Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: May 2018




Books 1–3 of the Odes of Horace (hereafter ‘H.’) are presented as a unified collection: the first and last poems (1.1 and 3.30) have the character of a prologue and an epilogue respectively, and are matched as the only poems in the three books in their unusual metre (stichic asclepiads). Scholars have generally agreed that the collection emerged as a unit about 23 BCE; but it has been suggested more recently that its individual books might also have been published separately in chronological order. This suggestion fits Odes 2, the central book of the collection, where the poet seems to be reacting in particular to Virgil's Georgics, published c.29 BCE (see section 4 below), and where the latest identifiable date mentioned is the passing of the poet's fortieth birthday in the December of 25 BCE (2.4.22–4). The few topical indications in the book suit the period 28–25 well. The reference to the restoration of Phraates IV to the throne of Parthia in 2.2 points to 25 (see 2.2, introduction), while the allusions to the wars against the Cantabrians in Spain in 2.6 and 2.11 fit 29–26 (see 2.6 and 2.11, introductions), and the reference to the princeps’ campaigns at 2.9.19–24 and his naming as Augustus point to 27 or soon after (see 2.9, introduction), while 2.12 seems to look to a period soon after 28 (see 2.12, introduction), and the allusions to Rome's enemies in 2.20.18–20 (see n.) look to a date of 28–25.


The chronology and sequence of Horace's works is largely agreed. Satires 1 belongs to around 36/35 BCE, Satires 2 and Epodes to around 30/29 BCE, Odes 1–3 to 23 BCE (with possible earlier separate publication), Epistles 1 to 20/19 BCE, the Carmen Saeculare to 17 BCE, and Odes 4 to 14/13 BCE. Only the date of Epistles 2 and the Ars Poetica have been a matter of debate: Epistles 2.1 is clearly dated to after 12 BCE with its address of Augustus as sole ruler (after the death of Agrippa in that year), but Epistles 2.2 has often been dated together with the first book of Epistles to 19 BCE.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO