Horace (Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)
Horace 65 b.c. -8 b.c.
(Full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus.) Latin poet.
Considered one of the great Latin lyric poets, Horace is renowned for his Odes (c. 23 b.c. and c. 13 b.c.), which express in conversational style the pleasures of friendship and love, and his Satires (c. 35 b.c. and c. 30 b.c.), which are mild and witty and represent a break from the invective-laden attacks of his predecessors. The Odes are unrivaled in their adaptation of Greek meter for Latin verse and are noteworthy for appearing to be autobiographical and ironically self-effacing. Horace's poetry is also important historically because it reflects the mood of the Roman empire at a time of peace following a long period of civil wars. The Ars Poetica (On the Art of Poetry; c. 19 b.c.) served as a manual of style for neoclassical poets in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Horace’s poems and satires, considered exemplary, were compulsory study in British schools, influencing Samuel Johnson, Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden, among others. Eminently quotable, Horace is given seven pages in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. With the designation of the Horatian ode and the Horatian satire genres, his name has also become an adjective.
Horace was born in 65 b.c. to a former slave who eventually owned a small property in the Apulian military colony of Venusia, in southeast Italy. His father earned enough money to send his son to Rome to be educated by Orbilius, a recognized grammarian. Under his strict teacher, Horace studied Greek and read the works of Livius Andronicus, Homer, and other poets. Horace credited his father with teaching him much about human nature and the absurdities of the world. Leaving Rome, Horace studied with various noblemen at the Academy in Athens. After Julius Caesar's assassination by Brutus in 44 b.c., Horace joined Brutus's army, eventually attaining the rank of tribunus militum—a notable achievement for his age and his low social status. After the disastrous defeat of Brutus in the military campaign of Philippi, Horace returned home to Rome where, although his father's property had been seized, he was given a job as a civil servant. He began writing poems and these led his friends Virgil and Varius to introduce him in about 38 b.c. to Gaius Maecenas, an important adviser of Octavian, Brutus's successor. Horace took pains to avoid a typical sycophantic relationship with his patron and he and Maecenas formed a strong friendship based on mutual respect. It is to Maecenas that Horace dedicates his first two books of the Satires and his Epodes (c. 29 b.c.). Horace was able to return to the country, to a modest Sabine farm (possibly a gift)—a life he loved and used as a backdrop to many of his poems. He politely turned down other government positions offered him by Octavian, now known as Augustus, but with the death of Virgil, Horace became the nation's unofficial poet laureate—evidenced in part by his commission in 17 b.c. to write the Carmen Saeculare (Secular Hymn), in honor of the revival in Rome of the Secular Games. Horace outlived Maecenas by only a few months and is buried beside him.
There is considerable debate among scholars about the dating of much of Horace's work. Historical references and allusions sometimes indicate a likely date, but often not a definitive one. Analysis of his meter in terms of line length and syllable count also yields clues, but it is unlikely that critics will ever completely agree on absolute dates. Horace's first volume of Satires consists of ten poems in hexameter verse, their subject matter usually involving the poet's praise for balance in everything and disdain for public life and ambition. One of his best-known edicts from this work is “There is measure in everything. There are fixed limits beyond which and short of which right cannot find resting-place.” The second volume of Satires contains eight poems, mostly in the form of dialogues, and may have been published slightly after the Epodes, a work of seventeen poems—mostly iambics written in the manner of Archilochus—in which Horace expounds on political and social problems, pokes fun at various acquaintances, and remembers the battle in which Antony and Cleopatra were vanquished by Octavian. Books I through III of the Odes are generally believed to have been published together around 23 b.c. although their date of creation undoubtedly spans many years. These Odes, widely considered Horace's masterwork, comprise eighty-eight poems in the meter of the Greek poets Alcaeus and Sappho; their subject matter concerns personal relationships and practical philosophy. The fifteen odes which form the fourth volume were published around 13 b.c. Two volumes of Epistles date from about 20 b.c. and 15 b.c. In hexameter verse Horace adopts what seems to be a casual, conversational tone to express his concerns regarding a moral life. The dating of his most famous epistle, the Ars Poetica, is problematic, ranging from 19 b.c. to 10 b.c. It contains numerous maxims intended to guide poets, for example: “It is when I struggle to be brief that I become unintelligible”; “You may gain the finest effects in language by the skillful setting which makes a well-known word new”; “If you wish to draw tears from me, you must first feel pain yourself”; and “To poets to be second-rate is a privilege which nether men, nor gods, nor bookstalls ever allowed.”
