In the true spirit of collaboration and outreach, I bring you news this week of a new Classics and Ancient History blog from Oxford, offering – in their own words – ‘Hilarité in the longue durée.’
‘May my Cheeses bring me money‘ is a tumblr that tumbled out of the minds of a group of graduate Ancient Historians at Oxford earlier this month – it’s a place to post thoughts, jokes, side-projects and the things they get up to as a department, but also anyone is able to submit their own post if something catches their eye.
The title comes from Ovid’s Fasti, the poet’s celebration of the Roman religious calendar. By Book 4 he’s reached April, and specifically April 21st, the Parilia. Originally (we are told) the Parilia was a pastoral festival, all about purifying your sheep and their pens, but it later came to be celebrated as Rome’s birthday. According to Ovid, it was the day that Romulus first marked out the pomerium, the sacred boundary of Rome (and, of course, the day Remus, his brother was killed, though Ovid has Romulus’ henchman Celer do the deed).
In lines 769-770, Ovid is relating the prayer offered by shepherds to Pares, the archaic god(dess?) honoured in the rites, for prosperity:
ubera plena premam, referat mihi caseus aera,
dentque viam liquido vimina rara sero;
May I squeeze full udders, may my cheese bring me money,
And let my fine sieve let out pure whey;
Who, indeed, could ask for anything more?