Home > Uncategorized > Ovid: I had naught to do with war, guardian was I of peace and doorways

Ovid: I had naught to do with war, guardian was I of peace and doorways


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Ovid: Selections on war and peace


From The Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Let others sing of Caesar’s wars; my theme be Caesar’s altars and the days he added to the sacred roll.

Caesaris arma canant alii: nos Caesaris aras, et quoscumque sacris addidit ille dies.


Two-headed Janus, opener of the softly gliding year, thou who alone of the celestials dost behold thy back, come propitious to the chiefs whose toil ensures peace to the fruitful earth, peace to the sea.

Iane biceps, anni tacite labentis origo,
solus de superis qui tua terga vides,
dexter ades ducibus, quorum secura labore
otia terra ferax, otia pontus habet:


When I choose to send forth peace from tranquil halls, she freely walks the ways unhindered. But with blood and slaughter the whole world would welter, did not the bars unbending hold the barricadoed wars. I sit at heaven’s gate with the gentle Hours;

cum libuit Pacem placidis emittere tectis,
libera perpetuas ambulat ilia vias:
sanguine letifero totus miscebitur orbis,
ni teneant rigidae condita bella serae.
praesideo foribus caeli cum mitibus Horis:


I reigned in days when earth could bear with gods, and divinities moved freely in the abodes of men. The sin of mortals had not yet put Justice to flight (she was the last of the celestials to forsake the earth): honour’s self, not fear, ruled the people without appeal to force: toil there was none to expound the right to righteous men. I had naught to do with war: guardian was I of peace and doorways, and these,” quoth he, showing the key, “these be the arms I bear.”

tunc ego regnabam, patiens cum terra deorum
esset, et humanis numina mixta locis.
nondum lustitiam facinus mortale fugarat
(ultima de superis ilia reliquit humum),
proque metu populum sine vi pudor ipse regebat;
nullus erat iustis reddere iura labor,
nil mihi cum bello: pacem postesque tuebar
et” clavem ostendens “haec” ait “arma gero.”

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