Saturday, April 3, 2021

Fatherless Birth: The Story of Mars, Ovid, Fasti V. 229-258

 The goddess Flora tells of how Juno [Hera] conceived Mars [Ares] without a father:

Mars quoque, si nescis, per nostras editus artes:
     Iuppiter hoc, ut adhuc, nesciat usque, precor.               
sancta Iovem Iuno nata sine matre Minerva
     officio doluit non eguisse suo.
ibat ut Oceano quereretur facta mariti;
     restitit ad nostras fessa labore fores.
quam simul aspexi, "quid te, Saturnia", dixi               
     "attulit?" exponit, quem petat, illa, locum;
addidit et causam. verbis solabar amicis.
     "non" inquit "verbis cura levanda mea est.
si pater est factus neglecto coniugis usu
     Iuppiter, et solus nomen utrumque tenet,               
cur ego desperem fieri sine coniuge mater,
     et parere intacto, dummodo casta, viro?
omnia temptabo latis medicamina terris,
     et freta Tartareos excutiamque sinus."
vox erat in cursu: voltum dubitantis habebam.               
     "nescioquid, nymphe, posse videris" ait.
ter volui promittere opem, ter lingua retenta est:
     ira Iovis magni causa timoris erat.
"fer, precor, auxilium" dixit, "celabitur auctor",
     et Stygiae numen testificatur aquae.               
"quod petis, Oleniis" inquam "mihi missus ab arvis
     flos dabit: est hortis unicus ille meis.
qui dabat, 'hoc' dixit 'sterilem quoque tange iuvencam,
     mater erit': tetigi, nec mora, mater erat."
protinus haerentem decerpsi pollice florem;               

     tangitur, et tacto concipit illa sinu.
iamque gravis Thracen et laeva Propontidos intrat,
     fitque potens voti, Marsque creatus erat.

--Ovid, Fasti V.229-258

If you didn’t know already, Mars [Ares] was also born through my craft;

(and Jupiter [Zeus] still doesn’t know this, so please keep it that way).

Juno [Hera] was upset that Jupiter created his daughter Minerva [Athena] without a mother,

and didn’t need her to create a kid.

So she went to the Ocean to complain about her husband’s deeds,

And, tired from her travels, stopped outside my door.

When I saw her, I said, “Hey, what brings you here, child of Saturn [Juno]?”

She explained where she was headed, and explained why.

I comforted her with friendly words.

She said, “I won’t feel better with just words.

If Jupiter can become a father without his spouse’s help,

And alone holds both names of parent [mother &  father],

Why should I worry about being a mother without a spouse,

And give birth without a man’s help, still remaining chaste?

I’ll try any medicine from around the world,

I’ll try the depths of Tartarus, too.”

She kept going; I kept my poker face.

She said, “You seem like you can help somehow, nymph.”

Three times I wanted to promise to help her,

Three times I held my tongue (I was really scared of Jupiter).

She said, “I beseech you, help me! I won’t tell who did it,”

And swore an oath on the river Styx.

I told her, “What you’re looking for is a flower from the Olenian fields:

It is unique in my garden.

The one who gave it to me told me, ‘touch a sterile cow with this flower, and she will conceive!’ 

I did—and immediately the cow gave birth!”

Straightaway I plucked the flower with my thumbs,

I touched Juno’s lap with it, and she conceived.

And Juno left me, pregnant now, and wandered Thrace and the left side of Propontis.

She got what she’d wished for: Mars was born.



Name: Publius Ovidius Naso  

Date:  43 BCE – 18 CE

Works:  Ars Amatoria


              Tristia, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



Ovid was one of the most famous love poets of Rome’s Golden Age. His most famous work, the Metamorphoses, provides a history of the world through a series of interwoven myths. Most of his poetry is erotic in nature; for this reason, he fell into trouble during the conservative social reforms under the reign of the emperor Augustus. In 8 CE he was banished to Bithynia, where he spent the remainder of his life pining for his native homeland.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.