Belonging to Apollo, who was born in Delos (Ortygia).
77. Castor (horseman) and Pollux (boxer), sons of Tyndareus, carried off Phoebe and Hilaira, daughters of Leucippus, betrothed to Idas and Lynceus. Oebalus was father of Tyndareus.
78. Pollux was born immortal, but Castor mortal; hence Pollux can offer his price and hare his immortality with Castor. They were worshipped by sailors, as harbingers of clam.
79. See i. 317.
80. Sirius: true morning rising was on July 19; apparent August 2.

81. See iii. 849.
82. An account of this was to have been added later, but the poem was never finished.
83. “Quando Rex Comitiavit Fas.” The Regifugium was on February 24. The alternate wrongly suggested by Ovid is “Quod Rex Comitio Fugerat.” See above, i. 54 note.
84. The Eagle: only one day too late.