Horace was revered in his own lifetime and many of his poems were analyzed in academies. For centuries no one improved on his efforts in using Greek meter in Latin. After a lengthy period of relative neglect, vigorous interest in Horace's poetry was reawakened during the Renaissance, and Horace’s works remained influential and extremely praised through the nineteenth century. With the demise of Latin courses in modern times, public appreciation of his work has declined and his poetry is now chiefly the province of scholars. Horace, with typical self-mockery, acknowledged that he was not the most original or most inspired of poets; while recognizing this, critics find much to praise in him, particularly his ability to come across as a friend to his readers, his lack of bitterness, and his mastery of stanzaic meter. Moses Stephen Slaughter writes: “His thought, never very original or very intense, has long since become absorbed in the common thought of the world, but his happy expression of it can never be neglected or forgotten.” Taking a historical/political view, Grant Showerman writes that Horace’s work “is the eloquent record of the life of Rome in an age which for intensity is unparalleled in the annals of the ancient world.”
Satires Book I (poetry) c. 35 b.c.
Satires Book II (poetry) c. 30 b.c.
Epodes (poetry) c. 29 b.c.
Odes Books I-III (poetry) c. 23 b.c.
Epistles Book I (poetry) c. 20 b.c.
Ars Poetica [On the Art of Poetry] (poetry) c. 19 b.c.
Carmen Saeculare [Secular Hymn] (hymn) 17 b.c.
Epistles Book II (poetry) c. 15 b.c.
Odes Book IV (poetry) c. 13 b.c.
Odes and Epodes of Horace (translated by Joseph P. Clancy) 1960
Satires and Epistles of Horace (translated by Smith Palmer Bovie) 1962
Third Book of Horace's Odes (translated by Gordon Williams) 1969
The Odes and Epodes (translated by C. E. Bennett) 1991
Satires I (translated by P. Michael Brown) 1993
Epodes (translated by David Mankin) 1995
The Odes of Horace (translated by David Ferry) 1998
The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace (translated by Sidney Alexander) 1999
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SOURCE: An introduction to The Odes and Epodes of Horace, Ginn & Company, Publishers, 1895, pp. ix-lxxxvii.
[In the following excerpt, Smith discusses Horace's life—including his education, time served in Brutus's army, friendship with Maecenas, and political views—and provides an overview on his works and manuscripts.]
I. LIFE AND WRITINGS.
1. Our knowledge of the facts of Horace's life is derived in part from a biography, appended to certain manuscripts of his poems, which has been shown by conclusive evidence to be, in substance, the life of the poet which Suetonius wrote in his encyclopedic work, De Viris Illustribus. There are briefer lives in some of the other manuscripts, and scattered notices in the scholia. But all these sources afford—beyond a few dates and facts—little information that we do not already possess, in fuller and more authentic form, in the poet's own writings. To these we must go for an adequate understanding of his mind and character. In the Satires and Epistles, and to a less degree in the Epodes, Horace takes the reader into his confidence and speaks of his circumstances and feelings with singular frankness. The Odes, too, contain much biographical material, but it is of a kind that must be used with caution. As a poet Horace claims the freedom of his craft and frequently puts himself, for poetical...
(The entire section is 9389 words.)
SOURCE: “Horace as a Lyrical Poet” in The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: Horace and the Elegiac Poets, Clarendon Press, 1899, pp. 133-99.
[In the following excerpt, Sellar examines and rates the merits of The Odes, discusses why there is such a wide range of opinion among Horace's critics, and analyzes how Horace achieves his desired tone and effects.]
It is for his Odes that Horace claims immortality, and it is to them that he chiefly owes it. Scarcely any work in any literature has been so widely and so familiarly known. Almost from the time of their author's death, they became what they have been since the revival of letters, one of the chief instruments by which literary taste and a delicate sense of language have been educated. The music of their verse, the grace, lucidity, and terseness of their diction, the truth and, at the same time, the limitation of their thought, impress them on the memory; while their applicability to the ordinary experience of life has brought them more into the currency of quotation, in speech and writing, than the words of any other writer. Changes in literary taste and speculative thought do not seem to affect the estimation in which they are held. They gain and retain the ear of each generation from the perfection of their form and the importance of their meaning. No ancient writer has so much...
