Ovid, Fasti

LCL 253: 12-13

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Fasti, I

this way and that, whereof one faces the people and the other the house-god; and just as your human porter, seated at the threshold of the house-door, sees who goes out and in, so I, the porter of the heavenly court, behold at once both East and West. Thou seest Hecate’s faces turned in three directions that she may guard the crossroads where they branch three several ways; and lest I should lose time by twisting my neck, I am free to look both ways without budging.”

145 Thus spake the god, and by a look promised that, were I fain to ask him more, he would not grudge reply. I plucked up courage, thanked the god composedly, and with eyes turned to the ground I spoke in few: “Come, say, why doth the new year begin in the cold season? Better had it begun in spring. Then all things flower, then time renews his age, and new from out the teeming vine-shoot swells the bud; in fresh-formed leaves the tree is draped, and from earth’s surface sprouts the blade of corn. Birds with their warblings winnow the warm air; the cattle frisk and wanton in the meads. Then suns are sweet, forth comes the stranger swallow and builds her clayey structure under the lofty beam. Then the field submits to tillage and is renewed by the plough. That is the season which rightly should have been called New Year.”

161 Thus questioned I at length; he answered prompt and tersely, throwing his words into twain verses, thus: “Midwinter is the beginning of the new sun and the end of the old one. Phoebus and the year take their start from the same point.”

165 Next I wondered why the first day was not exempt from lawsuits. “Hear the cause,” quoth

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.ovid-fasti.1931