Introduction to Publius Ovidius Naso and "The Fasti"

Publius Ovidius Naso wrote a number of texts in Latin poetry.
A text that helps us understand the flavor Roman Holidays in ancient times is Ovid's The Fasti: This extensive work of Latin poetry describes many Roman festivals, how they were celebrated and their history up until the time of Caesar Augustus in the very early years of the Common Era in Rome.

The Fasti is an unfinished work, in that all the months of the year were either never written by Ovid, or a copy of the missing months have not yet been found. Regardless, the months which are available for study are written in an entertaining, candid style of poetry which earned Ovid popularity for all but the final years of his life. Some parts are beautiful, descriptive, funny, shocking and a little racy at times. However; the poetry is entertaining and informative.

The passages of the Fasti we have referred to, in Temple of Fortuna dot com worship services podcast archives, are translated into English by A.S. Klein (see resource link below), whose translations may browsed online and/or purchased as books.

Caution! Some of the poetry written by Ovid is not necessarily appropriate for family viewing.

Despite our appreciation for Ovid's work, and despite its popularity, The Metamorphoses by Ovid is one example that is not necessarily suggested for use in ritual or research; particularly for young or sensitive people. Nor, in the opinion of some college students (see resource link below), is the book necessarily appropriate for people pursuing accredited university studies.

However; it is one of Ovid's most famous works, and is sometimes studied in college level mythology coursework outside of spiritual studies. Despite the valid warnings, Ovid's Metamorphoses does contain numerous passages of exceptional beauty. However; until a highly edited form of this text is available (or until we are made aware of its existence) we advise to proceed with this text only with extreme caution, if at all.


Some of Ovid's work contains writing topics that many of us may not readily associate with poetry; for example extremely graphic violence and vulgar, x-rated parts, which may detract from its beauty and diminish its appropriateness for telling the myths in a spiritual, family setting.

The Metamorphoses, by Ovid, is an epic that combines history and mythology as a series of short stories. It was after writing this book Ovid was exiled, for unknown reasons. It is possible that Ovid provided graphic violence in contrast to loveliness within this work as a socio-political ploy, to wake up the Roman populace and influence change; to inspire a peaceful people who could distinguish between poetic beauty and prefer it over blatant ugliness.

At one time, we had hoped that the individual stories in this work may be shared in an edited form as part of a regularly scheduled worship service, in the style of a bible reading; either in the original Latin or translated. However; the exercise of editing out distasteful material proved to be so time-consuming and voluminous, that we eventually abandoned the project before completion.

The edition we used for the abandoned exercise was translated by Horace Gregory. Similar edits were suggested with other translations, such as translated by A.S. Klein. Since it is, by Ovid's own admission, a sacred and immortal work, we did not feel to add or modify any of the text; we merely omitted words and passages that we found lacking in sacred inspirational quality. This resulted in some stories making very little sense which, at the time, we felt was a trade off for keeping the more beautiful writing.

Someone with greater expertise in Latin than we have at the time of writing this post, and who has more time to handle the poetic meter might be empowered to create a complete edited edition, appropriate for weekly worship, at some point in the future if this is actually possible.

Examples of edits suggested for the text of Ovid's The Metamorphoses Books I and II, up to the point where we abandoned the project are available in the Temple of Fortuna dot com subscribers blog.

Exception: If we search diligently, we may easily find a very useful exception, within the periphery of The Metamorphoses, and without delving deeply into the text, which may be useful in a spiritual setting is as follows:

As an introduction and conclusion, Ovid's own words at the very beginning and very end of The Metamorphoses, may be appropriate for a specific purpose; for example, to introduce a suggested reading (particularly a peaceful and spiritually uplifting reading that has withstood the test of time), to give thanks for knowledge learned from history, and/or for the actual metamorphosis which really occurred during the Augustan Era, known as an era of peace or PAX ROMANA; a wish that is indeed eternal, and a wish that Publius Ovidius Naso may have held even in his final years. Quoted below (slightly edited):

Book I Invocation (English translation by Horace Gregory, as an introduction):

Now I shall tell you of things that change, new being
Old out of old; since you, O Gods, created
Mutable arts and gifts, give me the voice
To tell the shifting story of the world
From its beginning to the present hour.

Book XV:871-879 Ovid’s Envoi (English translation by A.S. Klein, as a conclusion):

And now the work is done,
which Jupiter's anger, fire or sword cannot erase,
nor the gnawing tooth of time.
Let that day, which has power only over my body,
end when it will my uncertain span of years;
yet the best part of me will be borne,
immortal, beyond the distant stars.
Wherever Rome’s influence extends
over the lands it has civilized, I will be on people’s lips;
and, famous throughout the ages,
if there is truth in poets’ prophecies, I shall live.

So be it!


Ovid - Wikipedia

Our Identities Matter in Core Classrooms - Columbia Daily Spectator

The Metamorphoses - Ovid - Google Books

Ovid (43 BC-17) - Fasti