This week we're once again taking a look at Ovid's Fasti, a correlation of the calendar and traditions associated with each of the Roman holidays through the year. This is part of an ongoing series, and our hypothesis is the original calendar of the Roman Republic was choreographed by the positions of the Sun and Moon, with each month beginning on the New Moon and reaching a crescendo with the Ides, correlating to the Full Moon.
Our holiday this week is February 22nd, and the Moon's in Sagittarius, the quest of the centaur. Ruled by Jupiter, philosophy and wisdom are in, but so is the big picture, engulfing our psyches in the magic, mystery and immenseness of the sky above. Distant horizons, foreign travel, and extended scenarios succumb to this expanded vision. Morals and piety are the hoped for offspring.
"Give incense to the family gods, ye virtuous ones, and offer food..."
Under stress these themes manifest as excess, whether through indulgence on the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual planes. If physical- you can put on weight. Mental- you talk too much or expound ideals wherein others have no idea what planet you're coming from. Emotional- memories are aggrandized into historic proportions. Spiritual- you're a crusader in God's master plan to lead the assault against the Anti-Christ in one final, decisive, epic battle. This is grandiose stuff.
Drawing from these stellar illustrations, on February 22nd Ovid is examining what it feels like to bring the extended (Sag) family (Moon) together, whether they reside near or far.
"The next day received its name of Caristia from dear (cari) kinsfolk. A crowd of near relations comes to meet the family gods. Sweet it is, no doubt, to recall our thoughts to the living soon as they have dwelt upon the grave and on the dear ones dead and gone; sweet, too, after so many lost, to look upon those of our blood who are left, and to count kin with them. Come none but the innocent! Far, far from here be the unnatural brother, and the mother who is harsh to her own offspring, he whose father lives too long, he who reckons up his mother's years, and the unkind mother-in-law who hates and maltreats her daughter-in-law."
As we saw when the Moon was in Libra, Ovid can look at both sides of an issues, examining the full spectrum of possibilities. He does so here again, calling out for the innocent and those who adhere to moral sensibilities, but then conjuring those examples where families have fallen furthest from the mark, going to the opposite extreme of immorality and sacrelige. Thus, some of mythology's most tragic figures are recalled on this date; of Ino, who boiled her son, Procne also served up hers, and Medea, the witch from Colchis, committed fratricide and other horrors. But one dynasty puts the others to shame, leaving contemporary soaps in the proverbial dust. The House of Atreus weaves a web so knotted and confounded as to set the substandard for literary generations to follow: When his adulterous wife gives away his Golden Fleece and leaves a cuckold's feather in its place, Atreus murders his incestuous brother's children and serves them as a stew, and that's just the hors d'oeuvres.
Sagittarian themes can be out there.