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SOURCE: “Horace” in Latin Literature, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908, pp. 106-19.
[In the following essay, Mackail compares and contrasts Vergil and Horace, evaluates Horace's work, and explains how, with a mixture of luck, skill, and genius, Horace both perfected the Latin lyric and stopped its progress.]
In that great turning-point of the world's history marked by the establishment of the Roman Empire, the position of Virgil is so unique because he looks almost equally forwards and backwards. His attitude towards his own age is that of one who was in it rather than of it. On the one hand is his intense feeling for antiquity, based on and reinforced by that immense antiquarian knowledge which made him so dear to commentators, and which renders some of his work so difficult to appreciate from our mere want of information; on the other, is that perpetual brooding over futurity which made him, within a comparatively short time after his death, regarded as a prophet and his works as in some sense oracular. The Sortes Vergilianae, if we may believe the confused gossip of the Augustan History, were almost a State institution, while rationalism was still the State creed in ordinary matters. Thus, while, in a way, he represented and, as it were, gave voice to the Rome of Augustus, he did so in a transcendental manner; the Rome which he represents, whether as city or empire, being less a fact than an...
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SOURCE: “The ‘Divini Gloria Buris’—Lucretius, Virgil, Horace” in The Love of Nature among the Romans: During the Later Decades of the Republic and the First Century of the Empire, John Murray, 1912, pp. 50-82.
[In the following essay, Geikie explores the influence that country life had on Horace's poetry, both during his childhood years and in his adulthood, while he was living on a farm given to him by Maecenas.]
… As another remarkable example of the influence of an early life in the country upon a poetic temperament we may look at the case of Horace (b.c. 65-8). His birthplace lay not in a luxuriant plain, like that of Virgil, but at Venusia, in a somewhat rugged and sterile territory on the eastern flank of the Apulian Apennines. Of that first home he retained some vivid impressions which are again and again alluded to in his poems. These recollections are of interest in showing that the poet was not without an eye for the features of landscape which he could felicitously describe, often only by a happily chosen word.1 In those early years, too, living among the sturdy yeomen and peasantry of Apulia, he became intimately acquainted with the simple upright lives of the old Sabellian race, for which he afterwards expressed such admiration.
Two reminiscences of the region of his boyhood, which had imprinted themselves deeply on his mind, are referred to in...
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SOURCE: “Literary Criticism” in Horace and His Age: A Study in Historical Background, Longmans, Green and Co., 1917, pp. 250-91.
[In the following essay, D’Alton examines Horace as a critic—judging his abilities and considering his influence, theories, standards, and models—and explains how his opinions sometimes differed from those of his contemporaries.]
Horace entered early into the arena of literary criticism. When he returned from Philippi, and was compelled by poverty to take to literature, he essayed a species of poetry, that was invested with an element of danger for a young man aspiring to win an honourable place in Roman Letters. In his Satires, he offended the susceptibilities of certain of his contemporaries by his freedom of attack, and he incurred the wrath of the admirers of Lucilius by his strictures on their favourite poet. He was placed on his defence, and had to justify the position he had assumed.1 At a later period, when his reputation among Roman poets was securely established, he did battle for the school of Virgil and Varius,2 to which he belonged, against those who wished to exalt the Ancients over the Moderns. Thus, a goodly portion of Horace's literary criticism was delivered by way of polemic, but it was not all born amidst the din of battle. In later life, when his own fame was secure, he felt he had a message to impart, especially to his...
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SOURCE: “Horace as Poet Laureate” in New Studies of a Great Inheritance: Being Lectures on the Modern Worth of Some Ancient Writers, John Murray, 1921, pp. 44-65.
[In the following essay, Conway commends Horace's poems concerning national events, because the poems demonstrate that Horace steadfastly honored Roman history. Conway notes that Horace praised rulers only so far as they helped mankind, and was not impressed by the superficial, but saw the essence of his subject.]
