Essay Notes for Horace's Odes

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  • Topic: Horace, Lyric poetry, Nine lyric poets
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  • Published : April 23, 2013
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Vile potabis modicis Sabinum / cantharis, Graeca quod ipse testa / conditum levi
[You will drink an inferior Sabine wine from small cups, which I put into a Greek jar having sealed it]
 (Odes 1.20.1-3). How apt is it to describe the Odes as ‘Sabine wine in Greek jars’?

Unity and design in Horace
Although examples og greek lyric metre can be found in horace’s odes, the most striking parallelism perhaps is the way both collections open. 
P12: Horace the champion of aurea mediocritas
Horace shares the Hellenistic poets familiarity with many methods of arrangement and metre but he doesn’t really on any of them exclusively. 
Modern poetic sequence by ML Rosenthal and Sally Gall
Keat’s Odes by Helen Vendler
Horace a successful satirist and the adapter into Latin of the iambic spirit of Archilochus and Hipponax. His Odes purported to revive the Greek lyrics poets. P14 For all intents and purposes, however, lyric had been dormant for hundreds of years when Horace decided to transfer it to an intractable language and an alien culture. 
His odes have a diversity of metres adressees and themes – an elaborate attempt to place the does both within Horace’s oeuvre and within a larger poetic tradition. P19: Displays nine different meters and this diversity is reinforced by variation of theme and addresse. The metres establish Horace’s affliation with Greek lyric and serve to set Horace apart from that tradition. They were use by and even named after Horace’s Greek predecessors. P21: A lyric poem was a poem composed in one of the metres traditionally associated with the lyre (23) Horace himself in the last ode of this collection and in a later epistle, retrospectively defined his own poetic achievement in largely metrical terms. It is essentially an attempt to recreate the wonderful immediacy of Greek lyric but the actual conditions of performance had so changed by Horace’s time that the address often functions as a metaphor for the reader. 
DElveloped with constant reference to Greek models. Having set the Odes apart from his pwn earlier satires and from his Greek predecessors in lyric, HOrav explores their status with reference to one other important genre, epic. P27: Horace used the conceir in his very last ode 4.15 which disclaims any ability to write heroic epic. 
=When I wished to sing of wars and conquered cities, Phoebus stuck his lyre to warn me not to spread my sails on the Tyrrhenean Sea. (1-4) P34: As a literary apology, this and other recusationes ultimately go back to Callimachus’ expression of literary preferences in the prologue to his Aetia. In that work C contrasted the thundering Zeus whom he could not imitate with the restrained and restraining Apolla, the fat sheep with the thin (leptalehn) Muse Apollo. 


Traditions and Contexts in the Poetry of Horace, edd. Tony Woodman and Denis Feeney (reviewed by Charles Witke, University of Michigan). Cambridge University Press 2002. Tony Woodman likewise confront the lyric Horace with predecessors in this case Catullus and Greek lyric. Horace’e references to Aeolian or Lesbian poetry are to be contrued to include Sappho as well as Alcaeus. 
RGM Nisbet addresses detailed and learned criticism to Odes 3,21, the wine jar.
Alessandro Brachiesi (47)‘ Viewed thus, the poem is a meditation on the unique status of Rome vis-a-vis Greek culture, as well as a self reflexive utterance about the position of poetry in Roman society.’

What does this quotation mean?
Clearly metaphorical. The components represent: Sabine wine symbolizes Horace’s poetry and it does this in two ways. First, wine is a good symbol for Horace’s Odes because wine is a common topic of the poems and an integral part of the Epicurean philosophy he espouses (refs). Sabine wine in particular is a country pleasure which at its mention makes comment on the relaxed country life which his philosophy endorese. Second, in this instance, juxtaposed with the Greek jars, the adjective Sabine is clearly has an...
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