Dissertation: idem sacra cano – Komik und Mehrdeutigkeit in Ovids Fasti

idem sacra cano
Komik und Mehrdeutigkeit in Ovids Fasti

Schriftenreihe altsprachliche Forschungsergebnisse, Band 11

Hamburg 2015, 316 Seiten
ISBN 978-3-8300-8498-3 (Print), ISBN 978-3-339-08498-9 (eBook)


[...] Für jeden Ovidliebhaber lohnt es sich [...], mehr als nur einen kurzen Blick in diese über das Ganze gesehen interessante und stimulierende Studie zur Komik in Ovids Fasti zu werfen.

Orlando Poltera, in:
Museum Helveticum, Mus Helv 74.2 (2017)

Aitiologie, Ambivalenz, Fasti, Janus, Kalenderkommentar, Klassische Philologie, Komik, Latinistik, Lehrgedicht, Literaturwissenschaft, Mehrdeutigkeit, Ovid, Polyphonie, Priapus

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The Fasti, which according to the poet’s programmatic announcement officially present the anniversaries of the Roman year, were one of the most neglected of Ovid’s poems. They have always attracted more interest as a source for Roman religion than as a poetic composition. And so the poet’s insufficient knowledge of the religious matter caused the lack of appreciation in scholarship. But for the past twenty years Ovid’s elegiac calendar poem has been facing increased appreciation both among historian and literary scholars.

Particularly on the literary side there is a wide range for different readings caused by the mix of genres from elegy and epic, or by the combination of religious, mythological and historical subjects. In respect of all these programmatic aspects of the Fasti Ovid avoids clear statements. Depending on individual understanding, Ovid’s ambiguous statements can also be perceived as amusing. Since there is no generally accepted definition of what is comical, such a comic-related approach is certainly subjective. Some episodes of the calendar poem like the Priapus and Faunus burlesques are even comical without theoretical analysis, but they also include a second comic facet that is only revealed upon closer linguistic investigation. One reason for the arising ambiguity is the fact that Ovid often uses polysemous terms. Furthermore, the usage of poetic plurals seems humorous if the persona of the poet alludes to the physical anomaly of the two-headed god Janus. Maybe Ovid reveals a subversive point of view when he confronts Romulus and Augustus and thereby uses criteria of portraying the princeps so extremely positive that the praise seems almost ironic. Unexpectedly, however, due to the chronology of the calendar, also Mars, the god of war, appears in the elegiac poem. In this case Ovid uses humour as a poetological statement. Nonetheless, always be remembered that Ovid does not mock the protagonists of epic scenarios such as Mars, Romulus or Hercules, but rather caricatures the normative expectations towards an epic hero. By many erotic episodes Ovid emphasizes continuity to his past life as a love poet. So the goddess Venus makes him confess that the poet of the Amores and Ars Amatoria apparently lives on in the Fasti, as Ovid already announced in the prologue of the second book of the Fasti: idem sacra cano ...

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