Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Contrast Horace’s satirical approach with Juvenalian satire (which is exemplified in the work of a writer such as Jonathan Swift).

What features of Horace’s poetry make him a challenge to translate? Why do so many translators keep making the attempt?

To whom or what can contemporary poets looking for a patron like Gaius Maecenas turn?

Horace’s love poetry is very different, much less passionate, than Catullus’s. What aspects of love can Horace present most effectively?

If Horace is taken as a good example of what is meant by “classical” poetry, what are the virtues of modern poems so designated?


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Further Reading:

Commager, Steele. The Odes of Horace. Reprint. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995. Commager’s book is widely regarded as the most substantial, incisive commentary on Horace’s verse in English. He approaches Horace as a “professional poet,” one committed to art as a vocation. Horace’s distinctive characteristic is that he writes poetry about poetry, as if he wants to define the idea and demonstrate verbal craftsmanship at the same time.

Fraenkel, Edouard. Horace. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957. Extensive twentieth century commentary on the poet’s works. Although not intended as a biography, a chapter on Horace’s life is thorough and illuminating. Concentrates on close readings of selected poems which illustrate the range of Horace’s tastes, interests, and abilities. Carefully researched and documented; most useful for those with some knowledge of Latin literature and culture.

Hadas, Moses. A History of Latin Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964. The chapter on Horace demonstrates why he is the most beloved of Roman poets. It articulates the virtues of common sense, good fellowship, and literary pleasure that generations of European writers have found in the poetry.

Highet, Gilbert. The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Through judicious use of the index, the curious student can survey European attitudes toward Horace’s poetry...

(The entire section is 673 words.)