Horace: Image, Identity, and Audience

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Horace: Image, Identity, and Audience

Horace Image, Identity, and Audience Horace Image, Identity, and Audience Randall L. B. McNeill The Johns Hopkins Uni

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Horace Image, Identity, and Audience

Horace Image, Identity, and Audience Randall L. B. McNeill

The Johns Hopkins University Press Baltimore and London

©  The Johns Hopkins University Press All rights reserved. Published  Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper          The Johns Hopkins University Press  North Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland - www.press.jhu.edu Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data McNeill, Randall L. B., – Horace : image, identity, and audience / Randall L. B. McNeill. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.  --- (hardcover : alk. paper) . Horace—Criticism and interpretation. . Laudatory poetry, Latin—History and criticism. . Epistolary poetry, Latin—History and criticism. . Verse satire, Latin—History and criticism. . Rome—In literature. I. Title.  .  '.—dc - A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.

For My Parents


Acknowledgments ix 

The Horaces of Horace  

Poet and Patron  

In the Public Eye  

Craft and Concern  

Worldly Affairs  

Creating Reality  Notes  Bibliography  General Index  Index of Passages Discussed 


Working on Horace feels at times like trying to catch a ghost—a clever, charming, and unusually agile ghost—and it gives me great pleasure to express here my gratitude to those who have helped me in the chase. I would like first of all to thank Gordon Williams for his wise counsel, thoughtful criticism, and warm and witty encouragement throughout this project. My affectionate thanks go also to Jerome Pollitt and Donald Kagan; their advice, kindness, and support have always been deeply appreciated. Ellen Oliensis and A. Thomas Cole read an earlier version of the manuscript in full and made many valuable suggestions for its improvement. Susanna Morton Braund offered generous and thoughtprovoking comments on the overall structure and underlying ideas of my argument. The award of a Robert M. Leylan Dissertation Fellowship from Yale University, and a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, provided assistance early on. I have further benefited enormously from the helpful reactions and suggestions of Maura Burnett and the two anonymous readers for The Johns Hopkins University Press who provided insightful and constructive comments on my manuscript. I would also like to thank my colleagues at Lawrence University for their encouragement and for the many stimulating conversations I have had with them. My greatest debt by far is to my dear parents, David and Nobuko McNeill, whose love and support have forever been the true mainstay of my life. They have followed my study of classics from its first beginnings, and their ideas and taste permeate mine. This book can serve as only the smallest token of the boundless and inexpressible love I feel for them. Nevertheless, to them it is humbly and gratefully dedicated.

Horace Image, Identity, and Audience

          

The Horaces of Horace

Although many ancient authors have suffered through long periods of disfavor and neglect, their literary stars rising and falling according to the vagaries of changing tastes, Quintus Horatius Flaccus has remained consistently popular through the centuries. He has stood as a cornerstone of classical education for countless generations of students; poets from Pope to Hölderlin to Brodsky have read and admired his works; ancient commentators, humanists of the Renaissance, and scholars from the Enlightenment to the present day have written prolifically on the man and his texts. Some two thousand years after his death, he continues to challenge, astonish, and fascinate his readers, whether they encounter him for the first time or discover him anew. Much of Horace’s appeal, of course, derives from the sheer impact of the lively and engaging personality that springs forth for anyone who undertakes even the most cursory perusal of his poems. Horace does not simply make frequent use of himself as a character in his works, describing his personal triumphs and travails as he goes through life. He seems to speak directly to us throughout his poetry; he talks openly about his private thoughts and experiences, inviting our scrutiny and our response. ‘‘Here I am,’’ he seems to say, ‘‘here are my inner feelings and quirks of personality, my strengths and weaknesses, my friendships and love affairs, my views and my ideals.’’ As David Armstrong has noted, ‘‘It is commonplace to say about Horace that [his work] gives us a self-portrait of a striking individuality and apparent frankness not easily paralleled in classical literature, certainly not in classical poetry. We can read at vastly greater length [the correspondence of Cicero or Pliny the Younger] without getting any such illusion that we know perfectly the person who is speaking, and could . . . continue the conversation without difficulty if Horace walked into our presence now.’’ 1 Horace himself comes across as being so likable—so genial and witty, so thoughtful and sensitive, and 


capable of such strikingly beautiful and sophisticated verse—that it is all too easy to assume that he is being completely open and honest with us in this presentation. The poet lives in his poetry, often dazzling his readers into a wholehearted embrace of the vital and charismatic figure he cuts for himself.2 But is this really the picture of Horace we should have? He says a great deal about himself, to be sure; but is he telling the truth? It is, after all, misleading and even dangerous to think of there being a single ‘‘Horace’’ in Horace’s poetry. He may present what at first appears to be a persuasive and believable self-portrait, but elsewhere he continually contradicts or alters this picture. There seem, in fact, to be many Horaces on display, or else separate images that have been given Horace’s name and features. Each is vivid, powerful, and highly attractive in its way, but is caught up with very different themes and concerns not easily reconciled with the others. What is more, this variance transcends those differences of selfpresentation that might have been necessitated by the requirements and limitations of the literary genres within which Horace works. In every case, the poet has made his projected personality so compelling that the reader is almost inexorably drawn to accept each particular portrait as being the true one—at the time of its presentation.3 Here is Horace the client, attending and entertaining his powerful patron in return for material support and encouragement; there is Horace the lofty public speaker, exhorting the Roman people to shun the horrors of civil war and embrace their destiny as the rulers of a new Golden Age. Horace the genial moralist offers us comfortable philosophical commonplaces and amusing social commentary, while Horace the anxious arriviste of obscure origin fends off sneers and attacks as he struggles to hold his hard-won place among the highest circles of Roman society. Horace the unlucky lover is routinely humiliated by unsuccessful assignations or difficult mistresses, but Horace the political operative smoothly manages the complex large-scale organization of public opinion on behalf of the emperor himself. These images may be facets of a persona or entirely different personae, but together they do not constitute a single, readily encompassable personality. Thus, when people speak of liking Horace’s character or believing what he tells us, we must ask to which ‘‘Horace’’ in particular they refer. Failure to pose this crucial question has undoubtedly contributed much to the intractability of the once furious scholarly debate over whether what we see in his poetry is Horace’s own face or a mask with

The Horaces of Horace

Horace’s features. In years past, this particular offshoot of the ‘‘Personal Heresy’’ controversy (as articulated in a well-known exchange between E.M.W. Tillyard and C. S. Lewis) attracted the attention of many classicists, including W. S. Anderson, Niall Rudd, and Jasper Griffin, among others.4 In essence, the choice was long either to believe that Horace’s poems offer us a reasonably accurate record of his life 5 (or a reliable index to the plausible reconstruction of his historical experience); or to treat his texts solely as self-conscious and artificial literary works, more the products of craft than of earnest self-revelation. Until quite recently, all Horatian scholars continued to make this choice, taking up positions on one side or the other of the essential fault line between what might be termed the biographical and the rhetorical interpretations of Horace’s self-image.6 Thus, in  Kirk Freudenburg advocated a rhetorical approach when he identified ‘‘Horace’’ as he appears in the Satires as being a wholly invented mask—one self-consciously projected by the author, based on literary and moral philosophical precedents, and not necessarily bearing any resemblance to the historical Horace.7 By contrast, Oliver Lyne argued in  that the ‘‘real’’ Horace’s shifts in his public and political commitments can be reconstructed through examination of his poetry and that an array of societal and political considerations directly prompted Horace to make changes in his public image over time.8 Open debate on this subject has largely been suspended of late, with most Horatian scholars now in agreement that any appearance of openness and genuine personal revelation in the poet’s work should be recognized as the result of an artful and carefully managed process of selfpresentation, which must be scrutinized by the reader with equal care. However, no true consensus has been reached. The past few years have instead witnessed a general retreat from the whole issue, as scholars increasingly turn toward treating Horace’s poems strictly as literary documents. According to current thinking, it should be obvious that there is no reliable way of getting past Horace’s enticing array of images to arrive at a clear picture of his ‘‘true’’ self. We can never be absolutely sure of what is true and what is false in his self-presentation, and as such it becomes the wrong question to be asking.9 Much of the latest work done on Horace thus tends to follow the path laid out by Ellen Oliensis in her book Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority. For Oliensis, ‘‘Horace’s poetry is itself a performance venue’’—hence her emphasis upon its most overtly rhetorical aspects. Indeed, this conviction leads her to treat Horace as an object of consideration specifically and solely as he appears within the


poetry itself: ‘‘I make no clear, hard-and-fast distinction between the author and the character ‘Horace.’ Horace is present in his personae, that is, not because these personae are authentic and accurate impressions of his true self, but because they effectively construct that self . . . [there is a] de facto fusion of mask and self.’’ 10 Oliensis stands as one of the foremost advocates of the view that Horace is indistinguishable from the text, since the text is all we have. Other scholars have subsequently given implicit endorsement to this line. In a recent analysis of the generic considerations that lie behind two of Horace’s seemingly most forthright and personal poems, for example, Catherine Schlegel moves beyond reaffirming the extent to which Horace’s ‘‘autobiographical’’ persona has been shaped by its poetic context, to argue that the literary requirements of this persona have a priori shaped Horace’s poetry—in effect, that Horace’s art has shaped his life, not (as has long been thought) the other way around.11 Much vital work has recently been done through pursuit of this critical approach. Indeed, by leaving aside the whole problematic issue of Horace’s ‘‘true self ’’ to focus instead on his rhetorical and generic manipulations, we have immeasurably heightened our understanding of the intricacy and multifaceted character of the poet’s sophisticated literary technique. There is an inherent risk, however, in turning away from a lingering problem before it has been thoroughly investigated to the satisfaction of all concerned. We may have gone too far in rejecting or bypassing any consideration of Horace’s poems as evidence for the direct and personal experiences of this unusual historical individual. At the very least, the suspicion commonly directed nowadays toward all forms of biographical literary criticism—and toward the author as an object worthy of attention and careful study—does a disservice to those who would understand the nature of Horace’s art. For Horace encourages and even demands that we as readers experience the sensation described earlier of coming to ‘‘know’’ him intimately. Horace’s indirect and subtle methods of self-presentation force us to struggle with the mysterious and protean nature of his portrayed image, rather than either accept blithely what he tells us without question or take it all as pure invention and turn our minds to other issues. Questions of what is real and what is invented lie at the very heart of Horace’s poetry. We cannot simply dismiss the ‘‘real’’ Horace from our considerations but must instead confront his existence, and his poetic function, head-on. In meeting this challenge, we might draw inspiration from an appeal-

The Horaces of Horace

ing suggestion made years ago by Gilbert Highet: Horace’s self-image reflects the man, being neither a wholly artificial creation nor an entirely truthful revelation. The pose of naiveté and ignorance of diplomatic affairs which Horace adopts in his Sermones may perhaps be called a persona: but not a persona to be separated and distinguished from Q. Horatius Flaccus. It is a pose: it is one of the faces which the real Horace wished to present to the world . . . In his poetry Horace appears in many different guises—as vengeful lampoonist in the Epodes, in some of the Odes as inspired vates and in some as gay amorist, in the Sermones as critic of others and as critic of self; but each is Horace— or one part of Horace.12 And yet even this balanced formulation does not completely solve the basic problem; for although Highet alludes to the multiplicity of Horace’s self-images, he does not attempt to explain their sheer number and variety, nor to define their strangely fluid coexistence within single works and individual poems. He recognizes but does not resolve the difficulty scholars have generally had in fitting the totality of Horace’s selfpresentations into a single interpretive framework without resorting to untested assumptions and preconceived notions of what is ‘‘important’’ in Horace’s poetry. Indeed, regardless of the specific critical viewpoint or interpretation adopted, there is invariably a vibrant and fully realized image of Horace somewhere in his corpus that cannot be made to fit.13 Whether or not the Horace of the poems is an accurate rendering of ‘‘the real Horace,’’ any sense we get of being able to know this ‘‘real Horace’’ in some deeply intimate way is certainly deceptive. Horace as he appears is a carefully developed characterization, representing solely those aspects of a projected personality that he wanted us to see and believe in, in a variety of specific contexts. This is perhaps not so unusual; to some degree we all consciously or unconsciously monitor the way we come across in our interactions with those around us, as we manage our words and actions to suit our personal circumstances. But Horace directs every aspect of this process with a remarkable facility that is almost unique among ancient poets. The Horaces of Horace are personae, as Highet suggests; yet the poet focuses attention not on their self-contained existence as separate characters but rather on the social settings and relationships within which they are presented.14 He does more than shape the way he presents himself; he shapes the way others (including ourselves) respond


to these self-presentations by tailoring his remarks and addresses to the specific interests, tastes, and expectations of a surprisingly wide array of readers and audiences. In this context we recall the thoughtful comments made by Barbara Gold in her  study of the dedicatory poems of Horace’s Satires and Odes.15 Gold identifies the presence of multiple audiences within these works, noting that ‘‘from each of his audiences Horace expects to elicit different responses, and [that] it is through attention to these audiences that Horace’s reader perceives all the various dimensions of his work.’’ Pursuit of this idea leads her to adopt the schema of layers of audience presented by Victoria Pedrick and Nancy Rabinowitz as an integral aspect of audience-oriented criticism.16 But the difficulty experienced even by so accomplished and sensitive a reader as Frances Muecke in attempting to fit the Satires into their proposed format illustrates the comparative unwieldiness of this complicated approach when it is applied to the poetry of Horace.17 Gold herself concludes that Horace’s audiences must be constantly shifting in relative importance, even trading places with one another; for ‘‘if we posit several audiences (as we must for all of Horace’s works), how can Horace be speaking directly to all of them at once?’’ 18 And yet this is precisely what Horace often manages to do. What is needed is a revised interpretive model, one that offers a simpler arrangement of categories and makes clearer the extent to which Horace is able to anticipate and handle simultaneously the different reactions of these audiences. This book thus shares with the work of Oliensis a basic operating premise—namely, that when one examines the poetry of Horace, the main subject of discussion must be Horace’s depiction of his relationships with those whom he addresses. Beyond this common point of departure, however, we diverge markedly in our aims and methodologies, the organization and specific arguments of our studies, and in our fundamental difference of opinion and approach regarding the nature and significance of Horace’s self-presentation. Oliensis acknowledges that she has introduced discussion of Horace’s life, his surrounding social milieus, and his shifting place in society only insofar as such issues are relevant to her reading of Horace’s rhetorical technique: ‘‘I am interested not in the light Horace’s poetry can shed on his extrapoetic life but in the life that happens in his poetry . . . My focus in this study is on Horace’s poems, not on his life or his times or his culture.’’ 19 By contrast, I take an approach that is in many ways guided specifically by those ideals and goals that

The Horaces of Horace

Oliensis puts aside, for I find Horace’s poems worth studying precisely because of what they can reveal to us about the society and culture in which he purports to have operated. I embrace the idea that there exists a sharp and very real distinction between the personae on view in the poems and the poet who created them; and that, moreover, the distinction is identifiable in the very act of their presentation. But in taking as my focus this discernible gap between the poet and his poetry, I maintain that careful scrutiny of the inner workings of the poet’s self-portrayal enables us to identify the basic conditions and characteristics of his actual personal and social situation—as he wished them to be understood. I do not, therefore, advocate any return to the old and strictly biographical interpretation, with its underlying conviction that Horace as he appears in his poetry is automatically the true and historical Horace. Instead, my intention is to offer a reconciliation of once irreconcilable positions: to suggest that the biographical and the rhetorical are by design inextricably linked in Horace’s self-portrayal, with both elements constantly being deployed in the other’s service. In effect, I propose that we approach Horace’s texts as tools of detection: first, as a means of exploring further the poet’s employment of created self-images in order to shape the perceptions of those around him, and second, as a basis for reconstructing the larger surrounding social, political, and ‘‘professional’’ artistic situations in which these poems were written and first received. For Horace’s extraordinarily self-conscious portrayal is not simply marked by his preternatural awareness of a large number of separate audiences, each with different responses to his work; it is further enhanced by his total control and constant manipulation of these same audiences toward acceptance of the specific impressions he wishes to convey.20 To identify the general patterns and techniques of Horatian selfpresentation and their function within the poet’s immediate situation as it can be reconstructed, we must take the entire sweep of the poet’s literary corpus into consideration: the Epodes, Satires, Odes, Carmen saeculare, and the Epistles (including the Ars poetica). Although the discussion is focused mainly on the Satires and Epistles, passages from each of the works are analyzed throughout so as to demonstrate the extent to which the same issues (and similar methods of response) occupied his creative attention from genre to genre across much of his career.21 As noted above, Horace’s techniques of self-presentation essentially depend on the selfconscious depiction of his social interactions with those around him. Therefore, individual chapters examine his portrayal of his disparate,


idiosyncratic, and constantly fluctuating relationships with his patron Maecenas, his audience as a whole, his fellow poets, and the Augustan Principate. The first two chapters are designed to show that we can best understand Horace’s contemporary readership as consisting of a series of concentric rings, based not so much on the relative authority or absolute social standing of each of Horace’s readers as on their varying levels of intimacy and direct personal contact with the poet. I then broaden my focus in the later chapters to consider how this mechanism of concentric rings shapes Horace’s treatment of himself as an author and as a participant in Augustus’s program of political and cultural renewal. In each case, the evidence suggests that Horace uses his self-images primarily to comment on the social pressures and uncertainties of these relationships.22 Thus, Horace’s representation of his interaction with each ‘‘ring of audience’’ holds significant implications for our understanding of crucial aspects of Roman society and social culture. In effect, we may employ Horace’s portrayed relationships as lenses through which to glimpse the several cultural frameworks within which the ‘‘real-life’’ historical models for such portrayals were originally developed. By giving powerful expression to the social, political, and artistic pressures that he claims to have endured throughout his life, Horace both articulates and shapes his relationship with the people and audiences around him. The poet presents a vast surrounding web of social interactions: a vivid and engaging world of dinner parties and country estates, love affairs and close friendships, patrons, fellow citizens, and potential readers. He creates his rich and complicated self-portraits as a part of this picture, infusing them with the liveliness and humanity that make them so compelling. Horace’s genius lies in his remarkable ability to project himself precisely as circumstances—and the specific interests of particular readers—demand. Directed toward so many different audiences and covering such a wide variety of themes, his multifaceted selfpresentation serves to illustrate the complexity and interconnectedness of his experience and the intricacies of the world in which he purports to have actually lived.23 In the end, therefore, Horace’s poetic self-image remains precisely that: an image created by the poet, not an unguarded insight into himself. Nevertheless, this image does possess the poet’s actual features, even if it has been distorted by the transmitting medium of his poetry. When we encounter Horace in his works, we do not gaze directly on his actual face, nor are we looking at a wholly artificial mask whose

The Horaces of Horace

features have been identified with his. Instead, we see the real Horace— obliquely, through the polished lens of his poetry, as one would see a reflection in a mirror.24 In scrutinizing this reflected image, we may be able to catch fleeting but direct glimpses of the poet and, over his shoulder, the character and features of his long-vanished world.

 

Poet and Patron

To be supported by a powerful patron is at best a mixed blessing for any artist. The favor of a great individual can offer a sure path to success and fame: his wealth provides financial security, while his social prominence and influence amplify his enthusiasm for his protégé’s work, quickly catapulting the lucky artist into circulation among wider or more desirable circles. However, the artist who accepts a patron’s support also risks exposure to a raft of unforeseen difficulties and potential sources of awkwardness. If his patron is a bad one, he faces the possibility of mistreatment. He may be ignored and forsaken, as Dr. Johnson complained to Lord Chesterfield: ‘‘Seven years, my lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward rooms or was repulsed from your door, during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favor. Such treatment I did not expect, for I had never had a patron before.’’ 1 Or—equally demeaning—he may end up as nothing more than a superficial curiosity, one more in a largely faceless mass of ‘‘lions’’ trotted out at social functions to entertain the guests: ‘‘ ‘People are so annoying. All my pianists look exactly like poets, and all my poets look exactly like pianists . . .’ ‘Of course he won’t mind [performing],’ said Lady Windermere, ‘that is what he is here for. All my lions, Lord Arthur, are performing lions, and jump through hoops whenever I ask them.’ ’’ 2 In any case, to have a patron is to risk losing one’s independence, as one is gradually forced to accede to the patron’s wishes or tailor one’s work so as to appeal to his or her tastes and interests. In such cases, even the most well-meaning patron can unintentionally destroy the very individuality and worth that attracted such support in the first place. Patronage is therefore always something of a gamble.3 There are many potential pit

Poet and Patron


falls to be skirted, yet the potential benefits are equally great—and must frequently be realized; otherwise, the practice of patronage would never have arisen in so many cultures or lasted as an institution for so long. Nor is there one fixed pattern of interaction that all patron-client relationships are bound to follow. One artist forever remains nothing more than a glorified flunky; another not only derives benefit from having a patron but even transcends the inherent limitations of the formal relationship and becomes through regular contact and close association a true friend of his benefactor—one who loves and is loved in return. And even in this latter case, it is important to recognize that artistic patronage is always a matter of shifting degrees of warmth and intimacy, that much is left unspoken about the interaction between the two parties. With a patron, nothing is certain. Horace’s best-known patron, of course, was the famous Maecenas: close friend and associate of Augustus, a man notorious in his time for his luxurious lifestyle and indolent habits, and one whose name today is synonymous with the very concept of the wealthy artistic patron. As Horace’s greatest benefactor and the donor of his Sabine estate, Maecenas played an influential and pervasive role in the poet’s life; as patron and dedicatee of the Epodes, Satires, Odes –, and Epistles  he naturally constituted Horace’s closest and most important audience. Many other poets of the early Principate enjoyed Maecenas’s favor: Virgil, Propertius, Varius, and others of the highest elite of the Roman literary world. But among these Horace alone treats the fluidity and indeterminacy of the poet-patron relationship as a central and overarching theme in his poetry. Maecenas thus stands simultaneously as a meticulously portrayed figure in Horace’s poetry and as the indisputable core or innermost ring of Horace’s readership.4 An examination of the works reveals that Horace’s presentation of himself and his patron is highly elusive and constantly changing. We find not a single, unified portrait but a series of widely differing pictures of intimate and distant association. On some occasions, Horace portrays himself as having been Maecenas’s very dear friend and their relationship as being marked by familiarity and a deep mutual affection. Elsewhere, however, we are given the conflicting impression that the poet was not particularly close to the great man, certainly not enough for him to be considered a confidant or inseparable companion. Many internal contradictions and puzzles preclude the secure adoption of either a largely negative or largely positive vision of the relationship.5 Thus,


Poet and Patron

in characterizing his association with Maecenas, Horace infuses his portrait throughout with a remarkable obscurity; indeed, this obscurity and ambiguity must be understood as constituting a central mechanism of Horace’s overall self-presentation. For by thematizing his relationship with his patron in this way, Horace gives expression to those difficulties and uncertainties that Maecenas’s support raised in his own life. Through the careful manipulation of his protean self-images, he calls attention to the ever-changing and undefined role that he seems to have occupied in reality.

. The Warmth of Friendship In general terms, Roman patron-client relationships were very businesslike affairs. The patron extended favors and protection to his clients, ranging from the disbursement of sportulae, or small gifts of food or money, to large-scale legal, financial, or social support. In return, a client performed for his patron whatever services he could offer, whether that meant attending him in his daily business, supporting him in politics, or simply filling out his guest list at a party. Literary clients possessed unique skills, of course, and generally fulfilled their obligations by other, more appropriate means; it was common practice for poets to produce expansive panegyrics or other verse addresses intended to ensure the immortal fame of their patrons.6 But Horace takes great pains to thwart any such simple characterization of himself as a run of the mill client-poet, much less as someone humbly bowing and scraping before a detached benefactor. Instead, he often emphasizes the special and favored position he enjoyed in Maecenas’s clientela, or group of clients, to such an extent as to create a convincing impression of near-total independence and the comfortable amiability of true friendship. Horace presents various scenes of casual association with Maecenas wherein he seems free to do as he pleases, unhampered by onerous social responsibilities or the tastes and whims of his patron. In Satires . he portrays himself as Maecenas’s genial traveling companion on a journey to Brundisium; here he places special emphasis on the relaxed and informal relationship they enjoy.7 When Maecenas joins the traveling-party at Anxur, Horace is engaged in treating his inflamed eyes (–): ‘‘Hic oculis ego nigra meis collyria lippus/illinere. interea Maecenas advenit atque Cocceius Capitoque . . .’’ (Here I smear black ointment over my bleary eyes. Meanwhile, Maecenas shows up, and Cocceius and Capito). The in-

The Warmth of Friendship


clusion of interea is especially significant, for it indicates that Horace is busy with his eye treatment at the very moment when Maecenas arrives; here is no eager social climber pressing forward to make himself useful. By including this episode, Horace implies that he feels no particular need to receive his patron—to greet him, conduct him indoors, and so on— but rather feels secure enough in his relationship with Maecenas to stay away and attend to his own mundane pursuits.8 Later, the poet presents himself as being so at ease when in close contact with Maecenas as to be able to wander off for a nap when the opportunity presents itself (Sat...–): ‘‘Hinc muli Capuae clitellas tempore ponunt./lusum it Maecenas, dormitum ego Vergiliusque;/namque pila lippis inimicum et ludere crudis’’ (After this place the mules drop their baggage at Capua, having made good time. Maecenas goes off to play ball, Virgil and I go take a nap; for ball games are no fun for the bleary-eyed and dyspeptic). We are meant to understand that Horace is free to come and go as he pleases, following his inclinations as the group travels along; he is a friend and fellow traveler, most emphatically not some anxious member of Maecenas’s entourage.9 On other occasions the unself-conscious tone of Horace’s addresses to Maecenas emphasizes the strength and affection of their mutual bond rather than the implied equality of their relationship. Epodes , for instance, presents a convincing picture of genuine friendship by evoking an atmosphere of relaxed and casual good humor. Horace’s mock-tragic rebuke to Maecenas for having given him too much garlic at a dinner party becomes the subject for a parody of an occasional poem (., –): quid hoc veneni saevit in praecordiis? . . . nec tantus umquam siderum insedit vapor siticulosae Apuliae, nec munus umeris efficacis Herculis inarsit aestuosius. What is this poison that is raging in my stomach? . . . Such heat has never settled over parched Apulia, nor did Nessus’s gift burn more hotly into the shoulders of capable Hercules.

The poet’s comically histrionic laments for his indigestion are engagingly self-deprecating, both in their absurdity and in the picture they give us of Horace’s embarrassment. By assuming the mantle of a frank and humorous raconteur, Horace makes his audience feel appreciative


Poet and Patron

and well disposed toward him and therefore more inclined to believe what he says. In this way he subtly enhances the credibility of the general picture he presents in the poem. As a result, when Horace turns to address Maecenas directly, the use of the term iocosus and strikingly familiar comments about Maecenas’s puella seem to confirm Horace’s license to speak to his patron with utter freedom and ease (.–): at si quid umquam tale concupiveris, iocose Maecenas, precor, manum puella savio opponat tuo, extrema et in sponda cubet. But you, Maecenas, you old joker: if you ever desire such a thing, I hope and pray your girl blocks your kisses with her hand, and sleeps on the far side of the bed.

These closing lines of the epode bolster our impression of Horace and Maecenas as two friends who are close enough to share embarrassing practical jokes and slightly off-color personal remarks, with no trace of anxiety or stiff formality on either side. Much of what Horace chooses to tell us regarding his dealings with Maecenas seems designed to confirm the impression that these two men are friends on an even deeper and more meaningful level than that indicated above. On several occasions Horace calls particular attention not only to the warmth but also to the legitimacy and soundness of his relationship with Maecenas. He recounts in detail the circumstances of his first introduction to his future patron (Sat...–):10 . . . non, ut forsit honorem iure mihi invideat quivis, ita te quoque amicum, praesertim cautum dignos adsumere, prava ambitione procul. felicem dicere non hoc me possim, casu quod te sortitus amicum; nulla etenim mihi te fors obtulit: optimus olim Vergilius, post hunc Varius, dixere quid essem. ut veni coram, singultim pauca locutus, infans namque pudor prohibebat plura profari . . . sed quod eram narro. respondes, ut tuus est mos, pauca: abeo; et revocas nono post mense iubesque esse in amicorum numero . . .

The Warmth of Friendship


Although someone might perhaps justifiably begrudge me the office [of military tribune], they shouldn’t also therefore begrudge me that I have you as a friend—especially since you are careful to befriend only worthy people, free from base ambition. I couldn’t say that I am lucky in this, that by chance you ended up being my friend: chance didn’t toss you in my path. One time Virgil (that wonderful fellow), and after him Varius, told you about me and the sort of person I was. When I came before you face to face I spoke only a few halting words, since I was tonguetied and shyness prevented me from saying more . . . but I told you about myself. As is your way, you said little in reply; I went away, and nine months later you called me back and told me that I would be one of your friends.

This careful rehearsal of the process by which Maecenas begins new social connections makes it clear that Horace was not taken up on some idle whim, as is Mena by the wealthy Philippus in Epistles ..11 The poet wants us to understand that he did not falsely engineer their friendship or otherwise agitate for the privilege of associating with the great man. The preliminary approach was made by trustworthy intermediaries of good judgment. Horace was unpretentious and even shy at their first meeting, Maecenas cautious and reticent. Only after lengthy consideration was the poet finally accepted. Thus, nulla etenim mihi te fors obtulit—Horace was a deliberate choice, carefully researched and wholly legitimate. We are clearly meant to see Horace as one who became an intimate associate of Maecenas only after surviving a rigorous interview process. The poet here expresses a palpable pride at being deemed worthy of being counted as Maecenas’s friend, not simply his client.12 Direct assertions, of course, sometimes have a diluted impact upon their intended audience; the attendant suspicion of ulterior motives on the part of the speaker becomes too great. For this reason, Horace also employs more subtle methods in the articulation of this highly positive image of his relationship with his patron. In Satires ., for instance, he presents us with a vivid and engaging anecdote, recounted in a casual and unguarded style. ‘‘Ibam forte Via Sacra’’ (I happened to be walking along the Via Sacra)—a pleasant urban stroll is interrupted by a socialclimbing pest, who attaches himself to the poet and immediately begins angling for an introduction to Maecenas. Quite apart from the humorous and appealing quality of the narrative (which serves once again to make


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the reader more well disposed toward the poet’s attractive personality and, thus, more inclined to accept his word), such a scenario serves as a perfect pretext for Horace to explain freely his most elevated vision of Maecenas and his surrounding circle of friends. When the pest suggests that he would make a useful ally for Horace if the poet wishes to claw his way to the forefront of Maecenas’s affections, Horace’s reply informs our understanding of the Horace-Maecenas relationship by defining the ideals shared by Maecenas and his associates (–): . . . ‘‘non isto vivimus illic quo tu rere modo; domus hac nec purior ulla est nec magis his aliena malis; nil mi officit, inquam, ditior hic aut est quia doctior; est locus uni cuique suus’’ . . . ‘‘We don’t live there in the sordid way you think we do; no household is more pure than Maecenas’s, or freer from such evils. It doesn’t bother me, I tell you, that one fellow is richer or another is more learned; everyone has his own place.’’

An unusual state of affairs, perhaps. The pest’s response to this—‘‘Magnum narras, vix credibile’’ (What you’re telling me is fantastic, I can hardly believe it!)—indicates that this was not how clientelae were ordinarily run.13 Horace is making important claims in these two passages. There is, to begin with, a certain anxiety behind his repeated definition of his relationship with Maecenas as one specifically between intimate friends (amici ) rather than one between magnate and professional hanger-on (scurra), indicative of a pressing desire to fix and define his own social position. In any case he is careful to bring to our attention the extreme care and circumspection with which Maecenas initiates all his friendships. Maecenas doesn’t simply take up anyone as his friend; Horace is special, ‘‘worthy,’’ a close and trusted associate in a comradely group of like-minded individuals.14 He is definitely one of the circle and as close to being on equal terms with the great man as one who is fundamentally not his equal could ever hope to be. Thus, Horace urgently wants us to understand that his entire relationship with Maecenas is based on something more transcendent than simple patronage or regular association. They apparently share an essential commitment to virtue, and so their friendship is free from the cheapening forces of gross ambition. Above

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all, by providing this information, the poet ensures that we as outside readers will find it easy to believe that he and Maecenas interacted on a far warmer and more intimate level than did the typical client and patron.15

. Deflation and Anxiety Is Horace, then, Maecenas’s intimate friend? Are we to think of Maecenas and Horace as having enjoyed a closely knit, almost brotherly relationship? Other Romans before them certainly had such bonds with each other; Cicero and Atticus spring to mind as two men whose friendship was both affectionate and genuine. But such cannot be the whole story for Horace and Maecenas, as Horace himself makes clear. Throughout the Satires, the poet continually deflates his beguiling self-image as Maecenas’s close friend and effectively undercuts his warmer portraits of their relationship. New doubts are infused into our understanding of Horace’s status as the poet alters his portrayal of his dealings with Maecenas. As the dramatic situations of his poetry change, so does his presentation of the poet-patron relationship become much more complicated. To begin with, consider the implications of Horace’s description of a typical conversation between himself and his patron as the two men travel together in a carriage (Sat...–): Septimus octavo proprior iam fugerit annus ex quo Maecenas me coepit habere suorum in numero, dumtaxat ad hoc, quem tollere raeda vellet iter faciens, et cui concredere nugas hoc genus, ‘‘hora quota est?’’ ‘‘Thraex est Gallina Syro par?,’’ ‘‘matutina parum cautos iam frigora mordent,’’ et quae rimosa bene deponuntur in aure. It’s already past the seventh year (closer to the eighth) since Maecenas began to consider me a friend of his—up to a point. I am someone he would want to take along in his carriage when he takes a trip, and to whom he entrusts tidbits like: ‘‘What time is it?’’ ‘‘Is that Thracian gladiator Gallina a match for Syrus?’’ ‘‘These morning frosts can kill you if you’re not careful.’’ And whatever can safely be deposited in my leaky ear.

