Added: January 7, 2017 – Last updated: January 7, 2017


Author: Anna Everett Beek

Title: Always Look on the Bright Side of Death

Subtitle: Violence, Death, and Supernatural Transformation in Ovid's Fasti

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota

Advisor: Christopher Nappa

Year: February 2015

Pages: iii + 249pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Ancient Rome | Representations: Literary Texts / Ovid


Link: Digital Conservancy: Digital Repository of the University of Minnesota (Free Access)


Abstract: »Ovid's Fasti, in its elaboration of mythic stories and the aetia of Roman religious practices, exhibits a marked correlation between violence and supernatural transformation: people who experience acts of intense violence such as rape, assault, and bodily mutilation are transformed by the experience into gods or other supernatural beings. In fact, within the Fasti, nearly all apotheoses have an episode of violence as a catalyst, and moreover nearly all violence results in transformation. Although rape (and some other forms of violence) in the Fasti has been examined extensively by other scholars, previous studies have focused on the perpetration of violence, while this dissertation examines the consequences of the event, how the victims fail to re-integrate to society and are removed by being ostracized, exiled, killed, transformed, or even apotheosed because a return to their former lives is impossible. Some of the prominent examples treated are Romulus, Anna Perenna, Ino, Callisto, and Lara. Special attention is paid to how this overarching pattern differentiates the Fasti from Ovid's best known collection of mythic transformation stories, the Metamorphoses. The Metamorphoses does provide several episodes of apotheosis (such as those of Hercules, Aeneas, Romulus, and Julius Caesar), and those episodes share certain structural elements that recur in similar episodes in the Fasti: in many cases, the character in question is put in life-threatening danger, which is averted at the last minute by divine intervention and transformation into divinity. Nevertheless, the Fasti, unlike the Metamorphoses, has almost no episodes of humans being transformed into plants, birds, stones, or geographic features as salvation from a threat or punishment for transgression. On the contrary, transformation is almost exclusively a vehicle to divinity or catasterism. The Fasti's strong association of violence with apotheosis and vice versa enshrines violence within the Roman calendar and even celebrates it as a path to a greater destiny.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. i)
  List of Tables (p. iii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    Ovid and Supernatural Transformation (p. 1)
    The State and Time: Interpretive Questions (p. 9)
  Chapter 1: The Hercules Model and Variations (p. 13)
    Anna Perenna (p. 21)
    Julius Caesar (p. 43)
    Ino and Melicertes (p. 51)
    Triptolemus (p. 71)
    Conclusion (p. 73)
  Chapter 2: Remus and Romulus: A Divided Hercules (p. 76)
    Rhea Silvia (p. 103)
  Chapter 3: Transformation via Rape (p. 118)
    Lara (p. 134)
    Flora (p. 148)
    Carna (p. 158)
    Persephone (p. 165)
    Conclusion (p. 172)
  Chapter 4: Catasterism (p. 175)
    Callisto (p. 189)
    The Final Catasterisms: Lead-up to the End (p.199)
  Conclusion (p. 207)
  Bibliography (p. 212)
    Source Texts (p. 212)
      Commentaries on Ovid's Fasti (p. 212)
      Sources for ancient texts quoted in the body of this dissertation (p. 212)
    General Bibliography (p. 212)
  Appendix A: Further Transformations: Lucretia and Livia (p. 222)
    Lucretia (p. 222)
    Livia (p. 241)

Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Rome | Literature: Latin literature / Augustan literature (ancient Rome) | Classical Latin-language writers: Ovid / Fasti (poem)