Written after he had been banished to the Black Sea city of Tomis by Emperor Augustus, the Fasti is Ovid's last major poetic work. Both a calendar of daily rituals and a witty sequence of stories recounted in a variety of styles, it weaves together tales of gods and citizens together to explore Rome's history, religious beliefs and traditions. It may also be read as a subtle but powerful political manifesto which derides Augustus' attempts to control his subjects by imposing his own mythology upon them: after celebrating the emperor as a Jupiter-on-earth, for example, Ovid deliberately juxtaposes a story showing the king of the gods as a savage rapist. Endlessly playful, this is also a work of integrity and courage, and a superb climax to the life of one of Rome's greatest writers.
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Book IV of Ovid's celebration of the calendar and the associated legends of the Roman year treats the month of April, a particularly happy phase of the Augustan ceremonial year. Around the festival of Venus and the anniversary of the foundation of Rome Ovid retells the legends of Rome's royal found Romulus and the Trojan hero Aeneas. The introduction and commentary pay special attention to Ovid's art as a poet, but aim to provide both the general background and specific explanations of his historical and religious material.From the Back Cover:
Ovid's Fasti, begun in or soon after AD I, was to have celebrated the calendar and associated legends of the Roman year, but probably had reached no further than June before his exile in AD 8. Book IV, the book of April, honours the festivals of Venus, Cybele, Ceres and their cult, as well as the traditional date of the foundation of Rome and many religious and civic anniversaries. Elaine Fantham accompanies her commentary with a revised text and a deliberately extended introduction. Besides including surveys of language, style, versification and textual transmission, the introduction looks at the shifting generic traditions of Greek and Roman elegy, and situates Ovid's composite poem in its Augustan literary and historical context.
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