The inclusion of the limiting adverb dumtaxat (up to a point, no more than . . . ),16 which restricts the scope of the action described (being


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counted among Maecenas’s friends, if one takes suorum as denoting his closest associates), strongly suggests that Horace is well aware of the limitations of their friendship and even chafes somewhat at the realization that his many years of association have taken him only this far. The topics of their conversation are indeed highly desultory; Horace seems to be wryly noting that even after years of association, Maecenas is still wont to entrust only idle chit-chat to the poet’s ‘‘leaky ear.’’ 17 It is crucial to remember that in the larger context of the poem, Horace is trying to show why it is unfounded for his readers to think of him as Maecenas’s most intimate confidant and therefore privy to all sorts of state secrets (Sat...–). Some of the Odes (such as ., with its references to recent events in Dacia, Parthia, and Scythia) indicate that Horace often did have such inside information, and the two men were likely close enough in reality to escape from such weighty matters by simply sitting and gossiping with each other in this fashion. But when approached solely in terms of the direct information given in this particular poem, the friendship of Maecenas and Horace consists exclusively of nugae. Unlike Atticus, who heard all of Cicero’s inmost concerns regarding public matters, Horace as portrayed here is treated only to idle chatter; he scarcely enjoys the honor of being Maecenas’s confidant, even if he has been permitted to ride along in attendance to the great man.18 Ultimately, this hint of apparent limits to the intimacy of their friendship receives the greatest emphasis. Another striking example of this more problematic representation of the Horace-Maecenas relationship is to be found in Satires ., where Horace’s friend and fellow poet Fundanius describes to him a cena, or dinner, given the night before by Nasidienus, a wealthy social climber. This poem has traditionally been dismissed as a weak and unsatisfying ending to the Satires, at best ‘‘a very pretty divertissement’’ of only slight importance; discussion has tended to focus on its portrait of the tiresome Nasidienus and his spectacular fiasco of a dinner party, and the poem is most often characterized as a straightforward mock symposium or a satirical picture of vulgar ostentation.19 But if we look more closely at the dramatic circumstances of this poem and the self-effacing role Horace takes within it, we uncover a more complex and meaningful message regarding his social position. Far from simply presenting himself as a curious, amused, or disapproving listener, Horace allows his location outside the events of Fundanius’s narrative to convey his discomfort with his status as one unknowingly excluded from the activities and social functions

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(onerous though they may sometimes be) of men whom he elsewhere claims to be his closest friends and inseparable companions. In the opening lines of this poem, we learn that Horace, too, had planned some sort of social gathering for the night before and had meant to invite Fundanius (Sat...–): ‘‘Ut Nasidieni iuvit te cena beati?/nam mihi quaerenti convivam dictus here illic/de medio potare die’’ (So, how did you like your dinner at lucky Nasidienus’s house? I was looking for you to be my dinner guest, but they told me you’d been drinking there since midday). That Horace had intended to host a convivium, or dinner party, of his own is perhaps suggested by his designation of Fundanius as a hoped-for conviva,20 although some more casual dinner may have been envisioned. Regardless of the formality or informality of his plans, however, Horace clearly had no inkling that the cena of Nasidienus was taking place until he sought out his friend. Thus, Horace ascribes to himself in the exchange that follows not merely the casual curiosity of an interlocutor but the pique of a thwarted host as well. Fundanius replies that he had an absolutely great time at Nasidienus’s house—the time of his life, in fact (–): ‘‘Sic ut mihi numquam / in vita fuerit melius’’ (Oh, I had the best time. Never spent a better evening in my life).21 But instead of asking what made it so enjoyable (as one might have expected if Horace were merely curious as to how Fundanius spent his evening), Horace wishes to know before anything else what sort of menu Nasidienus offered (–): ‘‘Da, si grave non est,/quae prima iratum ventrem placaverit esca’’ (Well, spill it, if it’s not too much trouble: What was the first dish to soothe your growling stomach?). Many commentators have noted the odd mixture of colloquial and formal language in line , the mock-Homeric flavor of line , and have put Horace’s response down as a piece of epic parody, meant to establish the ironic atmosphere of the poem.22 But this raises a question: Who or what is the intended target of Horace’s evident irony, and what is its effect? Remember that according to the dramatic setting of this dialogue, Horace does not yet know what happened at Nasidienus’s cena; all he knows is that his friend Fundanius had a wonderful time at a dinner party which he himself knew nothing about. If the irony is aimed at Fundanius or Nasidienus, Horace’s words take on the hostile or peevish tone one would expect from a disappointed rival host. If, by contrast, Horace is being self-parodic, having dropped his initial role as host and friend to present himself here in the ironic guise of a hungry, wouldbe parasite listening eagerly to the tales of rich dining at Nasidienus’s


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house, then his mocking lines become highly defensive—a preemptive self-abasement undertaken to protect himself from the implicit humiliation of having been left out of the fun. For, needless to say, Horace had not been invited.23 Nasidienus’s banquet certainly gets off to a lavish, even excessive start: wild boar, garnished with an abundance of vegetable appetizers and accompanied by an overly generous selection of expensive and highquality wines, all served by a staff of attentive slaves equipped with costly purple-dyed napkins (Sat...–). Horace’s response to all this ()— ‘‘Divitias miseras!’’ (Poor old moneybags!)—is generally taken to be an expression of the poet’s disdain for Nasidienus’s gaucherie. But such is the double-edged nature of ironic statements that Horace’s remark equally lends itself to interpretation as a further expression of envious regret (cloaked in feigned hauteur) that he hadn’t been there. In any case, in describing Nasidienus’s array of wines, Fundanius has casually let it slip that Maecenas was also at the cena (Sat...): ‘‘Hic erus: Albanum, Maecenas, sive Falernum, te magis appositis delectat, habemus utrumque’’ (Our host said, ‘‘If you prefer the Alban or the Falernian, Maecenas, we have them both as well’’). Such news is unexpected and unsettling, for this was clearly an important gathering of some kind— and if Maecenas was present, who else may have been there? Horace’s following question suggests a certain anxiety: ‘‘Sed quis cenantibus una,/ Fundani, pulchre fuerit tibi, nosse laboro’’ (But who were your fellow dinner-guests, Fundanius, with whom you had such a great time? I am most anxious to know).24 As it happens, in addition to the host and his clients, Fundanius, Maecenas, Varius, and one of the Visci brothers all attended (–): ‘‘Summus ego et prope me Viscus Thurinus et infra,/si memini, Varius’’ (I was on the right-hand couch; next to me was Viscus of Thurii, and Varius was below him, if I remember rightly).25 These are celebrated literary figures of the day, and—most important—all men whom Horace has elsewhere proclaimed with great force to be among his closest friends, admired fellow authors, and most cherished audience.26 Other illustrious poets of the time were absent, including Virgil and Aristius Fuscus; but even so, a significant proportion of Horace’s self-declared social circle was at Nasidienus’s cena. Once again, one is encouraged to ask why Horace was not included.27 Indeed, why had he heard nothing about this affair? Obviously, none of his friends had thought to tell him about Nasidienus’s party, given that he had blithely been arranging his own dinner for the same evening.

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To add insult to injury, Fundanius now reveals that Maecenas had had with him two umbrae, or shadows—uninvited guests whom the guest of honor is encouraged to bring as company (Sat...–): ‘‘Cum Servilio Balatrone/Vibidius, quos Maecenas adduxerat umbras’’ (Vibidius was sitting with Servilius Balatro; Maecenas brought those two with him as his umbrae).28 Although in this instance Maecenas’s umbrae are clearly parasites and clowns, the term could embrace genuine and respectable friends as well.29 So Maecenas could have brought along Horace, his favorite traveling companion, if he had so desired. Instead, he apparently chose not to include Horace in the party, leaving the poet uninformed and excluded, such that he never even had the option of attending or staying away. It is as though his patron already made the decision for him. Horace presents himself, then, as having good reason to be at least somewhat troubled; his final comment in the poem (Sat...)—‘‘nullos his mallem ludos spectasse’’ (There’s no show I would rather have seen)— takes on a certain poignancy.30 In effect, Horace shows himself in this poem being rather unpleasantly reminded that his patron and friends often move in social worlds in which he plays no role. Maecenas in particular has many other associates whose company he finds equally enjoyable; as his patron’s companion, Horace is neither inseparable nor indispensable. The final poem of the entire collection of Satires thereby serves in part as a qualification of the appealing, idealized self-image we have elsewhere been given of Horace as Maecenas’s best friend and companion of first choice. To be sure, Horace’s social anxieties are not the sole point at issue in this poem; and insofar as Satires . follows the traditional symposium form, where the reader does not ‘‘attend’’ the party but rather overhears it being described to the author by a friend, the requirements of the genre would in any case have demanded that Horace as author remain absent from the proceedings.31 But even here, where Horace is necessarily a peripheral figure—an interlocutor whose structural purpose is primarily to signal the generic underpinnings of the poem and propel its narrative—his exclusion from the guest list becomes a pointed reflection on the lingering uncertainties of his situation and provides a salutary jolt to the cozy picture of constant and intimate chumminess that he is at such great pains to project elsewhere. Satires . reinforces our growing realization that Horace’s relationship to Maecenas continues to be very much a subordinate one and that it is still possible for the level of intimacy between them to be misread—by himself as well as by his readers.


Poet and Patron

. Amicitia and Patronage Horace’s shifting presentations of his social interaction with Maecenas make it abundantly clear that he cannot simply be dismissed as one more anonymous face among Maecenas’s vast crowd of clients, nor yet comfortably accepted in his frequently assumed role as his patron’s special confidant and boon companion. Although the reader might be forgiven at this point for asking in frustration exactly what sort of relationship these two men shared in reality, it becomes less of a puzzle when we take into consideration the Romans’ highly utilitarian conception of what friendship (and patronage) entailed. In the modern world, we tend to think of our friends as being genial companions with whom we share the same activities or simply enjoy passing the time. We might occasionally ask them to offer us advice or support, or to do us some other favor, but in such cases it is always clearly understood that something out of the ordinary is taking place. Indeed, the very act of requesting such favors indicates to both parties that theirs is a true friendship, one that can withstand and even be strengthened by what essentially amounts to the exploitation of each other’s goodwill. For the Romans, on the other hand, this exploitation represented the true heart of friendship, or amicitia, a social institution that implied and demanded the reciprocal exchange of services, or beneficia, in the form of favors or social and political support. Richard Saller has emphasized such transactions in his analysis of the vocabulary of patronage, noting that a distinction must be made between the idealized and the de facto models of Roman friendship. Although the philosophers speak of the ideal amicitia as based on shared interests and unselfish mutual affection, in reality a Roman amicitia depended upon a regular trading of beneficia and various expected duties, or officia. This is why the Romans were able to use the term amicus to refer to someone whom we might describe as being nothing more than a client. Indeed, as Saller points out, In contrast to the words patronus and cliens, the language of amicitiae did not carry any inherent notions of differential social status, since the word amicus was sufficiently ambiguous to encompass both social equals and unequals. This ambiguity was exploited and there was a tendency to call men amici rather than the demeaning clientes as a mark of consideration. The tendency did not produce any leveling effect or egalitarian ideology in the hierarchical

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Roman society. Quite the contrary—a new grade in the hierarchy was added as relationships with lesser amici were labeled amicitiae inferiores or amicitiae minores.32 This tendency to leave any gradations in status completely unspoken and yet still very much in operation meant in turn that, in most cases, Roman social relationships operated without any real clarification of the nature of the bond between the participants. With so much crucial information swept under the rug, a basic uncertainty as to one’s true position in a relationship would have become a common problem—especially for the amicus inferior. As a result, the protégés of wealthy and powerful men (including Horace) would at times have found themselves in an exceedingly precarious situation, as they struggled to reconcile their natural desire to remain in their patrons’ favor with an incompatible yet equally powerful drive to retain at least some modicum of personal independence or even to achieve something approaching terms of equality with their mighty amici superiores. The sort of predicament in which patronage could thus place a sensitive artist is given forceful expression by Horace in Epistles ., wherein the poet presents himself as having to explain his long absence to a reproachful Maecenas (–):33 quinque dies tibi pollicitus me rure futurum, Sextilem totum mendax desideror . . . officiosaque sedulitas et opella forensis adducit febris et testamenta resignat. I promised you that I would be away in the country for five days, but I lied; you have missed me for the whole month of August . . . punctilious officiousness and the little jobs of the forum bring on fevers and open wills.

At the outset, the dramatic setting is tense. Not only has Horace broken his promise to return soon, having extended a five-day trip into a month-long vacation, he has also thereby implicitly shirked his responsibilities as one of Maecenas’s client–amici. He has obviously failed to appear regularly at Maecenas’s morning salutatio or accompany him on his daily business rounds—the officiosa sedulitas et opella forensis that, he dismissively claims, are so bad for one’s health. For any ordinary Roman client, this would constitute unthinkable and unpardonable negligence. Even for a friend, the breaking of a promise demands some explanation at the


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very least. One is therefore led to imagine a stern Maecenas, with a frown on his face, grimly reading these opening lines.34 Horace’s presented selfimage, consequently, is that of one who must tread very carefully. He opens with a mixture of familiarity and formality, calculated so as not to jeopardize an already strained situation; there is warmth and affection here, to be sure, but also a great deal of caution. Thus, ‘‘disarmingly he asks for the indulgence due to a friend . . . we note that he does not explicitly claim such status: he merely implies it by his mode of address.’’ 35 At the same time, he demonstrates his full awareness of his predicament by characterizing himself as mendax; by admitting to his guilt at the outset, Horace portrays himself as being most anxious that Maecenas indulge this dereliction of duty and, at the same time, understand the delicacy of his position.36 The ensuing tales of the Calabrian host, the skinny little fox, and the friendship of Philippus and Volteius Mena, which make up the remainder of the poem, do more than divert Horace’s readers with their engaging piquancy; they also compose the core of the poet’s message to his friend and patron. This is the ideal vision Horace would like to project of their relationship, one based more on the philosophical model of amicitia than on actual Roman practice.37 By recounting these memorable fables, Horace asserts to his patron that friendship must above all be genuine and precious to both parties, freely offered and accepted without thought of gain, obligation, or relative value. Otherwise it is not friendship but a venal imitation thereof. Thus, by the end of the poem, Horace has succeeded in laying out the nature of his predicament, as well as indicating his response to it. He has reminded Maecenas (and led his outside readers to agree) that they are both too sophisticated and much too close for the normal demands of patronage to apply to their interaction. Friends do not ceaselessly dance attendance on each other, nor do they always keep the promises they make. This poem, then, is meant to enforce the belief that Horace is Maecenas’s friend, not merely his client, and that consequently he is justified in determining for himself a limit to his obligations. In Epistles ., an actual desperate situation may or may not have inspired this daring and impressive literary creation; in any case, the polished quality of the poem should not blind us to the very real problems and social uncertainties that form the basis for its composition.38 What matters here is that Horace plausibly presents himself as having misjudged the extent to which he might operate independently from his

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benefactor, and in so doing he indicates that his relationship with Maecenas continues to be fundamentally undefined and uncertain even after all this time. As Maecenas’s amicus—whether client or true friend is left unspoken 39—Horace had certain expectations placed upon him, which often remained both burdensome and unclear. That he portrays himself here as having to explain and defend his apparent disregard of these expectations is a powerful demonstration of the basic precariousness of his existence as a cliens. There are, of course, alternatives to Saller’s interpretation of Roman amicitia, but even the strongest of these only confirms the curious lack of firm definition within Horace and Maecenas’s relationship. Peter White, for example, has argued that it was genuine friendship (in the sense of mutual affection, warmth, and shared affinities) that led to the sort of social exchange discussed above. He goes so far as to claim that in relationships based on literary patronage, patrons and clients alike earnestly thought of themselves as true friends and collaborators; his is a more modern conception of amicitia, one much closer to the model we initially noted.40 But White too acknowledges that, regardless of whether Roman amicitiae were friendships or more mechanical social connections, they were invariably characterized by a total lack of formal definition. What is more, ‘‘that friendship was essentially undefined is the reason it so easily became an open-ended commitment for the weaker partner.’’ 41 In other words, because relationships between poets and their patrons were left undiscussed in terms of the responsibilities and services they required, it meant that a poet, as the junior amicus, could easily find himself lost in a sea of uncertainty and onerous, never-ending social obligations. Thus, Saller and White travel opposite routes to arrive at the same conclusion regarding the dynamics of the poet-patron interaction. For Saller, the exchange of favors or other services is the basis of the amicitia and defines the entire relationship. For White, friendship defines the exchange of beneficia and lies at the heart of the association of patron and literary client. But both scholars agree that, apart from the obvious basic connection between the two participants, the relationship could remain indeterminate, a shifting balance of relative status and influence. Horace himself suggests such a formulation when, in two poems in the first book of Epistles, he extends his musings on amicitia to have a more universal and instructive application. Although the reader is left to sift through these two poems for clues as to which principles of clientela Horace actually endorses, as opposed to those he has simply put forward as part of his


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exploration of social relationships between unequals, his overall message about the general nature of these relationships is quite clear. In Epistles ., Horace approvingly cites Aristippus’s reply to Diogenes (–): ‘‘Scurror ego ipse mihi, populo tu; rectius hoc et splendidius multo est. equus ut me portet, alat rex, officium facio’’ (I play the scurra to my own advantage, where you do it for the crowd. What I do is far more proper and noble. I perform my duty in order that a horse may carry me around and a patron may feed me). Given that he takes such great pains elsewhere to deny that he plays the scurra for personal benefit (as we have seen in the Satires),42 it is perhaps surprising that he would here endorse such a bald outline of this same practice and tell Scaeva that being quiet, modest, and uncomplaining in one’s dealings with a patron will yield better results (–): ‘‘Coram rege sua de paupertate tacentes/ plus poscente ferent: distat, sumasne pudenter/an rapias’’ (Those who keep quiet about their own poverty in the presence of their patron will get more than those who beg. It makes a difference whether you modestly accept gifts or grab for them.) It is also best to keep quiet, he says, so as to avoid attracting competition (–): Qui dicit, clamat ‘‘victum date!’’, succinit alter ‘‘et mihi!’’ dividuo findetur munere quadra. sed tacitus pasci si posset corvus, haberet plus dapis et rixae multo minus invidiaeque. Whoever [tells the story of his own hard luck] is shouting, ‘‘Feed me!’’ Someone else chimes in, ‘‘Me too!’’ The loaf is divided and the gift is split up. But if the crow could eat quietly, he would get more food and a lot less strife and envy.

These lines have a strong didactic flavor, like precepts being laid out for the aspirant by a friendly and modest sage (Epist...): ‘‘Disce docendus adhuc quae censet amiculus’’ (Learn the views of your humble friend, although he himself still needs to be taught). This, combined with the implications of extreme inferiority carried by terms such as paupertas and corvus, perhaps suggests that the poem reflects not Horace’s experiences with Maecenas so much as a common style of interaction between clients and patrons. By contrast, Epistles . gives the impression of being more closely tied to Horace’s personal situation, as he presents it in his poetry.43 Here again he offers a markedly didactic list of recommended and discour-

Amicitia and Patronage


aged tactics for clients: don’t try to match your patron’s opulence, don’t pry, be discreet, take care when introducing people, etc. (–). But he goes on to declare firmly that the cliens of a wealthy and powerful man should strive to be a friend rather than a scurra and yet should not become needlessly rude or argumentative in a misguided attempt to seem like an intimate equal. The proper degree of friendliness must be maintained at all costs (–). It is a difficult but crucial balancing act: one must avoid becoming too much the slavish buffoon, but neither should one lapse into rudeness and truculence by persisting in demonstrating one’s independence at the drop of a hat (–): virtus est medium vitiorum et utrimque reductum. alter in obsequium plus aequo pronus et imi derisor lecti sic nutum divitis horret, sic iterat voces et verba cadentia tollit, ut puerum saevo credas dictata magistro reddere vel partis mimum tractare secundas. alter rixatur de lana saepe caprina, propugnat nugis armatus . . . Virtue is the midpoint between vices, removed from both extremes. One man (overly inclined to be ingratiating and the clown of the lowest couch) trembles in awe of the rich man’s nod, repeats everything he says, and picks up every word he drops; so that you would think he was a boy reciting his assignments to a strict teacher, or a mime-actor performing a small role. Another man argues often about things about as worthless as goat’s wool and battles for trifles in full armor.

The implicit admission in this passage that it is possible to misjudge the situation and to fall into one or the other of these extremes strongly recalls the shifting and ill-defined position that we have elsewhere identified in Horace’s accounts of his experiences.44 Epistles . and . are both concerned with outlining broadly the proper behavior of a man toward his patron, and taken together, they provide us with a map of the conceivable range of patron-client interaction. At the same time, by hinting in these two poems at the difficulties inherent in occupying the junior role in such relationships, Horace reemphasizes the constant care and agility with which he, like any client, had to navigate the shifting and uncertain terrain of his purported friendship.45


Poet and Patron

The loose association of patronage, in which a client’s true status might never be firmly defined, permitted the development of a relationship whose intimacy and degree of interaction could vary according to changing social circumstances, although the reciprocal exchanges of amicitia remained a constant. For Horace, direct beneficia from Maecenas, such as the Sabine farm (if it was presented to him in the context of a standard Roman friendship arrangement) and the financial support that Maecenas may have offered to the poet at an early stage,46 required similar gifts and services on his part in return, despite his claims of freedom from such obligations. Less directly tangible social support (in the form of the sympathetic hearing of Horace’s poetry, favorable mention of him at elite social gatherings, or arranging for readings of his work) would also have demanded some recompense. Horace in turn fulfilled his social obligations by dedicating the Satires, Epistles , and Odes – to Maecenas, as well as by making specific addresses to his patron in many individual poems 47—valuable officia indeed, given the likelihood that such direct displays of gratitude would confer lasting fame and immortality on their recipient. The sorts of direct political and social support that junior amici customarily provided were thus wholly unnecessary in Horace’s case, especially given that Maecenas harbored no political ambitions of his own (outside of assisting Octavian in the establishment and legitimization of his new regime).48 Despite all this, however, Horace continues to present himself throughout his literary career as suffering from a raft of anxieties and perceived threats to his constructed self-image. We have seen that he constantly shifts his portrayal of his social position vis-à-vis Maecenas by alternating his more secure self-image (Horace as friend and companion) with glimpses of a different, cooler relationship (Horace as excluded attendant). A single individual is depicted as a close associate but not always as a privileged confidant or inseparable best friend; a member of a lively, close-knit group of artistic and enlightened men who is nevertheless occasionally left out of their evening gatherings; a man of indifferent background indebted to a powerful benefactor, who is yet something more than a typical atrium-haunting client or debased scurra. It is as though Horace wishes to remind his patron and the world that profound uncertainties of personal status were nothing more than what a poet had to expect in his dealings with his patron—the natural outgrowth of an amicitia between unequals.

Dealing with Pressure


. Dealing with Pressure Significantly, Horace designed these portraits of the amicitia between the two men, marked by its fundamental lack of clear definition, to be read simultaneously by contemporary outside readers as well as by Maecenas. As such, Janus-like, they provide an insight into both the actual nature of the relationship and the way in which Horace wished that relationship to be viewed. Given that Horace directly confronts his patron with this undefined, variable atmosphere of shifting levels of intimacy and distance,49 we are ineluctably led to accept his casting of their relationship as an accurate (and certainly plausible) reflection of reality. But why would Horace choose in this way to call universal attention to the most uncomfortable and embarrassing aspects of their interaction? In essence, it is precisely because of this discomfort that the poet has directed such an unflinching gaze at their situation. As literary patrons went, Maecenas was unusual, even unique: other prominent Romans of the day (such as Asinius Pollio and the aristocratic Messalla Corvinus) engaged in the practice primarily for the sake of personal aggrandizement and a chance at poetic immortality, whereas Maecenas undertook the recruitment and support of promising writers as part of a vast, far-sighted project to help Octavian/Augustus legitimize his new regime and define his civic program.50 As a result, there was a constant expectation that Horace would follow his patron’s wishes and help to articulate the new political order. He therefore had to find some way to serve the projects of his patron and amicus superior without abandoning his artistic control, independence, and integrity.51 When combined with the ordinary difficulties and uncertainties of clienthood, this represented a considerable challenge—and the onus was on him to remind Maecenas and his other readers that he was facing it bravely and successfully. For, regardless of the comfortable images of friendly camaraderie with which he might cloak his association with his patron, he was very much a junior partner in the enterprise. As Gordon Williams has noted in discussing Horace’s account of his first meeting with Maecenas (Sat...–):52 The verb iubere is not chosen at random; other verbs used of the relation between patron and poet are cogere and iniungere. In a real sense the inferior came within the control of the superior . . . The


Poet and Patron relationship was coercive. For all that the patron felt obligations toward his client and never referred to him as cliens, but always as amicus, . . . patronage constituted a power relationship, and Romans were conditioned from birth to accommodating themselves to it. An important element in this accommodation was disguise of the naked reality in various conventional ways.

In other words, as a literary patron Maecenas exerted pressure on his client-poet simply through the inherent imbalance of power in their relationship. It was left to Horace, both as amicus inferior and as presenter of their amicitia to the outside world, to confront and neutralize this pressure—to disguise the reality—by varying his portrayal of the shifts and uncertainties of their daily interaction.53 Two additional points would at first seem to challenge the foregoing assertion. First, it might be denied that the inequalities of the patronclient relationship required any sort of response at all. One of the duties of a cliens was to publicize the favors and other noteworthy accomplishments of his patron; consequently, it has been argued that clients had to accept openly their inherently inferior status.54 But Horace does not fit this model. Although he is careful to express his gratitude to his patron for his friendship, support, and other beneficia, he only implicitly acknowledges any subordination and does his best to confuse the issue with conflicting images of himself as Maecenas’s friend and chosen companion. Indeed, that Horace is willing to present himself as being left out of a dinner party strongly suggests the poet could reasonably have expected to accompany Maecenas on this expedition—as a friend, not as an inferior client. There is certainly no open acceptance of the relationship’s uncertainties here but a definite attempt to present himself to better advantage. Second, one might dispute the extent to which we can accept the poet’s discussion of his own pressures as providing valid insight into the nature of his relationship with Maecenas. White observes that, in publicly alluding to the pressures under which he works, ‘‘often what [an author] wants to project is not so much the idea that he is being constrained as that he is being pestered . . . A request that must be met because it is constantly reiterated implies some intimacy between the two parties: it can be posed again and again only because they are regularly in contact. Far from weakening a writer’s credit, this kind of pressure enhances it. Not only is he

The Horatian Invention


seen to have impressive connections, but he is revealed as someone whom it is worth the effort of coaxing.’’ 55 White’s conclusion is that Horace may be exaggerating the pressure he is under from Maecenas, for social and professional reasons—a clever attempt to enhance his reputation as a first-rate poet and a regular associate of the Roman elite. This may be true, yet pressure is being applied. Any self-presentation implying that a poet is constantly being hounded for new output by the great men of Rome, although perhaps effective in transforming a real problem into a potential tactical advantage, should nevertheless be understood as a noteworthy example of making a virtue out of necessity. This is one way for Horace to construe the pressure under which he has been forced to operate from the beginning. There could be no projection of constant pressure at all if it were not firmly grounded in the actual circumstances of the relationship. Even for a poet of Horace’s caliber, patronal pressure remained a serious constraint. Such pressure demanded a response in the form of accommodation— some way to protect oneself from the stresses inherent in being the weaker partner in an undefined, power-based relationship. This Horace accomplishes through the meticulous crafting and manipulation of an artificial, protective self-image, presenting himself in as favorable a light as possible while remaining true to the multifaceted and amorphous character of his association with his patron. White acknowledges that, in any poet’s depiction of his relations with his superiors, ‘‘what is said must . . . be interpreted as the result of a three-cornered calculation which aims to influence the general reader as well as the particular interlocutor to whom the writer addresses himself, and which seeks to display the writer in a favorable light in the eyes of both.’’ 56 This admirable summary of the Roman author’s peculiar dilemma should be expanded to cover all aspects of Horace’s situation with regard to Maecenas. His willingness to leaven a highly positive self-presentation with contradictory images of social marginalization enables him to address directly the very nature of a relationship that demanded the creation of this self-presentation in the first place.

. Conclusion: The Horatian Invention This new approach to self-presentation is one of Horace’s greatest poetic innovations, for his thematization of his relationship with his patron as a


Poet and Patron

focus for his private concerns and social challenges sets him apart from his contemporaries in the Roman literary world. His achievement does not, of course, rest simply on his introduction of Maecenas into his poetry. It was already a well-established topos by Horace’s day for an author to address patrons directly by recognizing their support and their requests in his works; in the previous generation, for instance, Lucretius offered his De rerum natura as a gift to the rich and powerful Memmius, a noted patron of poets. And yet, once Lucretius has fulfilled the basic requirement of mentioning his patron by name, Memmius ceases to be particularly relevant to the work, nor does he remain in its foreground. It is Venus and not the patron to whom the initial invocation is addressed— even if the great work was specifically written with Memmius in mind, as Lucretius claims (Lucr..–):57 te sociam studeo scribendis versibus esse quos ego de rerum natura pangere conor Memmiadae nostro, quem tu, dea, tempore in omni omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus. I am eager that you be my ally in the writing of these verses on Nature which I am trying to compose for my friend Memmius, the man whom you, oh goddess, have desired to be preeminent in all things and celebrated for all time.

Nor is it simply that Maecenas, unlike Memmius, was deeply engaged in the lives of all his literary clients and, as such, automatically became a central theme in their works. Among the poets supported by Maecenas, only Horace conceived of his relationship with his patron as a theme worthy of extended and regular poetic treatment; the others were content to represent their connection to Maecenas merely by saying at the outset of a work that ‘‘the great man has requested this of me.’’ Propertius claims his mistress Cynthia as his true source of poetic inspiration; in an elegant recusatio, he sadly confesses that he is incapable of writing on the grand themes of epic or history (Prop...–). ‘‘If only I could,’’ he says, bellaque resque tui memorarem Caesaris, et tu Caesare sub magno cura secunda fores . . . te mea Musa illis semper contexeret armis, et sumpta et posita pace fidele caput.

The Horatian Invention


I would speak of the wars and policies of your Caesar, and after great Caesar you would be my next subject . . . my Muse would always entwine you with those battles, you the loyal heart of Peace whether taken up or put aside.

But, he claims, he is too closely bound by the demands of Amor to be able to incorporate Maecenas or Caesar directly into his poetry. In this way, Propertius directly states that he will not follow Horace’s new innovation; rather than struggle with the question of his relationship with his patron, he will remain with the themes and images of his chosen genre. Similarly, in the Georgics, Virgil calls upon Maecenas to join him in his poetic journey. Arboriculture will be the theme, but the treatment will not be overly taxing (G..–): tuque ades inceptumque una decurre laborem, o decus, o famae merito pars maxima nostrae, Maecenas, pelagoque volans da vela patenti . . . . . . non hic te carmine ficto atque per ambages et longa exorsa tenebo. Come and travel with me through the task I have begun, glorious Maecenas, rightfully the greatest reason for my fame: set sail with me, flying over the open sea . . . not here will I hold you with a fabricated poem, through digressions and long beginnings.

Following this address, Virgil plunges back into his theme. Maecenas will be called upon once more to bestow his blessing on Virgil’s enterprise: ‘‘Hanc etiam, Maecenas, aspice partem’’—Look upon this section of my work as well, Maecenas (G..). But apart from these honorific addresses, the patron remains a distant figure in the poetry. Never one for personal revelations, whether genuine or contrived, Virgil keeps his relationship with his patron very much in the background of his work. When we recall the vivid and colorful world of social interactions that Horace has offered us, the contrast is striking. Horace’s dealings with Maecenas necessarily resulted in a great deal of discomfort and uncertainty for the poet as he worked early on to make sense of his relationship with his patron. It was a relationship of unspoken duties and expectations, one in which he as the junior amicus might find himself suddenly and harshly reminded of his subordinate client status.


Poet and Patron

The potential for uncertainty and anxiety was great as Horace pondered his situation. Equally powerful was his need to articulate his predicament, somehow to protect himself from either falling too deeply into Maecenas’s orbit or drifting so far into independence as to lose his position. It is this struggle that Horace wants his audience—and Maecenas himself—to see and appreciate. The many episodes and images that compose his complex and defensive self-presentation are all ultimately directed toward that end. The true originality of Horace’s treatment of himself and his patron, then, lies not in its mere inclusion but in his choice to focus his readers’ attention on such a private and difficult aspect of his world. By continually returning to this theme in his poetry and by making his portrait of this central relationship ever more elaborate and absorbing, Horace manages to create an entirely new literary topos even as he calls attention to personal concerns.

 

In the Public Eye

Fame can be intoxicating and often dangerous. It offers shining rewards to those who attain it, but it can also carry a heavy price in lost independence and the continual pressure of public attention. Public figures in every historical period have had to deal with the darker, more restrictive side of their celebrity and the strange disjunction between private and public selves that inevitably attends any rise to widespread fame. An acclaimed author or artist, for instance, may revel in his notoriety and take pleasure in the knowledge that his activities and movements are avidly followed by thousands. But, like a popular hero or prominent politician, he is also forced to bear the intense scrutiny of his audience—to resist their constant intrusions into his personal life, endure their mingled adulation and hostility and fickle changes of taste, and live up to the high expectations that gather around him as he builds his public image. Indeed, as his stature grows, his time and attention become increasingly devoted to the maintenance of that outer façade of behavior and personality which his audience has come to expect from him, even as his projects come to be dictated by the requirements of self-presentation. It is never a comfortable situation in which to be placed, as Cicero despairingly observed from the similarly floodlit stage of Roman politics: ‘‘O di immortales! quam magnum est personam in re publica tueri principis! quae non animis solum debet sed etiam oculis servire civium.’’ 1 Horace reflects a great deal in his works on the special demands placed upon a poet by his public—the judgments, expectations, and even direct attacks that require a response or at least some accommodation on his part. But where many an author might have limited himself to the private acceptance of his public constraints, Horace directly confronts his audience as he struggles to reconcile their domineering influence with his individual aims and interests. Indeed, he incorporates this struggle as an integral component of his constructed, public self-image. Horace 


In the Public Eye

regularly portrays himself as being at the center of a large, disparate, and volatile public, of which each segment exerts a different sort of pressure and elicits from him a different response. This wider audience becomes a rich and complex character in its own right, simultaneously the source of and Horace’s mechanism for dealing with all the public demands that he claims have been placed on him. For Horace, the process is reflexive: the popular reception of his work fuels and shapes that work, becoming itself a central theme of his poetry.

. The Rings of Audience The essentials of Horace’s relationship with Maecenas are reflected in his techniques of self-presentation, as we have already noted. In much the same fashion, Horace’s portrayal of his dealings with his general readership constitutes his most direct and effective response to the pressures he faced from these readers.2 As a result, the poet’s treatment of his public travails tells us a great deal about his actual relationship with his original audience. But what was the composition of this audience? Who was reading Horace? No segment of Roman society can at the outset be safely disregarded with complete security. It is conceivable (though unlikely) that some of Horace’s readers may even have sprung from the lowest levels of the Roman populus, the urban mob whose tastes ran more to mimes, gladiators, and similar entertainments than to Horace’s brand of cultivated and allusive verse—although there would have been nothing particularly new or innovative in his treating any difficulties with them as a theme in his work. The city masses had long represented a source of frustration for aspiring writers, as demonstrated by the playwright Terence, who in approximately  .. had expressed his anger and dismay over the repeated failure of his Hecyra by condemning the vulgar tastes of his erstwhile audience.3 In any case, Horace’s works had many potential readers throughout Roman society, ranging from the knights and senators in the uppermost circles of Rome to those in the higher census categories who, while lacking conspicuous wealth or social prominence, nevertheless could be expected to possess some education and a certain level of interest in the literary world.4 Some might dispute this picture of Horace’s readership, arguing with William Harris that literacy in the late Republic and early Empire was not so widespread as is generally assumed and that, as a result, the audience

The Rings of Audience


for literary works consisted of a very small and circumscribed elite.5 But as a number of scholars have noted, Harris’s conclusions are overly drastic, and Horace’s audience would have been far larger and broader than he suggests. The poet became extremely famous very quickly through his association with Maecenas; consequently, many would have eagerly read his works, which were readily available at the libraries and booksellers’ stalls.6 We must also take into account the large population of Greeks then living in Rome: men of inherently lower status as far as Rome was concerned, who nevertheless were often deeply engaged in literary pursuits. Moreover, any recoverable evidence regarding rates of literacy is of questionable relevance to the more central issue of Horace’s potential audience. Statistics on literacy in the ancient world tell us very little about the extent to which the general population had access to the literature of the day, as Rosalind Thomas has pointed out: ‘‘How much did such low levels of literacy matter? The prevalence of oral communication, for instance, is important in its own right for gauging the role of writing; it meant that illiterates were not always cut off from the products of writing. Public readings at Rome were the fastest means of literary publication. It was not always thought necessary to read something yourself, and in any case oral and written communication were deeply intertwined.’’ 7 We can safely conclude with T. P. Wiseman that ‘‘the Roman populace listened, or had the opportunity to listen, to a lot more poetry than we think. The evidence is unobtrusive and therefore usually disregarded, but it exists and to ignore it is to misunderstand the profession of letters in Rome.’’ 8 Nevertheless, the way in which various members of Horace’s audience encountered his poetry remains an extremely important issue, for it raises a crucial point about the composition of this audience. Social class was not necessarily the determining factor in whether someone became a reader or hearer of Horace’s poetry. Rather, the primary question was one of access, not only to the poetry but to the poet who produced it. This in turn reminds us that each member of the audience enjoyed a different degree and kind of access. Certainly, there would have existed a significant gulf, in depth of experience and connection with the poetry, between (say) a casual Roman reader who simply bought Horace’s poem at a bookstall, and a personal friend who first heard the poem at a private reading by the author, and who is perhaps even mentioned in the poem. It is therefore best to think of Horace’s contemporary general readership as consisting of a series of concentric rings, based not so much on relative


In the Public Eye

social standing as on levels of intimacy and direct contact with the poet himself. As we shall see, Horace represents his audience in terms of these same categories, characterizing each ring by a different type of interaction with himself as well as by the particular threat that each poses.9 Thus, each ring of audience becomes the focus of a separate facet of his overall public self-portrayal. At the center we find Maecenas, sole occupant of the innermost ring; we have already seen the extent to which Horace’s benefactor and patron stands as his most important and influential reader, the clarification of their relationship as one of the poet’s most basic themes. Surrounding this pair are those individuals whom Horace declares to be personal friends, men of quality whose taste and literary judgments he implicitly trusts. The next ring comprises members of the apex of Roman society—senators and equites whom Horace often would have known through Maecenas and who, as members of an elevated and erudite social stratum, would certainly have been familiar with the poet and his work. A fourth ring consists of men outside the social and political elite of Rome, who nevertheless hold some hope of gaining entry—social climbers eager to follow Horace’s path from obscurity into prominence and more than ready to scrape acquaintance with Horace himself in order to do so. Last, Horace creates a fifth ring of literate outsiders—impoverished grammatici, Greek poetasters without contacts among the Roman upper classes,10 and other undifferentiated potential readers—who have no contact with the poet and no hopes of advancing in his society but who read and respond to his poetry all the same.

. The Core Readership It is worth recalling that the tensions and pressures of Horace’s relationship with Maecenas arose largely from the fluidity and indeterminacy of the amicitia between patron and poet; that is to say, within an essentially private context. By transforming this amicitia into a central subject of his poetry, however, thereby exposing it to universal scrutiny, Horace automatically gave it a tremendous public resonance. In much the same fashion, Horace obliquely acknowledges that even the inner ring of his audience represents for him a source of considerable public anxiety, stemming from his perceived need to identify and cater to his most desirable readership. These are Horace’s own close friends and

The Core Readership


associates, such as Virgil, Varus, Varius, and Fuscus, some of them fellow members of Maecenas’s clientela. As with his patron, Horace shows himself determined to affirm publicly the strength of his bond with them by dedicating individual poems to them as well as by alluding frequently to their shared activities and pursuits.11 In the closing lines of Satires ., for example, Horace cites as his main literary principle the ideal of the small, select audience (–): ‘‘Neque te ut miretur turba labores,/contentus paucis lectoribus’’ (Nor should you struggle to make the crowd marvel at you; be content with a few readers). It doesn’t bother him in the slightest, he claims, to be attacked or slandered by inconsequential scribblers, whom he dismisses with contempt (–).12 Instead, the poet introduces his most desired readers by projecting the image of an elegant group of men with whom he is very proud to associate himself, and who represent for him a haven of good taste in a sea of loutish hostility and criticism (–): Plotius et Varius, Maecenas Vergiliusque, Valgius et probet haec Octavius optimus atque Fuscus et haec utinam Viscorum laudet uterque! ambitione relegata te dicere possum, Pollio, te, Messalla, tuo cum fratre, simulque vos, Bibule et Servi, simul his te, candide Furni, compluris alios, doctos ego quos et amicos prudens praetereo; quibus haec, sint qualiacumque, adridere velim, doliturus, si placeant spe deterius nostra . . . May Plotius and Varius, Maecenas and Virgil, Valgius, good Octavius and Fuscus approve of my work, and may both of the Visci brothers praise it! Without any ulterior motive or intent to flatter I can name you, Pollio; you, Messalla, with your brother; and also you, Bibulus and Servius; and with these you, brilliant Furnius; and many others, learned friends whom I discreetly pass over. I would like these men to laugh at my verses, such as they are; and I will be crushed if they should be less pleasing than I hope.

