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Chapter 18 - Horace and the Literature of the Past: Lyric, Epic, and History in Odes 4

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2021

Denis Feeney
Affiliation:
Princeton University, New Jersey
Stephen Hinds
Affiliation:
University of Washington
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Summary

Horace’s Greek lyric predecessors all had a distinctive relationship to Homer, and Horace had a problem in following them, since there was not really a figure in Roman culture comparable to Homer, even if Ennius looked like it in some ways. In the first three books of his Odes, published in 23 BCE, Horace made very few references to epic. But in his fourth book, published in 13 BCE after the death of Virgil and the publication of the Aeneid in 19 BCE, Horace engages systematically with epic, explicitly with Homer and Ennius. The chapter argues that it is in fact the new classic of the Aeneid that is the real focus of interest. The chapter closes by asking why Horace deliberately ignored the work of Livy in a book of poetry that was so interested in how best to represent and commemorate the Roman past.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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