What do we expect of a Poet Laureate, of a poet who handles national themes?1 He records and he interprets events of national importance. But how does this differ from the function of the historian? Clearly the poet is more free; he is not bound to record merely what was and what is, and the causes of both; he may treat of what may be—what might have been.2 He may handle, not the whole of an event, but only such part of it as seems to him permanent and significant; just so much as appears important when seen, in the mediaeval phrase, sub specie aeternitatis. In a word, the poet can idealise; that is to say, he can connect events with great ideas.
All this is commonplace; but what is not so clearly seen is that such idealism tends to become true even of the actual past. It is commonly said and thought that the past cannot be altered, that when an event has once happened, its...
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SOURCE: “Horace Interpreted” in Horace and His Influence. 1922. Reprint. Longmans, Green and Co., 1927, pp. 3-39.
[In the following essay, Showerman profiles Horace as a person, a poet, and an interpreter of his times.]
I. HORACE INTERPRETED
THE APPEAL OF HORACE
In estimating the effect of Horace upon his own and later times, we must take into account two aspects of his work. These are, the forms in which he expressed himself, and the substance of which they are the garment. We shall find him distinguished in both; but in the substance of his message we shall find him distinguished by a quality which sets him apart from other poets ancient and modern.
This distinctive quality lies neither in the originality nor in the novelty of the Horatian message, which, as a matter of fact, is surprisingly familiar, and perhaps even commonplace. It lies rather in the appealing manner and mood of its communication. It is a message living and vibrant.
The reason for this is that in Horace we have, above all, a person. No poet speaks from the page with greater directness, no poet establishes so easily and so completely the personal relation with the reader, no poet is remembered so much as if he were a friend in the flesh. In this respect, Horace among poets is a parallel to Thackeray in the field of the novel. What the letters of...
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SOURCE: “Roman Criticism—I. From Cicero to Horace” in Roman Poetry, Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1923, pp. 27-65.
[In the following excerpt, Sikes surveys the history of Roman literary criticism, examines theories regarding the function of poetry, analyzes the role of meter, and investigates the question of whether poetry is a product of genius or of art.]
It is the veriest commonplace to call the Romans a “practical” race; and no one who knows their achievements in arms and law, in politics and architecture, would disagree. But this unimpeachable truth is often taken to imply that a genius for the practical must be opposed to poetry—an implication which Shakespeare's countrymen might well mistrust. There is, however, this much excuse for the antithesis (as far as Latin poetry is concerned), that Virgil's countrymen themselves felt the difficulty, and they have too often been taken at their own valuation. “Others might win fame in bronze or breathing marble; it was Rome's mission to impose peace, to spare the conquered, to crush the proud”—Virgil's disclaimer of art has contributed to obscure the real merits of Roman sculpture, which, though of course derived from Greece, was a complete expression of the Latin character; and, in the same way, the modesty of Latin poets, in the face of their Greek “originals”, has done them a real disservice. Few races, after...
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SOURCE: “Experiment—The Epodes” in Horace: A New Interpretation, Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1924, pp. 128-46.
[In the following excerpt, Campbell examines the works of Horace while he was a novice poet, and explores his use of invective in the Epodes.]
That the infant Horace was covered by doves with bay and myrtle leaves we need not necessarily believe, but his self-chosen apprenticeship to the Muses must have begun when he was very young. Even his earliest extant compositions—Sat., I. vii., and Epodes, vii. and xvi. and perhaps ii.—though the first is poor in humour and some of the others are even (a strange thing in Horace) diffuse in execution—even they are pretty surely not the work of an absolute beginner. He had probably learned something from those early exercises in the writing of Greek verse, of which he tells us in Sat., I. x. 31; but we may naturally infer from the imaginary incident which follows that he had soon desisted from what he felt to be an unprofitable and dilettante practice. Considering the state of Latin metrical technique at the time, the precision and finish even of the early poems just mentioned can hardly have been attained without some previous versifying in his native tongue.
The seventh satire of the first book provides the most natural point de départ in the consideration of Horace's works. Palmer,...
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SOURCE: “Augustus and Horace” in Horace and His Art of Enjoyment, E. P. Dutton & Company, 1925, pp. 64-82.
[In the following essay, Haight explores the impact of Augustus's rule and policies on Horace, who became the “quasi-official laureate of the Empire.”]
THE SHAPING OF AN EMPIRE
The epoch in which Horace was to pass the remaining years of his life stands out like the Age of Pericles, the Florence of the Medici, the time of Louis Fourteenth, the Elizabethan Age, as a period of creative production that merited the name “Golden.” Unlike the last century of the Republic and the times of Cicero, it was not a period of tremendous political struggles, for after Actium, that third great duel between rival politicians for the leadership of the Roman world, Octavian was able gradually to establish a beneficent rule which, though it shared the labor of the state, assumed its direction and responsibility. So much of this age of reconstruction is reflected in Horace's works that it is necessary to review the progress of Octavian's ascent to power and his wide-sweeping reforms to understand why the youth who fought at Philippi and praised the noble suicide of Cato, the last of the republicans, became the poet of the Peace of Augustus.
The youthful student Octavian, the adopted nephew of Julius Cæsar, who after his grand-uncle's death surprised even the...
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SOURCE: “Horace: An Appreciation” in Roman Portraits, Yale University Press, 1925, pp. 59-82.
[In the following essay, Slaughter examines Horace's character, influences, and merits as a poet, and contends that his ethical qualities and humanity pervade and distinguish his work.]
“To mould the faltering speech of childhood, to fashion the heart of youth by gentle precepts, to be a corrector of harshness, malice, and anger, to portray virtuous actions and by familiar examples train the rising generation, and finally to sustain the weak and console the discouraged,” is the mission of the poet to society as set down by Horace in his latest published work.
While this cannot be regarded as his whole literary creed, for Horace is here emphasizing one point of view in a special plea to the emperor asking his considerate indulgence and active interest in the literature of the day, it is none the less a singularly significant passage, revealing, as it does, Horace's underlying conception of the functions of literature. To him the didactic and ethical make the strongest plea, and, while he recognizes that the giving of pleasure is a legitimate end of the literary art and nurses a slight hope that a faint breath of the Grecian Muse has been vouchsafed to him in gracious moments, it is, after all, in the pursuit of the quid verum atque decens that he finds his greatest pleasure if not...
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SOURCE: “Satire,” The Criterion, Vol. 9, No. XXXIV, October, 1929, pp. 7-22.
[In the following essay, Wolfe lays out the task of the satirist, asserts that he seeks not only judgment but condemnation, and contrasts satire with the lampoon, parody, burlesque, and allegory.]
The satirist holds a place half-way between the preacher and the wit. He has the purpose of the first and uses the weapons of the second. He must both hate and love. For what impels him to write is not less the hatred of wrong and injustice than a love of the right and just. So much he shares with the prophet. But he seeks to affect the minds of men not by the congruities of virtue, but by the incongruities of vice, and in that he partakes of the wit. For as laughter dispels care by showing that as one thing is, so all may be, absurd, so it attacks wickedness by robbing it of its pretentions. Let wrong be purely serious, and Don Quixote with lantern-jaws will find it impregnable as the windmill. But let Falstaff ride at it, and he will lead home captive a dozen giants in Lincoln green. This much then is certain that the satirist shakes the foundations of the Kingdom of Hell by showing it to be a kingdom of nonsense. He will allow nothing to be serious except the right, and that will always be able to afford a smile.
It is strange that, when this redoubtable means of shaming the devil has always lain to men's...
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SOURCE: “Horace,” The Criterion, Vol. 9, No. XXXV, January, 1930, pp. 217-27.
[In the following essay, Pound profiles Horace, finding much to assault, but crediting him as “the most skilful metrist among the Latins,” and explaining, with examples, why most attempts to translate Horace fail.]
Neither simple nor passionate, sensuous only in so far as he is a gourmet of food and of language, aere perennius, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, bald-headed, pot-bellied, underbred, sycophantic, less poetic than any other great master of literature, occupies one complete volume of the British Museum Catalogue and about half the bad poetry in English might seem to have been written under his influence, but as almost no Englishman save Landor has ever written a line of real criticism this is not perhaps very surprising. There are people called the ‘English Critics’ (sometimes the gt. E.C.) who have put down a few rules of thumb about finding rhymes, or about the religious bearing of literature, or indulged in metaphysical speculation, but Landor was almost unique in examining specific passages of verse to see whether they were well or ill written or if they could be improved. Thus books on Horace abound, but there has been very little attempt to define the art of Maecenas' protégé.
