Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Jul 12th - Jul 18th,  2002

Good Grief!

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Mars, God of War

   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.

   This week we look at the Kalends of March, the first day of the month. On this day there are three significant celestial themes being woven together. The first is the God of the Month, Mars, the ruler of both Aries and March. Mars becomes our spokesperson, opening and explaining to Ovid the rhyme and reason of the passages which are to follow:

   "This I inquired, and thus did Mars answer me, laying aside his helmet, though in his right hand he kept his throwing spear: "Now for the first time in the year am I, a god of war, invoked to promote the pursuits of peace..."


Juno ruled over New Moons

   The Sun is getting ready to enter Aries, and therefore the Lord of the Season is being offered top billing. Emerging from out of the Age of Aries, there has been a long association with the glories of heroism, bravery, and self-sacrifice across the centuries, but the Age is turning over into a new epoch, one to be ruled by the Fish (fishermen as disciples) and it's new Latin name: Pisces.

   Which brings us to our next celestial theme, which is the New Moon. The New Moon of each month is ruled by Juno, the Queen of Heaven, women, and marriage and so we find her also being worked into the tapestry of the calendar, and Ovid's verse.

   "...tell me, thou marching God, why matrons keep thy feast, whereas thou art apter to receive service from men."

   ...and again, later in the verse, as the women turn out to be the real heroines of this Kalends:

   "And now the ravished brides could claim the style of mothers also, and yet the war between the kindred folks kept lingering on, when the wives assembled by appointment in the temple of Juno."

   While in the temple they hatch upon a plan to turn the tide of battle to resolution rather than war, and so win the day.

   "The battle is set in array, but choose for which side ye will pray the gods to intervene: on one side stand your husbands in arms and on the other side your sires: the question is whether ye prefer to be widows or ophans."

   Since we have not yet crossed the Vernal Equinox, this New Moon actually occurs in Pisces, which is our third theme. The images that will become prominent under Christianity and the Age of Pisces are liberally interspersed throughout these verses. Faith, hope and charity, the poor and prayer, suffering (travail) as widows, orphans or those in labor, loss, tears, wine... they're all here in a pagan, rather than a Neuvo Judaeo weave:


Prayer by the Clock

   " that little town was hope..."
"...the boon of peaceful sleep..."
"...poor men..."
"...choose for which side you will pray..."
"...(they) clad their bodies in the sad weeds of mourners...
with their streaming hair..."
"...the weapons and passions of the warriors fall
and laying their swords aside..."
"...they by their tears did end these martial wars..."
"...for in their travail they both fight and pray..."
"Thou doest hear the prayer of women in travail."
"Often doth a woman whose prayer has been answered..."
" the sight of an altar be transformed and offer wine
and salted spelt on the warm hearths."
"There is a spirit here."
"...set out the bowls of fragrant wine..."
"The god granted his prayer..."

Rape of the Sabines

Rape of the Sabines

   They're all here and more. Check the WEBSite for the original text to see how all these images are woven together in a tapestry of rhymed time!