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Written after he had been banished to the Black Sea city of Tomis by Emperor Augustus, the Fasti is Ovid's last major poetic work. Both a calendar of daily rituals and a witty sequence of stories recounted in a variety of styles, it weaves together tales of gods and citizens together to explore Rome's history, religious beliefs and traditions. It may also be read as a subtle but powerful political manifesto which derides Augustus' attempts to control his subjects by imposing his own mythology upon them: after celebrating the emperor as a Jupiter-on-earth, for example, Ovid deliberately juxtaposes a story showing the king of the gods as a savage rapist. Endlessly playful, this is also a work of integrity and courage, and a superb climax to the life of one of Rome's greatest writers.
- Penguin Books Ltd, October 2004
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