Horace is a liar of no mean pomposity when he claims to have been the first to bring in the...
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SOURCE: “Introductory Essay” in Quintus Horatius Flaccus: A Selection of His Works, translated by Fred Bates Lund and Robert Montraville Green, Club of Odd Volumes, 1953, pp. vii-xiv.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1947, Oliver explains that the best way to read Horace is in Latin, but barring this, that it is essential to have the Latin original beside the translation or translations and to avail oneself of commentary and notes.]
The way to enjoy Horace is to read him and not about him, and the way to read him is in Latin. These translations, published by and for the friends of the two translators, at first consideration, then, avail little, for except for one ode quoted in full in this preface (with a half dozen or so translations of it) the Latin is not given. Happily, however, in this case, it may be taken for granted that for the public for whom this small work is designed, it will be no great hardship to lay hand on a Latin version of the poems.
For most of us, it is extremely difficult to read Horace, straight and cold, in Latin. When occasionally we try, most of us reproach ourselves for our unskill and blame the teachers of our childhood and youth with whom in earlier years we struggled wretchedly through the beginnings of Latin grammar, through Fabulae Faciles, Caesar, Cicero, and perhaps, if we persisted far enough, Vergil and some of Horace....
(The entire section is 2379 words.)
SOURCE: “The Horatian Ode” in Horace & His Lyric Poetry, The University Press, 1951, pp. 123-49.
[In the following excerpt, Wilkinson analyzes the technical aspects of many of Horace's lyrics, outlining their chief characteristics and construction.]
Perhaps it will be best to clear the way for the study of what Horatian lyric is by recollecting what it is not. In the first place, it is rarely ‘lyrical’, being the product of meditation rather than immediate emotion. There are, of course, exceptions, in tone if not in inspiration—I, 19 (Mater saeua Cupidinum), I, 26 (Musis amicus) and IV, 3 (Quem tu, Melpomene), for instance—but they are not many.1 Though Horace himself constantly speaks of his lyre and the Latin word ‘ode’ had not then been invented, the longer pieces are nearer in feeling to what we call ‘odes’ (our associations with the word being no doubt coloured by his work) than to what we call ‘lyrics’, while the shorter pieces are sometimes akin to hymns, sometimes to Miltonic sonnets.2 And the fact that many of the poems are addressed to an individual gives them a hortatory turn which is alien to the free self-expression of lyric. It takes two to make a normal Horatian ode.
Again, the Horatian lyric is rarely suggestive or imaginative. The Roman mind was practical, not visionary, and Roman poetry, however...
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SOURCE: “The World of Nature: Time and Change” in The Odes of Horace: A Critical Study, Yale University Press, 1962, pp. 235-306.
[In the following essay, Commager contends that Horace's nature poetry is not concerned with nature intrinsically, but with that aspect of nature from which one can draw moral lessons.]
NATURE AS A MORAL METAPHOR
Discussions of Horace's treatment of nature have so tended toward the bucolic that the writer whom they present seems more nearly a farmer than a poet. His claim to be a ruris amator (Ep. 1.10.2) has been singled out for acrimonious debate, with the landscape of the second Epode providing the most common site for scholarly alarums and critical excursions. We are alternately invited to a kindred enthusiasm or to a tolerant skepticism as to the sincerity of his protestations. Sellar and Tyrrell, writing shortly before the turn of the century, assumed conflicting positions, and thus dramatized the issue both for their own and for later generations. By their arguments they seem to have legislated the very vocabulary for subsequent disputes, and charges of artificiality or insincerity are still leveled against the defense of a “keen eye” or “lively appreciation,” as Horace is alternately identified with town or country mouse.
The quarrel has obscured the fact that, in the Odes at least, Horace's interest...
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SOURCE: “Poet and Patron (1) (I.6)” in The Satires of Horace, University Press, 1966, pp. 36-53.
[In the following excerpt, Rudd examines Horace's relationship with his friend and patron, Maecenas, and explores how Horace dealt with its political ramifications in his poetry.]
