adnue conanti per laudes ire tuorum: The Politics of Assent in Ovid's Fasti

Daniel Libatique, College of the Holy Cross
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March 8, 2019 | CANE Annual Meeting
College of the Holy Cross

Passages | Bibliography


1. Ovid describes the Fasti: Tristia 2.249-252.

sex ego Fastorum scripsi totidemque libellos,
    cumque suo finem mense volumen habet,
idque tuo nuper scriptum sub nomine, Caesar,
    et tibi sacratum sors mea rupit opus.

I wrote six of the Fasti and as many books, and each scroll has a limit with its own month, and Caesar, it was written just now under your name, and my fate interrupted my work which was dedicated to you.

2. The 13 uses of adnuo throughout the Fasti (in order):

A) 1.15-16, Ovid commands Germanicus to assent to his poem:
adnue conanti per laudes ire tuorum
    deque meo pavidos excute corde metus.

Approve of my attempt to go through the praiseworthy deeds of your family, and shake the trembling fears from my heart.

B) 2.489-90, Jupiter assents to Mars to deify Romulus:
Iuppiter adnuerat: nutu tremefactus uterque
    est polus, et caeli pondera novit Atlas.

Jupiter agreed: each pole trembled at his nod, and Atlas knew the weight of the sky.

C) 2.597-8, the nymphs assent to Jupiter to stop Juturna when she tries to run away:
dixerat; adnuerant nymphae Tiberinides omnes
    quaeque colunt thalamos, Ilia diva, tuos.

[Jupiter] spoke; all the nymphs of the Tiber agreed and those who cultivate your bedchambers, divine Ilia.

D) 2.699-700, Sextus Tarquinius “assents” to fight with the men of Gabii before stabbing them in the back:
flent quoque, et ut secum tueatur bella precantur.
    callidus ignaris
adnuit ille viris.
[The Gabians] also weep, and they beg him to keep up the war with them. The crafty Sextus agrees to the ignorant men.

E) 3.337-8, Jupiter conditionally assents to spare Numa and the Romans from his thunderbolts:
adnuit oranti, sed verum ambage remota
    abdidit et dubio terruit ore virum.

He agreed to the one praying, but he hid the truth with deep circumlocution and terrified the man with a doubtful aspect.

F) 4.219-21, Erato confirms to the poet that Cybele wears a turreted crown because she granted towers to the first cities:
‘at cur turrifera caput est onerata corona?
    an primis turres urbibus illa dedit?’

‘But why does she wear a crown that bears towers on her head? Because she gave towers to the first cities?’ [Erato] agreed.

G) 4.887-8, 891, the Rutulians agree to give Mezentius wine in return for his help in the war against Aeneas:
‘qui petis auxilium, non grandia divide mecum
    praemia, de lacubus proxima musta tuis. …’

adnuerant Rutuli…
‘You who seek help, divide with me a not-great prize, the freshest wine from your vats.’ … The Rutulians agreed.

H) 5.327-9, Flora assents to let the flowers and crops bloom again after a period of neglect:
convenere patres, et, si bene floreat annus,
    numinibus nostris annua festa vovent.

adnuimus voto.
The Senators came together, and they vowed annual festivals to our divinity if the year should produce a good harvest. We assented to their vow.

I) 5.357-60, Flora confirms that she dresses in colors (vs. white for Ceres) because flowers are multicolored:
an quia maturis albescit messis aristis,
    et color et species floribus omnis inest?

adnuit, et motis flores cecidere capillis,
    accidere in mensas ut rosa missa solet.

Because the harvest when grain is ripe is white, but every color and appearance is in flowers? She agreed, and flowers fell from her hair as she nods, like a rose usually falls when sent onto a table.

J) 5.530-1, Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury agree to make Hyrieus a father without making him a husband:
    ‘nec coniunx et pater esse volo.’
adnuerant omnes.
‘I want to be not a husband and a father.’ They all assented.

K) 6.383-4, Vesta obeys Jupiter and ensures that bread is baked from what grain remains:
iusserat, et fratris virgo Saturnia iussis
[Jupiter] ordered, and the virgin daughter of Saturn agreed to her brother’s orders.

L) 6.543, 549, Ino agrees to become the divine Leucothea at the prophecy of the priestess of Carmentis:
‘numen eris pelagi: natum quoque pontus habebit. …’
adnuerat, promissa fides.
‘You will be a divinity of the sea, and the ocean also will possess your son.’ … [Ino] agreed, her faith was pledged.

M) 6.812, Hercules agrees to Clio’s interpretation of the origins of the Temple of Hercules Musarum:
adnuit Alcides increpuitque lyram.
Alcides agreed and he made the lyre sound.

