Ovid's “calendar girls” reveal what it means to be Roman
Roman love-poet Ovid, best known for the epic Metamorphoses, offers in his Fasti the self-proclaimed goal of exploring and explicating the Roman calendar. Published in his maturity circa 14 CE, the Fasti presents claims of aetiological, astronomical, and even antiquarian interests, but more importantly the poem highlights an extraordinary prominence of female characters at work, play, and worship in its verses. From flirtatious goddesses to talkative old women, beautiful puellae to stern prophetesses and beyond, Ovid’s “calendar girls” appear in a vast and kaleidoscopic array of guises and narratives, importing and transforming literary genre and expectation alike in a poem that already in shape and purpose is unique in Latin literature. The poet’s long-standing fascination with female figures that had first appeared in his earliest work and then accompanied him throughout his career now resurfaces in a much more complex form.
Of interest to literary scholars, antiquarians, and those studying the social and political roles of ancient women, Ovid’s Women of the Year offers an intriguing view of an Ovidian poem now coming into its own.
Angeline Chiu is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Vermont.
"This reviewer has rarely read a more deftly charming scholarly monograph, and, surprisingly, the endless catalogue of Ovidian women, from Vestal Virgins to saucy nymphs, outshines anything in Ovid's better-known Art of Love. Warmly suggested for both college and general readership."- PM Green
"Chiu writes engagingly, with appropriate touches of wit...Judiciously turning the spotlight onto the women of the Fasti, Chiu succeeds in bringing out the complexities of (reading) the poem..."- Gary Vos
--Classics for All
"Chiu offers many original observations. The numerous subject headings reflecting popular culture suggest the relish with which she approaches the topic..."- John Miller
--Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Winner: American Library Association (ALA) 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title- ALA Choice Outstanding Academic Title