But the poet undercuts any atmosphere of total collegiality and unconditional sympathy that might initially seem to obtain in these lines, through language that is highly suggestive of a basic underlying anxiety.


In the Public Eye

Horace’s use of the subjunctive in probet haec, haec utinam . . . laudet, and quibus haec . . . adridere velim, for example, emphasizes that it is his wish that his verses be well received by this circle, not a secure declaration of an established truth. Similarly, the care with which Horace specifies that he names Pollio, Messalla, and rest of his second group not in order to curry favor with them, but to pay a compliment to close friends (ambitione relegata te dicere possum), serves to remind us of the inherent difficulty of making such an address—the challenge it poses of striking just the right note of polite familiarity and the possibility that such praises will be misinterpreted as base sycophancy.13 That Horace plausibly presents himself as having to make such clarifications makes clear the extent to which his relationship with this inner group of readers is to be read as remaining indistinct or even potentially vulnerable. Thus, Horace underscores the urgency with which he must anticipate the reactions of his core readership. He has declared that he cares only for the favor of the few and the docti, and so his concern is here apparently only that his verses should be pleasing to these particular individuals. But he has also suggested that a positive reaction on their part is evidently by no means a fait accompli. They will be true critics, not simply his friends. Horace calls the members of this core audience his amici, of course; but their reception of his work is not guaranteed to be one of unqualified enthusiasm—indeed, this is precisely why it is of such overriding importance. Doliturus, si placeant spe deterius nostra becomes something more than a closing pleasantry: if the poet has assumed in this passage an outward expression of friendly optimism, his inner anxiety is nonetheless also readily apparent here.

. The Social Elite It is particularly significant that Maecenas as well as other socially and politically prominent Romans such as Asinius Pollio and the aristocratic Messalla Corvinus make their appearance in these, Horace’s innermost rings of audience. By declaring his intention to win the approval of these men above all—despite the attendant implication that they may be hard to please and his relationship with them not entirely secure—Horace self-consciously aligns himself with the very highest circles of Roman society.14 But such a claim is double-edged, as is so often the case with Horace’s statements concerning himself and his views. For in the very act

The Social Elite


of defining the core group of his best critics and truest audience, Horace also implicitly acknowledges the existence of other readers, whose views he may claim to discount but whose insults and attacks remain for him a major source of irritation. Even as he shrugs off the importance of this second audience, Horace portrays himself as being forced to admit that their existence cannot wholly be disregarded and that they, too, have an impact on him and his work. Thus, we are led to the third ring of Horace’s readership, made up of the general body of the Roman elite: senators and equites not necessarily on an intimate basis with the poet himself but socially powerful and therefore important as potential readers of his poetry. Members of these classes were, of course, heavily involved in the world of literature: as patrons, as genuine or feigned enthusiasts of poetry (a major entertainment for the upper classes of Rome, being heard or recited nightly at dinner parties and at formal readings as well as in moments of private leisure), and often as writers themselves. What is more, they would have possessed a natural curiosity as to the character and family origins of all newcomers into their circles, not only the novi homines or wealthy arrivistes who entered their political and social ambit but even (or perhaps especially) any new and promising ‘‘discoveries’’ on the literary scene. Taking this high-profile environment as his starting point, Horace presents both his works and his social acceptability as coming under intense scrutiny from these men, and himself as being abruptly thrust into the hothouse climate of elite Roman society through his amicitia with Maecenas no less than his promise and ability as a poet.15 Horace often creates a strong impression of widespread hostility and scorn directed at him by members of the social circles within which he now moves. It is crucial for us to understand that this impression is largely manufactured by the poet himself and is intended more to raise the issue of a successful author’s difficulties in dealing with his audience than to give straightforward expression to his troubles.16 It is the poet’s implication, and only his, that Roman society tended to look upon him with suspicion as an unacceptable upstart of dubious social background. Horace’s depiction of his social woes must surely have had some basis in actual experience, however, since otherwise the sheer implausibility of his presented scenarios would have drastically undercut the impact of his intended message on its original recipients. As a result, Horace accommodates different levels of veracity in his accounts of his background and experiences. His personal statements are artificial and self-consciously


In the Public Eye

made, but they also reflect the tensions in his life that made such statements necessary. In Satires . Horace establishes this theme of social scorn by means of a neat technique of double address, in which separate audiences are simultaneously given very different messages. The poet lauds Maecenas for his open-mindedness and virtue, as manifested by his refusal to sneer at Horace’s obscure origins despite the splendor of his own ancient and glorious family tree (–): Non quia, Maecenas, Lydorum quidquid Etruscos incoluit finis, nemo generosior est te, nec quod avus tibi maternus fuit atque paternus, olim qui magnis legionibus imperitarent, ut plerique solent, naso suspendis adunco ignotos, ut me libertino patre natum. cum referre negas quali sit quisque parenti natus, dum ingenuus . . . None of the Lydians who settled the Etruscan lands is more nobly born than you, Maecenas; at one time your grandfathers on both your mother’s and your father’s sides commanded mighty legions. But despite this, you do not turn up a curved nose (as so many are accustomed to do) at complete nobodies—nobodies like me, ‘‘the freedman’s son.’’ When you deny that it makes any difference what sort of father anyone has, as long as he himself is freeborn . . .

The compliment is gracefully and skillfully handled, with the poet tactfully hinting that Maecenas has every right to be proud even as he praises him for seeing such things for what they are truly worth and for preferring to focus instead on the merit of each individual.17 It would have been most gratifying to Maecenas to be addressed in this fashion.18 At the same time, however—as the phrase ut plerique solent suggests—Horace implies that he personally has been treated by others in Rome to a distressing level of scrutiny and just the sort of hauteur of which Maecenas’s rare character is free. The vehemence of expression with which Horace describes such snobbery, the vivid pungency of naso suspendis adunco, imparts to this passage a darker coloration of personal injury. This sense one gets of the poet’s social difficulties is confirmed when he turns to consider his case in greater detail. Horace emphasizes the ex-

The Social Elite


asperation he feels at the mean-spiritedness and persistence of an attack that he freely tells us has dogged him since his days as a military tribune with Brutus, eight years before (–): Nunc ad me redeo libertino patre natum, quem rodunt omnes libertino patre natum, nunc, quia sim tibi, Maecenas, at olim, quod mihi pareret legio Romana tribuno. Now, to get back to my case: me, ‘‘the freedman’s son,’’ whom everyone bites at for being ‘‘the freedman’s son.’’ Now they do so because I am your friend, Maecenas, but at one time it was because I was a military tribune, and a Roman legion obeyed my commands.

A certain bitterness is further conveyed by the use of the verb rodere, which carries with it associations of grinding, wearing consumption.19 Thus, the poem’s more general discussion of the scrutiny and excoriation faced by novi homines takes on a more personal feel. Especially given his emphasis on the insistence of public opinion in his own case—me, quem rodunt omnes nunc [et] olim—it is hard for the reader not to conclude that Horace’s experiences have shaped the overall resonance and thrust of the poem. Recall, after all, that he has already drawn our attention to the biting contempt and carping of higher society to which, he suggests, all parvenus were subjected (Sat...–): nam ut quisque insanus nigris medium impediit crus pellibus et latum demisit pectore clavum, audit continuo: ‘‘quis homo hic est?’’ ‘‘quo patre natus?’’ ut si qui aegrotet quo morbo Bassus, haberi et cupiat formosus, eat quaecumque, puellis iniciat curam quaerendi singula, quali sit facie, sura, quali pede, dente, capillo: sic qui promittit civis, urbem sibi curae, imperium fore et Italiam, delubra deorum, quo patre sit natus, num ignota matre inhonestus, omnis mortalis curare et quaerere cogit. For as soon as anyone is mad enough to bind the black straps of a senator’s sandal up to the middle of his leg, and send the


In the Public Eye broad senatorial stripe down his tunic, instantly he hears: ‘‘Who is this man? What did his father do?’’ It is as though someone had the sickness that Bassus has, and desires to be thought handsome: if he goes out anywhere, he inspires the girls to inquire about everything in detail—what is his face like, how do his ankles look, how are his feet, his teeth, his hair? In the same way, whoever declares that he will take care of the citizens and the city, Italy and the empire, the temples of the gods—he provokes all mortals to become interested and find out who his father was, and whether he is disgraced by having an unknown mother.

This passage may not seem to apply directly to Horace at first; he is quick to deny any political or social ambition on his own part. But his characterization of the remarks that invariably trail a newlymade senator hints at a broader sympathy and sense of personal connection with what is being described. These snide comments are fairly clearly made by other senators from established families, but the scenario is presented in such general terms as to apply to all any and all transgressors of what are perceived to be their ‘‘proper’’ social bounds. There is an echo, for instance, in the phrase quo patre . . . natus of Horace’s charge of being libertino patre natus, while the girls’ investigation of the hapless Bassus and his physical features (–) is described with a rapid, choppy rhythm that seems to symbolize the prying and intrusive questioning which, Horace tells us, was customarily directed at any Roman arriviste, himself included. The passage as a whole conveys an air of weary resignation to an experience that was, for him, all too familiar. There is, of course, more going on here than meets the eye, and Horace’s motivation for including all this information still requires some cautious appraisal. For example, Horace makes only ambiguous references to the attacks he specifically claims to have suffered and nowhere openly confirms or denies the charge of libertino patre natus as it applies to him. Indeed, some have argued that the particular charge of ‘‘freedman’s son’’ was unjustified; Horace’s father had been a respectable Italian, a Sabellian from Venusia who had indeed been taken captive but only as a mere child, after the fall of that city in  .. Thus, he might have been called an ex-slave only by the willfully malevolent.20 If this was indeed the case, libertino patre natus would have been therefore a most invidious phrase, verging on the slanderous but with just enough basis in fact to have staying power—a useful and memorably derisive sobri-

The Social Elite


quet of the same stamp as the nicknames that are now often bestowed upon politicians. If, however, Horace’s father truly had been a slave, this would simply mean that the attacks become much more straightforwardly biased and hostile. In any case, it is no wonder that Horace presents himself as being so irritated by the persistence of the charge: issues of truth or falsehood do not reduce its sting. But why has the poet elected to drag these personally embarrassing issues into the open in the first place? It would seem that his introduction of the whole issue of social scorn is designed to serve as the foundation of a more personal project. Horace desires above all to establish in this poem the overwhelming impression that he is facing a tremendous hostility and disdain from all corners, which manifests itself in cruel jibes and unpleasant muckraking of his personal past. To ensure that this self-presentation does not trigger suspicions of falseness or artificiality, he couches it in the form of unvarnished and deeply private confession, as if to say: ‘‘This barrage of attacks against me, my character, and my family line has prompted me to discuss these matters in my poetry. Now that questions have been raised by others, I am forced to demonstrate my virtue and solid worth.’’ Overt self-glorification might have seemed unattractive and inappropriate, but by subtly establishing this pressing need for the clarification and defense of his origins, Horace frees himself to speak at length about his background and to paint thereby an idealized, appealing self-portrait. It is in this light that we should read Horace’s purported autobiography in the second half of Satires ., which consists primarily of revelations of his past and present life as he wishes it to be understood by his readers. In the face of such long-standing and obnoxious charges, Horace invites his audience to look back with him to his past. As noted above, the pretext for this excursus lies in the supposed hostility of the disdainful upper classes; thus, Horace’s autobiography carries an invented but compelling air of self-justification. He defends his association with Maecenas and his position in the inner circles of the elite by demonstrating that his background is sufficiently respectable for such an advancement and that his own, irreproachable father inculcated in him a strong sense of high moral principle, which makes him even more worthy of his temporal success (–):21 si neque avaritiam neque sordes nec mala lustra obiciet vere quisquam mihi, purus et insons, ut me collaudem, si et vivo carus amicis;


In the Public Eye causa fuit pater his . . . . . . pudicum, qui primus virtutis honos, servavit ab omni non solum facto, verum opprobrio quoque turpi; nec timuit, sibi ne vitio quis verteret, olim si praeco parvas aut, ut fuit ipse, coactor mercedes sequerer: neque ego essem questus: at hoc hunc laus illi debetur et a me gratia maior. Nil me paeniteat, sanum, patris huius . . . If no one can justly accuse me of avarice or stinginess or debauchery, and (if I may compliment myself ) if I live pure and innocent, and dear to my friends—my father is the reason for it . . . He kept me chaste, which is the first glory of virtue, and protected me not only from every wicked deed but indeed from all scandal as well. Nor was he worried that someone would hold this to be his fault, if I should pursue a modest career as an auctioneer or a tax collector like him. I would not have complained in any case; but as things are, for this I owe him praise and all the more gratitude. I could never be ashamed of my father, as long as I am sane.

Through this carefully engineered process of apparent self-examination and revelation, Horace presents himself as exploring with his readers his memories and personal history. In so doing, he makes his direct response to the larger theme of social hostility, both potential and actual. It is a masterful technique of preemptive defense, in which the attacks of the Roman elite are purposefully introduced and then answered by means of plausible and apparently justifiable autobiographical statement. As a result, that Horace alludes to these attacks at all is of greater importance than the relative truth of the attacks themselves. Even if he has created this ‘‘public’’ issue of social scorn, as the perfect pretext for a strategic reinvention of his own self-image, this only casts the essential difficulties of his social advancement into sharper relief.

. Criticism and Envy Horace presents a very different sort of pressure as deriving not from the sneers of the Roman elite but from the opposite assumption: that

Criticism and Envy


the poet himself is a comfortably ensconced member of that same select group. On several occasions he suggests that this perception is widespread among those who are not part of the social and political establishment of Rome but who nevertheless are eager to join or at least become associated with this charmed circle. In portraying his dealings with such individuals—the fourth ring of his audience—Horace indirectly celebrates his burgeoning public stature by representing himself as having become a primary target for their curious mixture of hostility and sycophancy. This ring can be thought of as containing both ‘‘social detractors’’ and ‘‘social climbers,’’ who are differentiated by the way in which the poet characterizes their respective views of the elite and by their chances of entering that elite themselves. The detractors first: Horace ascribes the hostility of this group to their jealousy of his social success, prompted by the popular assumption (already encountered in our discussion of the poet-patron relationship in chapter one) that he is Maecenas’s closest friend and associate, privy even to vitally important matters of state.22 Horace establishes his portrait of this section of his public with clever and engaging scenes, in which conversational language and trivial, everyday settings serve to emphasize the extent of this readership and the hostility of their response. Exasperation seems evident enough in Satires ..– , where even as simple an occurrence as being spotted with Maecenas is described as provoking widespread and rather sarcastic gossip: ‘‘Per totum hoc tempus subiectior in diem et horam/invidiae noster. ludos spectaverat una, /luserat in Campo: ‘Fortunae filius!’ omnes’’ (All this time, every day and every hour, yours truly is subjected to envious comment. We watch the games together, we play ball on the Campus: everyone says, ‘‘Oh, he’s Fortune’s favorite!’’). As if to corroborate the view suggested by such remarks, Horace depicts his own slave Davus as using the traditional license of the Saturnalian festival to take a few choice digs at his master’s unseemly desperation to associate with his betters (Sat...–): . . . si nusquam es forte vocatus ad cenam, laudas securum holus ac, velut usquam vinctus eas, ita te felicem dicis amasque, quod nusquam tibi sit potandum. iusserit ad se Maecenas serum sub lumina prima venire convivam: ‘‘nemon oleum feret ocius? ecquis audit?’’ cum magno blateras clamore fugisque.


In the Public Eye If it happens that you haven’t been invited to dinner anywhere, you praise your carefree cabbage, and call yourself blessed and love yourself because you don’t have to go out drinking anywhere—as though you could only be dragged out of the house with chains. Then, late—just around the time when they light the lamps—Maecenas orders you to come be a guest at his place: ‘‘Someone bring me the lantern oil! What’s taking so long? Is anyone listening to me?’’ With a huge uproar you babble on, and run off.

Through the character of Davus, Horace presents himself in a most comical and unflattering light: complacent and self-congratulatory moderation goes right out the window whenever Maecenas invites him to dinner, to be replaced by farcical hurry and agitation. Horace has already suggested that the public believes this of him; here he seemingly admits that not even his slaves have been fooled. Thus, the anger with which he portrays himself as greeting Davus’s analysis (–) becomes the pathetic rage of one forced to confront an unpalatable truth.23 As elsewhere in Horace’s poetry, self-deprecation enhances the credibility of the message conveyed. But the relative truth of Davus’s charges of inconstancy, adultery, and gluttony is not the point at issue, since this cannot be securely determined in any case. Rather, the poem’s significance lies in the picture it presents of Horace’s extreme difficulties in controlling the negative perceptions of others (even within his own household)— difficulties, moreover, that carry a certain strange attraction for him. For what is particularly striking about Horace’s handling of this issue is how he presents himself also as paradoxically almost welcoming these attacks. Not only does he admit to having problems in dealing with the resentment of the envious; at times he openly acknowledges his private satisfaction at being subjected to this particular sort of harrassment. Horace’s exasperation is thrown into reverse, as he deflates his earlier self-image by demonstrating that he finds this particular sort of public pressure and scrutiny rather appealing, and that he welcomes the attendant status of ‘‘Fortune’s favorite’’ conferred by his close association in the public eye with the figure of Maecenas.24 In his firmest and most open admission of this, the poet comments on the reactions he gets when he pushes through a crowded city street (Sat...–): luctandum in turba et facienda iniuria tardis. ‘‘quid vis, insane, et quam rem agis?’’ improbus urget

Criticism and Envy


iratis precibus: ‘‘tu pulses omne quod obstat, ad Maecenatem memori si mente recurras.’’ hoc iuvat et melli est, non mentiar . . . I have to struggle in the crowd and give out injuries to those who are too slow. Some low-life pushes with angry curses: ‘‘What are you trying to do, madman? What are you doing? You would strike everything that’s in your way, if you were hurrying back to Maecenas and thinking only about that.’’ This pleases me and is like honey—I cannot lie.

Hoc iuvat et melli est, non mentiar. It is a remarkable statement, when one pauses to consider the way in which it positions Horace among his various audiences. In a single line, Horace first and foremost acknowledges to Maecenas directly that he is indeed grateful for the great man’s friendship and flattered by its widespread recognition (‘‘hoc iuvat et melli est’’). He then immediately tries to deflect any sneers or allegations of toadyism that might come from his outside readers by suggesting that only with great reluctance does he admit it means this much to him to be Maecenas’s friend (‘‘non mentiar’’). Thus, the poet both celebrates and deprecates his lofty position, boldly and unexpectedly giving simultaneous reassurance to both sets of readers. Rarely have the expectations of two distinct and incompatible audiences been accommodated with such skill, economy, and audacity.25 But Horace’s adoption of this complicated stance does not preclude more direct defenses against similar charges. Earlier, in Satires ., Horace creates a most pleasing image of his contented daily life, far removed from the sweaty hustle and crush of social or political intrigue. By portraying his humble existence and pursuits in this fashion, he demonstrates that his character is equally modest and retiring (–): . . . quacumque libido est, incedo solus; percontor quanti holus ac far; fallacem Circum vespertinumque pererro saepe Forum; adsisto divinis; inde domum me ad porri et ciceris refero laganique catinum . . . deinde eo dormitum, non sollicitus mihi quod cras surgendum sit mane . . . ad quartam iaceo; post hanc vagor; aut ego, eo lecto aut scripto quod me tacitum iuvet, unguor olivo . . .


In the Public Eye ast ubi me fessum sol acrior ire lavatum admonuit, fugio Campum lusumque trigonem. pransus non avide, quantum interpellet inani ventre diem durare, domesticus otior. Haec est vita solutorum misera ambitione gravique. I walk by myself wherever my fancy takes me; I inquire about the price of vegetables and grain; often I wander around the fraud-filled Circus, and, in the evening, the Forum; I listen to the fortune-tellers; then I go back home to my plate of leeks and chickpeas and oilcake . . . then I go to bed, untroubled by the thought of having to get up early the next morning . . . I lie in bed until ten, then I take a stroll; or, having read or written something I like when I’m being quiet, I clean myself up with oil . . . But when I am tired, and the hotter sun of the afternoon tells me to go have a bath, I flee the Campus and the ball-games. I have a modest lunch—just enough to prevent me lasting through the day with an empty stomach. I putter around at home. This is the life of those who are free from wretched and weighty ambition.

Thus, the argument runs, attacks from the ‘‘detractors’’ among his audience are doubly unfair, because they are unjustified: Horace does not meddle in affairs of state, nor does he otherwise exploit his powerful friends for personal gain.26 We recall from chapter one (and from Sat.. above) that Horace often portrays himself as resenting even the imputation that he has been left out of Maecenas’s inner circle. But in Satires . he leads his audience to believe in his isolation through precisely opposite means, by presenting himself as loving his leisure, his otium. The life of placid ataraxia or impassive calmness that the poet here depicts can be read either as comprising another brave claim of personal independence or, more subtly, as representing Horace’s reluctant admission that he is painfully aware of his separation from the events and lively happenings of Maecenas’s immediate orbit. In either case, Horace has claimed that a major segment of his readership believes that he does occupy a prominent place in Maecenas’s affairs and therefore in Roman society. Once again, it is the perception rather than the facts that receives the real emphasis. Horace’s ambivalent attitude toward his relationship with Maecenas finds its echo here, as he turns his mingled feelings of dissatisfaction and gratification into the subject of wry self-analysis. His several reactions to the public’s hostile perception of his success inject a certain ambivalence

Criticism and Envy


or changeability into his self-image, lending it a rather protean quality that enables him to deliver separate messages simultaneously to the many different segments of his readership. ‘‘Climbers,’’ by contrast, come across not as attacking Horace so much as trying to impose themselves on him and, thereby, profit from his rise in society. Horace recounts several episodes of repugnant sycophancy as these individuals either try to befriend him to gain access to his influential friends, or pester him with various petitions and inquiries about state secrets. In Satires ., Horace describes one such hopeful, who latches on to the poet apparently in the unshakeable belief that he can command Maecenas’s attention at will (–): ‘‘Imprimat his, cura, Maecenas signa tabellis.’’/dixeris, ‘‘experiar’’: ‘‘si vis, potes,’’ addit et instat (‘‘Please make sure that Maecenas puts his seal on these documents.’’ You say, ‘‘I will try.’’ ‘‘You can if you choose to,’’ he replies, and does not leave you alone). An amusing record of an annoying encounter, perhaps; but the humor of this little vignette should not obscure its attendant implication that Horace was forced continually to fend off such impositions from random passersby. On other occasions, it is a matter of people accosting Horace and demanding to know what is happening at the highest levels of Roman politics and affairs. The poet has just finished explaining that his conversations with Maecenas consist of the most innocent and idle trivialities imaginable (Sat...–). Even so, he declares with irritation (–): frigidus a rostris manat per compita rumor; quicumque obvius est me consulit: ‘‘o bone, nam te scire, deos quoniam proprius contingis, oportet, numquid de Dacis audisti?’’ ‘‘nil equidem.’’ ‘‘ut tu semper eris derisor!’’ ‘‘at omnes di exagitent me, si quicquam.’’ ‘‘quid? militibus promissa Triquetra praedia Caesar an est Itala tellure daturus?’’ iurantem me scire nihil mirantur ut unum scilicet egregii mortalem altique silenti. A cold rumor runs down from the Rostra through the streets; everyone I run into on the street asks me: ‘‘Tell me, sir—for you ought to know, being so close to the gods—have you heard any news about the Dacians?’’ ‘‘Not me.’’ ‘‘Oh, you—you’re always playing the fool!’’ ‘‘Heaven help me if I know anything.’’ ‘‘What? Caesar promised land grants to his soldiers—will they be in Sicily


In the Public Eye or in Italy?’’ When I swear that I know nothing, they all marvel at me as someone who is clearly unusually and profoundly close-mouthed.

We are led to see this pressure as being all the more exasperating since Horace has just admitted that he scarcely has access to such information.27 But everyone apparently assumes that he does, and in the context of Horace’s strategic development of his public image, this is far more significant.28 It confirms the strength and currency of the poet’s reputation (if not his actual status) as an important individual in Roman society and government. Satires ., of course, comprises one of Horace’s most extensive and memorable poetic treatments of this sort of encounter, reflecting again his need to balance the different interests of the various sectors of his audience. In much the same way as seen elsewhere, the episode of the pest functions simultaneously on a number of levels, as Horace expresses his dismay at being subjected to the unwanted attentions of social climbers, attempts to ensure a sympathetic reading through winsome self-portrayal, and reassures his most desired readers as to his trustworthiness. The apparent autobiographical veracity of the account, bolstered by scenes of personal discomfiture (as the pest tries hard to turn the reluctant Horace into his gateway to the world of the elite), enhances the credibility of the narrative and establishes a seemingly intimate connection between reader and poet. Horace’s willingness to admit the indignities into which his preposterous plight has forced him (–)— . . . misere discedere quaerens, ire modo ocius, interdum consistere, in aurem dicere nescioquid puero, dum sudor ad imos manaret talos . . . Wretchedly trying to escape, now walking quickly, every so often coming to a stop, whispering who knows what into my slave’s ear, while the sweat trickles down to the bottom of my heels

—his appealing use of self-mocking humor as he recounts the episode (as in ‘‘Demitto auriculas, ut iniquae mentis asellus.’’ I lower my ears, like a stubborn donkey []), the dry wit of his various comments (‘‘ ‘Omnis composui.’ Felices! nunc ego resto.’’ ‘‘I’ve buried all my relatives.’’ They’re lucky! Now I’m left. []), and the wonderfully funny encounter with

The Outer Ring


Horace’s friend Fuscus: all these features of the poem serve to win the reader’s affections and sympathies, even as they convince him of the genuineness of Horace’s mingled sense of annoyance and amusement at being hounded in this way.29 Lacking inside knowledge of Horace’s life or of the true nature of Maecenas’s circle, we find ourselves wanting to believe the message of this vivid and seemingly open, unguarded anecdote. Thus, on a level deeper than the mere venting of his irritation, Horace in Satires . tailors his response to both the outer and inner rings of his audience. After all, the pest only wants Horace to do for him exactly what Virgil and Varius did for Horace; that is, to set up an introduction to Maecenas (–; cf. Sat...–). This was a common service amici would provide for their less fortunate contacts.30 But Horace declares he will not do this, which seems to underscore both his special position in Maecenas’s circle and his essentially awkward, troubled relationship with that segment of his readership here represented by the pest. We might also consider Horace’s retort to the pest’s speculations regarding Maecenas and his friends (–). As Niall Rudd observed, ‘‘This compliment is not addressed to Maecenas, and we are made to feel that it might never have been uttered had it not been for the vulgar insinuations of the pest. One is reminded of the close of ., where by naming his opponents and revealing their malicious attitude Horace is enabled to affirm his respect for Maecenas, Messalla, Pollio and the rest.’’ 31 The self-image that Horace projects in this poem allows him to make indirect assurances to Maecenas as to his continuing reliability and loyalty, without jeopardizing his carefully established rapport with his larger general audience. At the same time, it smooths other readers’ acceptance of Horace’s picture not only of his life in Maecenas’s circle but also of the sort of daily harassment to which the poet is subjected as a celebrity and the friend of celebrities. Thus does Horace maintain his framework of multiple audiences and double implications.

. The Outer Ring Beyond this circle of pests and detractors lies the outermost of the rings of Horace’s audience: individuals who have no direct contact with the poet except through reading his works and who, in his representation, entertain no hope of entering his circles or of following his social trajectory.


In the Public Eye

Horace does not devote as much time to the depiction of these readers as he does to those discussed above; unsurprising, perhaps, given his emphasis on his direct relationships with the various sections of his public. He says little about their origins or place in society, and they receive his attention only insofar as they read and respond to his poetry. One might speculate that this ring would consist of the literate but unconnected populace of Rome—low-grade poetasters, impoverished grammatici, Greeks without powerful Roman patrons, and the like—but there is no way to be certain.32 In any case, the composition of this outer readership is less important than the fact that Horace almost invariably treats them with great disdain. The literary hacks of Rome in particular come in for his contempt, not only because of their mediocre verses but also because they have slandered him and attacked his work. Horace prefaces his address to his core readership with an insulting dismissal of those critics whom he decribes as pesky bedbugs and oafish scribblers, one of them a crony of Hermogenes Tigellius, a frequent whipping boy of his (Sat...–):33 Men moveat cimex Pantilius, aut cruciet quod vellicet absentem Demetrius, aut quod ineptus Fannius Hermogenis laedat conviva Tigelli? Should that louse Pantilius bother me? Should it be a torture to me that Demetrius mocks me behind my back, or that I am attacked by that nincompoop Fannius, the dinner guest of Hermogenes Tigellius?

Even fifteen years later, with the publication of Epistles , Horace depicts his relations with the hacks as having hardly improved; in Epistles . he complains heatedly that, in an attempt to be just like him, such writers clumsily mimic what they imagine from reading his works to be his actual way of life (–): . . . ‘‘Forum Putealque Libonis mandabo siccis, adimam cantare severis.’’ hoc simul edixi, non cessavere poetae nocturno certare mero, putere diurno . . . decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile: quod si pallerem casu, biberent exsangue cuminum. o imitatores, servum pecus, ut mihi saepe bilem, saepe iocum vestri movere tumultus!

The Outer Ring


‘‘I will hand over the Forum and the Puteal of Libo to those who are sober, and I will forbid stern people from singing.’’ Ever since I made this declaration, the poets have never ceased to do battle in all-night drinking bouts, and stink of it all day . . . A pattern of faults you can copy is deceptive—if by chance I should grow pale, they would drink the bloodless cumin. Oh you imitators, you herd of slaves! How often your bustling nonsense has provoked my rage, how often it has prompted my amusement!

There is, of course, one significant difference from the situation Horace described in the Satires; he is now avidly (though superficially) imitated rather than pestered, slandered, or criticized. This revelation seems to underscore Horace’s growing stature as one of the foremost poets of Rome, centrally placed in the public spotlight.34 But his portrayed response to all this remains as involved and complex as it was before in his anecdote of the pest and in the earlier discussion of his relationship with Maecenas. Ut mihi saepe bilem, saepe iocum movere: Horace’s wonderful phrase captures neatly the same intersection of different personal reactions to public difficulties—the same mix of irritation, amusement, and perhaps even a certain pleasure in receiving such close attention. In more general terms, Horace provides us with ample evidence of what amounts to the central theme of his portrayed relationship with this outer ring of readers: scornful dismissal of what he characterizes as unsophisticated and vulgar ‘‘popular’’ literary taste. Early on, in declaring his commitment to careful, polished composition, Horace firmly rejects the notion of pandering to the crowd and questions the value of their praises. Instead, as we have seen, he argues for the ideal of the small, elite audience (as embodied by his core readership), citing with approval the example of the haughty actress Arbuscula (Sat...–): Saepe stilum vertas, iterum quae digna legi sint scripturus, neque te ut miretur turba labores, contentus paucis lectoribus. an tua demens vilibus in ludis dictari carmina malis? non ego; nam satis est equitem mihi plaudere, ut audax, contemptis aliis, explosa Arbuscula dixit. Often you must turn over your stilus and use the eraser, if you are going to write something which is worth reading a second time; nor should you strive for the crowd to gape at you, but


In the Public Eye be content with a few readers. Or are you so mad as to prefer that your songs be dictated in low-grade schools? Not me. It’s enough for me if the knights applaud me, as daring Arbuscula said, scorning the rest, when she was hissed off the stage.35

A certain basic contempt for the acclamation of the common herd is also on display in Epistles ., where Horace warns his personified book about the dangers and general undesirability of excessive popularity (–): carus eris Romae, donec te deserat aetas; contrectatus ubi manibus sordescere vulgi coeperis, aut tineas pasces taciturnus inertis aut fugies Uticam aut vinctus mitteris Ilerdam . . . hoc quoque te manet, ut pueros elementa docentem occupet extremis in vicis balba senectus. You will be well loved in Rome, until your youth deserts you; when you have started to grow soiled, all worn out by the hands of the mob, either you will in silence become food for the uncultivated bookworms, or you will flee to Utica or be sent in chains to Ilerda . . . this end waits for you as well, that stuttering old age will seize you while you teach boys their letters out in the furthest suburbs.

Although elsewhere (as in Sat..) Horace portrays himself as being rather gratified by his burgeoning fame as a poet, here he likens the prospect of his works’ wide circulation in the provinces to a sentence of banishment and ultimate degradation. We must, of course, bear in mind that Horace’s claims of disdain for this outermost and largest ring of his audience are made purely in the interests of conscious self-presentation, and as such they cannot be securely taken to represent his deeply held convictions. After all, in other circumstances, the poet openly declares the pride and satisfaction he feels in knowing that his poetry is so popular. In Odes ., a triumphant poem placed near the heart of the original collection of Odes –, Horace’s references to various exotic places and peoples serve as a shorthand synopsis for the fame he is destined to achieve throughout the world for his achievements in lyric (–): iam Daedaleo notior Icaro visam gementis litora Bosphori

Audiences and Images


Syrtesque Gaetulas canorus ales Hyperboreosque campos. me Colchus et, qui dissimulat metum Marsae cohortis, Dacus et ultimi noscent Geloni, me peritus discet Hiber Rhodanique potor. Now a singing bird more famous than Icarus the son of Daedalus, I will see the shores of the groaning Bosphorus, and the Gaetulian Syrtes, and the fields of Hyperborea. The Colchian will know me, and the Dacian who pretends to have no fear of the Marsian cohort, and the far-off Geloni. The Spaniard and the drinker of the Rhone’s waters will study me and grow learned.

There is no hint here of contemptuous disdain; instead, Horace speaks as one radiant with pride.36 But this is the audience of posterity, not necessarily of his contemporaries (as is suggested by the future tense of noscent and discet). Since there can be no question of their coming into direct contact with him, Horace is free to celebrate his future popularity in the form of generic declarations of immortality—that is to say, this segment of his audience is so unusual in its distant relationship to him that it is effectively unique and therefore subject to a very different form of address. For Horace’s contemporary outermost readers, the story is a very different one: the underlying question of access, of admission to the rings of Horace’s audience, remains the decisive factor in their relationship with him. And if Horace is sometimes excluded from the most desired circles, so too does he sometimes cut off potential readers from his audience in turn. Thus, he proclaims in Odes ., ‘‘Odi profanum vulgus et arceo’’ (I hate the uninitiated crowd and I keep them away from me).37 The emphasis here is on the words arceo and especially profanum; Horace is not simply heaping scorn on the hoi polloi of Rome (for who in his world would imagine even trying to speak to the rabble) but rather points out that readers can be excluded even from the outermost ring of his audience.

. Conclusion: Audiences and Images On some occasions Horace presents his main concern, as a poet in the public eye, as resting with his immediate associates; elsewhere, with the ‘‘man in the street’’ who pesters him with unwanted attention; or, as


In the Public Eye

in Odes ., with the broadest possible levels of his readership. As is always the case with Horace, the right context matters. In each situation he presents, the poet is careful to emphasize different aspects of his overall relationship with his audience as a whole—his irritation at their attacks or clumsy impositions, or his sense of gratification at their adulation. Thus, at every level Horace first creates a separate problem (be it social snobbery, facile imitation, or something else) and then crafts for it a separate response within his poetry. Each of these responses is carefully tailored to the characteristics and requirements of the particular ‘‘ring’’ under consideration. In this way, Horace’s overall self-presentation is immeasurably strengthened by means of the poet’s reactions to crises and pressures to which he has directed our attention. These themes are all brought together in Epistles ., in which Horace alludes in quick succession to his relationships with each of the aforementioned rings of his audience (–): . . . iuvat immemorata ferentem ingenuis oculisque legi manibusque teneri. Scire velis, mea cur ingratus opuscula lector laudet ametque domi, premat extra limen iniquus: non ego ventosae plebis suffragia venor . . . non ego, nobilium scriptorum auditor et ultor grammaticas ambire tribus et pulpita dignor. It pleases me, as I bring forth things untold, that I am read by the eyes and held in the hands of the free-born. Do you want to know why the ungrateful reader praises and loves my little works in the privacy of his own home but unfairly criticizes them in public? I do not seek out the votes of the fickle mob . . . I do not condescend to wander around the tribes and lecterns of the grammatici, I am the audience and the avenger of noble writers.