3. Augustus encouraged prominent Romans to beautify the city with building projects: Suetonius Aug. 29.4-5:

sed et ceteros principes uiros saepe hortatus est, ut pro facultate quisque monimentis uel nouis uel refectis et excultis urbem adornarent. [5] multaque a multis tunc extructa sunt, sicut a Marcio Philippo aedes Herculis Musarum…

But also, he often encouraged other prominent men each to adorn the city either with new monuments or restored and cultivated ones, as befit each’s ability. Many things were built by many people at that time, like the Temple of Hercules Musarum [built] by Marcius Philippus…

4. Jupiter addresses the nymphs: F. 2.591-596

‘invidet ipsa sibi vitatque quod expedit illi
    vestra soror, summo iungere membra deo.
consulite ambobus: nam quae mea magna voluptas,
    utilitas vestrae magna sororis erit.
vos illi in prima
fugienti obsistite ripa,
    ne sua fluminea corpora mergat aqua.’
adnuerant nymphae Tiberinides omnes
    quaeque colunt thalamos, Ilia diva, tuos.

“She begrudges herself and avoids that which is advantageous to her, to have sex with the highest god. Have regard for both of us: for that which is my great desire will be a source of great usefulness for your sister. You all, stop her if she flees at the top of the riverbank, so that she doesn’t merge with the river’s water.” He spoke; all the nymphs of the Tiber agreed and those who cultivate your bedchambers, divine Ilia.

5. Lara warns Juturna and Juno about Jupiter’s intentions: F. 2.599-606

forte fuit nais Lara nomine; prima sed illi
    dicta bis antiquum syllaba nomen erat,
ex vitio positum. saepe illi dixerat Almo
tene linguam: nec tamen illa tenet.
quae simul ac tetigit Iuturnae stagna sororis,

    ‘effuge’ ait ‘ripas’, dicta refertque Iovis.
illa etiam Iunonem adiit, miserataque nuptas
    ‘naida Iuturnam vir tuus’ inquit

By chance, there was a nymph named Lara, but her old name used to be the first syllable spoken twice, placed upon her because of her fault. Often the river god Almo had said to her, “Daughter, hold your tongue,” but nevertheless she does not. As soon as she reached the pool of her sister Juturna, she says, “Flee the riverbanks,” and she relates Jove’s words. She even went to Juno, and taking pity on married women, she says, “Your husband ‘loves’ the nymph Juturna.”

6. Jupiter punishes Lara; Mercury rapes her: F. 2.607-616.

Iuppiter intumuit, quaque est non usa modeste
    eripit huic linguam,
Mercuriumque vocat:
‘duc hanc ad manes:
locus ille silentibus aptus.
    nympha, sed infernae nympha paludis erit.’
iussa Iovis fiunt. accepit lucus euntes:
    dicitur illa duci tum placuisse deo.

vim parat hic, voltu pro verbis illa precatur,
    et frustra muto nititur ore loqui,

fitque gravis geminosque parit, qui compita servant
    et vigilant nostra semper in urbe Lares.

Jupiter was enraged, and he ripped out her tongue, which she did not use in a modest fashion. He calls Mercury: “Lead her to the Shades; that place is fit for the silent. She is a nymph, but she will be a nymph of the infernal marsh.” The orders of Jove came to be. A grove accepted them as they went; she is said to have pleased the god that led her at that time. He prepared to violate her; she prayed with her face instead of words, and in vain she tried to speak with her mute mouth. She became pregnant and gave birth to twins, who guard the crossroads and keep eternal watch in our city — the Lares.

Selected Bibliography

Beard, Mary. 2003. “A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday.” In Roman Religion, edited by Clifford Ando, 273-288. Edinburgh.

Feeney, D.C. 1992. “Si licet et fas est: Ovid’s Fasti and the Problem of Free Speech Under the Principate.” In Roman Poetry & Propaganda in the Age of Augustus, edited by Anton Powell, 1-25. Newburyport.

Green, Steven J. 2004. Ovid, Fasti I: A Commentary. Leiden.

Keegan, Peter Mark. 2002. “Seen, not Heard: Feminea Lingua in Ovid’s Fasti and the Critical Gaze.” In Ovid’s Fasti: Historical Readings at its Bimillenium, edited by Geraldine Herbert-Brown, 129-153. Oxford.

Littlewood, R. Joy. 2006. A Commentary on Ovid: Fasti Book VI. Oxford and New York.

McDonough, Christopher Michael. 2004. “The Hag and the Household Gods: Silence, Speech, and the Family in Mid-February (Ovid Fasti 2.533-638).” CP 99.4: 354-369.

Newlands, Carole E. 1995. Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti. Ithaca.

———. 2015. Ovid. London and New York.

Rudd, Niall. 1976. “History: Ovid and the Augustan Myth.” In Lines of Enquiry: Studies in Latin Poetry, 1-31. Cambridge.