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Classical Quarterly 39 (01):164- (1989)
The two central themes of Fasti are twice linked in this way. The association, which at once gives the poem the appearance of having a literary ancestry in the aetiological tradition, might have seemed inevitable: any verse narrative account of a festival is very likely to contain an αтιоν of it. Callimachus' hymns illustrate this assertion, and there are clearly defined hymnic elements in Fasti to bear out the comparison, for example the listing of Venus' αεтαί and Πρáξεις at 4.91ff. and the instructions to the devotees of Pales at 4.731–48. 4 To state the obvious fact that the poem combines Roman antiquities with Alexandrian aetiology, a blending of which more straightforward examples are to be found in the fourth book of Propertius, is only a prelude to establishing what Ovid really achieves in Fasti. Traditional elements are, as I hope to show, cunningly exploited to create ‘counter–effects’ and to subject the material to the constantly varying and wide–ranging influences of the poet's literary background. Though the notion of causa is central to Fasti, the poem is much more than an amalgam of such influences as the aetiological prose works of Varro and Verrius Flaccus with the aetiological poetics of Propertius 4.5 These sources combined to provide material for the foundation of the finished structure, which was to be the creative manipulation of these antiquarian and literary stimuli directed at providing a vehicle for the regular themes of the Ovidian persona
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