It pleases him most, he tells Maecenas, that his Latin lyrics are read and valued by the ingenui; the echo here of his early emphasis in Satires . on the importance of ingenuitas in Maecenas’s circle reintroduces us to the inner ring of Horace’s core readership. At the same time, however, Horace is careful to reiterate that although he may have become extremely popular, he is still subject to unjust attacks: mea . . . opuscula lector laudet ametque domi, premat extra limen iniquus. This, the poet alleges, is because he continues to disregard popular opinion as well as the work of the hacks—the plebs ventosa and the grammatici alike.

Audiences and Images


And so, Horace tells us, he has come in for a great deal of trouble and aggravation. His volatile mixture of considerable public prominence and a proclaimed determination to disregard the responses of all but his chosen inner readership has left him all the more vulnerable to criticism as being haughty and too far above himself; conventional apologetic defenses are of no use in such a situation (Epist...–): Hinc illae lacrimae. ‘‘spissis indigna theatris scripta pudet recitare et nugis addere pondus,’’ si dixi, ‘‘rides,’’ ait, ‘‘et Iovis auribus ista servas: fidis enim manare poetica mella te solum, tibi pulcher.’’ ad haec ego naribus uti formido . . . Hence those tears. If I say, ‘‘I am ashamed to recite my unworthy writings in the crowded theaters and add weight to trifles,’’ someone answers: ‘‘You’re joking—you are preserving that stuff of yours for the ears of Jupiter. You think you alone are distilling poetic honey, you think you’re beautiful.’’ I am afraid to turn my nose up at this.

But there is here a marked qualitative change from his earlier tribulations at the hands of his critics: his popularity is now treated as an inescapable fact. And though irritated by the continuation of public criticism, Horace is forced to admit (non mentiar, as before) that he is pleased (ad haec ego naribus uti formido). Once again, his portrayal of his relationship with his rings of audience is one of complicated and intertwined, even ambivalent responses. Horace takes care to ensure that his readers understand the several positions he adopts for what they are: defensive postures, forced on him by the necessities of the moment. Of course, Horace does not invariably employ this technique of multiple and sometimes conflicting addresses to different audiences; and it is important to remember that considerations of genre affected the poet’s treatment of his self-image and his dealings with his general public. For instance, in many of the Odes, he projects an image of himself as vates— distant and authoritative, and very different from the complicated and all-too-human Horace whom we have seen so deeply engaged with all the different sectors of his audience. One might imagine at first that in these poems he is retreating to a more detatched and impersonal voice, in an attempt to make a single efficient and effective response to the challenges of public pressure. But rather he is operating within the con-


In the Public Eye

straints and possibilities of his genre; lyric necessarily makes less allowance for the elaborate treatment of the exigencies of daily existence and offers fewer opportunities for vivid, engaging self-presentation than do the Satires and Epistles. The poet therefore calls up a different type of selfimage, one less caught up with the portrayal of his specific and personal concerns, and thus better suited to the explication of more overarching literary themes and the articulation of a more fundamental vision of poetry.38 When circumstances change, and he returns to what is cast as a more intimate and confessional context, Horace revives his methods of artful self-presentation and carefully orchestrated address. It is important to bear this qualification in mind, especially as it only emphasizes the essential genius and subtlety of his public defense. Horace manages to accommodate the differing requirements of all the literary genres in which he writes, even as he labors first to define and then to counter all the various forms of public response to himself and his works. In this way, the poet creates a strong sense, if not of anxiety, then certainly of complicated unease at the scrutiny continually directed at him from different quarters and in different ways. He establishes an unshakable image of himself uncomfortably ‘‘in the spotlight,’’ caught in the midst of many different and occasionally conflicting demands and expectations. Where his relationship with Maecenas was presented as one of unspoken expectations and ever-shifting levels of intimacy, his relationship with his public, made up of fixed circles of readers in various quarters, is in its way just as great a challenge. Here, the changeability and uncertainty of his situation springs from the sheer variety of his readers and their reactions to his work. Such is the framework of public pressure he presents. As though we were looking into a series of mirrors, we as readers are confronted with Horace’s views of his readership in all its manifestations. In this way, not only does Horace give expression to the problems that have accompanied his success, he also forces us to consider what it means to be a public figure, to be famous, to have an audience. This, he tells us, is often a matter of endless attacks and conflicting expectations, of gratifying adulation and irritating impositions from those around you, of somehow addressing a potentially infinite variety of demands. Never has the complexity of the relationship of author and audience, or the heavy price of celebrity, been more vividly and skillfully portrayed.

 

Craft and Concern

Modern readers commonly base their reading and reception of Horace on two problematic assumptions: first, that he is an ‘‘artist’’ in the modern sense, one who operates in obedience to a single, universal guiding ideal of poetry; and second, that he explicitly lays out this ideal in his poetry for the aesthetic edification of his readers.1 It is certainly true that when Horace turns to reflect on what poetry is, how it should be written, and what it represents, he treats these subjects with such care and apparent earnestness that it is easy on the surface to accept his statements as representing the genuine declaration of his actual literary principles.2 However, we must constantly remind ourselves that Horace’s selfpresentation is above all a poetic fiction, that he freely manipulates, alters, and abandons individual facets of this portrayal as it becomes useful or necessary. To the extent that he argues about the nature of poetry and articulates seemingly ideal visions of the poet’s role in both private and public contexts, he does so primarily in order to present himself and his works to his audience in the best possible critical light. After all, as we observed in chapter two, Horace separately addresses many different rings of this audience throughout his poetry, marking each such ring with unique characteristics as well as a different style of interaction with himself; in this way, he projects his self-image against a variegated background of different social relationships. In similar fashion Horace offers an array of what he presents as personal statements about his craft and identity as a poet but forges from them not one but a series of separate visions of poetry and its significance. He thereby forces us to acknowledge that his proclaimed ideals of poetic composition exist as essentially self-conscious creations and, as such, are not necessarily representative of his actual beliefs. Although what Horace chooses to say about poetry and specifically about himself as a poet does not necessarily offer us a secure insight into his true conception of himself or his art, his 


Craft and Concern

poetic treatments of his craft do represent elaborate and fascinating exercises in actively defensive self-presentation—and constitute a further source of evidence for the way in which he intended his situation in all its aspects to be perceived.

. Poetry as Practical Tool This issue is best approached in terms of the three main conceptions of poetry that Horace articulates throughout his literary corpus. We shall see that although each might initially appear to represent the poet’s genuine views, internal contradictions and a certain level of incompatibility between his different presented ideals prevent us from accepting any particular one at face value. First among these conceptions is that of poetry as a practical tool for use in his personal affairs. On several occasions, Horace deploys what he presents as intimate and deeply personal recollections in order to introduce the somewhat unromantic notion that poetry, for him, is nothing more than a mechanism for getting through life.3 In accordance with this model Horace suggests that he exercises his poetic skills not in the pursuit of truth or beauty but simply in order to deal with all the difficulties and other small events of his daily existence— a surprising statement, one whose validity he carefully encourages us to question even as he advances it. If we distinguish the historical order of publication of Horace’s works from the fictional, ‘‘autobiographical’’ order that can be reconstructed from his various anecdotes and personal remarks, we can see that according to the latter, Horace portrays this resolutely practical vision of poetry as being virtually the earliest one he embraced. In Epistles ., Horace recalls the end of his halcyon days as a young student in Athens, when he risked and lost everything by joining the Republican cause in  .. (–): dura sed emovere loco me tempora grato civilisque rudem belli tulit aestus in arma Caesaris Augusti non responsura lacertis. unde simul primum dimisere Philippi decisis humilem pennis inopemque paterni et laris et fundi, paupertas impulit audax ut versus facerem. sed quod non desit habentem

Poetry as Practical Tool


quae poterunt umquam satis expurgare cicutae, ni melius dormire putem quam scribere versus? But troubled times dislodged me from that pleasant spot, and the surge of civil war dragged me in, inexperienced though I was, to carry weapons that would be no match for the arms of Caesar Augustus. As soon as Philippi sent me away from there— cast down with my wings clipped, and deprived of my father’s home and estate—daring poverty drove me to compose poetry. But now I have all that I need; there is no hemlock treatment that could cure me sufficiently, if I were so mad as to think it better to spend my time writing verse instead of sleeping.

With a convincing show of honest confession, Horace casts himself as admitting that he only turned to poetry out of desperation, when he was dogged by poverty and isolation in the aftermath of Philippi: paupertas impulit . . . ut versus facerem. By describing himself as having become inops as a direct result of losing his paternal inheritance of the family house and country estate, he emphasizes that in becoming a full-time poet he had made a calculated response to specific practical circumstances—to wit, the urgent need to make a living of some kind.4 Now that he is happily secure, Horace suggests, he has no further interest in composing verse seriously; indeed, he would be mad to do so (). Considered strictly in terms of the poem’s immediate context, this highly businesslike conception of poetry and its usefulness is offered up as Horace’s personal view, the vision that motivates him as a poet. But the claim is polemical and transparently dubious, being made primarily in order to explain to Florus why he hasn’t sent him any letters or poems recently.5 The hollowness of the assertion is further indicated by the fact that, according to the aforementioned ‘‘autobiographical’’ order of events, Horace had already begun to produce poetry while in Athens, writing poems such as certain of the Epodes for the entertainment of his fellow students.6 It also seems directly to contradict his exultant declaration in Satires .—released in  .., after his receipt of the Sabine estate—that ‘‘dives, inops . . . quisquis erit vitae scribam color,’’ (rich or poor, no matter what sort of life I lead, I will write []). Thus, serious qualifications of Horace’s paupertas argument begin to arise when one reads his statements in the light of what can be determined elsewhere regarding his circumstances and views.7


Craft and Concern

The complex ramifications of such a treatment cohere oddly with the picture Horace gives in Epistles ., where he likens his book to a prostitute, eager to put itself up for sale to one reader after another in the booksellers’ district (–): Vertumnum Ianumque, liber, spectare videris, scilicet ut prostes Sosiorum pumice mundus. odisti clavis et grata sigilla pudico; paucis ostendi gemis et communia laudas, non ita nutritus. fuge quo descendere gestis! . . . carus eris Romae, donec te deserat aetas; contrectatus ubi manibus sordescere vulgi coeperis . . . You seem, my book, to be looking toward the bookshops at Vertumnus and Janus—it’s obvious that you want to be polished up by the pumice stones of the Sosius brothers, and go up for sale. You hate the library’s keys and seals, so dear to chaste books. It makes you unhappy to be shown off only to a few men, and you like going around in public. You certainly weren’t raised this way. Well, go ahead! Run off to the level you’re so eager to sink to! . . . You will be well loved in Rome, until your youth deserts you; when you have started to grow soiled, and all worn out by the hands of the mob.

This unsympathetic characterization of the commercialization of his poetry is the dark reverse, as it were, of paupertas impulit audax ut versus facerem.8 And yet, here too the essential notion of treating poetry as a personal commodity or useful tool appears to go unchallenged. For however scornfully he may disown his book for its shamelessness, Horace goes on to acknowledge its forthcoming wide circulation and even calls on it to spread word of the poet himself (–): cum tibi sol tepidus pluris admoverit auris, me libertino natum patre et in tenui re maiores pinnas nido extendisse loqueris, ut quantum generi demas virtutibus addas; me primis urbis belli placuisse domique . . . When the warm sun brings you a wider audience, you will say that I was ‘‘the freedman’s son’’ and that from poverty I rose above

Poetry as Practical Tool


my station, and spread wings larger than my nest. That way, you will add to your merits what you take from your birth: that I was pleasing to the first men of Rome, the elite in war and at home . . .

It is important to note that the personal triumph Horace wishes his book to celebrate is not, first and foremost, that of his achievements in literature but of his successful social advancement. The crucial point being made here is that Horace is a totally self-made man, who raised himself from poverty and obscurity to occupy a lofty and honored place in Roman society. That he has accomplished this precisely through the writing of poetry means that his book will serve as a doubly effective form of self-advertisement.9 How this advertisement is received, of course, depends on whether one sees Horace as a self-promoting arriviste or as an established poet making an arch and ironic comment about the social prominence his craft has won for him. Thus, the rings of audience reappear in their double role as subjects and recipients of Horace’s work. The message one gets from Epistles . and . is that poetic composition is not always undertaken strictly in the spirit of ars gratia artis, but that books of poetry are sometimes written in order to earn a living or to enhance the social reputation of their authors. Thus, poetry here remains an important aspect of Horace’s self-image only insofar as it is what enabled him to achieve his worldly success. Poetry is presented as being largely practical in its purpose and application—a specific means to an end, not an end in itself.10 By advancing such a view, even with qualifications, Horace distinguishes himself from poets of earlier generations. We might compare this portrait of Horace as a resourceful individual surviving and succeeding through his efforts with poets such as Lucilius and Catullus, who give a far less complicated impression of well-off gentlemen amusing themselves and their friends with their keen observations about the events and inhabitants of the elite world they comfortably occupied as their birthright all their lives. Horace, by contrast, operates in a far more variegated world of potential responses. Horace places a similar emphasis on the personal utility of poetry when he projects a picture of his verses as being his individual paternal inheritance and his private method of making sense of the world around him.11 On the most basic level, this formulation springs as above from what Horace presents as highly intimate revelation; he introduces it as part of his defense against criticisms he claims to have sustained for supposedly making ad hominem attacks in his work. In seeking excuse from


Craft and Concern

the charge, he invokes memories of his boyhood, with an affectionate portrait of his father’s customary moral instruction (Sat...–): . . . liberius si dixero quid, si forte iocosius, hoc mihi iuris cum venia dabis. insuevit pater optimus hoc me, ut fugerem exemplis vitiorum quaeque notando. If I have said anything too freely, perhaps too jokingly, you will indulgently give me this right. My excellent father inculcated this habit in me, pointing out all faults by means of cautionary examples, so that I might avoid such faults myself.

The image of Horace fondly remembering his father’s good training is a pleasing one, and it is furthermore intimately connected to questions of the function and proper application of satire: according to this model, satire becomes a form of moral observation, prompted by a sense of gratitude and filial responsibility.12 At the same time, it remains a personal tool, something that Horace uses in his daily life in order to record and evaluate his thoughts and actions (–): . . . neque enim, cum lectulus aut me porticus excepit, desum mihi: ‘‘rectius hoc est; hoc faciens vivam melius; sic dulcis amicis occurram; hoc quidam non belle; numquid ego illi imprudens olim faciam simile?’’ haec ego mecum compressis agito labris; ubi quid datur oti, illudo chartis . . . For when I recline on my couch or walk in the colonnade, I do not fail myself: ‘‘this is preferable; by doing that I will lead a better life; this way I will meet good friends; that wasn’t nice, what that man did; can it be that I would ever do something foolish like that man?’’ I keep my mouth shut, and go over these things by myself. Then, when I have some free time, I fool around with my notebooks.

A remarkable self-image thus underlies this account: Horace’s continual examination of others’ behavior is undertaken purely for his own reference. In both domestic and public settings (lectulus aut porticus) he keeps his thoughts to himself (compressis agito labris); and thus the Satires

Poetry as Practical Tool


are strictly private—a collection of verses he happened to jot down in his spare time (illudo chartis). Such a formulation might initially appear to be credible and persuasive, thanks to its basis in convincingly intimate reminiscence. It certainly stands in its own right as an example of Horatian self-presentation that is engaging and appealingly human.13 On the other hand, Horace himself quickly alters the image by describing this sort of exercise as ‘‘ex vitiis unum, cui si concedere nolis, multa poetarum veniat manus’’ (one of my little faults—and if you don’t concede it to me, a huge crowd of poets will show up [Sat...–]). And in any case, his various audiences are being allowed to read these supposedly private notes. The introduction of this image of a band of fellow poets who engage in the same practice—for Horace acknowledges that he is one of them, ‘‘nam multo plures sumus’’ (for we are by far the majority [])—thus serves to return us to the larger context of an overarching ideal of poetry (more specifically satire) as a common tool for observing and speaking to the surrounding world.14 Thus recast, the sage advice of Horace’s father takes on the outward appearance of a guiding principle—a model for both poet and discerning reader to follow.15 But Horace does not offer this as a universally applicable model of poetry throughout his works. Given that it comes as part of a defense against supposed public attacks, it is intended to apply only to the specific context of the Satires and is quietly dropped without comment when the nature and requirements of Horace’s poetry change.16 In its immediate context this concept of satire is plausibly offered up as Horace’s true belief, but other genres suggest other poetic ideals.17 This raises an important point about Horace’s overall treatment of poetry as a practical tool: although his presentation of the concept initially comes across as convincing and sincere, he does not purport to extend its application to poets or poetry in general. Indeed, elsewhere Horace tacitly abandons the notion that he undertakes to write poetry for the aforementioned reasons—a notion that he introduced in the first place. In the Odes, for instance, the exigencies of poverty go unmentioned as a possible motive for writing. Instead, as Horace embarks on his great poetic endeavor, it suits his immediate purpose of self-presentation to assert that he writes in a spirit of exhilarating joy and pride, driven by divine inspiration (.– and .):18 me doctarum hederae praemia frontium dis miscent superis, me gelidum nemus


Craft and Concern nympharumque leves cum satyris chori secernunt populo . . . Ivy, the reward of poets’ brows, joins me with the lofty gods. The cool grove and the light bands of nymphs and satyrs set me apart from the people.

quo me, Bacche, rapis tui plenum? quae nemora aut quos agor in specus, velox mente nova? . . . nil parvum aut humili modo, nil mortale loquar. dulce periculum est, o Lenaee, sequi deum cingentem viridi tempora pampino. Bacchus, where are you taking me, filled with your power? What groves or what caves am I being driven into, made swift with new thoughts? . . . I will say nothing small or in a humble strain, I will say nothing that is mortal. It is a sweet danger, Lenaean Bacchus, to follow the god who binds his temples with the green vine-leaves.

Naturally, what Horace says in the Odes about the composition of poetry is shaped by consideration of the magnitude of his achievement in lyric; for him to claim that paupertas led him to write the Odes would have seemed extremely inappropriate, and even absurd. By contrast, the satiric and epistolary forms are well suited to the seeming revelation of homely or confessional detail, and as a result, personal revelations form the basis of much of Horace’s discussion there.19 For this reason, Horace elects in Epistles . and . to characterize the craft of poetry as the practical mechanism of personal survival and social self-enhancement. Each situation and genre demands a different approach if the overall poetic self-presentation is to be effective, since his audience (even when composed of the same individuals and drawn from the same ring) will carry different generic and thematic expectations in each case. To produce aesthetically pleasing verse ( pulchra poemata), as Horace observes in Satires ..–, et sermone opus est modo tristi, saepe iocoso, defendente vicem modo rhetoris atque poetae, interdum urbani, parcentis viribus atque extenuantis eas consulto.

Poetry as Professional Activity


You need a manner of speech which is now sad, now playful, sustaining the role now of an orator, now of a poet. Sometimes you need the style of a wit, who saves his strength and conserves it on purpose.

By forcing us to notice the inherent variations of his proclaimed poetic ideals as he moves from poem to poem and work to work, Horace points out that all is not as it may seem. His statements are not cast as universally applicable poetic principles but are instead tailored to his individual needs of self-presentation for particular audiences in specific contexts.

. Poetry as Professional Activity The second broad conception of poetry that Horace presents as his guiding literary ideal grows out of his aforementioned claim to have turned to poetic composition in earnest only out of financial necessity. This is his treatment of poetry as a de facto profession, a regular occupation whose principles and standards of practice he presents himself as articulating in order to clarify his relationship to other poets (including poets of earlier generations). According to this view, poetry becomes not merely a private activity or mechanism of survival but also Horace’s personal vocation—his chosen route to the achievement of individual greatness. The establishment of this position is made a central aim of Horace’s self-definition vis-à-vis Lucilius in the so-called literary Satires (., ., .). There, he portrays himself as constructing a sophisticated if complex view of the earlier author’s achievements in order to stake out a place for himself as a writer of originality. Horace opens Satires . with sharp criticism of Lucilius, whose work, he alleges, represented nothing more than the direct imitation of the great poets of Greek Old Comedy (–): Eupolis atque Cratinus Aristophanesque poetae . . . hinc omnis pendet Lucilius, hosce secutus mutatis tantum pedibus numerisque . . . The poets Eupolis and Cratinus and Aristophanes . . . Lucilius wholly depends upon these, following their lead with only the meter and the rhythm having been changed.

But Lucilius was not a ‘‘true’’ poet (as opposed to Aristophanes, Eupolis, and Cratinus, who are pointedly identified as poetae); he displayed wit and chose his targets well,20 but his execution was nevertheless defec-


Craft and Concern

tive. Prolix and insufficiently edited, his works do not meet the standards of poetic composition (embodied by the phrase labor scribendi recte) that Horace here implies exist as an absolute measure of worth (Sat...–): . . . facetus, emunctae naris, durus componere versus. nam fuit hoc vitiosus: in hora saepe ducentos, ut magnum, versus dictabat stans pede in uno; cum flueret lutulentus, erat quod tollere velles; garrulus atque piger scribendi ferre laborem— scribendi recte . . . He was witty, clean-nosed and keen-scented, but he composed harsh verses. He had one major flaw: as though it were a great feat, he would often dictate two hundred lines in an hour ‘‘with one hand tied behind his back.’’ The stream of his writing was muddy, and there were things in it that you would want to take out; he was too wordy, and too lazy to deal with the effort of writing—of writing well, that is.

Some scholars have attempted to explain this opening as signalling Horace’s commitment to Aristotelian theory or the traditions of iambography, but this would appear to miss the point. Horace is not developing some ingenious and elusive literary critical analysis or making any necessarily factual statement about Lucilius’s literary inheritance; rather, he is inaugurating his own process of self-definition as a poet, doing so with considerable showmanlike flair by making dramatic and clearly exaggerated assertions about his illustrious predecessor in the satiric genre.21 For this reason, although the literary Satires have often been read as charting the course of development of Horace’s actual views regarding Lucilius as he retreats from the extreme charges he makes in Satires . to develop over time an increasingly balanced picture of the earlier writer’s work,22 the consciousness with which Horace manipulates every aspect of his own image indicates that this process should be treated instead as a carefully contrived stratagem of self-presentation. Through the projection of a balanced analysis of his predecessor, one that allows for criticism of Lucilius as well as for a more positive evaluation, Horace stakes a claim to both independence and individual merit as a poet in his own right. The qualifications and observations made in Satires . should be considered in this light. Horace begins by offering a mixture of positive and

Poetry as Professional Activity


negative remarks; he restates his original criticism that Lucilius’s work was marred by verbosity and sloppy construction, but balances this with newly emphatic praise for the earlier poet’s wit and sharpness (–): Nempe incomposito dixi pede currere versus Lucili. quis tam Lucili fautor inepte est ut non hoc fateatur? at idem, quod sale multo urbem defricuit, charta laudatur eadem. All right, I did say that Lucilius’s verses are badly composed and only limp along. What Lucilius enthusiast is so die-hard and absurd that he wouldn’t admit that it’s true? But on the exact same page I praise the man as well, for rubbing down the city with lots of salt.

The impression one gets of joining a conversation in mid-sentence (as conveyed by the abrupt and conversational opening of nempe . . . dixi ) further enhances Horace’s picture of an ongoing debate over the character of Lucilius and, indeed, the methods and qualities of poetry in general. The suggestion that there has been much adverse reaction to his earlier critique in Satires . informs his adoption here of a marked tone of defensiveness, especially in the prickly demand, quis tam Lucili fautor inepte est ut non hoc fateatur? Thus, Horace creates a scenario in which he is compelled to make a response to external criticism—to wit, the adoption of a more balanced and reasonable-sounding position regarding Lucilius and appropriation of the mantle of a moderate and dispassionate literary critic.23 Though unnamed, the critics that Horace presents himself as dealing with here are very much in evidence. It is an effective image, one that neatly frames the statements about literature that Horace makes in this poem, but we must recognize that it has been carefully and consciously designed to be read as such. In furtherance of this particular self-presentation, Horace goes on in Satires . to explain why he chose to write satire in the first place. It was, he asserts, the only genre in which there was still room for improvement—allowing, of course, for the indisputable primacy of Lucilius as its first practitioner (–): hoc erat, experto frustra Varrone Atacino atque quibusdam aliis, melius quod scribere possem, inventore minor; neque ego illi detrahere ausim haerentem capiti cum multa laude coronam.


Craft and Concern It was satire that I could write better (since Varro of Atax and a few others had tried and failed), but I am still lesser than satire’s founder. Nor would I dare to take away from him the crown that clings to his head with so much glory.

By acknowledging Lucilius’s pride of place in satire, albeit casually and as a seeming afterthought, Horace presents himself as being fully cognizant of the earlier poet’s great achievement. In an extension of his selfimage as a balanced commentator, he now goes so far as to put Lucilius in the company of other illustrious poets—Homer, Accius, Ennius—whose minor flaws did not detract from the greatness of their work (–): at dixi fluere hunc lutulentum, saepe ferentem plura quidem tollenda relinquendis. age, quaeso, tu nihil in magno doctus reprehendis Homero? nil comis tragici mutat Lucilius Acci? non ridet versus Enni gravitate minores, cum de se loquitur non ut maiore reprensis? So I said that the stream of Lucilius’s poetry is muddy and often carries more that you would want to remove than leave behind. But come now, tell me—do you as an educated man make absolutely no criticisms of great Homer? Does affable Lucilius change nothing in the works of Accius the tragedian? Doesn’t he laugh at those verses of Ennius that are lacking in gravitas, although he speaks of himself as one no greater than those he criticizes?

Thus, Horace presents himself as saying, Lucilius produced the best poetry possible given the comparatively uncouth age in which he lived. Lucilius himself would have reworked his verses, had he lived in this modern era with its higher degree of literary sophistication (Sat...– ): . . . fuerit Lucilius, inquam, comis et urbanus, fuerit limatior idem quam rudis et Graecis intacti carminis auctor, quamque poetarum seniorum turba: sed ille, si foret hoc nostrum fato dilatus in aevum, detereret sibi multa, recideret omne quod ultra perfectum traheretur, et in versu faciendo saepe caput scaberet vivos et roderet unguis.

Poetry as Professional Activity


I say again that Lucilius was affable and witty. He was more polished than one would expect for the creator of a genre that was rough-hewn and uninfluenced by the Greeks. He was more refined than the whole crowd of earlier poets. But if by chance he were transported to our own time, he would rub away many things from his work and slice off everything that stuck out too far; he would often be scratching his head as he worked on his poetry and chew his nails down to the quick.

As such, Horace has provided himself with an effective starting-point for further discussion of what constitutes quality and originality in poetic composition—essentially, the issue of craftsmanship. For this gradual refinement of an initially more extreme view does not simply enable Horace to depict himself as an open-minded and eminently reasonable judge of artistic quality, although by itself this is certainly an important instance of positive self-presentation. It also represents a masterful delineation of the concept of what we might term relativity of judgment. This refers to the idea outlined here by Horace that each poet can be fairly assessed only according to the tastes and techniques of his age. Each must be appreciated in his own context and on his own terms, since to hold him to heightened modern standards would be misleading and unfair. This viewpoint motivates Horace’s claim in Sat...– that genres other than satire have been closed off to him. Contemporary literary colleagues—Fundanius in comedy, Pollio in tragedy, Varius in epic, and Virgil in pastoral—have already taken these forms to their current limits (–): arguta meretrice potes Davoque Chremeta eludente senem comis garrire libellos unus vivorum, Fundani; Pollio regum facta canit pede ter percusso; forte epos acer ut nemo Varius ducit; molle atque facetum Vergilio adnuerunt gaudentes rure Camenae: You alone among living poets, Fundanius, can chatter on in comedies, where the sly prostitute and Davus the slave fool the old man Chremes. Pollio sings of the deeds of kings in the line of triple-beat. Varius, impassioned like no other, brings forth valiant Epic. The Camenae who delight in the countryside have granted to Virgil gentleness and grace.


Craft and Concern

Horace’s emphasis on each of these poets as being unus vivorum and exemplar of his craft is, therefore, crucial to his self-definition as a poet.24 His friends of the inner ring have already become masters of their chosen genres, according to the poetic climate and larger standards of their generation. But satire was still available, since the age of Lucilius was long since past, and Varro of Atax and others had failed to conquer the form in more recent years. Thus, by the time we reach Satires ., Horace has freed himself to declare that in both choice of targets and style of poetry he follows Lucilius completely. Relativity of judgment ensures that he will be read and appreciated as a poet (–): . . . me pedibus delectat claudere verba Lucili ritu, nostrum melioris utroque. ille velut fidis arcana sodalibus olim credebat libris, neque si male cesserat usquam decurrens alio, neque si bene; quo fit, ut omnis votiva pateat veluti descripta tabella vita senis. sequor hunc . . . It pleases me to close up my words in metrical feet, in the style of Lucilius, who was a better man than either of us. He would entrust his secrets to his books as though they were his loyal friends; regardless of what happened, good or bad, he never turned anywhere else. As a result, the old man’s whole life lies revealed as though depicted on a votive tablet. This is the man I follow.

Horace now depicts himself as easily accommodating what he had originally cast as a major problem. He is able to admit the earlier poet’s primacy and influence calmly and without difficulty, for it changes nothing in any case—quisquis erit vitae scribam color. In this way, Horace meets the challenge of preserving his claim to originality in the face of the achievements of earlier practitioners: just as we must read poets of prior generations strictly on their own terms, so too must we read the poets of today. Relativity of judgment anticipates each poet’s surpassment by poets yet to come; as such, it indirectly defends Horace against potential critical attacks in the future by reminding us that he wrote according to the standards of his time. The corollary here is that in every age there exists the possibility of producing the definitive treatment of a literary form—of achieving works of true

Poetry as Professional Activity


genius. And this, his readers are meant to conclude, is precisely what Horace has accomplished in satire: he has mastered an ‘‘available’’ genre by following Lucilius in creating a plausible impression (but an impression only) of setting down his personal experiences in quasi-diary form. Thus, although the literary Satires might initially come across as Horace’s earnest statement of his actual literary views, we should treat them rather as rhetorical creations, setting the stage for a masterful defensive and preemptive self-portrayal. The articulation of larger literary principles in these poems serves most immediately to enable their author to stake a claim to artistic achievement—to assert his capacity to achieve personal greatness through poetry. By approaching what Horace tells us in the literary Satires in this way, we can accommodate the otherwise troublesome fact that he continues to abandon some of his avowals and definitions of poetry once they have served their purpose. In Epistles . Horace announces that, having finished Odes –, he will now abandon poetry forever (): ‘‘Nunc itaque et versus et cetera ludicra pono’’ (And so now I am putting aside my verses and all the rest of my trifles). But even if one leaves aside the Epistles themselves, Horace goes on to write the Carmen saeculare in  .. and releases a fourth book of Odes four years later. He explicitly punctures the transparent conceit in Epistles ., when he observes of himself (–): ipse ego, qui nullos me adfirmo scribere versus, invenior Parthis mendacior, et prius orto sole vigil calamum et chartas et scrinia posco. I myself assert that I am not writing any verses at all but am revealed to be a bigger liar than the Parthians—I get up before sunrise and call for a pen, paper, and my bookcase.

This should not be read merely as a contradiction or retraction of earlier statements in Epistles . (or Sat..), but as an open acknowledgment that Horace regularly manipulates his statements regarding poetry and his place in the literary world, to call our attention to particular aspects of his endeavor as a poet.25 The evidence of the literary Satires shows us that relativity of judgment allows Horace to claim a place of inherent value as the finest practitioner, in his own time, of various literary genres and, indeed, to proclaim and define his personal ambition in writing poetry. Horace frequently expresses a straightforward desire for renown and critical ac-


Craft and Concern

claim, in the Odes in particular. But we must bear in mind, as always, that such declarations represent a conscious literary tactic rather than the naked confession of any deeply held personal views and reflect only Horace’s particular needs of self-presentation. Even so, his self-conscious invocation of such relativistic critical principles serves to justify and legitimize his expressions of personal artistic ambition, even to his most hostile and skeptical readers. In Odes ., the final poem of the original collection of Odes –, Horace does not return to the themes of personal friendship and respect with which he began in Odes .. Instead, he portrays himself as desiring most of all to win fame and adulation in his home region of Apulia, in an ancient manifestation of campanilismo (–):26 dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium regnavit populorum, ex humili potens princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos deduxisse modos. I will be spoken of where the violent Aufidus river thunders, and where impoverished Daunus ruled over a farming people: a man of power and influence who rose from humble beginnings, I was the first to bring the Aeolic song into Italian measures.

Horace emphasizes local celebrity in this closing poem of the entire collection of the first three books of Odes, implying that this form of fame is dearest to his heart, the true and cherished proof of his individual success. Rome, of course, still occupies a most important place in Horace’s poetry as the guarantor of this more private success,27 but by couching his boast in these resolutely local terms, Horace transforms a declaration that might have seemed arrogant and objectionable into the straightforward acceptance of his due as the master of lyric in his generation. Horace’s program of positive self-presentation once again placates by design all the rings of his audience, while relativity of judgment allows his personal glory to become a plausible and legitimate goal of poetic composition.

. Poetry as Public Model Alterations and internal discrepancies are, of course, hallmarks of Horatian self-presentation, and as a result it is dangerous to search for a single

Poetry as Public Model


unifying theme behind these separate expressions of personal ideals and individual visions of poetry. Horace outlines many different personal conceptions of self and of poetry, and illustrates them in different and sometimes incompatible ways.28 In so doing, he ensures that his readers appreciate his discussion of poetry not as the presentation of an internally coherent vision but as a series of independent and separate pictures, each tailored to the poet’s needs and interests of the moment. Once again, context is of the utmost importance. Thus, in the third of his three main presented visions of poetry, Horace goes beyond personal concerns to claim a position of inherent and unquestionable value to society on the strength of his achievements and importance as a poet. Instead of being placed within a strictly private or professional context, the craft of poetry is here presented as an honorable civic function, the nature of which Horace investigates throughout his works. But despite Horace’s elaborate development of this vision, we must as before recognize the artifice and the demands of self-presentation that lie behind the undertaking. We begin as we did earlier, with the literary Satires. Just as Horace used these poems to define a strong position for himself vis-à-vis Lucilius, so too does he use them to identify more fully his position in society. We might recall that in Horace’s day, poetry was not an abstruse discipline practiced by a few specialists but a major entertainment and favorite hobby of the Roman upper classes. Thus, there is from the start a larger societal context to Horace’s discussion of the nature of poetry, and what Horace chooses to say about his role as a satirist holds important implications for his presented vision of poetry’s civic resonance. In Satires ., Horace suggests that attacks have already been made on his works, by individuals who bristle at his having pointed out their character flaws (–): omnes hi metuunt versus, odere poetas. ‘‘faenum habet in cornu: longe fuge! dummodo risum excutiat sibi, non hic cuiquam parcet amico; et quodcumque semel chartis illeverit, omnis gestiet a furno redeuntis scire lacuque et pueros et anus.’’ All these people fear my verses and hate poets. ‘‘He’s a mad cow, he’s got hay on his horns! Run away! So long as he can scare up a laugh for himself, he doesn’t spare a single friend. Whatever he has scribbled one time on his pages, he will be delighted for


Craft and Concern everyone to know—all the slaves and old women as they go back and forth to the bakery and the reservoir.’’

Most immediately, this scenario is used to prompt Horace’s discussion of the true nature of satire; but it also reframes the presentation of his rings of audience into a more wide-ranging meditation on the public aim of poetry. For which ring does the poet truly write: Is he a popularizer, an unscrupulous vulgarizer, or does he write for a special selected body of individuals? And is his poetry dangerous—put more broadly, what is its true function and effect? Horace answers the first of these questions by painting for us an idealized picture of the people whom he himself would include among his most-desired audience. At first, he seems explicitly to deny that he seeks a wider audience at all; instead, at several points in the literary Satires he openly rejects the popular tastes of the general public, preferring, he claims, to write and perform solely for his friends—and even then only under duress (Sat...–): nulla taberna meos habeat neque pila libellos, quis manus insudet vulgi Hermogenisque Tigelli; nec recito cuiquam nisi amicis, idque coactus, non ubivis coramve quibuslibet. Let no shop or bookstall stock my little books, so that the hands of the mob or Hermogenes Tigellius can sweat all over them. I do not recite for anyone except my friends, and even then only when I’m forced to—I don’t perform just anywhere, in public, for anyone you please.

This is the ideal to which Horace ostentatiously declares his allegiance at every point in his corpus: disdaining the allure of widespread popularity, he does not court the favor of the vulgus but instead directs his attention to a small and select group of cognoscenti.29 We have already encountered this group in Satires ., outlined in greater detail; Horace’s amici are fellow poets and members of the Roman elite,30 erudite men who can be expected to appreciate and derive benefit from Horace’s poetry, and for whom Horace is eager to write (–). So the uninitiated vulgus is once again excluded from his readership. But what of Horace’s posterity? ‘‘Compluris alios, doctos ego quos et amicos/prudens praetereo’’ (–); there is a suggestion here that his future readers are perhaps to be included in this select audience, as a part of the complures alii whom Horace knows will understand his timeless writings. Although we are

Poetry as Public Model


necessarily cut off from Horace’s world, and doomed forever to occupy only the outermost and most distant ring of his audience, the poet seems to imply in this passage that if we study his works and eventually come to appreciate his craft, we too can become docti and come to grasp the true heart of his poetry. But what function and effect does Horace claim he intends his poetry to have? We noted earlier the way in which Horace characterizes satire in Satires . as having been a personal inheritance from his beloved father; but Horace’s description of his father’s brand of moral tutelage also contains important evidence for Horace’s adumbration of a wider and more civic-minded vision of poetry (–): cum me hortaretur, parce frugaliter atque viverem uti contentus eo, quod mi ipse parasset: ‘‘nonne vides, Albi ut male vivat filius . . . ? . . . mi satis est, si traditum ab antiquis morem servare tuamque, dum custodis eges, vitam famamque tueri incolumem possum; simul ac duraverit aetas membra animumque tuum, nabis sine cortice.’’ sic me formabat puerum dictis . . . When he would encourage me to live modestly, frugally, and content with what he himself had provided for me, he would say: ‘‘Do you see how badly the son of Albius is leading his life? . . . It is enough for me, if I can preserve the custom handed down by the ancients, and if I can keep your life and good name safe for as long as you need a guardian. But as soon as you are grown and your body and mind have been toughened up, you will swim without water-wings.’’ In this way he molded me with his precepts while I was still a boy.

