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‘To Be Completed: The Poetry of July to December in Neo-Latin Fasti-poems’

Bobby Xinyue

Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, University of Warwick, UK

During the last twenty years or so, the afterlife of Ovid’s Fasti has undergone major reappraisal by both classical and Renaissance scholars: in particular, the works of Angela Fritsen (Antiquarian Voices, 2015) and John Miller (‘Ovid’s Fasti and the Neo-Latin Christian Calendar Poem’, IJCT 10 [2003]: 173-186) have shown that not only did Renaissance scholars and poets know the Fasti well, they also actively engaged with the genre of calendrical poetry by variously imitating it or using it as a literary vehicle to advance ideas about Christianity, the feasts of the ecclesiastical year, and the legacy of classical antiquity. The proposed paper aims to add to current understanding of the reception of Ovid’s Fasti in the Early Modern period by offering a study on how Neo-Latin poets completed the ‘missing’ second half of the Ovidian poem, namely Books 7 to 12 on the months of July to December.

The paper will focus on three Neo-Latin Fasti-poems: the Sacrorum fastorum libri duodecim (1547) composed by the Italian humanist poet Ambrogio ‘Novidio’ Fracco; the Fasti ecclesiae christianae (1568-1594) by Nathan Chytraeus, a prolific scholar and poet from Reformation Germany; and a six-book supplement (1649) – appended to the original Ovidian Fasti – written by the French jurist and antiquarian Claude-Barthélemy Morisot. The ‘second half’ of these Fasti-poems vary greatly in character. It will be shown, firstly, that Fracco’s poem, composed at the height of the genre’s popularity in Italy, is a blend of close imitation of Ovid and thorough Christianisation of the pagan calendar, while Chytraeus fills his books of July to December with celebrations of Protestant Reformers and German intellectuals; and that in contrast to both, Morisot recreates a version of the Julian calendar that notably coheres with the political ideology of the ruling French monarchy. Building on these observations, the paper will then offer a close reading of the sphragis of each poem and suggest that the authorial voices in these concluding passages not only engage with the propositio and the finale of Ovid’s Fasti, but also correspond with and seek to outdo each other, thereby highlighting the competitive spirit amongst the authors of this genre. By approaching the latter six books of these calendar-poems on both macro and micro levels, this paper will provide for the first time an analytical account of the Renaissance reception of the absence of the missing books of the Fasti, which will in turn expand our knowledge of how Ovid’s poetic calendar was perceived and appropriated by authors across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Session/Panel Title

Playing with Time

Session/Paper Number

15.5

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