'Times and their reasons, arranged in order through the Latin year, and constellations sunk beneath the earth and risen, I shall sing.'Ovid's poetical calendar of the Roman year is both a day by day account of festivals and observances and their origins, and a delightful retelling of myths and legends associated with particular dates. Written in the late years of the emperor Augustus, and cut short when the emperor sent the poet into exile, the poem's tone ranges from tragedy to farce, and its subject matter from astronomy and obscure ritual to Roman history and Greek mythology. Among the stories Ovid tells at length arethose of Arion and the dolphin, the rape of Lucretia, the shield that fell from heaven, the adventures of Dido's sister, the Great Mother's journey to Rome, the killing of Remus, the bloodsucking birds, and the murderous daughter of King Servius. The poem also relates a wealth of customs and beliefs,such as the unluckiness of marrying in May. This new prose translation is lively and accurate, and is accompanied by a contextualizing introduction and helpful notes.
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