Horace’s father saw himself as guardian and teacher to his son, molding the boy into a strong, upstanding individual capable of independently charting a correct moral course through a vice-ridden world. Now Horace depicts himself as closely following his father’s example; in so doing, he offers moral observation and guidance to his readers. In this sense, Horace stands in relation to his surrounding society as his father once stood for him. He is like a parent to the people and desires only to exert a positive influence on them.31 Horace speaks to those who can


Craft and Concern

understand and will appreciate his message. These fortunate individuals will imbibe his words and be protected, just as he once was by his own father (Sat...–): ‘‘Ex hoc ego sanus ab illis,/perniciem quaecumque ferunt’’ (Because of this I am free from those faults which bring disaster). Such is the model, and such the public, societal role that Horace envisions for his Satires. Horace gives this outlined position new application in the Odes in the figure of the vates, or inspired prophet. By presenting himself in this role, he does more than simply recast this old Latin term into a new poetic context;32 he enables himself to elucidate poetry’s public function by illustrating all that a true poet can accomplish on behalf of those around him. To this end, various Odes depict Horace as the vates in action, executing his proper function in society by celebrating the noblest Roman virtues and reminding Romans of their moral responsibilities. Thus, to set his fellow citizens on the right path, Horace upbraids them in Odes . for their misdeeds of civil strife (–): eheu, cicatricum et sceleris pudet fratrumque. quid nos dura refugimus aetas? quid intactum nefasti liquimus? unde manum iuventus metu deorum continuit? quibus pepercit aris? o utinam nova incude diffingas retusum in Massagetas Arabasque ferrum! Oh, the shame of our scars and crimes, and our fallen brothers! We are a hard generation—what do we shun? What shameful crime have we left uncommitted? From what wickedness have the young men stayed their hands, out of fear of the gods? Which altars have been spared? Oh, if only you would reforge our blunted swords on a new anvil, and use them on the Massagetae and the Arabs!

In what are known as the Roman Odes (Odes .–.), he extols the quintessential Roman virtues for their benefit: moderation and simple living (.); virtus, especially military valor (.); the righteous and virtuous governance of empire (.); loyalty (.); patriotic courage (.); and religious purity (.).33 The combination of chastisement and moral encouragement that one encounters here is the very substance of what Horace

Poetry as Public Model


presents as the public function of the poet. In his guise as vates, Horace has the authority and the duty to lecture all Romans on how they should behave, and he calls his fellow citizens to a nobler purpose and way of life. This particular aspect of Horace’s vates self-image thus embodies the poet’s guiding vision of the Odes as having both a civic and morally didactic purpose. As Lyne suggests: What matters is that this is the way he wishes us to conceive his view of the function of the poet . . . the practitioner of Odes ., ., . is the public educator, concerned with the city’s—the state’s—moral condition . . . Horace not only performs the role [of public moral instructor], but advertises it. He advertises it by presenting himself as the ‘‘priest of the Muses’’, Odes .. ff . . . we see Horace not only performing the role of public, moral poet, utilis urbi, but constructing an image for it. He is involved in the role of the public poet, performing it, proclaiming it, evolving his own methods.34 As such, when Horace assumes the guise of vates he ascribes to himself an enormous moral resonance and indispensable function in society. The poet-vates bestows honor and immortality on those who have earned his accolades (Odes ..– and ..–): . . . neque, si chartae sileant quod bene feceris mercedem tuleris. ereptum Stygiis fluctibus Aeacum virtus et favor et lingua potentium vatum divitibus consecrat insulis. dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori. caelo Musa beat. Nor, if the pages were silent about your good deeds, would you receive your reward. The strength and favor and words of the mighty poets rescue Aeacus from the waves of the Styx and place him in glory on the Islands of the Blessed. It is the Muse who prevents the praiseworthy man from ever dying; it is the Muse who gives the gift of Heaven.

vixere fortes ante Agamemnona multi; sed omnes illacrimabiles


Craft and Concern urgentur ignotique longa nocte, carent quia vate sacro. Many brave men existed before Agamemnon; but all of them are weighed down by unending darkness, unlamented and unknown, because they have no sacred poet.

But what is more important, he also serves as the moral warden and tutor of the citizen. He is as necessary to Rome as the augurs and pontifices in this regard. Of course, Horace does not always speak as a vates, and this role is no more universally in effect than any of the other facets of self- presentation that we have considered.35 Several of the Odes offer images of the poet not as the inspired prophet of Rome but as a hapless and consistently unsuccessful lover, chasing after haughty and unresponsive maidens (‘‘Vitas hinnuleo me similis, Chloe’’—You avoid me like a little fawn, Chloe [..]), sitting as an exclusus amator outside a married woman’s door (..–), or ruefully contrasting his bygone successes with his current sorry state as he prays in frustration for revenge (.). Such winsomely self-deprecating portraits are light-years away from the impersonal and otherworldly proclamations of the vates, although these departures from the moralistic exhortations of the Roman Odes should not be taken as signifying any overt or final abandonment by Horace of the vates role as described above, rather as further evidence of the way in which he presents a wide variety of aspects of life as catching his attention and so demanding of poetic treatment.36 Even so, Horace does not promulgate the vates as the one true model for poets to follow, any more than he did the private, self-made individual of Satires .. We must regard the compelling figure of the vates not as Horace’s final word on what every poet should strive to be but as another example of consciously developed and, in this case, highly positive self-presentation. In Epistles ., the great letter to Augustus, Horace at last appears to embark on an expansive and public dissertation on the proper role of the poet in society.37 But here, too, the focus remains on Horace as the practitioner of this role, speaking as much to his ever-present audiences as to Augustus himself. The dramatic context of the poem—Rome’s greatest living poet writing a letter to the princeps of Rome (at the latter’s request, it should be noted), at a time when both enjoyed their greatest prominence and stability—ensures the maximum amount of public attention for the messages contained within it. As though in recognition of this, Horace casts his statements as a general declaration of the meaning and purpose of poetry (–):

Poetry as Public Model


. . . vatis avarus non temere est animus; versus amat, hoc studet unum; . . . militiae quamquam piger et malus, utilis urbi, si das hoc, parvis quoque rebus magna iuvari. os tenerum pueri balbumque poeta figurat, torquet ab obscenis iam nunc sermonibus aurem, mox etiam pectus praeceptis format amicis, asperitatis et invidiae corrector et irae, recte facta refert, orientia tempora notis instruit exemplis, inopem solatur et aegrum. The soul of a poet is scarcely avaricious; he loves verses and thinks only of Poetry . . . Although he is slow and a poor soldier, nevertheless he is useful to society—if you allow that little things can be helpful to great ones as well. The poet shapes the tender and prattling speech of childhood, then turns the ear away from obscene language, and soon even molds the heart with friendly teachings. He corrects harshness, envy, and anger; he tells of good deeds; he instructs the rising generations with famous examples; he comforts the poor and the sick.

Utilis urbi—this, Horace proclaims, is the true civic and moral function of the poet, and the very essence of his identity. It is indeed a grand and compelling vision of his craft. Nevertheless, even these ringing lines are founded most deeply on Horace’s specific requirements of selfpresentation. The poet’s individual circumstances are never far from the surface, as further examination reveals that his self-image is directly enhanced by his persuasive articulation of this purportedly universal civic ideal. In the following lines of Epistles ., Horace strikes a more personal, self-referential note (–): castis cum pueris ignara puella mariti disceret unde preces, vatem ni Musa dedisset? poscit opem chorus et praesentia numina sentit, caelestis implorat aquas docta prece blandus, avertit morbos, metuenda pericula pellit, impetrat et pacem et locupletem frugibus annum. carmine di superi placantur, carmine Manes. From where would the unmarried girl learn the prayers along with the chaste boys, if the Muse had not given her the vates? Their chorus calls for aid and feels the presence of the divine


Craft and Concern spirit, begs for the rains of Heaven, winning favor with the hymn they have learned. It turns away sickness, drives away terrifying dangers, wins peace and a year filled with harvests. The gods above, the spirits below are pleased by the song.

This is a highly self-conscious and obvious reference to the Carmen saeculare, which Augustus commissioned Horace to write, to mark the Secular Games of  .. 38 It was, of course, a signal honor and an indication of Horace’s status as the premier poet of Rome following Virgil’s death in  .. In a poem from Odes book , Horace expresses his considerable pride in having written the Carmen, executing thereby the noblest of poetic tasks (..–, –): spiritum Phoebus mihi, Phoebus artem carminis nomenque dedit poetae. virginum primae puerique claris patribus orti, . . . nupta iam dices, ‘‘ego dis amicum, saeculo festas referente luces, reddidi carmen docilis modorum vatis Horati.’’ Phoebus Apollo gave me my inspiration, the art of the song, and the name of poet. Best of maidens and boys born to famous fathers, . . . Soon, when you are married, you will say: ‘‘When the cycle brought back the festival days, I, instructed in the measures of the vates Horace, sang a song that was pleasing to the gods.’’

Even more important, when read in the context of what Horace has said regarding the civic power of the vates, the Carmen saeculare also represents a striking example of what Horace suggests is the poet’s public role, as well as a portrayal of himself executing that selfsame function.39 This ideal vision is, as we have seen, one of many that Horace skillfully manipulates throughout his corpus. Given what we have seen of his development of a seemingly overarching vision of poetry, we might expect that the Ars poetica, a verse epistle addressed to the Piso brothers (young aristocrats and aspiring young poets) that purports to collect Horace’s views on the nature and craft of poetry, would follow much the same course as Epistles . And so it does—in that several crucial modifications once again draw our attention to the highly conscious and defensive nature of Horace’s overall treatment of his craft. The Ars poetica contains

Poetry as Public Model


any number of knotty problems and difficulties of interpretation, and scholars have long debated how the work should be approached. Without entering into a lengthy argument on the intent or significance of the Ars poetica as a literary treatise, suffice it to say here that the Ars poetica signals its artificiality through its inordinate preoccupation with the craft and components of tragedy. As Gordon Williams has noted, ‘‘It should not be thought that the practical aim of the A.P. was real and genuine, an aid to poetic composition . . . [and] it would be a ludicrous distortion of the Augustan literary scene if [it] were taken as an accurate reflection of its interests.’’ 40 Outwardly a didactic tract, the Ars poetica is a kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing: any expectation of a doctrinaire or straightforwardly prescriptive treatise is thwarted and deflated on the most fundamental level by the poet’s patently self-conscious handling of the subject, as ideas, examples, and issues are deliberately made to appear and vanish seemingly as they come to the author’s mind.41 In its casual shifts of focus and easy, discursive tone, it and the rest of the Epistles approximate a perfection of the conversational and selfconscious sermo form of the Satires. In accordance with this, Horace returns in the Ars poetica to many of the themes and visions of poetry that were presented earlier in his corpus and elsewhere quietly abandoned. For example, he partly restates the ideal of poetry’s civic and moral function by alluding to the notion of being both pleasing and helpful to one’s audience (–): ‘‘Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae / aut simul et iucunda et idonea dicere vitae’’ (Poets want to be either useful or entertaining, or to say things that are both pleasing and pertinent to life at the same time). Even the vision of poetry as a practical and personal commodity is resurrected here; Horace offers strong sales and world-wide circulation as the rewards for the young poet who manages to balance the twin demands of entertainment and instruction (–): omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci, lectorem delectando pariterque monendo. hic meret aera liber Sosiis, hic et mare transit et longum noto scriptori prorogat aevum. Whoever mixes the useful with the enjoyable will win every vote, entertaining and at the same time instructing the reader. This sort of book will earn money for the Sosius brothers; such a book will cross the sea and extend a long life to its famous author.


Craft and Concern

Horace thus brings together almost every component thread of his overall self-presentation as a poet—the practical advantages of writing poetry, its nature as a profession subject to rules and principles (the codification of which is the purported aim of the Ars poetica as a whole), and its higher civic function as the conduit for idonea dicere vitae. But Horace’s careful and self-conscious management throughout his works of his own image as a poet, and his appreciation for the importance of context as a determiner of the immediate specifics of that image, remind us that even here his overarching statements about the craft of poetry cannot be read with security as representing his actual precepts but must be recognized as specific manifestations of his overall mastery of the techniques of self-presentation.

. Conclusion: The Individual behind the Universal Insofar as Horace ever presents himself as striving in earnest to follow a single explicit literary model, he does so in the Ars poetica by enshrining Quintilius Varus as the exemplary archetype of the consummate critic and friend (–): Quintilio si quid recitares, ‘‘corrige, sodes, hoc,’’ aiebat, ‘‘et hoc.’’ melius te posse negares bis terque expertum frustra, delere iubebat et male tornatos incudi reddere versus. si defendere delictum quam vertere malles, nullum ultra verbum aut operam insumebat inanem, quin sine rivali teque et tua solus amares. If you recited anything to Quintilius, he would say: ‘‘Please correct this and this.’’ If you claimed that you had tried to do so in vain two and three times over, and that you could not do any better, he would instruct you to return the badly shaped verses to the anvil and destroy them. If you preferred to defend your mistake rather than change it, he would not say another word or pursue the fruitless task of keeping you from loving yourself and your own work alone, without a rival.

Varus always told the truth in making his criticisms and observations— bluntly, firmly, but without dictating what must be changed.42 In his

The Individual behind the Universal


view, change and revision were fundamental to the composition of poetry, and acceptance of their necessity was absolutely indispensible, otherwise there was no point to the exercise. As one who purports to follow this example, Horace himself engages in the continual repolishing and repositioning of his works. In order to produce an effective and convincing self-image, he tailors his words in each case to fit the circumstances of the poem and its audience, as well as the specific needs and restrictions of the literary form in which the poem appears. It goes without saying that he directly manipulates the substance and effect of this self-image as well, and opens up this process to a remarkable extent to the scrutiny of his readers. For the most part, Horace’s treatment of poetry and of himself as a poet is designed to make it clear that he does not operate in obedience to any verifiably fixed vision of the ‘‘ideal’’ poet or ‘‘ideal’’ poetry but rather attempts continually to present himself and his works in the best possible light, regardless of the specific context of the various demands placed on him. Thus, even on those occasions when he seems to acknowledge his personal shortcomings or setbacks, he does so consciously, for the sake of his crafted image. Who can truly say for sure whether Odes – were badly received upon their publication, as Horace intimates in Epistles . (–)? 43 scire velis, mea cur ingratus opuscula lector laudet ametque domi, premat extra limen iniquus: non ego ventosae plebis suffragia venor impensis cenarum et tritae munere vestis; non ego, nobilium scriptorum auditor et ultor, grammaticas ambire tribus et pulpita dignor. Do you want to know why the ungrateful reader praises and loves my little works in the privacy of his own home, but unfairly criticizes them in public? I do not seek out the votes of the fickle mob . . . I do not condescend to wander around the tribes and lecterns of the grammatici, I am the audience and the avenger of noble writers.

Or that these attacks eventually subsided with the rise of popular acclaim (Odes ..–)? Romae principis urbium dignatur suboles inter amabiles


Craft and Concern vatum ponere me choros, et iam dente minus mordeor invido. The people of Rome, queen of cities, see fit to place me among the beloved choruses of the vates, and already I am bitten less often by the tooth of Envy.

It suits Horace’s purpose to conjure a certain undefined level of public disapproval, since this provides him with an excellent pretext for an elaborate defense of himself and his poetry. As with the oft-mentioned jibe of libertino patre natus, or his frequent romantic humiliations in the Satires and Odes, it is a problem that Horace invokes and then quickly solves in order to introduce important discussion of issues that mattered to the poet. This preemptive creation of pressure is, in other words, Horace’s most subtle mechanism of self-presentation in his entire large and varied repertory. Ultimately, Horace argues about poetry, its craft, and his place within its tradition because his intention is to present an idea of poetry that corresponds closely with himself. Horace’s images of the poet (whether in the private or the public arena) may not match very closely the lives and works of Virgil and Propertius, but they match his own splendidly, in all its variation. Thus, we must never let ourselves be fooled into blind and total compliance with the poet’s manipulations. It is all too easy to read Horace’s discussion of poetry as comprising a monolithic and wholly credible literary manifesto, but Horace’s thoughts on the subject are infused with entirely individual considerations of self-presentation.

 

Worldly Affairs

In the turbulent and unforgiving political arena of late Republican Rome, no one knew better than Octavian that a politician’s survival and success often boils down to a simple matter of effective persuasion, regardless of the conditions or system of government within which he operates. From the moment he arrived at the port of Brundisium in  .. to claim his inheritance as Julius Caesar’s heir and win the enthusiastic support of his adoptive father’s veteran legions, Octavian demonstrated an uncanny ability to swing influential opinion in his favor, as well as a keen appreciation for the enormous advantages that could be obtained through forceful public performance and the adroit manipulation of other people’s perception and understanding of the issues at stake. And yet, in the years that followed, even as he employed a wide array of tactics, tools, and images in pursuit of his political goals, his true character and personality remained a frustrating enigma—‘‘puzzling, elusive, baffling, and inscrutable, like the Sphinx engraved upon his signet ring.’’ Instead, throughout his career he regularly altered his outer persona to fit his changing political circumstances, transforming himself from a military adventurer into a triumvir rei publicae constituendae, then into the defender of Rome against degenerate renegades and monstrous foreigners, and finally adopting his ultimate role as Augustus, Restorer of the Republic and benevolent Father of the Country. Each personal reinvention was only undertaken with careful planning and the greatest circumspection. Himself the object of constant scrutiny, he nevertheless maintained virtually total control over everything about him that might be seen by others.1 In this way, Octavian/Augustus sought out and directed the support of the Roman populace, extending his power and the security of his nascent regime through the continual adjustment of public attitudes and modification of the way in which he himself was perceived. As distant observers of this process, we are therefore even more limited in our view


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point than Romans of the period would have been; for if we attempt to develop an understanding of the princeps’ nature, we do so largely through his own carefully constructed and highly self-conscious image. The salient issue for us becomes perforce not the relative truth or falsehood of this image, so much as its intended function and effect on the various people for whom it was originally created. One is inescapably reminded of the techniques of self-presentation and address of multiple audiences that we have already encountered in the works of Horace. And indeed it is hardly surprising that princeps and poet alike would have developed such comparably sophisticated and intricate self-images in response to their respective situations. Politics and literature had long been closely intertwined in Rome by this time: Cicero and Caesar, among many others, had composed polished literary works in order to accomplish political ends; prominent figures were routinely attacked by proxy through their more vulnerable author-clients; while Roman poets had been writing on and responding to the political realities of their day ever since Naevius first clashed with the Metelli in the later third century .. 2 In a similar vein, Horace’s works are infused with the tensions and concerns of contemporary politics, as he simultaneously confronts his various audiences with both the ingenious execution of his political responsibilities to the new regime and his separate commentary on the difficulties inherent in this task. More than any other writer of his age, Horace directly addresses within his poetry the impact of political pressures on his personal world, handling such issues through much the same elusive and virtuosic techniques of self-presentation that we have encountered in other contexts throughout his works.3

. Writing for Rome In a real sense, Augustus based his victory and the construction of his new empire on the orchestration of a popular embrace of his image; for by design he caused himself to be presented as the only choice for a beleaguered people desperate for peace, and a national symbol of the new era of prosperity that he and his supporters proclaimed was heralded by his Principate. Articulating a vision of Rome’s destiny and moral character would serve to guide public attention away from the recent civil wars and toward the promise of the future, thereby ensuring the tacit legitimization of his individual political triumph. Thus, beyond his sta-

Writing for Rome


bilization of the new government and creation of a new hierarchy (with himself at its head), one of Augustus’s most impressive political achievements was his conception and promulgation of a vast long-term plan for his empire and for the Roman people as a whole. Many scholars have noted the way in which Augustus brought this plan to fruition by engaging in the pervasive organization of images and public opinion (especially after the constitutional settlement of  ..); discussion has centered on the way in which the princeps marshalled support for his regime through the creation of a new program of national idealism and rebirth. Syme famously emphasizes the inherent artificiality of the process: Out of the War of Actium, artfully converted into a spontaneous and patriotic movement, arose a salutary myth which enhanced the sentiment of Roman nationalism to a formidable and even grotesque intensity . . . That there was a certain duplicity in the social programme of the Princeps is evident enough. More than that, the whole conception of the Roman past upon which he sought to erect the moral and spiritual basis of the New State was in large measure imaginary or spurious, the creation conscious or unconscious of patriotic historians or publicists.4 By contrast, Zanker takes a more optimistic view of Augustus’s motivations, preferring to detect in the national program a note of genuinely benevolent concern: ‘‘The princeps of course determined the themes and general tenor of [the new public imagery], and in fact his political style was in some respects no less important than what he actually did . . . [but] the ‘restoration of the Republic’ was not simply a sham intended to fool the Roman public, as is often maintained. Even before  .. it was clear that Augustus’s new political style did not represent a departure from the sense of mission that had always motivated him . . . [He] set in motion a program to ‘heal’ Roman society.’’ 5 But regardless of whether Augustus truly believed in his message or was simply making a calculated response to immediate political necessities, his program required the production and dissemination of appropriate ideas and images throughout Roman society. The people at large had to be convinced that Augustus had restored the Republic and brought peace to Rome; at the same time, the Roman elite (especially the senatorial nobility) had somehow to be incorporated into the new system, so that their rivalries and ambitions would not continue to destabilize the


Worldly Affairs

state. To this end, there was deployed a huge network of popular communication, incorporating many different forms of persuasion: lavish new monuments and temples; statues, paintings, and coins, all emblazoned with appropriate symbols and slogans; public ceremonies, processions, and spectacle entertainments designed both to please and to edify the citizenry; laws governing moral and civic behavior; and, perhaps most important, literary texts. The variety of media used ensured the dissemination throughout all levels of Roman society, from the cultured and educated elite down to the sometimes illiterate members of the urban plebs and other populations throughout the empire, of ‘‘suitable’’ messages (carefully tailored in each case to the interests and background of the target audience) of intergration and acceptance of the Augustan regime.6 Clearly, the princeps and his associates were engaged in the establishment of an extensive and elaborate program of propaganda; that is, propaganda not in the simplistic popular sense of outrageous and inflammatory falsehoods but in its more sophisticated guise as ‘‘the educational efforts or information used by an organized group that is made available to a selected audience, for the specific purpose of making the audience take a particular course of action or conform to a certain attitude desired by the organized group.’’ 7 This concept of propaganda depends for its essential character on the seminal work of the French sociologist Jacques Ellul, who made clear distinctions between separate categories of propaganda: especially between political and sociological propaganda— respectively, the techniques of influence used by a specific political group to achieve their defined ends, and the complex of beliefs and assumptions so dominant within a society as to lead each individual to use them unconsciously to make what he believes are ‘‘free’’ and spontaneous decisions—and between the propaganda of agitation, denoting the crude and inflammatory devices of subversive opposition, and the far more subtle and gradual propaganda of integration, designed to encourage stability and conformity of action and belief within the target society.8 Ellul argues that sociological, integrationist propaganda—continuous, largely undetectable, and designed to elicit from its target audience the seemingly spontaneous embrace of desired beliefs and actions—constitutes ‘‘true’’ propaganda in its most advanced and pernicious form. He further claims that this phenomenon first arose only in the twentieth century; that ‘‘without the scientific research of modern psychology and sociology there would be no propaganda, or rather we still would be in the primitive stages of propaganda that existed in the time of Pericles

Writing for Rome


or Augustus.’’ 9 But the Augustan regime clearly employed propaganda precisely as Ellul describes it: as the subtle and continuously applied instrument of mass social integration directed toward the establishment of political stability and uniformity of thought.10 Romans of every class and background were being exhorted to embrace their destiny as the just and moral rulers of the world, and (more subtly) to celebrate Augustus as the man who had at long last freed them from the horrors of civil war and made possible this new Golden Age. Literature should be understood as having been a central pillar of this enterprise, all the more so since propaganda inevitably comes to dominate all literary production, once it has been unleashed: ‘‘Propaganda will take over literature (present and past) and history, which must be rewritten according to propaganda’s needs . . . it is the result of propaganda itself. Propaganda carries within itself, of intrinsic necessity, the power to take over everything that can serve it.’’ 11 Certainly, the very best authors of the day were being marshalled behind the scenes to lend seemingly spontaneous, ‘‘patriotic’’ support to the regime and its promulgated national ideals. As early as the late forties .., Octavian and Maecenas began to recruit promising young writers to aid in the presentation of their cause and in the shorter-term organization of public opinion. Virgil and Varius seem to have been invited to join in  or  .., Horace shortly thereafter (on the recommendation of the other two) in  .. This was a time of great insecurity for Octavian,12 but even so he and Maecenas seem already to have grasped the potentially enormous impact that organized literary backing might have on his ultimate popular acceptance. Maecenas, of course, was the direct patron, but Octavian/Augustus was always intended to be the real beneficiary of the enthusiastic writings of these rising young poets. The works they produced would be employed to help define and legitimize the new political regime: The literary patronage exercised by Maecenas was unique in that it was exercised for the political benefit of Augustus, and, from the very beginning, it envisaged that when the right time came, Augustus would take it over, and Maecenas would fade into the background . . . Maecenas had an agenda that can be discerned at least in general terms: it was to focus on the program until the new political system had been safely established and to shift the focus onto the great leader only after the program could be regarded as enacted . . . Maecenas shaped the traditional Roman institution of patronage into a new form so that literature could be pressed


Worldly Affairs into service to what could be recognized, when it was successfully implemented, as a national political program.13

Thus, each poet or historian in Maecenas’s clientela can be said to have been working for the new regime under his patron’s supervision. It would be interesting to know which of the two men, Maecenas or Octavian, first developed this ingenious and foresighted scheme of engaging and cultivating talented writers to muster widespread popular favor.14 At any rate, the effect was powerful in the extreme. The ensuing demonstrations of support, and eloquent embrace of Octavian as the true hope of Rome, came from men who were themselves former Republicans or victims of the earlier predations of the Triumvirate;15 such credentials made them valuable tools in the crucial positioning of public attitudes in favor of the young Caesar and against his formidable rivals. Horace in particular was a central figure in this literary program (along with Virgil, Livy, and to a lesser degree Propertius), as indeed he had been almost from the beginning.

. Preliminary Observations What, then, of Horace’s response to his becoming an integral component of this machine of public communication and integrationist propaganda? We have already marked Horace’s ability to speak to several different audiences simultaneously within a poem or even a single line of verse. In such cases, Horace reconciles often contradictory sentiments into a single persuasive whole by incorporating these contradictions into selfimages that win the sympathies of his audiences and at the same time awaken his readers to the special pressures the poet faced by virtue of his status and vocation. Similarly, although Horace proves himself to be an effective disseminator of the Augustan messages of peace, tolerance, and stability, he nevertheless manages at the same time to create within his poetry a note of apparent personal disinvolvement, qualification, or ambivalence. In terms of his relationship to the Augustan camp, he draws his readers’ attention to the special challenges of writing on behalf of the government, even as he inventively fulfills the requests and suggestions made to him by Octavian/Augustus and Maecenas to write on particular subjects and themes. Different readers are thereby encouraged to take away very different political messages, depending on their pre-existing views regarding the regime.

Preliminary Observations


Given that our primary intention is to recover, if possible, those aspects of Horace’s situation that occasioned the use of such double-edged techniques, two problematic notions must be dealt with at the outset. The first of these is the popular conception that Horace suffered a lasting stigma as a traitor or at best a spineless turncoat, all because he initially fought for Brutus and the republicans but then jumped over to the winning faction after the battle of Philippi. This view was advocated as recently as  by Oliver Lyne, who takes Horace’s wry accounts of his unheroic performance in the battle as evidence that the ‘‘turncoat’’ stigma presented for him a source of lasting pressure and unhappiness: ‘‘He had solicited and won the patronage of Maecenas, right-hand man in the government which had defeated the republican cause for which Horace himself had fought in  .. One would not have to be too cynical to have the word ‘turn-coat’ come to mind. It is hard to believe that Horace and others did not think of that . . . Horace was dissuaded in the early thirties from all political poetry by fear of appearing the turn-coat; memories of  .. were fresh.’’ 16 Lyne sees Horace as having avoided political entanglements in the early thirties for this reason, noting that Horace was then Maecenas’s client, not Octavian’s, and so was free to shake off unwanted requests for public and political poems during this period. But it has been pointed out in response that Octavian presided over Maecenas’s patronage of poets as de facto patron right from the beginning; political concerns were necessarily an issue in Horace’s poetry even in the early years of his association, and the proposals and guidance of his powerful ‘‘friends’’ had to be accommodated.17 Even a mild suggestion from either of these two men could not be taken lightly, since requests from powerful superiors, no matter how lightly they may be made, carry the force of ‘‘command performances’’ and cannot easily be disregarded.18 Therefore, the idea that any turncoat stigma caused special problems for Horace (beyond a certain level of private irritation or embarrassment, perhaps) cannot be accepted with security. Horace’s apparent reluctance to engage wholeheartedly during the thirties in the propaganda war between Octavian and Antonius, as evidenced by the minimal overt political content of Satires  (released in  ..) and  ( ..), must stem not from personal insecurity about his past but from some other factor. Considerations of genre obviously played a role; the Satires are cast as records of the private thoughts and experiences of one Q. Horatius Flaccus and, as such, they constituted an inappropriate venue for direct political pam-


Worldly Affairs

phleteering. Perhaps also Maecenas and Octavian deemed it imprudent to trumpet self-praise and visions of Rome’s glorious future in the early and uncertain stages of the game. Likewise, they may have preferred to reserve Horace’s literary talents for something more subtle and demanding than the scurrilous insults and innuendo that the triumvirs were hurling at each other in this decade. In any case, Horace’s works of the thirties are in fact infused with urgent and topical political considerations, as we shall see.19 A related notion, not necessarily false but potentially misleading, is the long-held belief that Horace developed over time a genuine enthusiasm for Augustus and his regime, and that he earnestly conveys in his poetry an honest gratitude for the stability and personal security the new regime provided. Hence the poet’s subsequent docility in toeing the party line: his vilification of Cleopatra after Actium (‘‘ ‘Nunc est bibendum,’ sang the poet Horace, safe and subsidized in Rome’’),20 and his repeated calls in the Odes for major military campaigns in the East, whether he was actually taken in by this phantom issue or was cynically compliant with its fabrication as a means of safely venting domestic energy and unrest.21 Many scholars have supported a picture of Horace as loyal party hack, while others have attacked it, arguing instead that the poet was deeply pessimistic about the new regime. Some go so far as to suggest that Horace underwent an early progression of attitudes from the latter to the former as his ‘‘youthful idealism’’ gave way to a more pragmatic appreciation for Maecenas’s financial and creative support; but they, too, assume Horace’s ultimate and total acquiescence in what was required of him.22 However, it is vitally important to realize that the point is immaterial for understanding Horace’s articulated response to the political situation. We cannot get behind Horace’s projected image of support in order to make a wholly secure judgment on the issue, since all we have once again is what Horace has chosen to show us. It is the impression Horace creates of embracing Octavian’s cause that demands analysis rather than the unanswerable question of the extent to which his support was actually genuine. Indeed, it can be argued that the semblance of support was all that Horace needed to convey. Purely rhetorical considerations alone would have prompted him to fabricate an early ‘‘republican’’ phase in his attitudes and loyalties, even had this phase never actually existed, inasmuch as it was politically advisable to create the impression that he had genuinely embraced the new regime and was in turn welcomed into the fold despite his earlier opposition.23 Endorsement of any public figure such as Augus-

The Personal Perspective


tus is far more persuasive if it is presented as coming from someone who has ‘‘seen the light’’ and converted from the other side. Thus, whether real or not, Horace’s expression of pro-Octavian sentiments stands forth as a powerful message of integrationist propaganda on the Ellul model.

. The Personal Perspective Horace and his fellow poets were, in fact, left comparatively free to arrive at their own methods of accommodating the literary and political tasks set them. The only specific expectation was that they aid Octavian’s cause by writing poetry that supported the party or articulated its goals and ideals. Horace in particular initially accomplishes this task not through simple open discussion or political propagandism,24 but by airing what he presents as his individual views on moral and social issues, and by presenting episodes from his daily life in which he assumes the persona and perspective of an average Roman citizen. Here, the issues of the greater political stage impose themselves as vast, impersonal forces on his private world; by referring to them in this oblique way, Horace is able to acknowledge their importance with great effect, even as he subtly allows for the possibility of alternate viewpoints. We find evidence for Horace’s employment of this technique throughout his published corpus, beginning in Satires , where he continually makes indirect references to contemporary political and moral issues of importance to Octavian and his associates.25 In Horace’s self- referential poetic world, these take the form of interactions between the public and personal spheres: impositions from the world of politics into his envisioned private existence. Octavian’s political situation and plans for the future form a continuous undertone in the Satires, with Horace depicting himself as a tiny and largely unnoticed pawn in a much larger and more important game. The various members of his contemporary audience were thus invited to take away the message they had hoped to find, regardless of whether they welcomed or abhorred the growing power in Rome of Octavian’s faction: either an open rejection of any and all political considerations, or a more subtle adumbration of the preferability and even indispensability of Octavian (and Maecenas) in the current political climate.26 Satires ., for example, offers a commentary on the human failings of personal discontent and miserly avarice, in the form of philosophi-


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cal musings from Horace to Maecenas. The tone of the poem is relaxed and colloquial, flowing easily from general statement and example to illustrative anecdote. There is, furthermore, a strong suggestion of an exclusively private setting, such as that of two friends idly conversing over dinner (–, –): Qui fit, Maecenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem seu ratio dederit seu fors obiecerit, illa contentus vivat, laudet diversa sequentis? . . . denique sit finis quaerendi, cumque habeas plus, pauperiem metuas minus et finire laborem incipias, parto quod avebas, ne facias quod Ummidius quidam. non longa est fabula . . . Why is it, Maecenas, that no one simply lives content with the lot that chance or his own judgment has cast before him but instead praises those who follow other paths? . . . And so let there be a limit to your desires. The more you have, the less you should fear poverty; you should begin to put an end to your labor on the strength of the gain you were longing for, lest you end up doing what a certain Ummidius did. It’s not a long story.

Certainly, this satire emphasizes resolutely personal and apolitical concerns; indeed, Horace’s exhortations to reject the scramble for wealth and position might seem inevitably to take on an anti-political resonance, since success in Roman politics depended heavily on such things. But the invocation of Maecenas as the dedicatee of the entire collection establishes an implicit connection to the larger diplomatic and political world of  .. Maecenas played a prominent role in this world as Octavian’s adviser and lieutenant, for he was the sole overseer of affairs in Rome and Italy during this period of Octavian’s absence (– ..). As such, his very name carried considerable political baggage. For those members of the audience concerned with the ongoing rivalry of the triumvirs, Horace’s self-conscious association of himself with Maecenas (and through him Octavian) would automatically have constituted a partisan act—a public gesture of endorsement and allegiance.27 Horace’s discussion of lecherous behavior in Satires . may in turn reflect Octavian’s nascent interest in moral reform and proper familial conduct, which was to culminate years later in his sweeping marriage laws of  .. 28 The poem contains a condemnation (of sorts) of adultery,

The Personal Perspective


although its tone is highly flippant and is based on the vulgar praise of freedwomen and prostitutes as representing more ‘‘risk-free’’ alternatives (–, –, –): tutior at quanto merx est in classe secunda, libertinarum dico . . . . . . atque etiam melius persaepe togatae est. adde huc quod mercem sine fucis gestat, aperte quod venale habet ostendit . . . nec vereor ne, dum futuo, vir rure recurrat, ianua frangatur, latret canis, undique magno pulsa domus strepitu resonet . . . discincta tunica fugiendum est et pede nudo, ne nummi pereant aut puga aut denique fama. But safer by far is the second-class merchandise—I’m talking about the freedwomen . . . and often the streetwalkers have much better features. Add to this the fact that a hooker shows her goods without any disguises; she openly displays what she has for sale . . . nor am I afraid, when I’m screwing, that her husband will hurry back from the country, the door gets broken down, the dog starts barking, the whole house thunders with blows and uproar . . . then you have to run away with your tunic half on and without your shoes, lest you suffer damage to your wallet, your rear end, or at least your reputation.