It is hard for an Englishman, with his long history of civic order, to imagine the almost continuous violence which Rome endured in the last sixty years of the Republic. Sulla, who played a large part in crushing the Italian rebels in 88 b.c., had only just left to take command in the east when Marius and Cinna seized power in Rome. The slaughter of their opponents went on for five days. Sulla's return brought a new outbreak of fighting which culminated at the Colline Gate in 82 b.c. Thousands fell in battle, thousands were killed after surrendering, and thousands more died in the proscriptions which followed. Savagery, even on this scale, failed to bring peace, and within four years the army of Lepidus was marching on Rome. After Lepidus' defeat many of his soldiers fled to Sertorius, the Marian general, who had been conducting successful operations in Spain. These operations, which included victories over Pompey, were brought to an end when Sertorius was assassinated in 72 b.c. Pompey returned to Italy in time to help Crassus stamp out the revolt of Spartacus. Six thousand slaves were crucified...
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SOURCE: “Horace and His Lyre” in Horace the Minstrel: A Practical and Aesthetic Study of His Aeolic Verse, The Roundwood Press, 1969, pp. 1-38.
[In the following excerpt, Bonavia-Hunt offers evidence that Horace was a musician, that music heavily influenced his lyric verse, and that his Carmen Saeculare was written for singing.]
«Señora, donde ay musica, no puede aver cosa mala»
I. WAS HORACE A MUSICIAN?
The purpose of this Section is to state the case for an affirmative answer to this question. Having done so, I leave it to the Opposition (the majority of scholars and scholiasts) to prove me wrong if it can. Nor do I make apology for any polemical note or for any gleams of mere commonsense that the reader may find in what I have to say.
In a nutshell my contentions are these: that Horace was an accomplished all-round amateur musician with a great love of the art and science of music; that he knew a good deal about it technically; that he not only could but did play the lyre competently; that music impregnates his lyric verse, deeply affecting its sonic qualities1 and influencing even the drift of the thought at times; finally, that he wrote some at least (not all) of his Carmina for singing (with or without instrumental accompaniment) and not merely for speech recitation.
The proving of this multiple...
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SOURCE: “Images” in Word, Sound, and Image in the Odes of Horace, The University of Michigan Press, 1969, pp. 47-58.
[In the following excerpt, Lee examines Horace's use of imagery, particularly the “frightful realism” of his death-connoting images.]
“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor, and this is the one thing that cannot be learned from others.”
Poetry never explains. It simply presents us with rhythmed words. Yet when we have examined the words and sounds in a poem we have not reached its inner life, or touched on the process in the poet that produced the poem. There is still the image.
Poets are image-makers. They speak, not with the conventional logic of the prose-writer, but with the special logic of the imagination. They present us, not with carefully reasoned statements, but with images in verse. Ezra Pound defines the image as “that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.”1 He is speaking, of course, as an “imagist” of the early years of this century. Horace's approach is something else again. But his images are not unlike Pound's: they carry both intelligible meaning and emotional overtones. To Pound's workable definition I should like only to add that under the term “image” I mean to include...
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SOURCE: “The Love Odes” in The Golden Plectrum: Sexual Symbolism in Horace's Odes, Rodopi, 1982, pp. 14-64.
[In the following excerpt, Minadeo concentrates on Horace's use of sexual images and symbolism.]
Horace was an orderly lyrist. Each of his first nine odes is dressed in a distinct meter, the nine comprising all of the major verse forms to follow. Similarly, the nine furnish the essentials of the work's sexual symbolism. As was Horace's evident plan, the fifth and ninth odes would suffice for a preview of the symbolism, but, in view of its superb corroborative effect, I shall also include the eleventh in my own introduction.
We start with the ode that is in every way the cornerstone of the love lyrics (1:5):
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa perfusus liquidis urget odoribus grato, Pyrrha, sub antro? Cui flavam religas comam,
simplex munditiis? Heu quotiens fidem mutatosque deos flebit et aspera nigris aequora ventis emirabitur insolens,
qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea, qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem sperat, nescius aurae fallacis! Miseri, quibus
intemptata nites. Me tabula sacer votiva paries indicat uvida...
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SOURCE: “The Larger Context: Epodes, Odes 1-3, Odes 4” in Horace's Poetic Journey: A Reading of Odes 1-3, Princeton University Press, 1987, pp. 254-73.
