A School Edition of Ovid’s “Fasti”, Partly Annotated

Ovidius Naso, Publius (43 B.C. - 17 C.E.)

Fastorum libri sex. Vita authoris. Index praeterea (quo quisq[ue] quae in singulis Fastorum libris cognoscere uolet, facile citraq[ue] long[a]e inquisitionis laborem, [quam] primu[m] inueniat) a nobis adiunctus.

Strasbourg: Ex aedibus Schurerianis (Matthias Schürer), 1519


Quarto: 20 x 14.8 cm. [196] pp. Collation: A-M4/8, N8, O4, P6 (-blank P6)

Bound in modern marbled boards. With the four-part woodcut title border, dated 1519, using the two “Indian” border blocks sometimes attributed to Urs Graf. Contents very good with contemporary annotations, occ. marginal scribbles and amateurish coloring to title border, small paper repairs to outer margins of 5 lvs. in sig. D, far from the text, occ. marginal dampstains. Two North American copies traced (Yale, Stanford).

A school edition of Ovid’s “Fasti”, with the first half of Book I closely annotated by an early reader, who has also written a full-page “argumentum” of the work on the verso of the title page.

“[In the ‘Fasti’] Ovid’s project is to illustrate the ancient myths and customs of Latium, following the course of the Roman calendar. Thus twelve books in elegiac meter were projected, one for each month of the year, but the poet’s unexpected exile interrupted the work in the middle, at the sixth month, June; the work was partially revised during the years of exile.

“In addition to Ovid’s direct predecessor, Propertius, the work owes much to the model that is common to the two poets, Callimachus’ ‘Aitia’, both in its technique of composition and in its etiological character, that is, its investigation into the ‘causes’ and origins of present-day reality in the world of myth. Ovid himself desires to become the Roman Callimachus producing a finished work, a new poetic genre… In this new guise of the bard celebrating the idea of Rome, Ovid undertakes careful, learned researches into a variety of antiquarian sources. From Varro, Livy and others he reaps a huge harvest of antiquarian, religious, legal, and astronomical lore, which he uses to illustrate beliefs, rites, usages, and place names- all this part of the rediscovery of ancient origins that was a fundamental tendency of Augustan ideology." (Conte, "Latin Literature, A History")

“The Fasti, though unfinished and more topical than Ovid's other works, exercises a substantial and diverse influence on the various branches of learning and the arts from the Middle Ages through the seventeenth century. Indeed, in the history of its reception, the Fasti shows itself as protean in its transformations as its dominating counterpart, the Metamorphoses. In medieval times Ovid is known as a poet of love, a libertine, and an exile, but by virtue of both his Fasti and his Metamorphoses also as a scholar. We have medieval commentaries on the Fasti or fragments thereof, the most famous one written by Arnulf of Orleans in the twelfth century, these aim to teach students about Rome's ancient festivals and gods. A late medieval guidebook to Rome, Mirabilia Urbis Romae, appeals to the Fasti as a topographical source, -oddly calling Ovid's poem a 'martyrology’- thus, in a Christian world, the author can justify its use as an authoritative guide to the ancient buildings of Rome. In the Renaissance and later the Fasti is transformed into paintings and textbooks for school boys, attracts learned commentaries, and inspires humanistic calendar poetry.

“The most well-known imaginative literature and painting of the Renaissance which draw from the Fasti seem to read Ovid's poem as if it were his more famous Metamorphoses. Shakespeare's Lucrece, 
Boticelli's Primavera, Feast of the Gods by Bellini and Titian, and Piero di Cosimo's paired panels on Silenus all look to Ovid's calendrical elegy for mythological narratives like the erotic or humorous tales that can be found more abundantly in the great hexameter poem.”(Miller, Ovid's "Fasti" and the Neo-Latin Christian Calendar Poem, International Journal of the Classical Tradition Vol. 10, No. 2 (Fall, 2003), pp. 173-186)

VD16 O 1611