Horace employs here his familiar tactic of deprecating self-representation (as in the farcical and humiliating picture of himself hurrying half-dressed from the house amid shouts and barking dogs). But to what end? From one perspective, the playful mixture of whimsical imagery and coarsely economic terminology in these lines serves irreverently to deflate any solemnity that might accrue to discussions of adultery, by which token Horace might be interpreted as gleefully revelling in the absurdity of any attempt to dissuade the Romans from committing the act and, thus, as making an indirect allusion to the inherent unpopularity of moral legislation;29 after all, he closes the satire by condemning not adultery but its aftermath (Sat...): ‘‘Deprendi miserum est’’ (It’s really bad when you get caught). Then again, it is no less possible to interpret the passage as a humorous but nevertheless meaningful characterization of the sorry state of Rome’s current moral fabric and, by extension, as


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an expression of hope that this fabric can soon be repaired and new safeguards put in place. Maecenas and Octavian, now in a position to consider doing something about the problem, would naturally have been inclined to take Horace’s sentiments in this spirit and would have appreciated the sacrifice of his self-image in service of this goal.30 Very different readings thus present themselves, depending on the views and expectations with which Horace’s audiences approached the issue; the poet has designed his text to accommodate multiple interpretations. Similarly, Horace celebrates the virtues of aequitas and clementia (equanimity and a certain broad-minded forbearance) in Satires . by depicting himself as a comically flawed and clumsy figure (–): simplicior quis et est qualem me saepe libenter obtulerim tibi, Maecenas, ut forte legentem aut tacitum impellat quovis sermone molestus . . . . . . vitiis nemo sine nascitur: optimus ille est, qui minimis urgetur. amicus dulcis, ut aequum est, cum mea compenset vitiis bona, pluribus hisce, si modo plura mihi bona sunt, inclinet, amari si volet: hac lege in trutina ponetur eadem. Let’s say someone is rather artless—such as I have often freely shown myself to be to you, Maecenas—so that by chance he barges in on you when you’re reading or having a rest, bothering you with some sort of blather . . . No one is born without faults: that man is best who is weighed down by the fewest. As is fair, a good friend should balance my flaws with my good points and lean more toward these good points (so long as I have more of them) if he wants to hold my affection. On this condition, he will be measured on the same scale.

At first, the emphasis here appears once more to be on the resolutely private and personal. Horace’s imagined faux pas occur within the confines of Maecenas’s home, serving simultaneously to reintroduce the endearing image of his casual association with his patron and to compliment Maecenas for his clear-sighted lenience in his dealings with his friends. But Octavian, too, is present in the background; he has already directly appeared in the poem as someone who demonstrates a commendable generosity and tolerance for the shortcomings of his amici (–): ‘‘Habebat/ille Tigellius hoc. Caesar, qui cogere posset,/si peteret per amicitiam

The Personal Perspective


patris atque suam, non/quicquam proferet’’ (That fellow Tigellius had this fault. If Caesar, who could force him if he wanted to, requested a poem for the sake of his friendship and that of his father, he would get nowhere). Thus, Horace’s celebration of Maecenas’s liberality and levelheaded clementia implicitly delineates the very sort of virtuous character for which Octavian himself wished to be recognized.31 By speaking on moral issues in Satires .–, Horace is in part responding directly to the immediate political needs of Octavian and his faction. As Ian DuQuesnay points out, we can see the huge political significance of these three poems more clearly when we place them in the context of the simmering civil strife of the mid-thirties: The full significance of [the appearance of unanimity on these moral issues among Horace, Maecenas, and Octavian] can only be appreciated when the nature of the contemporary hostile propaganda against the Triumvirs is recalled. The Pompeians and Republicans will have called the Triumvirate a tyranny, dominatio, potentia paucorum and regnum. A letter ascribed to Brutus accuses Octavian of cupiditas and licentia . . . Against this background it is significant that Horace presents Maecenas and his friends as being as much concerned with moral standards as Sallust himself and equally hostile to the vices of avaritia, ambitio and luxuria . . . The image of Maecenas’ friends which emerges from the poems is so precisely suited to the political requirements of the mid-thirties and so exactly calculated to allay the fears and anxieties of Horace’s contemporaries about the intentions, ambitions, and moral character of their new leaders that it is just not possible to suppose this effect to be accidental.32 In other words, Horace is not merely engaged in moralizing for its own sake but has designed his work at least in part to address the attacks of the Republican and Pompeian factions, as well as to reassure and win over the support of the public at large. Even more important, the presentation of a positive moral picture of Maecenas and his group also constitutes a direct response to Octavian’s attempt to control and deflect the rampant competitiveness of the Roman senatorial aristocracy, whose unrestrained ambitions, factionalism, and destabilizing rivalries had for decades been the fundamental cause of civil war. Octavian’s strategic political vision was to present himself as the morally preferable choice for Rome’s future, the man who could (and would) ‘‘restore the Republic’’ and yet, at the same time, place a tight cap on the destructive senatorial impulses that


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had brought about its downfall. In turn, although Horace’s multifaceted handling of moral issues in the Satires allows for alternate interpretations of this strategy, his simultaneous juxtaposition and accommodation of different audiences encourages readers both supportive and hostile to confront the specifics of Octavian’s program.33 Even when Horace paints his self-image on the most immediate and personal scale, he still manages to call attention to specific events of great public importance, thereby indirectly reaffirming the crucial governing role played by Octavian and Maecenas. In Satires . he presents himself as a rank-and-file citizen, all but oblivious to the serious issues in which his friends and associates are earnestly engaged; and yet, he is careful to make sufficient allusion to those issues so as to ensure that they remain a central underlying theme of the poem. Horace meets up with Maecenas while the great man is engaged on a diplomatic endeavor (–): huc venturus erat Maecenas optimus atque Cocceius, missi magnis de rebus uterque legati, aversos soliti componere amicos. hic oculis ego nigra meis collyria lippus illinere . . . Good Maecenas and Cocceius were to meet us here, both of them envoys sent on matters of great importance and accustomed to reconciling estranged friends. Here I smear black ointment over my bleary eyes.

Although Horace trains our attention upon his own humorous but embarrassingly mundane experiences, he also makes enough glancing allusions to the trip’s urgency (magnis de rebus) and the nature of the task (aversos . . . componere amicos) to make it clear that the mission he describes is the one that historically culminated in  .. in the Pact of Tarentum between Octavian and Antonius—a political event of great significance. Thus, Horace’s account of his eye problems, and the subsequent episodes in the poem of ball-playing, naps, and burnt dinners, redraw Maecenas and the Octavian faction on a more personal scale.34 Not only will they shortly avert bitter conflict between the triumvirs; they are also shown to be ordinary, likable fellows, with a sense of humor and a taste for simple relaxation. Antonius’s lieutenant Fonteius Capito, meanwhile, is characterized as being a perfect gentleman, ‘‘ad unguem factus homo’’ (Sat...–). Thus both sides are portrayed to good ad-

The Personal Perspective


vantage, and the all-important external impression of comity between the two triumvirs (and their adherents) is preserved. By presenting the entire episode largely through his individual, private gaze, Horace effectively humanizes the faces of the triumvirate and of those who serve its cause. This private framing of public matters carries with it one further tactical advantage: it enables Horace on some occasions to emphasize the political situation of those with whom he associates, on others to obscure it. Everything depends on the message he wishes to convey and the ring of audience to which he opts to give the privilege of sharing his self-assumed perspective. In Satires ..–, for instance, Horace recalls the nine-month hiatus between his first meeting with Maecenas and his joining of Maecenas’s clientela, but he remains wholly silent on one likely reason for the delay: shortly after this meeting in  .., Maecenas departed on an urgent mission to the East to seek military support from Antonius for the ongoing struggle against Sextus Pompeius. It does not suit Horace’s purpose to call attention to Octavian’s past moment of comparative weakness, and so he makes no direct reference to these diplomatic maneuvers. By contrast, in Satires ., Horace complains openly about the harassment to which he purports to be subjected daily in the streets (–):35 frigidus a rostris manat per compita rumor; quicumque obvius est me consulit: ‘‘o bone, nam te scire, deos quoniam proprius contingis, oportet, numquid de Dacis audisti?’’ ‘‘nil equidem.’’ ‘‘ut tu semper eris derisor!’’ ‘‘at omnes di exagitent me, si quicquam.’’ ‘‘quid? militibus promissa Triquetra praedia Caesar an est Itala tellure daturus?’’ iurantem me scire nihil mirantur ut unum scilicet egregii mortalem altique silenti. A cold rumor runs down from the Rostra through the streets; everyone I run into on the street asks me: ‘‘Tell me, sir—for you ought to know, being so close to the gods—have you heard any news about the Dacians?’’ ‘‘Not me.’’ ‘‘Oh, you—you’re always playing the fool!’’ ‘‘Heaven help me if I know anything.’’ ‘‘What? Caesar promised land grants to his soldiers—will they be in Sicily or in Italy?’’ When I swear that I know nothing, they all mar-


Worldly Affairs vel at me as someone who is clearly unusually and profoundly close-mouthed.

Here Horace uses a typically undignified image of himself (at worst genuinely uninformed, at best pestered by inquiries and forced to feign ignorance) to acknowledge directly Octavian and Maecenas’s tremendous importance as the determiners of foreign and domestic policy, as well as their place at the very center of public attention. In  .., one year after the battle of Actium, it is they who hold the reins of power in Rome; quicumque obvius est wants to know about their plans—actions against the Dacians or the veterans’ land settlements (an absorbing and potentially worrisome issue for well-to-do Romans).36 Although his personal tribulations remain the primary subject, Horace is at the same time careful to emphasize that external political considerations would not be imposing themselves on his private experiences to anywhere near the same extent if these men were not in firm control of Rome’s future.

. Savior of the State Even when Horace offers his most open and emphatic support for Maecenas and Octavian, this support continues to be expressed principally through the presentation of vignettes from his private world. Paradoxically, the very directness of his sentiments on such occasions leaves his larger message open to darker and more pessimistic interpretation. Epodes , written in  .. but purporting to have been written earlier, stands of course mainly as a declaration of gratitude and loyal friendship to Maecenas. From the outset, this friendship is given a strong political resonance, as Horace envisions his amicus heading off on campaign as first officer to Octavian (–): ibis Liburnis inter alta navium, amice, propugnacula, paratus omne Caesaris periculum subire, Maecenas, tuo . . . . . . et te vel per Alpium iuga inhospitalem et Caucasum vel Occidentis usque ad ultimum sinum forti sequemur pectore.


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You will go on Liburnian boats among the high prows of ships, Maecenas my friend, ready to share in every danger that Caesar faces . . . And, whether over the ridges of the Alps and the inhospitable Caucasus, or all the way to the furthest shore of the West, I will follow you with a brave heart.

Such questions as who is going where, to what extent the Alps or the Caucasus were actually planned theaters of Octavian’s operations, or whether Maecenas and Horace were present at the battle of Actium,37 are less materially relevant than Horace’s presentation in Epodes  of Maecenas as being doggedly loyal to Octavian in this difficult and uncertain period, and himself in turn as wholeheartedly backing them both. Given the prominence of this poem as the opening dedication of the entire collection of Epodes, what initially might have seemed a privately expressed sentiment of personal friendship reveals itself as a firm and public message of support for the cause—one that, at the same time, exposes its author to the charge of excessive zeal, almost toadyism, that we have seen him grapple with elsewhere.38 In turn, Epodes  raises the idea that Octavian’s party represents the only escape for the long-suffering Roman people through Horace’s presentation of himself as anticipating the celebration he will hold with Maecenas after Octavian’s victory (–):39 quando repostum Caecubum ad festas dapes victore laetus Caesare tecum sub alta—sic Iovi gratum—domo, beate Maecenas, bibam sonante mixtum tibiis carmen lyra, hac Dorium, illis barbarum? ut nuper, actus cum freto Neptunius dux fugit ustis navibus, minatus urbi vincla, quae detraxerat servis amicus perfidis. Romanus eheu—posteri negabitis— emancipatus feminae fert vallum et arma, miles et spadonibus servire rugosis potest, interque signa turpe militaria sol adspicit conopium . . .




Worldly Affairs terra marique victus hostis punico lugubre mutavit sagum. aut ille centum nobilem Cretam urbibus, ventis iturus non suis, exercitatas aut petit Syrtes Noto, aut fertur incerto mari.



When (God willing) will I drink with you in the lofty house, fortunate Maecenas? When will I be overjoyed at Caesar’s victory, and drink with you the Caecuban wine that was laid down for special festival banquets, and enjoy the mingled song of foreign pipes and the sounding Dorian lyre? Just as we did recently, when the admiral son of Neptune fled, driven from the Straits with his ships burnt, although he had threatened the city with the chains that he had taken from the slaves who were his friends. Now a Roman—oh God, later generations will deny it—carries weapons and fortifications for a woman to whom he has surrendered, and a soldier finds himself able to serve a gang of wrinkled eunuchs, and the sun looks down upon a shameful pavilion placed among the military standards . . . Now, conquered on land and sea, the enemy changes from royal purple to a mourning cloak. Either he will head amid contrary winds for Crete, famous for its hundred cities, or he is seeking the Syrtes plagued by the south wind, or he is being tossed on the uncertain sea.

There has been much argument over the dramatic time and setting of this poem: is this a scene-by-scene commentary on the preliminaries and aftermath of the battle of Actium, or a hopeful prediction of what will occur? Is Horace speaking in his own home, at the home of Maecenas, or even on a ship at the battle itself ? 40 Perhaps Horace is retrospectively imagining himself at Maecenas’s house and there receiving breaking news of Actium. But in any case, to focus on such questions is largely to misinterpret the function of Epodes . Horace envisions a quasi-ceremonial banquet of thanksgiving, a celebration of Rome’s delivery from a great and barbarous peril comparable to that once posed by Jugurtha or Hannibal. He further presents himself as looking forward to drinking an array of fine wines with Maecenas, the friend and lieutenant of Octavian—to whom all this anticipated happiness is owed. The poem thus offers a compelling vision of Octavian’s heroic service to his people

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as reflected in one citizen’s gratitude and private festivity. At the same time, the preoccupation here with the recent military and political developments of the mid-thirties (the defeat of Sextus Pompeius [–] 41 and Cleopatra’s financing of Antonius’s war chest as well as the ensuing barrage of unpleasant Octavian propaganda [–]), and the recurrent note of morose uncertainty that marks Horace’s references to the future (quando tecum bibam? eheu—posteri negabitis), hint that the situation is still as incertus as the sea. Much remains to be done. Even by the publication of Odes – in  .., eight years after Actium and four years after the settlement of  .., the political situation in Rome remained dangerously unstable. In that year the princeps became seriously ill and was, in addition, forced to suppress a major conspiracy involving his consular colleague Terentius Varro Murena. It was, as Syme observes, ‘‘a year that might well have been the last, and was certainly the most critical, in all the long Principate of Augustus.’’ 42 In this atmosphere of crisis Horace continues to support the regime through tactful but clear recognition of what he presents as the continuing threat of catastrophe for the Roman people. His personal thoughts on the dangers of a relapse into civil war project a compelling image of Augustus as the only wall standing between Rome and imminent destruction, even though such an image also sharpens the underlying sense of terror at the chaos brewing in the state. As a result, much of the poet’s politically oriented writing in the Odes is marked by a high degree of directness and urgency. He makes frequent acknowledgment of the dire political and moral situation, striking a notably bleak note as he surveys the problems that threaten the Roman ship of state (Odes ..–):43 o navis, referent in mare te novi fluctus. o quid agis! fortiter occupa portum. nonne vides, ut nudum remigio latus et malus celeri saucius Africo antennaeque gemant, ac sine funibus vix durare carinae possint imperiosius aequor? non tibi sunt integra lintea, non di, quos iterum pressa voces malo.


Worldly Affairs O ship, fresh tides are bearing you out to sea. Oh, what are you doing? Be strong, and remain in the harbor! Do you see that your sides have no oars, your broken mast and yards are creaking in the fierce African wind, your keel without ropes can scarcely withstand the implacable sea? You have no intact sails, no gods on whom to call when overcome by calamity.44

In the later stanzas of Odes ., a sacral chorus is urged to sing the praises of Apollo, in the hope that the god will preserve Rome from war, famine, and pestilence; noteworthy is the tone of fearful anxiety conveyed by such terms as lacrimosus and misera, and the uncertainty of motus aget prece (–): hic bellum lacrimosum, hic miseram famem pestemque a populo et principe Caesare in Persas atque Britannos vestra motus aget prece. Moved by your prayer, Apollo will drive away tearful war, wretched famine, and plague from the people and from Caesar the princeps, and send them against the Persians and Britons.45

And in Odes ., the perceived immorality of the Roman populace elicits an unnervingly dark and pessimistic Hesiodic vision. Worse is yet to come, says Horace, as Rome spirals down through four generations of ever-worsening moral and spiritual decay (–, –): fecunda culpae saecula nuptias primum inquinavere et genus et domos: hoc fonte derivata clades in patriam populumque fluxit . . . damnosa quid non imminuit dies? aetas parentum, peior avis, tulit nos nequiores, mox daturos progeniem vitiosiorem. Our age, abundant in sin, has defiled marriage, the family, the household. Derived from this source, Disaster has flowed down upon our homeland and its people . . . What has this destructive time not ruined? The generation of our parents, worse than our

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grandparents, has produced us, even worse; soon we will produce a line of offspring filled with even more faults.

And yet, here too Horace gives to his poetry a more subtle resonance. Given Augustus’s long-standing interest in shoring up the institutions of marriage and family in Rome, there is an implicit expectation in these lines that the princeps will soon resolve even this serious problem.46 Nor can one overlook the complimentary allusion earlier in the poem to Augustus’s inauguration in  .. of a vast program of temple repair and rebuilding.47 Indirectly, then, Horace is broadcasting a positive political message to his readers—but one that must be searched for and that depends for its effect on the assumption and acceptance of Augustus’s continuing primacy. Indeed, Horace regularly cloaks his hopeful celebration of Augustus as the shining savior of Rome and of the Roman moral fabric in gloomy or otherwise jarring language. On such occasions, the mixture of ruler-cult panegyric and anxious references to the pressing situation (threatening barbarian hordes, for example) seems intended to mitigate or justify the extravagance of his praise (Odes ..– and ..–):48 gentis humanae pater atque custos, orte Saturno, tibi cura magni Caesaris fatis data: tu secundo Caesare regnes. ille seu Parthos Latio imminentes egerit iusto domitos triumpho, sive subiectos Orientis orae Seras et Indos, te minor latum reget aequus orbem. Father and guardian of the human race, son of Saturn, to you by the Fates has been entrusted the care of great Caesar: may you reign supreme, with Caesar next! Whether he leads in suitable triumph the broken Parthians who now threaten Latium, or the Chinese and Indians who border the shores of the rising sun, second to you he will justly rule the wide world.

caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem regnare; praesens divus habebitur


Worldly Affairs Augustus adiectis Britannis imperio gravibusque Persis. When Jupiter thunders in the sky, we believe that he reigns; now Augustus will be held to be a god on earth, when the Britons and the fearsome Parthians have been added to our empire.

These parallel strands of emotion—despair over society’s moral failings and optimistic faith in Augustus—are interwoven in such a way as to accentuate both the seriousness of the situation and the princeps’ crucial role in determining the fate of Rome. But on other occasions Horace underlines the connection between the princeps and Rome’s bad situation in a more ambiguous and pessimistic fashion. In Odes ., a prayer to Fortuna for the safety of Augustus is abruptly cut short, giving way to lugubrious lamentation for the past sins of civil war (–). Thus, although such passages might perhaps strike some modern readers as being unattractive or even servile in their adulatory tone, it is important rather to recognize the skill with which Horace has met his responsibility to create an overpowering impression of Augustus as being the one true savior of the state and the only hope for the Roman people, while yet managing to inject a certain ambivalence into his presentation. Significantly, he sends the same message that the princeps’ many manipulations of image and public opinion were intended to convey, thereby operating in synchrony with Augustus’s larger political and image-based calculations without ever necessarily committing either himself or his readers to wholehearted belief in their sure success. Indeed, Horace often diverges from the party line in the performance of his political functions, by delineating for himself a new self-image as an independent commentator on Augustus and his regime.49 In Odes ., for instance, Horace uses the pretext of the urgent moral and political situation to consider the position of Augustus in a markedly frank and undeferential manner. If Augustus wishes to be remembered with love and gratitude, the poet suggests, he will have to end civil strife and halt Rome’s downward slide into depravity (–): o quisquis volet impias caedes et rabiem tollere civicam, si quaeret ‘‘Pater Urbium’’ subscribi statuis, indomitam audeat

Savior of the State


refrenare licentiam, clarus postgenitis: quatenus, heu nefas, virtutem incolumem odimus, sublatam ex oculis quaerimus, invidi. Whoever would want to eliminate impious slaughter and the madness of civil war, if he wants the words ‘‘Father of Cities’’ to be inscribed upon his statues: let him dare to restrain uncontrollable wantonness and be famous among later generations, inasmuch as we in our envy—oh, the criminal shame of it— hate intact Virtue and only long for it when it has been removed from view.

That Augustus is the ultimate target of this firm, from-the-shoulder advice is clear from the veiled reference in these lines to the title of pater patriae (which the princeps seems to have considered long before it was officially awarded to him in  ..) and the explicit linking of the longterm prospects for peace with the legislation of domestic morality.50 The passage thus takes on an air of cool objectivity, further enhanced by the poet’s subsequent expression of doubt as to whether such legislation can ever be effective if the moral fiber is not already there (Odes ..–): ‘‘Quid leges sine moribus vanae proficiunt?’’ (What do empty laws accomplish, when mores are absent?) To be sure, Horace’s essential message remains that Augustus is indispensable to Rome, for it is he who will take the actions and initiate the reforms necessary for its survival. But the poet now speaks on a far more equal footing as an independent individual, whose separate yet valid viewpoint allows for direct commentary in a way that the oblivious personal perspective of the Satires did not.51 Engaging in such a complex mode of political discourse involves considerable hazard; there is always a very real possibility that different audiences will intercept and misinterpret each other’s intended messages. Odes ., for example, begins with a grim survey of the evil portents that have recently befallen Rome (–), similar in tone to passages cited above. The specter of civil war is specifically invoked as a sure sign of the coming end (–):52 audiet civis acuisse ferrum, quo graves Persae melius perirent, audiet pugnas vitio parentum rara iuventus.


Worldly Affairs quem vocet divum populus ruentis imperi rebus? prece qua fatigent virgines sanctae minus audientem carmina Vestam? The youth, made rare by the faults of their parents, will hear that citizens sharpened their swords for use against each other, those swords by which the terrible Persians should better have died. They will hear of civil war. Which god will the people call upon for the sake of a collapsing empire? With what prayer will the sacred virgins bore Vesta, who no longer listens to their hymns?

Several gods—Apollo, Venus, Mars, and Mercury—are beseeched to aid the Roman people in their time of need. But something unexpected occurs during this invocation: over the last three stanzas of the address to Mercury, the identity of the god slides imperceptibly into that of someone else. Patiens vocari Caesaris ultor seems an unusual epithet for Mercury, as does pater atque princeps. And in the final line of the poem he is revealed to have been Augustus all along—a god on earth, in an assumed human form (–): sive mutata iuvenem figura ales in terris imitaris almae filius Maiae, patiens vocari Caesaris ultor: serus in caelum redeas, diuque laetus intersis populo Quirini, neve te nostris vitiis iniquum ocior aura tollat; hic magnos potius triumphos, hic ames dici pater atque princeps, neu sinas Medos equitare inultos, te duce, Caesar. Or if with altered form you take the shape of a youth and fly down to earth, son of Maia, and allow yourself to be called the avenger of Caesar: late may you return to the sky, and long may you be happy to remain among the people of Quirinus, and may no swift breeze take you away, angry at our faults. Here instead

Savior of the State


may you enjoy great triumphs, here may you love to be called Father and Princeps, nor permit the Medes to ride unpunished so long as you are leader—Augustus Caesar.

What is the intended effect of this? Is Mercury’s metamorphosis into Augustus meant to be celebratory or disturbing? Nisbet and Hubbard term Horace’s identification of god and princeps ‘‘an offence against the Horatian qualities of moderation and rationality,’’ ascribing it to the poet’s incomplete understanding of the contemporary rise in the East of Augustan ruler-cults.53 Indeed, it is difficult at first not to see Horace here as simply having attempted and failed to strike a tricky balance between acceptable praise and clumsy panegyric. But the problem becomes more serious when we turn to consider the specific political implications of the poem. To begin with, Horace’s description of Mercury as Caesaris ultor (–) and subsequent identification of Mercury with Augustus effectively reestablish the same link between Octavian/Augustus and the deified Julius Caesar that Octavian himself had emphasized long ago. This is a dangerous move for the poet to make: twenty years earlier, Octavian had cleverly gained political credibility and auctoritas by casting himself as Caesaris ultor, the avenging son (by adoption) of the murdered Divus Julius. But since  .., Augustus had largely obscured this relationship, inasmuch as it fit awkwardly with the promulgated image of republica restituta, ‘‘the Republic Restored,’’ upon which the constitutional settlement was based in that year.54 As such, Horace is running two serious risks. He has made allusion to a defunct political ploy now potentially embarrassing to the princeps and, at the same time, has reminded his external audience that Julius Caesar was assassinated while at the very height of his political strength (hence Octavian’s pledge of vengeance)—a sobering thought. Augustus now enjoys almost the same position and power as did his predecessor; can it be that he, too, is vulnerable? Will he, too, be voted a posthumous deification? We recall that the overall atmosphere of Odes . is one of impending doom, as the poet contemplates the prospect of a collapsing empire. And, in emphasizing the seriousness of Rome’s situation, Horace has pointed to the immediate danger of further suffering for the Roman people should Augustus disappear. Such a formulation ingeniously compliments the princeps by implying that he alone is the one true guarantor of Rome’s future, but the picture of what that future may hold is troubling. The princeps himself, overlooking the deeper im-


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plications of Horace’s words, might well bristle at this resurrection of his relationship with Julius Caesar and the attendant suggestion that he faces a similar possibility of assassination. Odes . is thus unsuccessful, indeed, but not because Horace’s contemporary readers would have been uncomfortable with his ‘‘offensive’’ enshrinement of Augustus as a god on earth, as Nisbet and Hubbard suggest.55 Rather, the poem falls victim to Horace’s uncharacteristic mismanagement of his audience, the result of his privileging the perspective of the outer over the inner ring. In this instance, the ambiguity of Horace’s self-ascribed position as commentator on the regime has undone his attempt to accommodate the multiple implications of celebrating Augustus’s transcendent primacy in the Roman state.56

. The Poet’s Burden Elsewhere in his corpus Horace is quite forthcoming about the peculiar challenges and difficulties he faced as a central member of Augustus’s and Maecenas’s literary-political team. This is not to say that Horace ever directly complains about the burdens of working on behalf of the cause; rather, just as he did in treating his friendship with Maecenas, Horace acknowledges in his verse the special pressures under which he operates while simultaneously doing what is requested of him. It is his familiar tactic of self-consciously preemptive and defensive analysis, now put to a new use. One tool to which Horace naturally has frequent recourse in his illustration of the onerous nature of writing political poetry is the recusatio, a poet’s coyly deferential request that he be excused from writing the grand epic that the subject matter in question requires, on the grounds of personal inability and lack of talent. Indeed, Horace’s use of this form is especially politicized, since the requested themes on which he politely declines to write are not mythical kings and battles but the military exploits of Augustus and his lieutenants—masters of the current political scene and his own powerful amici superiores. What is more, the specific language with which he turns down these requests often carries the suggestion that considerations of politics and image have motivated Horace’s refusal no less than his poetic commitment to a Callimachean ‘‘slender Muse.’’ 57 Agrippa, the victor of Actium and Augustus’s most trusted military commander, receives a recusatio in the first book of the Odes. Horace suggests that Agrippa apply instead to the epic poet Varius for a praise poem,

The Poet’s Burden


claiming of himself that pudor and the strictures of the lyric genre prevent him from assuming a task that so clearly needs an epic treatment (Odes ..–): scriberis Vario fortis et hostium victor Maeonii carminis alite, quam rem cumque ferox navibus aut equis miles te duce gesserit. nos, Agrippa, neque haec dicere . . . conamur, tenues grandia, dum pudor imbellisque lyrae Musa potens vetat laudes egregii Caesaris et tuas culpa deterere ingeni. You, brave conqueror of the enemy, will be written about by Varius, a bird of the Maeonian song—whatever deed the fierce soldier has accomplished on ship or horseback, with you as his leader. We will not attempt to speak of these things, Agrippa, being too weak for grand themes, so long as modesty and the Muse who controls the unwarlike lyre forbid that my lack of talent should detract from yours and incomparable Caesar’s glory.

But this is not simply a matter of modesty or generic limitations; Horace also worries that if he were to write in praise of the admiral, the shortcomings of his own ingenium would not only fail to enhance but might damage the public stature of Agrippa and Augustus himself (laudes . . . culpa deterere ingeni ). One is reminded of Augustus’s attested concern that only the finest authors be allowed to praise him, lest incompetent celebrations actually detract from his dignitas.58 By making his refusal in this way, Horace calls attention to the fact that more is at stake than simply observing the correct literary form; the poet must also make certain that his praises will be acceptable once they are written and will not plunge him into disfavor for having insulted the dignity of his subject or his friends. The recusatio thus takes on a sharper edge of personal yet politically motivated anxiety. Horace makes clear the rewards and pitfalls involved in writing for Octavian/Augustus specifically in Satires ., where Trebatius suggests to him a literary topic likely to prove both lucrative and a sure road to good favor with the mighty triumvir. Horace, however, portrays himself as being not so sure (–):


Worldly Affairs ‘‘aut si tantus amor scribendi te rapit, aude Caesaris invicti res dicere, multa laborum praemia laturus.’’ ‘‘cupidum, pater optime, vires deficiunt: neque enim quivis horrentia pilis agmina nec fracta pereuntis cuspide Gallos aut labentis equo describat vulnera Parthi.’’ ‘‘attamen et iustum poteras et scribere fortem, Scipiadam ut sapiens Lucilius.’’ ‘‘haud mihi dero, cum res ipsa feret: nisi dextro tempore, Flacci verba per attentam non ibunt Caesaris aurem, cui male si palpere, recalcitrat undique tutus.’’ ‘‘Well, if such a love of writing compels you, you should undertake to speak of the deeds of unconquered Caesar. You would earn great rewards for your trouble.’’ ‘‘I wish I could, sir, but strength is lacking on my part. It’s not everyone who can describe the battle lines bristling with spears, or Gauls dying with broken lances, or the wounds of the Parthian as he falls from his horse.’’ ‘‘But you could write about him, just and valiant, as clever Lucilius wrote about Scipio.’’ ‘‘I will not let myself down, when the opportunity presents itself; but the words of a Flaccus will reach the listening ear of Caesar only when the time is right. If you stroke him clumsily, he kicks back and becomes altogether guarded.’’

As Trebatius notes, the potential rewards for writing such celebratory poetry are immense. But Horace points out (to his external readers as well as to his interlocutor and Octavian himself ) the considerable difficulties involved, not only in writing such verses but even in approaching their recipient in order to present them at the right moment.59 The powerful man’s response to a poem written in his honor is difficult to gauge beforehand, and may culminate in displeasure and disgrace for the unfortunate celebrant. Horace reemphasizes this point years later in Epistles ., when he gives a string of instructions to one Vinnius, imagined in the work to be carrying a collection of Horace’s verses to Augustus (–, –): ut proficiscentem docui te saepe diuque, Augusto reddes signata volumina, Vinni, si validus, si laetus erit, si denique poscet;

The Poet’s Burden


ne studio nostri pecces odiumque libellis sedulus importes opera vehemente minister . . . ne vulgo narres te sudavisse ferendo carmina, quae possint oculos aurisque morari Caesaris . . . Just as I instructed you often and at length when you set out, Vinnius, please give these sealed rolls to Augustus. If he’s in good health, if he’s in high spirits—basically if he asks for them. Don’t make a mistake out of zeal for my cause or bring odium upon my little books by being too officious and enthusiastic as the agent for my works . . . and don’t tell everybody that you worked up a sweat by carrying around poems that might catch the eyes and ears of Caesar.

The poem has a strongly humorous feel; the Vinnius referred to is possibly the praetorian centurion of that name who was famous for his great strength, in which case Horace’s references to the weight of the books and to Vinnius stumbling and dropping them en route would be comically incongruous.60 But even if its effect is intentionally amusing, Horace’s self-image here remains that of a fearful author nervously anticipating his work’s reception and pestering his messenger saepe diuque as he imagines all the things that might go wrong. This should be taken primarily as comprising an allusion to all the pressures and anxieties that befall any poet who attempts to write for the emperor. The effect of these passages is complex: Augustus could not fail to be amused (and pleased) by such inventive allusions to the power he wielded, but at the same time they serve to remind other readers of the challenging burden Horace carried as a poet of the regime. In effect, different rings of audience are once more being directed to consider different things. The ultimate result is to showcase Horace’s successful celebration of Augustus and his Principate, and yet simultaneously raise the curtain slightly on the internal processes and attendant difficulties of composing such celebrations. It is a remarkably subtle performance, and a quintessentially Horatian one.


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. Free and Independent Support There remains one final way in which Horace employs the techniques of self-presentation in order to meet his responsibility to the Augustan regime. Recruitment of the best poets to act as publicists and celebrants of the cause was one of the earliest hallmarks of Octavian and Maecenas’s image campaign. As the immediate patron, Maecenas might suggest suitable topics and themes for poetic treatment but otherwise leave these poets free to write independently and as they pleased.61 Precisely this allowance of artistic autonomy enabled Horace to create his most effective technique for articulating and advancing Caesar’s political inevitability in a non-threatening way: to wit, his presentation of himself as neither paid mouthpiece nor detached or subversive critic but as a free and independent Roman spontaneously and privately choosing the better option for his people’s future. We took note earlier of the way in which Horace’s dark visions of Rome’s degenerating morality and pessimistic forecasts of a desperate future created problems for his message, despite (or in some cases because of ) his balancing of this picture with an image of Augustus as the hope of Rome, a quasi-divine savior who will rescue the people from themselves. Elsewhere, however, Horace offers us a more subtle and effective endorsement of Augustus’s service to the state, through more skillful handling of his own self-image. By depicting himself as skeptical or at best indifferent to this projected image of Augustus as beloved hero, Horace paradoxically demonstrates the freedom and clemency that were presented as the central, guiding ideals of the ‘‘Restored Republic.’’ He thereby cements the positive image of the regime which, on a superficial level, he purports to question, while deftly addressing any potential doubts of his readers by seeming to share their concerns. Certain of the Epodes provide a useful point of departure for consideration of this technique, particularly those written prior to Horace’s association with Maecenas.62 In these, Horace offers no discernible escape from the decay and destruction that the Romans have brought upon themselves (Epod.): quo, quo scelesti ruitis? aut cur dexteris aptantur enses conditi? parumne campis atque Neptuno super

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fusum est Latini sanguinis? non ut superbas invidae Carthaginis Romanus arces ureret, intactus aut Britannus ut descenderet Sacra catenatus Via, sed ut secundum vota Parthorum sua urbs haec periret dextera . . . sic est: acerba fata Romanos agunt scelusque fraternae necis, ut immerentis fluxit in terram Remi sacer nepotibus cruor. Where, where are you rushing in your wickedness? Why are your hands drawing the swords that were laid away? Has too little Latin blood been poured over the fields and upon the sea? Not shed so that the Roman might burn the proud citadels of jealous Carthage, or that the still untouched Briton might walk down the Via Sacra in chains, but that this city might die by its own hand—a pleasing fulfilment to the prayers of the Parthians . . . It is so: a terrible fate pursues the Romans, and the crime of a brother slain, when the blood of innocent Remus flowed over the earth, a curse for his descendants.63

This Sallustian sentiment is repeated in Epodes , where the poet, looking ahead to the catastrophe of worsening civil strife, calls apocalyptically for an abandonment of Rome altogether (–, –): altera iam teritur bellis civilibus aetas, suis et ipsa Roma viribus ruit. quam neque finitimi valuerunt perdere Marsi minacis aut Etrusca Porsenae manus . . . impia perdemus devoti sanguinis aetas, ferisque rursus occupabitur solum . . . ire, pedes quocumque ferent, quocumque per undas Notus vocabit aut protervus Africus. sic placet? an melius quis habet suadere? secunda ratem occupare quid moramur alite? sed iuremus in haec: simul imis saxa renarint vadis levata, ne redire sit nefas.


Worldly Affairs Now another generation is ground down by civil war, and Rome herself collapses under her own strength. The city that the neighboring Marsi were not strong enough to destroy, nor the Etruscan horde of menacing Porsena . . . we, an impious generation of accursed stock, we will destroy it, and once again it will be occupied only by the wild beasts . . . To go wherever our feet take us, wherever the South wind or the rough African wind will call us over the waves. Is this what we want? Or does someone have a better suggestion? Why are we hesitating to board the ship, since the omens are favorable? But let us swear to this: when the rocks are raised up from the deep waves and float once more, only then let it not be a sin to return.

But the political resonance of these poems is diffuse rather than linked to any specific historical context, and is closely tied up with considerations of the poet’s art. In conveying the basic message that Rome is on the verge of total annihilation because of its failings and internal strife, Epodes  stands as a darkly qualifying response to the celebratory Eclogues  of Horace’s friend Virgil, written in  or  .. (Ecl..–):64 teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te consule, inibit, Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses; te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri, inrita perpetua solvent formidine terras. In your consulship, yours, Pollio, will begin this glorious age, and the great months will begin their progress. Under your reign, if any traces remain of our wickedness, they will become void and free the land from their unending dread.