[In the following excerpt, Porter explores the complexities of Odes 1-3 and describes them as standing midway between the Epodes and Ode 4 in terms of movement and theme.]
In conclusion we may briefly view Odes 1-3 in the larger context of Horace's total lyric output. In composition and publication the collection falls chronologically between the Epodes, which Horace completed around 30 b.c., and Odes 4, which Horace completed probably in 13 b.c., and we shall see that Odes 1-3 stands midway between these two other collections also in theme, tone, and movement. Since our purpose here in looking at these two other collections is only to suggest what light they cast on Odes 1-3, we shall examine them briefly and focus on one aspect only, their larger thematic movement.
THE EPODES AND ODES 41
Central to the architecture of the Epodes are four poems. Two poems to Maecenas, comparable in length and both dealing with the campaign against Antony and Cleopatra, open the two halves of the book—Epodes 1 and 9. Balancing this pair of Maecenas poems are two epodes, 7 and 16, that focus on the ravages of the civil wars. The balanced...
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SOURCE: “Later Life and Works” in Horace, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 117-62.
[In the following excerpt, Armstrong focuses on the three poems included in the second book of Horace's Epistles. ]
… After the publication of Odes 4, Horace may have ceased to write. He died on November 27, 8 b.c., shortly after Maecenas's death in the same year. So his promise in Odes 2.17 to accompany Maecenas on every road, even the last, came true; whether from grief or by coincidence, there is no evidence. One thing about his death sounds strange for a Roman who figured in business and society as importantly as Horace did. Death came to him suddenly, Suetonius claims, so suddenly that he only had time to summon witnesses and dismiss his property into Augustus's hands. Augustus is known from other sources to have been a careful administrator of estates left to him, and Horace could well have trusted him to distribute any secondary bequests that he had promised to friends and to free slaves who had been promised their freedom. Such “nuncupatory” or declaratory wills were legal by Roman law as they are in ours, if reduced to writing as soon as possible after death and subscribed by the witnesses. But Romans of rank customarily made their wills into lengthy farewell-card lists of friends and favored acquaintances, using small bequests and namings to residuary legacies in the second and...
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SOURCE: “Horatian Satire and the Conventions of Popular Drama” in The Walking Muse: Horace on the Theory of Satire, 1993, pp. 3-51.
[In the following essay, Freudenburg discusses Horace's use of satiric persona, the influence of Bion on his satire, and his handling of the diatribe.]
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: ANCIENT RHETORIC AND THE PERSONA THEORY
“The poet's work may be a mask, a dramatized conventionalization, but it is frequently a conventionalization of his own experiences, his own life. If used with a sense of these distinctions, there is use in biographical study.”1 Since the days of the great “Personal Heresy” debate, which pitted C. S. Lewis of Oxford against E. M. Tillyard of Cambridge, critics of personal poetry have struggled to strike a balance between the opposing claims of art and autobiography.2 The concept of the poet's mask, the persona, while generally accepted in theory, still suffers from much neglect in the actual practice of criticism. It troubles us, for it leads to the ironic realization that all personal poetry, such as satire, elegy, and lyric, is essentially impersonal, or at least personal only in a restricted sense, for the poet chooses to create and project a specific image of himself as speaker just as he would create any other character to play a role in his fictional poetic world. This remarkable irony is central to a...
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Cooper, Lane. A Concordance to the Works of Horace. Washington: The Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1916, 593p.
Every word used in Horace's writings, with complete line for context, organized in an alphabetical sequence.
Goad, Caroline. Horace in the English Literature of the Eighteenth Century. 1918. New York: Haskell House Publishers Ltd., 1967, 684p.
Compiles quotes of Horace as used in the works of great writers of the eighteenth century including Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and Henry Fielding.
Thayer, Mary Rebecca. The Influence of Horace on the Chief English Poets of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Haskell House, 1965, 117p.
Analyzes the use of quotes of Horace by great writers of the nineteenth century including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Robert Browning.
Sedgwick, Henry Dwight. Horace: A Biography. New York: Russell & Russell, 1947, 182p.
Biography of “the poet of civilized man.”
Ancona, Ronnie. Time and the Erotic in Horace's “Odes”. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994, 186p.
Explores “how temporality functions as a defining feature of Horace's...
(The entire section is 629 words.)