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Der geschwätzige Militärtribun Caesars und Ovids rettendes Wasser (Ov. fast. 4,377–388)

Christian Stoffel


Pages 449 - 466



In Ovid’s Fasti, Caesar is not only remembered as a member of the Augustan family, but, more importantly, also as a (re-)founder of the Roman year; yet his prominent reform of the calendar, the insertion of holidays, and their aetiological narratives are intertwined with Ovid’s calendrical and astronomical poetic project to such a degree that the poet and Caesar emerge as competitors. In this paper, I shall argue that this competition is also present in a rather minor episode in the fourth book/month of the Fasti: the short account of an anonymous military tribune of Caesar’s who, at the festivities of the ludi Megalenses, recalls the Battle of Thapsus, but is finally interrupted by a sudden rain shower. I shall argue that the tribune’s positive and affectionate representation of this victory and his military service under Caesar is undermined by the remarkably silent narrator in different ways: by modelling the veteran upon other boasting literary characters, by letting him apply certain inept pieces of advice of Ovid’s Ars amatoria, by making this brave soldier express an elegiac recusatio, by unfavourably associating his commemoration of Thapsus with other Roman wars and battles, and, finally, by flooding the imagined battlefield, the African deserts, with the help of a heavenly cathartic shower.

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