In Epodes , by contrast, no imminent time of wonder is prophecied, and the gloom is unrelenting; Horace does not openly declare here that there is any hope of salvation, much less suggest as in Odes . that Rome’s future rests in the hands of a particular individual.65 He makes no specific reference to Octavian, positive or negative—except insofar as he is implied to be part of the problem, as one of the instigators of civil strife. It is all a very different proposition from his eloquent and skillful celebration, in so many of the Odes, of Augustus’s founding of a new Golden Age. But these Epodes were written very early in Horace’s literary career, when the young poet was unassociated with Maecenas and still a recently impoverished refugee from the political turmoil of the time. We should

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therefore avoid interpreting them as truly expressing the deep pessimism of an individual who happened then to have no connection to the current political situation. They rather reflect an early time before Horace had become an associate of Maecenas and developed these visions of the impending destruction of Rome into a favored mechanism for presenting Octavian/Augustus as the powerful agent of Rome’s salvation. Epodes  and  demonstrate the extent to which Horace’s techniques were based on the elaboration and political redirection of themes that had always been present in his poetry. In any case, Horace’s signalling of personal independence and freedom to express individual views can be found at the heart of his most effective demonstrations of support for Augustus and his regime. In Odes ., for instance, Horace presents himself as joyfully welcoming home an old companion-in-arms from his days as a tribune under Brutus in the Republican army (–, –): o saepe mecum tempus in ultimum deducte Bruto militiae duce, quis te redonavit Quiritem dis patriis Italoque caelo, Pompei, meorum prime sodalium, cum quo morantem saepe diem mero fregi, coronatus nitentes malobathro Syrio capillos? . . . oblivioso levia Massico ciboria exple, funde capacibus unguenta de conchis. quis udo deproperare apio coronas curatve myrto? quem Venus arbitrum dicet bibendi? non ego sanius bacchabor Edonis: recepto dulce mihi furere est amico. Brutus often led you and me both into desperate situations, back when he was the commander of the army. Pompeius, my best friend, with whom I often whiled away the lingering day with wine, a crown on my head, my hair glistening with Syrian ointment: Who has returned you now, as a citizen, to your country’s


Worldly Affairs gods and to the Italian sky? . . . Fill up the light cups with carefree Massic wine, pour out the perfumes from the large bottles! Who will hurry to prepare the garlands of yielding parsley or myrtle? Whom will the dice name as the drinks-master? I will rave, as wild as the Edones: it pleases me to go crazy, now that my friend has returned.

Pompeius, Horace’s friend, is imagined as having only just returned at last to Rome after years spent fighting in the civil wars on the anti-Octavian side. Horace’s eager anticipation of their joyous (and raucous) reunion party thus stands in part as a testament to the praiseworthy clementia of the princeps in allowing another former opponent to come home. And indeed, Augustus’s displays of mercy and forgiveness to old Republicans are well attested, as are his calculated gestures of respect for the memory of Cato Uticensis and others.66 Imperial clementia is likewise manifest in the freedom with which Horace celebrates this return in a published work of poetry and the fondness with which he recalls his service in the Republican cause. Augustus is thus once again revealed to be the invaluable benefactor of Rome, as witnessed by the license he has given Horace to live and write as he pleases. The past is forgiven and forgotten; Rome turns, under the rule of Augustus, to a new and happier future. A message such as this depends for its impact on the indirection with which it is conveyed. Perhaps even more striking a demonstration of the ambiguity of Horace’s depiction of independence comes with his portrait in Odes . of the downfall of Cleopatra after the battle of Actium.67 The poem begins straightforwardly enough, with an exuberant call for celebration and allusions to a standard theme of the propaganda war of the thirties—the crazed and drunken queen, surrounded by her gang of foreign perverts (–): nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus, nunc Saliaribus ornare pulvinar deorum tempus erat dapibus, sodales. antehac nefas depromere Caecubum cellis avitis, dum Capitolio regina dementes ruinas, funus et imperio parabat

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contaminato cum grege turpium morbo virorum, quidlibet impotens sperare fortunaque dulci ebria . . . Now we must drink and beat the ground with our free feet. Now, friends, it is time to adorn the couch of the gods with sumptuous feasts. Before now it would have been a sin to bring out the Caecuban wine from our grandfathers’ cellars, so long as that queen was planning maddened ruin for the Capitol and destruction for the empire; she with her foul gang of wicked and diseased men, she unrestrained, ready for anything, and drunk on her good fortune.

But as Horace recounts the aftermath of Actium, new images begin to collide with this picture of Cleopatra as a frightening monster. Octavian is envisioned in noble and warlike tones as a hawk or a hunter, and his raging enemy is likewise turned into his weakling prey, a dove or a hare (–): . . . mentemque lymphatam Mareotico redegit in veros timores Caesar, ab Italia volantem remis adurgens, accipiter velut molles columbas aut leporem citus venator in campis nivalis Haemoniae, daret ut catenis fatale monstrum . . . Caesar drove her mind, unbalanced by Mareotic wine, into genuine terrors. He chased her by ship as she flew from Italy—just as the hawk chases soft doves or the quick hunter chases a hare on the snowy fields of Haemonia—in order to clap the deadly monster in chains.

Horace strikes a parallel here with Iliad .–, in which exactly the same simile—hawk and dove—is used to describe Achilles as he pursues Hector around the walls of Troy. But its effect on the tone and atmosphere of Odes . is unexpected. By equating Octavian with Achilles and Cleopatra with Hector, Horace celebrates Actium through graceful


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and flattering comparison of the Roman leader to a Homeric hero. At the same time, he also implicitly extends the same compliment to the Egyptian queen, imparting to her a curious duality; she is likened simultaneously to a terrible fatale monstrum and the tragic figure of the Trojan prince, about to die for his city. Thus introduced, the closing scene of Cleopatra’s suicide, although it assuredly enhances the glory of Octavian’s victory (since a triumph over a worthy foe is far more admirable and politically valuable than the crushing of some vile degenerate), also leaves the reader of the poem with a profound sense of her nobility and strength of character (–): . . . quae generosius perire quaerens nec muliebriter expavit ensem nec latentes classe cita reparavit oras. ausa et iacentem visere regiam vultu sereno, fortis et asperas tractare serpentes, ut atrum corpore combiberet venenum, deliberata morte ferocior; saevis Liburnis scilicet invidens privata deduci superbo non humilis mulier triumpho. Seeking a nobler death, she did not quail like a woman at the sword, nor did she flee to hidden shores with her swift fleet. She dared to look calmly upon her fallen kingdom and was brave enough to handle poisonous snakes, so that she might absorb their black venom into her body. Resolving on death had made her all the more bold. Clearly, she scorned to be a former queen, brought by the cruel Liburnians to be led in some proud triumph. An uncommon woman.

Not all would agree with the above reading of Odes .. Nisbet and Hubbard, for instance, do not ascribe to Cleopatra’s characterization any particularly redeeming features, seeing it instead as ‘‘Roman throughout. There is no languorous death-scene; the snakes are horrible and scaly to the touch; Cleopatra dies from pride and not for love. Horace uses precise and prosaic words . . . [and] gibes . . . Cleopatra commits

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suicide only to cheat the carnifex.’’ 68 But the obviously politicized, triumphalist, and resolutely Roman atmosphere of the work does not preclude us from appreciating what should be equally obvious—that here, as Michael Putnam notes, ‘‘in the poet’s boldest reference to Caesar, does an Horatian speaker forthrightly promote [as a] subject the moral perplexities of [Actium] . . . Not Caesar but Cleopatra rules the poem, a reminder that the individual can still stand up to Rome, and be glorified through a lyric poet’s candor.’’ 69 There is much here that is crucially relevant to our understanding of Horace’s method of handling his political responsibility to the Augustan regime. Odes . is indeed a demonstration of individuality—not only the individuality expressed in Cleopatra’s defiance but also the individuality of a poet who shows respect for the enemies of his state even as he celebrates their defeat. But it is is most emphatically not a work of subversion or criticism of Augustus. Rather, it constitutes an allusion to the different ways in which historical events can subsequently be treated. The display of candor noted by Putnam becomes a testament to the freedom of poets and citizens alike to speak their minds, which Augustus was careful to proclaim he personally had restored. Thus, even when Horace seems to turn away from issues of state in favor of homely and decidedly apolitical themes, he continues, as in the Satires, to give expression to the central messages of the Octavian/Augustan regime. Major events such as Augustus’s return from a three-year tour of the western provinces in  .. (a crucial phase of his program of imperial organization) may be referred to in exclusively personal terms,70 with public ceremonies and customs of thanksgiving (Odes ..–) replaced by Horace’s private plans and preoccupations: perfume, garlands, a fine old wine, a puella to come sing at his dinner, and his own advancing age (–, –): Herculis ritu modo dictus, o plebs, morte venalem petiisse laurum Caesar Hispana repetit penates victor ab ora . . . i, pete unguentum, puer, et coronas et cadum Marsi memorem duelli, Spartacum si qua potuit vagantem fallere testa.


Worldly Affairs dic et argutae properet Neaerae murreum nodo cohibere crinem; si per invisum mora ianitorem fiet, abito. lenit albescens animos capillus litium et rixae cupidos protervae; non ego hoc ferrem calidus iuventa consule Planco. People of Rome: Caesar, who just now was said like Hercules to have sought the laurel wreath at the price of death, is returning victorious from the shores of Spain to his household gods . . . go, boy, get the perfumes and garlands, and a wine jar or pitcher that remembers the Marsian War, if there is any that was able to escape the ravages of wandering Spartacus. And tell melodious Neaera to hurry and tie back in a knot her blonde hair. If there is a delay because of the hateful doorkeeper, let him be off ! My whitening hair lessens my spirit for strife and my desire for wanton brawling; I would not have tolerated this when I was hot with youth, back in the consulship of Plancus.

But we can see that this purported declaration of ‘‘apoliticality’’ clearly has a strong political resonance,71 especially when one takes into account the significance of the dates and events alluded to in the last three stanzas: the Social War of – .. (Marsum duellum), the revolt of Spartacus in – .. (Spartacus vagans), and the battle of Philippi in  .. (consule Planco), all occasions when the Roman state faced and withstood great peril. As Fraenkel observes, ‘‘The thought [of the close of Odes .], while still dwelling on the res publica populi Romani, is gliding into the sphere of the res privata of the poet . . . [and] it is with a turning-point in the recent history of the res publica that the ‘private’ part of the ode concludes. We now see that the two parts of the poem, however different the origin of their themes, are woven into one closely knit texture.’’ 72 After all, it is Augustus’s return from an important mission of imperial organization that has prompted Horace’s celebration; the poet makes it clear that he is able to turn to his own pleasures in this fashion only because of the princeps’ invaluable services to the state. Augustus has the affairs of Rome well in hand, his audience is assured, and thanks to him the res publica is no longer in danger, as it has been so often in the past.

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Each reader is invited to join Horace in focusing on his own res privata with a clear conscience and a heart liberated from fear. As a result, when Horace urges Maecenas in Odes . to abandon his worries and take refuge with him in a few hours of quiet and apolitical ease as he observes the holiday of the Matronalia, coincidentally his personal anniversary of nearly being hit by a falling tree branch, all the rings of his audience are in effect being invited to bask in the unmistakable political glow. The affairs of empire that Horace instructs his friend to forget have been left in the capable hands of the princeps, and everything in the world (including the barbarian hordes that once seemed so menacing) is safely under control (–): sume, Maecenas, cyathos amici sospitis centum et vigiles lucernas perfer in lucem: procul omnis esto clamor et ira. mitte civiles super urbe curas: occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen, Medus infestus sibi luctuosis dissidet armis, servit Hispanae vetus hostis orae Cantaber, sera domitus catena, iam Scythae laxo meditantur arcu cedere campis. neglegens, ne qua populus laboret, parce privatus nimium cavere et dona praesentis cape laetus horae ac linque severa. Raise a hundred glasses to your friend who was spared, Maecenas, and keep the lanterns lit until dawn. Let all uproar and anger be far away. Dismiss your state cares and concerns for the city: the forces of Cotiso the Dacian have been crushed; the hostile Parthians are fighting each other with grief-causing weapons; the Cantabrian (our old enemy of the Spanish coast) has been enslaved and is at last mastered with chains; already the Scythians are planning to leave the plains, their bows unstrung. Don’t trouble yourself, be a private citizen, and stop worrying that the


Worldly Affairs people have to do any work at all; be happy, accept the gifts of this hour, and leave all serious things behind.73

Parce privatus nimium cavere: the advice is meant for Horace’s other readers as well. With his strength and virtue, Augustus safeguards the happiness of the people, so secure in his place at the helm that he no longer needs the help even of his oldest and closest advisers in keeping the ship of state on an even keel. For Horace, Maecenas, and the outside readers alike, acceptance of the Augustan regime has brought at last the chance of restful peace.

. Conclusion: Multiple Indirections Let us close with a consideration of Odes ., addressed to Asinius Pollio, for here Horace manages to capture within a single poem almost all the varied aspects and implications of his technique of addressing to multiple audiences his indirect support of the Augustan regime. Pollio, of course, had very much followed his own path throughout the civil wars. He remained infuriatingly neutral during the war with Antonius and, after Actium, continued for years to stand as a symbol of libertas, a ‘‘privileged nuisance’’ to the new Principate.74 When the poem opens, Pollio is engaged in writing a history of the civil wars, taking  .. as his starting point and continuing down to Actium—a risky project to be contemplating, as Horace warns him (–): motum ex Metello consule civicum bellique causas et vitia et modos ludumque Fortunae gravesque principum amicitias et arma nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus, periculosae plenum opus aleae, tractas et incedis per ignes suppositis cineri doloso. You are writing on the civil disturbances during the consulship of Metellus; the causes of war, and the mistakes, and the methods, and the play of Fortune, and the destructive friendships of rulers, and weapons stained with blood still unatoned for. It is

Multiple Indirections


a work filled with dangerous chance, and you are walking over fires that smolder beneath the deceitful ashes.

By addressing the opening poem of Odes  to such a politically awkward figure—and especially by giving such prominence to his history, a work guaranteed to offer a coolly trenchant perspective on past events and ruthless actions that the princeps in his new, more benevolent guise of the twenties .. would be embarrassed to have dredged up again— Horace does a number of things for the various rings of his audience. He compliments Pollio for his daring independence, and fulfills his obligations to his important amicus for beneficia received.75 He reminds outside readers of the crimes of the triumvirate and of the dangers involved in speaking of them now that a single survivor from that era is in control. But at the same time, by broadcasting such messages, Horace also exhibits the freedom of speech that he enjoys as a beneficiary of the clementia for which Augustus himself wished above all to be celebrated. Thus, Horace’s seemingly bold gesture of warning to Pollio in Odes . is revealed to be at the same time a calculated celebration of the Augustan achievement. Indeed, when thoughts of Pollio’s forthcoming project elicit in turn a cry of despair over the crimes and tragedies of the past civil strife reminiscent of those we have found elsewhere (–)— quis non Latino sanguine pinguior campus sepulcris impia proelia testatur auditumque Medis Hesperiae sonitum ruinae? qui gurges aut quae flumina lugubris ignara belli? quod mare Dauniae non decoloravere caedes? quae caret ora cruore nostro? What plain is not enriched by Latin gore, which field does not testify with its graves to the wicked battles and the sound of Hesperia’s ruin, heard by the Medes? What streams or rivers do not know of the sorrowful war? What sea has not been stained with Daunian slaughter? What shores are free from our blood?

—Horace recoils from such darkly mournful thoughts to turn back in the final lines to lighter and happier themes (–):


Worldly Affairs sed ne relictis, Musa procax, iocis Ceae retractes munera neniae, mecum Dionaeo sub antro quaere modos leviore plectro. But lest you abandon jokes, my wanton Muse, and bring back the works of the Cean dirge, come seek with me in a Dionaean cave the measures of a lighter tune.

That Horace portrays himself as able to reject the specter of civil war so easily, to embrace instead the pleasures of ioci and a plectrum levius, is itself a declaration that unhappiness and political strife are things of the past, thanks to the benevolence and vigilance of the princeps. Once again, each ring of audience is tactfully made to realize that Augustus alone has saved the Roman people and has freed them to devote themselves peacefully to their private pursuits. Horace played a dangerous game by writing on and for the Augustan regime in the way he did. In airing what he presents as his personal experiences and opinions, he risks encouraging others to persist in their independent and sometimes hostile views regarding contemporary political developments. When he articulates such frightening visions of Rome’s desperate plight, he risks overstating and thereby weakening the case for the princeps as the only viable solution. By acknowledging his difficulties as he works for the cause, he risks the chance that Augustus will misunderstand the purpose of his candor, just as Augustus himself faced the possibility that his attempts to curb Rome’s self-destructive tendencies would be misread as threats to the authority and prestige of the senatorial nobility. But the gamble was clearly worthwhile, and Horace was right to take it. For in so doing, he managed to craft a technique for the writing of political poetry that was eminently suited to his remarkable talent for manipulating the responses of his audiences and for finding the exact balance between their often contradictory demands. In an age when the conscious management of images represented a basic engine of political and social life, Horace was a master of the art and, quintessentially, a man of his time.

       

Creating Reality

People being what they are, image often trumps substance when it comes to persuading them to believe in the worth and rightness of an idea, a program, a product, or an individual. Political candidates frequently win elections not because of any inherent superiority in their ideas or platforms, but because they campaign more effectively or simply give the impression of being more appealing. A court case may be decided through an advocate’s skill in swaying the jurors rather than through the merits (or lack thereof ) of his or her brief. Indeed, such is the power of image that it sometimes becomes the sole basis of the discourse, dominating and guiding that which it was initially intended only to enhance or conceal. Fact ends by following presentation; the fabricated becomes the true. On these occasions, the manipulator of images must have some room to maneuver—especially if the image he wishes to modify is his own. He must find a way to overcome the natural resistance of his audiences, so that he may focus on shaping their perceptions of him. If the circumstances shift and the old techniques prove to be no longer effective, he must adapt to the new situation by developing different tactics. When creating reality, flexibility is the key. Horace knew this principle well. Throughout his works, we have seen that he does more than neatly manage the various requirements of his different and often incompatible audiences; he shows himself adept at making minute or drastic adjustments to his self-image, as required in each case, in order to give expression to his chosen themes. Like a great military commander, Horace demonstrates a remarkable capacity for rapidly summing up a given situation and then implementing a response that is calculated to bring about its successful resolution. Personal narrative, self-deprecating humor, sober discussion, lofty statement: each is applied by turns at the very moment when it will be the most effective, and then just as quickly dropped and replaced by something else. In 



much the same fashion, Horace appears to have been able to overhaul his entire method of self-presentation and audience address when it became necessary to do so. As we have seen, his complicated use of self-imagery and deft handling of multiple readers were techniques perfectly suited to the uncertainties and pressures of Rome in the thirties and twenties .. But such artful posturing lost much of its usefulness once Augustus had largely resolved the problems of governmental stabilization and had begun to turn his attention instead to commemorating his achievements and ensuring the perpetuation of the system he had created. The time had come for open celebration of the Augustan triumph, not elusive and ambiguous demonstrations of the poet’s independent-minded acceptance of the regime. Thus, Horace hails the recovery in  .. of Crassus’s standards from Parthia as a military rather than a diplomatic victory, following the ‘‘official’’ symbolism.1 He composes the Carmen saeculare by special commission for the princeps’ Secular Games of  .., taking care on this public occasion to incorporate into his text many of the most central Augustan motifs.2 And, as befits a man so well attuned to the requirements of his immediate situation and the nature of his place in a changing world, he embarks after  .. on a new and very different style of political poetry. Gone is his earlier indirection, and simultaneous address of separate audiences—for only one audience really matters now. Instead, the poet of Odes  and Epistles  speaks with a new effusiveness that borders at times on the panegyric.3 Horace had, of course, bestowed glowing praise on Augustus in the past but had always placed his compliments in the context of the urgent political situation and moral dangers of the time. His encomia are now far more straightforward, eschewing complicated personal stances in favor of fervent exaltation of the princeps (Odes ..–): divis orte bonis, optime Romulae custos gentis, abes iam nimium diu; maturum reditum pollicitus patrum sancto concilio redi. lucem redde tuae, dux bone, patriae; instar veris enim vultus ubi tuus adfulsit populo, gratior it dies et soles melius nitent . . .

Creating Reality


sic desideriis icta fidelibus quaerit patria Caesarem. Born of the kindly gods, finest guardian of the race of Romulus, already you have been away for too long. Come back, for you promised your quick return to the sacred council of the senators. Give back the light, great leader, to your country; for when your face, like the Spring, has shown upon the people, there comes a more pleasing day, and the sun shines more beautifully . . . In this way does the country, overcome with loyal desire, long for Caesar.

He cheers specific accomplishments of Augustus with far greater frequency. Indeed, at times Horace directly connects his praises to acts and events specially mentioned in the emperor’s Res gestae—the return of the Parthian standards, the closing of the Janus Gate, and the revival of Rome’s former glory and moral strength—underscoring the much closer synchronization in this period of Horace’s political poetry with the central symbols of the Augustan regime (Odes ..–):4 . . . tua, Caesar, aetas fruges et agris rettulit uberes et signa nostro restituit Iovi derepta Parthorum superbis postibus et vacuum duellis Ianum Quirini clausit et ordinem rectum evaganti frena licentiae iniecit emovitque culpas et veteres revocavit artes, per quas Latinum nomen et Italae crevere vires famaque et imperi porrecta maiestas ad ortus solis ab Hesperio cubili. custode rerum Caesare non furor civilis aut vis exiget otium, non ira, quae procudit enses et miseras inimicat urbes.


Conclusion Your age, Caesar, has returned rich crops to the fields and has brought back to our Jupiter the standards ripped down from the haughty columns of the Parthians. It has closed the gate of Quirinus, free from wars; it has put restraints on the licentiousness that transgresses proper order; it has banished crimes and recalled the ancient skills through which the Latin name and the strength of Italy grew, and the fame and majesty of Empire was stretched forth from the Sun’s Hesperian couch to the place of its rising. As long as Caesar stands guard, neither civil strife nor violence will drive out peace, nor that anger which forges swords and makes the wretched cities turn hostile.

Mindful of the unquestioned place of the Julio-Claudian family at the center of Rome’s governmental and military affairs, Horace also showers fulsome praise on scions and protégés of the princeps, such as Claudius Drusus and his brother Tiberius. It was the sort of task he had gracefully avoided in earlier times, but he now performs this duty with alacrity— on the direct request of Augustus, perhaps signalling that Horace now operated under far closer scrutiny and guidance than he had in the past (Odes ..–, –): . . . diu lateque victrices catervae consiliis iuvenis revictae sensere quid mens, rite quid indoles nutrita faustis sub penetralibus posset, quid Augusti paternus in pueros animus Nerones . . . ‘‘nil Claudiae non perficient manus, quas et benigno numine Iuppiter defendit et curae sagaces expediunt per acuta belli.’’ The hordes, long victorious everywhere, were conquered by the strategies of a youth. They felt what a mind, what a nature raised in an auspicious household, what the fatherly spirit of Augustus toward the young Nerones, could rightly accomplish . . . ‘‘There is nothing which the Claudian band will not achieve, whom Jupiter protects with his kindly divinity, and whom shrewd advice helps through the dangers of war.’’

Creating Reality


Where Horace had once pointed to Augustus only obliquely, as the implicit guarantor of the blessings of Roman rule and virtus, he now directly embraces the emperor and the emperor’s house as immanent and universally beloved institutions of the Roman state. His self-image, such as it is, becomes more that of a simple and awestruck retainer than a free and independent Roman spontaneously making the better choice for his patria (Epist...–, –):5 cum tot sustineas et tanta negotia solus, res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes, legibus emendes, in publica commoda peccem, si longo sermone morer tua tempore, Caesar . . . praesenti tibi maturos largimur honores, iurandasque tuum per numen ponimus aras, nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes. Since you alone carry so many enormous responsibilities—keeping Italy safe through force of arms, elevating it with morals, and improving it with laws—I would sin against the public good if I should waste your time with a long discussion, Caesar . . . As long as you are present we bestow honors upon you at the right time, we set up altars at which we swear by your divinity, declaring that no such man will appear ever again, nor has ever appeared before.

The worshipful air of these lines seems to be meant in earnest, without the ambivalence of Horace’s earlier such declarations of support. The image of a Roman worshipping Augustus’s numen at an altar is similarly introduced without any of the awkwardness or embarrassment that would have accompanied it in the twenties ..; the only anxiety that remains is that of taking up too much of the emperor’s precious time. Nor does Horace show any resentment or frustration in having to walk this new line; he sets aside the old techniques easily and for reasons of pure expediency, now that the changing times and demands of the princeps have necessitated their retirement.6 And yet, the immense appeal of Horace’s techniques of carefully addressed self-presentation continued to grow long after their inventor had moved on to other poetic approaches. Poets in the following generation recognized and greatly admired his achievement, and followed in their works his method of projecting conscious self-images for the benefit of



different audiences. Ovid in particular offers intriguing evidence of the extent to which Horace’s innovations shaped subsequent Roman conceptions of what poetry could accomplish in this vein. Whatever the exact circumstances of his disgrace and banishment by Augustus to the Black Sea town of Tomis in  ..,7 once there Ovid set himself out to win imperial pardon, producing the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto as explanation and expiation for his offence. Many forms are tried in these works: epistolary verse, Herodotean ethnography, prayers, lamentations, tearful pleas for forgiveness—and Horatian self-presentation.8 In the Tristia, Ovid offers carefully deprecatory images of himself as a harmless minor poet of meagre talent and pathetic insignificance, infusing the portrait with a seemingly honest humility that is designed to win the sympathies of its audience in much the same fashion as Horace’s admissions in the Satires of his discomfiture or personal shortcomings (e.g., Tr...– and ..–).9 Purporting to undertake a personal history in order to clarify popular misconceptions about himself, his upbringing, and his art, Ovid presents a poetic ‘‘autobiography’’ in Tristia . that closely follows the pattern of Horace’s Satires . and .—right down to an inversion of the formative role played by the father (Tr...– ), a self-conscious display of tactful discretion regarding the affairs of Augustus (–), and above all the simultaneous recognition throughout of multiple rings of audience, each applying a different sort of pressure: the anger of the injured princeps, the jealousy of contemporaries, the interests and judgment of future readers.10 The Epistulae ex Ponto in turn demonstrate a keen awareness of the special challenges involved in addressing one important figure in order to convey a message to another, and a Horatian concern for balancing the interests and preoccupations of the various audiences with the poet’s own desires (Pont...–):11 Aut hoc, aut nihil est, pro me temptare modeste gratia quod salvo vestra pudore queat. suscipe, Romanae facundia, Maxime, linguae, difficilis causae mite patrocinium. est mala, confiteor, sed te bona fiet agente, lenia pro misera fac modo verba fuga. nescit enim Caesar, quamvis deus omnia norit, ultimus hic qua sit condicione locus. magna tenent illud rerum molimina numen: haec est caelesti pectore cura minor.

Creating Reality


It is this or nothing that your favor can attempt in moderation for me without impairing your self-respect. Maximus, eloquence of the Roman tongue, take upon yourself the merciful pleading of a difficult case. A bad case, I admit, but it will become a good one if you plead it; only utter some words of sympathy in behalf of a wretched exile. For Caesar knows not, though a god knows all things, the nature of this remote place. Great undertakings engross his divine mind; this is a matter too small for his godlike heart.

Allowing for the very different plights to which Ovid and Horace give expression (exile in a distant barbarian land, as opposed to the pressures of life as an associate of Rome’s social and political elite), their stylistic and thematic responses to the problems of representation are strikingly similar. Ovid’s complimentary acknowledgment of Horace’s achievement goes far beyond simple exercises of aemulatio; 12 he has carefully studied the earlier poet’s approach and tried to adapt it to his particular circumstances. Ovid, of course, never won a pardon from either Augustus or his successor Tiberius, and ended his life on the shores of the Black Sea. Augustus remained implacably cold and hostile to the end, and Tiberius undoubtedly had his reasons for taking no action; but Ovid also failed in part because his place of exile was too remote and his message too limited to be effectively addressed through subtly defensive manipulations of his self-image. The Horatian technique was designed for use within Rome itself and depended on the quick and graceful control of a wide variety of themes and problems, whereas Ovid was now writing from the very edge of the empire and had only one theme to present: the harshness and injustice of his sentence. In all likelihood it was the inappropriateness to his circumstances of his chosen poetic approach, combined with the gravity of his error and the increasingly restrictive political and literary climate of his time, that sealed his fate. Nevertheless, that Ovid worked so hard to incorporate the methods of Horace into his writing, even when they proved unsuited to his task, is itself an indication of the tremendous excitement that the technique of conscious and multifaceted self-presentation must have generated when Horace first introduced it into his poetry. Apart from its impact as a novel literary device, the attendant implication that a poet could so easily and charmingly alter his outer image and thereby continually



thwart his audience’s apprehension of his true inner character while, at the same time, manipulating them into believing what he chose to say, must have seemed almost revolutionary. As recently as the late Republic, most Romans had accepted without question the idea that a man’s projection of himself was necessarily indistinguishable from his true character: wie Menschen sich ausdrücken, so sind sie. Cicero, for one, believed that one’s personal conduct and private life constituted by definition a reliable index to one’s public merit and value to the state—and vice versa.13 But Horace’s self-presentation defied and overturned this established way of thinking. He appears at first glance to offer us an open window into his private self; but the impression is a deceptive one, the result of his skillful arrangement and displacement of many different outer images for the benefit of his various audiences. To be sure, Horace’s private and public selves—the poet himself, and the consciously constructed representation of his character, experiences, and ideals—are closely intertwined in such a way that the latter can never be extricated from the former. But this only emphasizes that the relationship between the two, while elusive, is paradoxically illuminating at the same time. When we explore Horace’s work from our vantagepoint on his outermost ring, we observe the delicacy and sureness of touch with which he depicts the world around him and admire the lush detail of his self-portrait as he sets it against many different relationships—with his patron and his emperor, with friends, acquaintances, and assorted hangers-on, with critics, fellow poets, slaves, mistresses, the Roman people, even ourselves. We grasp the self-consciousness of his compelling picture of a man of genius who rose from obscure origins into glorious fame and the highest circles of Roman society and in so doing faced a plethora of complex challenges and troubling pressures. We understand that this is only an image—an enigmatic, mesmerizing reflection in the mirror of Horace’s artful poetry. But for Horace’s audiences, whether those of his time or in the here and now, what is seen in this mirror becomes reality. We catch tantalizing glimpses of a world in social and political transformation, one in which tremendous risks and rewards awaited those who were willing and able to try new ways, and in which control of one’s image and the reactions of others counted for everything. As readers of Horace, we are thus doubly fortunate, for Horace’s poetic mirror is also a poetic lens through which we may view the intricacies of existence in another age.


Introduction: The Horaces of Horace . D. Armstrong, Horace (New Haven, ), . . Indeed, there survives among scholars a strong tendency to accept Horace’s account of himself at face value even in this more guarded and cautious age; see D. Levy, Horace: A Life (New York, ), for a recent manifestation of this impulse. On the dangers of being seduced by the force of Horace’s self-portraiture, however, see, e.g., R. Ancona, Time and the Erotic in Horace’s Odes (Durham, N.C., ), –, nn. , . . For an astute analysis of the intergeneric links between poems, one very much in sympathy with the position I advocate here, see M.C.J. Putnam, ‘‘From Lyric to Letter: Iccius in Horace Odes . and Epistles .,’’ Arethusa  (): –, esp. . . C. S. Lewis and E.M.W. Tillyard, The Personal Heresy (Oxford, ); see also, e.g., N. Rudd, ‘‘The Style and the Man,’’ Phoenix  (): –; W. S. Anderson, ‘‘Roman Satirists and Literary Criticism,’’ Bucknell Review  (): –, and ‘‘Autobiography and Art in Horace,’’ in Perspectives of Roman Poetry, ed. K. Galinsky (Austin, ), –, both reprinted in W. S. Anderson, Essays on Roman Satire (Princeton, ); J. Griffin, Latin Poets and Roman Life (London, ). . As typified by the staunchly biographical approach of Eduard Fraenkel in his seminal work on the poet, Horace (Oxford, ). Fraenkel’s famous declaration that ‘‘Horace . . . never lies’’ () neatly captures his unyielding belief in the factuality of the Horace on view in certain poems of the Horatian corpus (as chosen by Fraenkel himself; see Charles Martindale’s introduction to C. Martindale and D. Hopkins, eds., Horace Made New [Cambridge, ], esp. - ). . Individual views on this central question are not always openly declared; scholars often indicate their leanings only indirectly, by emphasizing certain aspects of Horace’s self-image and omitting others in their reading and analysis of his works. For further discussion of this phenomenon, see Martindale, introduction to Horace Made New, –. . See K. Freudenburg, The Walking Muse (Princeton, ), esp. –, for his opening statement of this view. . R.O.A.M. Lyne, Horace: Behind the Public Poetry (New Haven, ); Lyne’s fundamental assumptions are implicit even in the title of his book. Cf. P. White,



Notes to Pages –

Promised Verse (Cambridge, Mass., ), who argues that the external personal relationships and responsibilities of the Augustan poets affected but did not control their poetry. It is worth noting that despite this basic difference of opinion, White too takes an inherently ‘‘biographical’’ approach in his attempt to use the poets’ works to reconstruct the nature and conditions of their historical existence. . See D. West, Reading Horace (Edinburgh, ), for an earlier consideration of this point. . E. Oliensis, Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority (Cambridge, ), –. . C. Schlegel, ‘‘Horace and His Fathers: Satires . and .,’’ American Journal of Philology (AJP)  (): –. Schlegel makes the suggestion that Horace praises the moral training he received from his ‘‘biological father’’ in order to distance himself and his work from his ‘‘literary fathers’’: Lucilius, his predecessor in the genre of satire, and Maecenas, his patron. This is persuasive; but her conclusion—that Horace breaks away from these literary fathers by making his biological father ‘‘the prior poetic cause’’ in a paradoxical act of ‘‘subtle rebellion’’ ()—seems overextended. . G. Highet, ‘‘Masks and Faces in Satire,’’ Hermes  (): –. . Thus, as Martindale (introduction to Horace Made New, –) points out, Fraenkel’s vision of a kindly, avuncular Horace depends on an outright dismissal of the fierce and erotic Horace found in other poems. Similarly, the learned literary theorist portrayed by Freudenburg (and at far greater length by C. O. Brink, Horace on Poetry [Cambridge, ]) misses altogether the lively and vivid personality that the poet himself takes such pains to project. Can these discrepancies be put down simply to considerations of genre? Inasmuch as Horace worked within many different literary forms, the respective strengths and limitations of each genre are, of course, extremely important for determining the specifics of his self-presentation. However, we shall demonstrate that there exists a remarkable similarity of self-presentation techniques throughout Horace’s works, across genres and even generic groups; much the same images and tactics are employed in the Satires, Epistles, Epodes, and Odes alike. As such, this issue demands further accommodation and analysis beyond the recognition of variations based solely on genre. . For a detailed analysis of the way in which Horace addresses readers from many different social levels in his poetry, see M. Citroni, Poesia e lettori in Roma antica (Rome, ), –, –, although Citroni is interested in showing that Horace and the other Augustan poets were aiming for a general public circulation rather than limiting themselves to the narrow upper-class focus of recent generations of authors, and as such he does not fully explore the personal dimension of the poet’s representations. . B. K. Gold, ‘‘Openings in Horace’s Satires and Odes: Poet, Patron, and Audience,’’ Yale Classical Studies (YCS )  (): –; the quotation is taken from .

Notes to Pages –


. V. Pedrick and N. Rabinowitz, ‘‘Audience-Oriented Criticism and the Classics,’’ Arethusa  (): –; see also P. Rabinowitz, ‘‘Shifting Stands, Shifting Standards: Reading, Interpretation, and Literary Judgment,’’ in the same issue (–). The proposed audiences here consist of the actual audience (the person or people who are reading the text at any given moment), the authorial audience (the hypothetical audience the author originally had in mind at the moment of composition), and the narrative audience (the audience that is implied in the text, to whom the narrator thinks he is speaking). The last of these three concepts is the least useful for understanding Horace, since his ‘‘authorial’’ and ‘‘narrative’’ audiences so often overlap (or are identical). As a result, Gold presents a different framework of audiences (see the original text of Gold, ‘‘Openings’’): () the primary (the dedicatee, who appears infrequently and is given only brief though prominent mention); () the internal (an implied naïf whom Horace has contrived to play the ‘‘straight man,’’ to pose as the interlocutor for his rhetorical questions, and to misunderstand the ironies of the satire); () the authorial, the first-century .. Roman upper- class writers and politicians to whose experience and values Horace appeals and who could be counted on to understand the full effect of Horace’s mixed signals and ironic tone; and () the actual (as above). . See F. Muecke, ‘‘The Audience of/in Horace’s Satires,’’ Journal of the Australian Universities Language and Literature Association (AUMLA)  (): –, esp. –, –,. . Gold, ‘‘Openings,’’ –, –; the quotation is taken from . . Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, , . . Like all authors, Horace primarily wrote for his contemporaries (despite his evident anticipation of his own glorious Nachleben, as manifested in Odes . and elsewhere). Thus, he necessarily placed his accounts of his life in a world that would be recognizable to them—both in his references to specific contemporary events and individuals (and, where appropriate, to his experiences), and elsewhere in conjuring up invented scenes and figures who nevertheless required an essential plausibility to have an impact. For this reason, it is insufficient simply to identify Horace’s use of a particular image or episode as a literary topos (even one with a long-established pedigree). Why did Horace choose to adapt a particular literary topos in any given instance? His choices clearly stemmed not from mere antiquarianism but because in some way the themes and motifs he included had a direct cultural resonance for some segment of his contemporary readership. . In most cases I have followed H. W. Garrod’s edition of the Oxford Classical Text of Wickham (); all translations are my own unless otherwise noted. . It should be noted that Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, also acknowledges that there were pressures placed on Horace by virtue of his position in society and as a poet. But Lyne envisions only one Horace—the real Horace—responding to these pressures in his poetry. I would assert instead that multiple, consciously invented self-images are at work within Horace’s self-presentation. Even when


Notes to Page 

these images operate simultaneously they nevertheless remain separate creations, aimed at different sections of Horace’s audience. In any event, contrary to Lyne, I would say that Horace’s allusions to his pressures and difficulties are undertaken as a means of calling attention to various aspects of his contemporary world rather than necessarily as a means of overtly defending himself against them. Lyne holds, as I do, that Horace remained under considerable social and political pressure throughout his literary career. However, he attempts to identify a single, monolithic persona that Horace constructed in order to alleviate these pressures. Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, similarly points to an evolution over time of Horace’s distinctive ‘‘face’’ and strategy of face-maintenance, contending that Horace’s successful career garners him increasing authority and ‘‘symbolic capital,’’ and allows him to adopt new strategies of self-defense and promotion. I am in fundamental disagreement with Lyne and Oliensis on these points; for Horace employs a multiplicity of self-images, with glaring mutual and internal contradictions, and separate functions within a variety of specific contexts. The social and professional pressures Horace purports to face remain substantially the same throughout his career, as do the audience-directed techniques of selfpresentation that he develops in response. Structural divisions based on genre and chronology are therefore potentially misleading and comparatively less important to the discussion (though questions of genre naturally remain contributing factors). Rather than search for a gradual evolution in Horace’s self-presentations, one should focus on the particular personal and social context in each case. My organizing principle is therefore to examine separately Horace’s several audiences and his relationships with them; Horace himself becomes, in effect, the lens through which to view these audiences. . My critical position on Horace differs from the interpretive strategies of various modern schools of literary criticism (neatly summarized by Martindale, introduction to Horace Made New) and yet shares certain elements with each school. Like the New Critics, I hold that ‘‘Horace,’’ as he appears, represents a set of created images (I prefer to avoid the loaded term mask or persona) adopted by Q. Horatius Flaccus to establish a particular rhetorical stance or series of stances. But I also agree with the New Historicist position that Horace employed techniques of self-fashioning (or ‘‘self-positioning’’) partly to construct an advantageous position for himself in society, although this self-fashioning plays an important role within his poetry as well. A ‘‘real’’ Horace had to select and project these images, and is theoretically distinguishable from what is presented. However, I do not support the Derridean deconstructionists’ claim that this ‘‘real’’ Horace lies entirely outside the text and is therefore irrelevant to our understanding of it. My assertion that the overall impact of Horace’s poetry depends on his simultaneous address of different audiences bears some similarity to a basic tenet of reader-response criticism, but I diverge from this school in suggesting that Horace, as author, controls and directs the responses of each of his audiences

Notes to Pages –


(where reader-response tends to focus solely on the perspective of modern or ‘‘actual’’ readers). One might attempt a synthesis of different critical approaches rather than wholeheartedly accept or reject any single one, inasmuch as each is applicable and effective within a different area of Horace’s oeuvre and, as such, might fruitfully be combined into a single interpretive framework. . The metaphor of the mirror was also recently invoked in a sensitive (if notably traditional) treatment of Horace by the historian V. G. Kiernan (Horace: Poetics and Politics [New York, ]); in describing Horace at the outset of his literary career, a newcomer to the city of Rome, Kiernan writes, ‘‘[Horace] would have to hold up the mirror to society, and at the same time to himself, a self still only half formed, not much better known to him perhaps than the Rome he now contemplated’’ (). Kiernan paints an interesting picture of Horace as a perpetual outsider in the world he described, one who admired Rome and its empire without ever becoming immersed in it, ‘‘a natural partisan of a genuine middle class, if he could have found one’’ (). Although Kiernan oversimplifies by ignoring the heightened self-consciousness of Horace’s writing (and by anachronistically applying the concept of a middle class to Augustan Rome), his essential portrait of Horace’s independence of thought and perspective is compelling.

Chapter One: Poet and Patron . Samuel Johnson, letter to the Earl of Chesterfield, February , , in Dr. Johnson: His Life in Letters, ed. D. Littlejohn (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., ), –. . Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories (London, ), –. . Here, I am concerned primarily with the phenomenon of artistic or literary patronage, wherein an artist undertakes to produce works in return for association with and support from a more powerful patron. There were, of course, many other forms and degrees of patronage in Rome; see, e.g., R. Saller, Personal Patronage under the Early Empire (Cambridge, ). . Cf. W. J. Tatum, ‘‘Ultra Legem: Law and Literature in Horace, Satires II.,’’ Mnemosyne  (): –, –, where it is suggested that Augustus had already become the one truly important reader as early as  .. However, the divergence of readings to which Tatum alludes (and which occurred from the moment the poems were first produced) indicates clearly the extent to which Horace exerted enormous care in accommodating beforehand the potential responses of Maecenas and many other different audiences. As a result, no one of these responses (even Caesar’s) is necessarily privileged by design over the others, although Augustus does play an important role in several crucial aspects of Horace’s self-presentation techniques (see chapter four).


Notes to Pages –

. Nor can these variations be attributed solely to the development of their friendship over the years; the same mixture is to be found in Horace’s latest as in his earliest works. Throughout his literary corpus, the extreme self-consciousness in Horace’s presentation of his relationship with his patron stands as a warning that we must be most cautious and circumspect in our analysis, and most careful in the conclusions we draw regarding individual aspects of that relationship. Cf. the essentially positive interpretation of Fraenkel, Horace, –, and passim; as opposed to the much cooler descriptions of R. G. Mayer, ‘‘Horace’s Moyen de Parvenir,’’ in Homage to Horace, ed. S. J. Harrison (Oxford, ), and R.G.M. Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ in Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus, ed. A. J. Woodman and D. West (Cambridge, ). . Consider, for instance, the plays that Accius wrote for D. Brutus in the second century .., and perhaps also Lucretius’s addresses to Memmius (although see later discussion, ‘‘The Horatian Invention’’). Archias, although a Greek and therefore by definition an inferior and more obsequious brand of client, may offer further evidence in his career and projects; see T. P. Wiseman, ‘‘Pete nobiles amicos: Poets and Patrons in Late Republican Rome,’’ in Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome, ed. B. K. Gold (Austin, ): –. This sort of practice (and the responses it prompted) continued into the Empire, as is suggested by Pliny’s enthusiastic reaction to a brief compliment by Martial (Epistles .); see P. White, Promised Verse (Cambridge, Mass., ), . . For the way in which this assumption of intimacy also fuels Horace’s exclusion and mockery of those who do not meet the standards of Maecenas’s ‘‘incrowd,’’ see S. M. Braund, The Roman Satirists and Their Masks (London, ), –. . E. Gowers, ‘‘Horace, Satires .: An Inconsequential Journey,’’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society (PCPS )  (): , notes the subordination of Maecenas’s arrival but does not pursue its implications. Throughout the remainder of Gowers’s analysis of Sat.., it is as though Horace were traveling alone; Maecenas vanishes from her discussion. Significantly, such a reading of the poem becomes possible only because Horace has presented himself and his experiences as being of equal (if not greater) importance and inherent interest to those of his patron. . Of course, the same observation seems to apply to other members of the group as well; Virgil is similarly free to go take a nap when suffering from dyspepsia, while Varius drops out of the party at Canusium without reproach (Sat...). This distinction becomes sharper with the introduction in line  of the characters Sarmentus (identified as a scurra apparently in Cocceius’s employ) and the Oscan Messius Cicirrus, who willingly make fools of themselves for the amusement of Maecenas and the rest of the party, including Horace. Clearly, we are meant to see them as mere clowns and temporary attendants, of a lower order altogether from Maecenas’s poet friends. But cf. E. Doblhofer, ‘‘Horazens tria

Notes to Pages –


nomina als autobiographische zeugnisse,’’ Würzburger Jahrbücher für die Altertumswissenschaft (WJA)  (): , for the suggestion that the mockery of the scriba Aufidius Luscus in Sat...– constitutes an act of self-irony on Horace’s part. . See D. R. Shackleton Bailey, Profile of Horace (Cambridge, Mass., ), – , for discussion of Horace’s self-conscious handling of apparent autobiographical detail. . Mena is like an engaging toy for Philippus, adopted temporarily for his sheer entertainment value; despite the coactor’s initial prudent caution, he eventually falls into the trap of dependence and is almost ruined (Ep...–). This entire episode stands in dramatic contrast to the experience of Horace and Maecenas, at least as I have considered it so far (see further discussion below). . Or so it would seem at first; however, as we will see later in this chapter, Horace’s employment of terms such as amicus and amicitia, used by the Romans to describe a wide range of equal and unequal social relationships, does not necessarily indicate that he enjoyed any firm and unchanging status as Maecenas’s intimate friend. Rather, even amid his plainest affirmation of his true friendship with Maecenas, Horace allows the specter of ambiguity and anxiety to continue to lurk in the background. . ‘‘Not unnaturally, [the pest] had supposed like everyone else that the éminence sat atop a stratified pyramid of staff interposed between the vertical grades from serf up to courtier’’ ( J. Henderson, ‘‘Be Alert (Your Country Needs Lerts): Horace, Satires .,’’ PCPS  []: ). But Maecenas’s domus does not exhibit the verticality of Henderson’s pyramid, so much as a concentric social arrangement: what is at stake is one’s intimacy and regularity of contact with Maecenas—‘‘face time,’’ to use a popular term—not the rung one occupies on a social ladder. Thus, Horace’s lack of concern for his amount of contact, more than his relative status, is what the pest finds so amazing. . However, there is more going on here beneath the surface. The presence of the verb iubeo indicates the essentially coercive nature of Maecenas’s and Horace’s ‘‘friendship’’ and shows that some form of pressure was indeed working behind their purportedly unforced camaraderie. That Maecenas, as he read these lines, would have known better than anyone else (Horace included) the true nature of their relationship only adds to the complexity of the message here. I return to this issue later at greater length. . Arriving at this conclusion, Peter White envisions all literary relationships in Rome as having been marked by this same relaxed atmosphere of friendship and personal contact. But paradoxically, while this model certainly seems to fit certain of the relationships discussed (Cicero and his literary protégés, or Pliny and his), White himself does not extend his arguments satisfactorily to cover the case of Horace in particular. He too acknowledges that other forces, besides an easy friendliness, must have been at work. See White, Promised Verse, –, and further discussion below.


Notes to Pages –

. This is the second of four definitions of dumtaxat suggested by the Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD), under which this very passage is included as an example of usage. A case can be made for the alternate translation of ‘‘at least as far as this,’’ which would then jokingly limit the sense of habere in numero and might imply a greater intimacy between the two men in these lines. According to this interpretation, Maecenas relaxes in Horace’s company and takes refuge from matters of state by talking with him about gladiators and other nugae much as Scipio and Laelius did with Lucilius, ‘‘nugari cum illo et discincti ludere, donec / decoqueretur holus, soliti’’ (Sat...–). This also recalls the episode of Ennius and Servilius in Annales .–: ‘‘. . . vocat quocum . . ./magnam cum lassus diei/partem trivisset de summis rebus regendis . . ./quoi res audacter magnas parvasque iocumque/eloqueretur sed cura, malaque et bona dictu / evomeret si qui vellet tutoque locaret.’’ But the original definition of dumtaxat has a more plausible application here, and for the reasons of context discussed above, I believe that this passage’s true significance is as I have suggested. In any case, the alternate definition would do no more than change the position of this episode in my larger argument, for it would then offer further evidence of Horace’s outward projection of casual intimacy with Maecenas. Ellen Oliensis has suggested to me that the difference between the two readings of dumtaxat may not be so stark: that in both cases, Horace is saying that he is Maecenas’s old friend—up to a point. At any rate, it is undeniable that the tone of the passage, as well as its projected image of the Horace-Maecenas relationship, is ambiguous in the extreme. . Of course, this admission is double-edged: it suggests to the outside reader that the poet is only a marginal figure in his patron’s life, but it also serves to reassure Maecenas privately of Horace’s irreproachable discretion, assuming that he has not divulged the true nature of their conversations (cf. J. Griffin, ‘‘Caesar Qui Cogere Posset,’’ in Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects, ed. F. Millar and E. Segal [Oxford, ], esp. –). (This technique of addressing two separate audiences is considered at greater length in chapter two.) . Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, , suggests that this self-deprecating characterization by Horace of his relationship with Maecenas primarily serves as a deferential compliment to his patron: ‘‘While Horace represents himself as valuing Maecenas’s friendship, he does not suggest that the sentiment is reciprocated. Far from advertising how far in he is with the great Maecenas, Horace labors to depict himself as a mere minor sidekick, a companion with whom Maecenas discusses only such safely trivial subjects as sports and the weather—a self-belittling self-characterization that may not be (and is not meant to be) entirely convincing, but does constitute a public act of homage [emphasis added].’’ This is certainly the effect that Horace must have intended the passage to have on Maecenas specifically (and, indeed, Sat.. stands as the prime example of the poet’s elaborate technique of multiple-audience address). But this picture of Horace as lowly sidekick is in fact meant to be convincing in and of itself. M. J. McGann, Studies in

Notes to Pages –


Horace’s First Book of Epistles (Brussels, ), , notes that ‘‘the public for whom Horace published his book for the most part would not have been well-informed about the details of life in the circles to which Horace and his addressees belonged.’’ This is true, but this does not mean that they were not curious about his life in these circles; all the more so must we recognize that Horace is in each case attempting directly to shape public understanding of the internal dynamics of his relationship with Maecenas. For the readers of Sat.. other than Maecenas, the impression here is overwhelmingly one of triviality and limitation (and even of slight frustration on Horace’s part with his minor role); such a picture of the poet’s interaction with his patron becomes implausible only when this passage is set against the other contradictory scenes of close and equal association noted above. Horace certainly encourages his audience to strike this comparison—the ambiguity at the heart of his characterization only comes out through this process. . As, for instance, in the introduction to Sat.. in the Loeb Classical Library, and as recently as D. Berg, ‘‘The Mystery Gourmet of Horace’s Satires ,’’ Classical Journal (CJ)  (–): –, who asserts that Nasidienus is straightforwardly mocked as a pompous windbag; for the quotation, see Fraenkel, Horace, . There has been a surge of interest in Sat.. in recent years, with much valuable work being done on hitherto unexplored aspects of the poem, including food imagery and symbolism, themes of proper lifestyle and behavior, and the nature and craft of the satiric genre. See, for example, J. F. O’Connor, ‘‘Horace’s Cena Nasidieni and Poetry’s Feast,’’ CJ  (): –; E. Gowers, The Loaded Table (Oxford, ); K. Freudenburg, The Walking Muse (Princeton, ), and ‘‘Canidia at the Feast of Nasidienus (Hor. S. ..),’’ Transactions of the American Philological Association (TAPA)  (): –; and R. R. Caston, ‘‘The Fall of the Curtain (Horace S..),’’ TAPA  (): –. Cf. Robert J. Baker, ‘‘Maecenas and Horace Satires II.,’’ CJ  (): –, who reads the poem as strongly affirming the security of the friendship between the two men. It should, however, be understood to be a crucial qualification of such a picture. . Although conviva, unique among words derived from the verb convivo, carries no connotations of a formal dinner party setting. It is not inconceivable that Horace would have been looking for guests for a convivium to be held that very evening. Even formal invitations were commonly sent out on the same day as the event itself (see, e.g., J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome [London, ]). . The feast was an unmitigated disaster, as we are to learn shortly; Fundanius is either being sarcastic or is referring to the enjoyment he derived from ‘‘the comic spectacle of Nasidienus’ discomfiture’’ when everything went wrong and his guests left him in the lurch (see F. Muecke, ed., Horace Satires II [Warminster, ], ). But within the dramatic context of the poem, there is no way for Horace to know this at this point in the conversation; for all he knows, Fundanius is telling the truth.


Notes to Pages –

. For the irony of Horace’s language see, e.g., N. Rudd, The Satires of Horace (Berkeley, ), . The blunt imperative da smacks of casual familiarity, while Muecke, Horace Satires II, , notes that si grave non est is a ‘‘polite formula.’’ . For the suggestion that Sat.. constitutes Horace’s revenge on Nasidienus for having been omitted from the guest list, see Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, . . ‘‘La question est suggérée par le nom de Mécène qui vient d’être prononcé,’’ P. Lejay, Oeuvres d’Horace (Paris, ), . It hardly seems likely that Horace should be understood as being delighted (cf. Armstrong, Horace, ) or gleefully inquisitive, given that the verb laboro (when used outside the context of actual physical labor) invariably carries connotations of anxiety, worry, or distress—never of enjoyment. . For the careful hierarchies of relative social status reflected in the seating arrangements at convivia, see J. H. D’Arms, ‘‘The Roman Convivium and Equality,’’ in Sympotica, ed. O. Murray (Oxford, ), –. Given the extremely careful placement of the guests at the cena Nasidieni, Fundanius’s offhanded ‘‘si memini’’ does not betoken an informal gathering but rather serves to emphasize his inclusion (as if to say, ‘‘oh, Maecenas and Varius were there—the usual crowd, you know’’), casting Horace’s absence into sharper relief. . Sat...–, –; see further discussion of this passage in chapter two. . ‘‘In view of this company as guests around Nasidienus’ table and the association which Horace marks between himself and them elsewhere in the Satires, the reader is already asking how it comes about that the poet portrays himself as hearing about the proceedings at second hand instead of as being one of the company’’ (Baker, ‘‘Maecenas and Horace,’’ , although the point is not pursued). . Cf. Horace’s invitation to Torquatus in Epist... to bring a couple of umbrae to dinner. . Note the suggestive name, Servilius Balatro—‘‘Servilius (servilis, slavish) the Buffoon’’; but cf. Plutarch, Quaestiones Conviviales, AB, and comment in Muecke, Horace Satires II, . For possible autobiographical implications, see Doblhofer, ‘‘Horazens tria nomina,’’ –. . To be sure, given Fundanius’s account of the boredom and irritation they all suffered at Nasidienus’s party, Horace was probably better off by being absent. Cf. Baker, ‘‘Maecenas and Horace,’’ –, who suggests that Horace chastises Fundanius, Maecenas, and his other friends for rudely mocking the hapless Nasidienus all evening, and Braund, The Roman Satirists, –, who counters that Horace is complicit in their mockery and condescension by asking for all the details of the ‘‘show.’’ It is more that Horace would like to be complicit in the rudeness of his friends, since his sharing in the exclusion of others effectively (if meanspiritedly) cancels out the exclusion he himself has just suffered; see Freudenburg, The Walking Muse, –, and C. Damon, The Mask of the Parasite (Ann Arbor, ), . . See, for example, the opening scene of Plato’s Symposium. In contrast, that

Notes to Pages –


the dialogue of Sat.. takes the form of a mock symposium is itself significant. The symposium was a popular literary form in Horace’s day, and Servius records in his commentary on Aen.. that Maecenas himself wrote a symposium (in prose) at which Virgil and Horace were both present. An implicit contrast is perhaps intended with this symposium, especially when we remember that this poem (with its portrait of Horace’s social discomfiture) was not composed simply as a literary exercise but rather was designed to be read by Maecenas himself. . Saller, Personal Patronage, –. Cf. D. Konstan, ‘‘Patrons and Friends,’’ Classical Philology (CP)  (): –, esp. , and Friendship in the Classical World (Cambridge, ), on which see comment by G. Herman, Journal of Roman Studies ( JRS )  (): . . McGann, Studies, taking a staunchly ‘‘rhetorical’’ approach, argues that the Epistles are wholly fictional and shed no light on the actual Horace-Maecenas relationship or any other aspect of Horace’s life; on Epist.., he claims that ‘‘Horace could not with decency have published the epistle if readers were likely to regard it as a source of information about his and Maecenas’s affairs.’’ But McGann himself observes that Horace’s outside readers would have had very little ‘‘inside’’ knowledge of the Horace-Maecenas relationship; it is inconceivable that they wouldn’t have been inclined to speculate on the accuracy of Horace’s depiction of these interactions, and Horace must certainly have kept this likely response in mind during the poem’s composition. McGann argues from the analogy of the ‘‘autobiographical convention’’ of amatory poetry that Epist.. is essentially an ethical tract, ‘‘a discussion, cast in epistolary form, of the issues which can arise when an aging dependent is drawn away from the side of his great friend and seeks the peace of the countryside. The rôle of dependent is taken by Horace, and, naturally, that of his friend is given to Maecenas. But they are rôles, and although the actual friendship between the two forms the background to this discussion, there is no justification for believing that Horace has revealed a difficult situation existing between Maecenas and himself ’’ (). Perhaps so, but McGann goes too far in detaching Horace and Maecenas altogether from the foreground of this scenario. It is not enough simply to equate the generic potentialities and limitations of accurate self-presentation in love poetry with those in verse epistles. Employment of the epistolary form automatically demands that writer and addressee be placed in at least a plausible social setting, one that the original readers will accept as fitting in with what they know of the actual relationship between the two, since otherwise the central fiction of the letter falls apart, and the epistle fails as a poem. McGann is correct, therefore, that we as readers must resist the impulse to take Epist.. at its face value. But we must also recognize that the poem is designed to stand as a plausible representation of aspects of Horace’s life as Maecenas’s client/junior amicus. . ‘‘Horace, by not keeping his promise, has badly disappointed Maecenas, who has been waiting many weeks’’ (Fraenkel, Horace, ). A powerful man


Notes to Pages –

such as Maecenas would not have looked indulgently upon being kept waiting in this way. . Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, . Horace does address Maecenas as dulcis amice in line , but this does not imply a reciprocal friendship. In this context, his tone is more hopeful than confident. . ‘‘A prompt avowal of fault secures a favorable hearing for [his] defence . . .’’ (R. Mayer, Horace Epistles Book I Commentary [Cambridge, ], ). . H. Drexler, ‘‘Zur Epistel I, des Horaz,’’ Maia  (): –, calls Epist.. a representation of a disagreement between two men ‘‘nicht hos egeneto, sondern hoion an genoito,’’ but he also () reads the poem as indicative of Horace’s wish to free himself from onerous obligations. . For an excellent discussion of the intricacies of Epist.., see Shackleton Bailey, Profile of Horace, –: ‘‘Letter  is exceptional in that the situation it presents has the aspect of a major personal crisis, with Horace telling his benefactor after some fifteen years of close friendship that he is ready to give up all past bounties rather than compromise his freedom, which is ex hypothesi in danger’’ (). . Lyne’s categories of ‘‘client-amici’’ and ‘‘friend-amici,’’ while convenient, are a modern invention. That such distinctions were left unmade or at best ambiguous by the Romans is the whole point of Horace’s presentation. . ‘‘This projection of collegiality [in Sat..] takes us back to a point made earlier, that Latin sources tend not to distinguish between poet and patron but speak of both alike as friends. Beyond intimating that the two parties have much in common economically, socially, and culturally, such language reflects the truth that in one sphere of activity they regard themselves as intimate collaborators. There are also other aspects of the relationship which are best appreciated when we take seriously its representation in our sources as simple friendship’’ (White, Promised Verse, ). See also P. White, ‘‘Amicitia and the Profession of Poetry in Early Imperial Rome,’’ JRS  (): –. . White, Promised Verse, . . For Horace’s adaptation of the comic scurra to denote the equally traditional figure of the parasite, see Damon, The Mask of the Parasite, –. . For the differences in seriousness of tone between Epist.. and ., see F.M.A. Jones, ‘‘The Role of the Addressees in Horace, Epistles,’’ Liverpool Classical Monthly  (): . . See Shackleton Bailey, Profile of Horace, . . For the observation that both poems apply to our understanding of Horace’s situation among the elite, see Doblhofer, ‘‘Horazens tria nomina,’’ . . See I.M.LeM. DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace and Maecenas: The Propaganda Value of Sermones ,’’ in Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus, ed. A. J. Woodman and D. West (Cambridge, ), . . Note that such dedications cease after publication of Epist. in / ..

Notes to Pages –


This suggests either that Horace’s ‘‘debt’’ to Maecenas had at last been paid or perhaps that after  /  .. their relationship shifted into a new form, one less dominated by these concerns of relative intimacy and obligation. . Horace depicts himself as strenuously trying to avoid situations in which he might be forced to make introductions to Maecenas (see Sat..); yet Saller tells us that it was standard practice to use one’s amicitia with a powerful, highranking individual to do favors for relatives and friends, and even the clients of those friends, in a kind of brokerage of patronage (Saller, Personal Patronage, –). Virgil and Varius, for instance, approached Maecenas to admit Horace himself into the charmed body of Maecenas’s amici. Horace’s reluctance to extend Maecenas’s network of obligation and influence through himself therefore possibly stands as an indication of the highly unusual character of the Horace-Maecenas relationship, especially given that Horace easily participates in influence-brokering when it involves other elite contacts. As Mayer, ‘‘Horace’s Moyen de Parvenir,’’ , points out, ‘‘The letter of recommendation (to Tiberius on behalf of Septimius in Epistles .) is an example of the sort of benefit that someone like Horace, more nearly placed to the founts of patronage, could direct toward a deserving friend who is seeking to improve his status.’’ . At least during the period from  to  .. (the dates of publication of Sat. and Epist., respectively). We must allow for the subsequent growth of their relationship into a later, more intimate phase, the true friendship suggested by Horace’s warm observation of Maecenas’s birthday in Odes ., and the affection that Suetonius informs us Maecenas himself felt for the poet (Vita Horati, –): ‘‘Maecenas quantopere eum dilexerit, satis testatur illo epigrammate . . . sed multo magis extremis iudiciis tali ad Augustum elogio: ‘Horati Flacci ut mei esto memor.’ ’’ . For discussion of the political resonance of Horace’s poetry and further discussion of Maecenas’s political motivations for patronage, see chapter four. . This is not at all to suggest that Maecenas directly prescribed what each poet was to write; Maecenas’s and Augustus’s plan was to oversee and perhaps guide these great writers in their choices of subject but essentially to give them free rein as they developed new methods to achieve these ends. There is no evidence to suggest that Maecenas did not permit each poet to develop his own response to the task at hand, or even at times to reject political themes altogether (as Propertius so often does). . G. Williams, ‘‘Did Maecenas ‘Fall from Favor’? Augustan Literary Patronage,’’ in Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and His Principate, ed. K. A. Raaflaub and M. Toher (Berkeley, ), , . . On Maecenas’s reading of the Epistles in the context of his patron-client relationship with Horace, see Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –, where the works are seen more as the poet’s exploration of all the dynamics of the relationship, including specifically as a means of showcasing its more problematic aspects.


Notes to Pages –

. ‘‘A client, by publicizing his patron’s beneficia, also advertised his own inferiority. If the client was not attempting to compete for honor as an equal, the acknowledgment of subordination need not have presented any problems’’ (Saller, Personal Patronage, ). . White, Promised Verse, –. . White, Promised Verse, . . Memmius all but vanishes from the scene once Lucretius has completed his introductory remarks and turns to the matter at hand; thereafter, the patron’s appearances are limited to occasional and fleeting parenthetical addresses (Lucr. .; ., , ) that are by no means integral to the message of the poetry. Of course, on one level Lucretius does his duty simply by giving Memmius a prominent figuration in the opening lines. But even so, the De rerum natura stands on its own as a complete didactic work, addressed not to one person but to any who might wish to study its descriptions of natural phenomena and Epicurean philosophy; as such, the figure of Memmius qua patron merely serves as a necessary frame for the actual message of the composition. This is a different proposition from the Horatian corpus, wherein Maecenas is never absent or peripheral to the themes being discussed but instead remains integral to the stucture and conception of the poetry, a crucial thematic figure throughout.

Chapter Two: In the Public Eye . ‘‘Immortal gods! What an enormous task it is to keep up the role of a statesman in a republic! One must have regard for not only the minds but even the eyes of the people’’ (Cicero, Philippics .). . For the suggestion that, in responding to these pressures, Horace went so far as to undermine his complimentary or celebratory poems to individual readers by negating their messages in other poems (a method identified as sapping, derived from the technique of siege or trench warfare), see Lyne, Beyond the Public Poetry, –. For the argument that Horace’s dealings with others fall into a vertical arrangement of gestures of authority and deference between individuals of superior or inferior status, see Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority; but cf. the concentric schema proposed in this chapter. Oliensis holds that Horace altered his ‘‘face-maintenance’’ () as his personal celebrity and stature increased; however, crucial aspects of Horace’s defensive self-images and self-presentation tactics remain constant and consistent from work to work throughout much of his literary career. . ‘‘Hecyra quom datast / novae novom intervenit vitium et calamitas, ut neque spectari neque cognosci potuerit: / ita populus studio stupidus in funambulo / animum occuparat . . . quom primum eam agere coepi, pugilum gloria, / comitum conventus, strepitus, clamor mulierum, fecere ut ante tempus exirem

Notes to Pages –


foras . . . / . . . refero denuo. / primo actu placeo. quom interea rumor venit datum iri gladiatores, populus convolat, / tumultuantur clamant pugnant de loco: ego interea meum non potui tutari locum’’ (Hecyra prol.  and .–). (I discuss Horace’s dealings with the populus later in this chapter.) . See M. Beard and M. Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (Ithaca, ). . W. V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge, Mass., ). . Since the days of Cicero, the book trade in Rome had advanced from somewhat shaky beginnings to take on increasing stability and importance; by Horace’s time, there were recognized places of business and established bookselling firms (such as the Sosii brothers, mentioned by Horace in Epist...–). Similarly, the establishment of Rome’s first public library in the Atrium Libertatis by Asinius Pollio in  .., followed by those of Augustus on the Palatine and in the Porticus Octaviae ten years later, helped to usher in a new period of greater public access to literature (see L. D. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars [Oxford, ], –). . R. Thomas, review of Harris, Ancient Literacy, JRS  (): . . T. P. Wiseman, ‘‘Pete nobiles amicos,’’ in Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome, ed. B. K. Gold (Austin, ), . Nor simply in Rome itself; evidence from the provinces suggests that, even in real terms, literacy may have been more widespread in the ancient world than Harris suggests (see L. Curchin, ‘‘Literacy in the Roman Provinces: Qualitative and Quantitative Data from Central Spain,’’ AJP  []: –). . See Citroni, Poesia e lettori, . . An important distinction; many Greek poets and rhetoricians of this time occupied honored positions in upper-level Roman households. Some, including Octavian’s old tutor Apollodorus of Pergamum and the rhetor Heliodorus (praised in Sat.. as Graecorum longe doctissimus), moved in the same circles as Horace and knew him personally (see G. Bowersock, Augustus and the Greek World [Oxford, ]). . White, Promised Verse, –, takes issue with the notion that formal ‘‘circles’’ rose up around single patrons and suggests that relations between individual associates of Maecenas would, if anything, have been characterized by spitefulness and hostile competition, rather than by any sense of solidarity or close rapport. But the absence of any official ties between Maecenas’s associates would not mean that these men had no contact with each other at all; clearly, there existed some sense of community among them. In any case, White’s argument only underscores the fact that Horace would have faced a variety of potential threats and anxieties simply by virtue of having any sort of relationship with his patron at all. . We see later on that Horace devotes considerable attention to the question of his relations with other poets and literary men, both the low-grade (invariably cast as hostile toward him) and writers of quality (see also chapter three).


Notes to Pages –

. I disagree here with Fraenkel, who follows Heinze in taking ambitione relegata with the previous line and begins a new sentence with te dicere possum. This unacceptably dilutes the impact of the line and has the further disadvantage of imputing the charge of ambitio to the Visci vis-à-vis Horace, not (as makes far greater sense in context), Horace vis-à-vis his socially most elevated readers— Messalla, Pollio, and so on. Fraenkel is correct in observing that ‘‘there is always a strong suspicion that . . . praise may be inspired by insincere motives,’’ but clearly it is Horace who is operating under this suspicion (cf. Fraenkel, Horace, , n. ). . See N. Rudd, Themes in Roman Satire (London, ), , and commentary by Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –. . Lyne, Beyond the Public Poetry, , suggests that Horace’s ‘‘irksome socioeconomic situation’’—being forced by historical accident to adopt the role, to all appearances, of an old-fashioned, dependent client-poet, at a time when poetry had become the pursuit of the Roman well-to-do—would have represented for him a matter of considerable urgency and anxiety. Lyne perhaps goes too far in this formulation, although Horace’s relations with the Roman elite are indeed regularly marked with a high level of defensiveness. . See also Mayer, ‘‘Horace’s Moyen de Parvenir,’’ . . Ingenuus here should be read as going beyond the basic meaning of ‘‘free born’’ to incorporate the traits and character typically associated with the free born, such as virtue, honor, generosity, modesty, and so on (see entry  for ingenuus in the OLD). Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –, reads this passage and the libertino patre natus charge that follows as examples of Horace’s active self-promotion and defense: ‘‘By attributing this judgment to Maecenas, Horace avoids making the self-promoting argument himself . . . and also lends the argument his patron’s prestige . . . Horace has brought in this readily disavowable form of [political] ambition to divert attention from the leap in status that he is in the process of taking.’’ Even as he does this, however, Horace calls renewed attention to the notion that this leap has generated a great deal of resentment—in other words, the poet’s characterization of his rapid advancement is designed to be read as both triumphant and threatened at the same time. . G. A. Seeck, ‘‘Über das Satirische in Horaz’ Satiren, oder: Horaz und seine Leser, z.B. Maecenas,’’ Gymnasium  (): . But as Seeck observes (–), Horace makes such a fuss over Maecenas’s disregard for his background that it implicitly links his patron to the poet’s own irritation. Not only is Horace aware of Maecenas’s reaction, therefore, but he makes sure that Maecenas is aware of his as well. . Meanings include ‘‘carp at,’’ ‘‘gnaw,’’ ‘‘erode.’’ . G. Williams, ‘‘Libertino Patre Natus: True or False?,’’ in Homage to Horace, ed. S. J. Harrison (Oxford, ), –; cf. W. S. Anderson, ‘‘Horatius Liber, Child and Freedman’s Free Son,’’ Arethusa  (): –. . See Mayer, ‘‘Horace’s Moyen de Parvenir,’’ –. . See Citroni, Poesia e lettori, .

Notes to Pages –


. Picking up on this purposeful ambiguity, Muecke observes: ‘‘Here, in an infinite regression of ironic mirrors, Horace lets [the mask of philosophical moralist] slip and shows that that the real man might be different, simultaneously revealing that this is just another version of ‘Horace’, as much a fiction as any other’’ (Muecke, Horace Satires II, ). . D. Armstrong, ‘‘Horatius Eques et Scriba: Satires . and .,’’ TAPA  (), has perceptively identified a similar note of self-satisfaction—and careful location by Horace of his exact place in the social scene—in the poet’s handling of his own purported social values and beliefs (both upward and downward) in Sat...– . Armstrong concludes that Horace’s attitudes and remarks in these lines show that the poet (regardless of what he might elsewhere humbly claim) was already by this time a well-ensconced member of Rome’s elite. But they would appear rather to demonstrate that Horace is being very careful not to commit himself openly and irrevocably to any one of his several convincing self-images. . Martha Habash recently argued that Priapus’s mock-defeat of the witches in Sat.. stands as a parody of a hymn, and that in turn this parody is designed to complement Horace’s humorous and self-deprecating autobiographical statements elsewhere in Sat. (see M. Habash, ‘‘Priapus: Horace in Disguise?’’ CJ  []: –). The suggestion is interesting, although marred by Habash’s tacit acceptance of Horace’s purported autobiographical claims as reliable fact (see esp. –). It is better to take the Priapus episode as another example of Horace’s creation of the image of mingled public hostility and self-satisfaction—an image that, as throughout the Satires, is instantly called into question by Horace’s parodic handling thereof. . See Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –. . Cf. Shackleton Bailey, Profile of Horace, . . McGann, Studies, , notes that ‘‘the public for whom Horace published his book for the most part would not have been well informed about the details of life in the circles to which Horace and his addressees belonged.’’ This is so, but we must all the more understand Horace as trying directly to shape the broader public’s understanding of his life in these circles. . This even though Horace’s audiences would have appreciated his adaptation in these lines of the generic comic motif of the ‘‘accosting scene,’’ a fixture of Plautine comedy. . See J. E. G. Zetzel, ‘‘The Poetics of Patronage in the Late First Century ..,’’ in Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome, ed. B. K. Gold (Austin, ), –; and Henderson, ‘‘Be Alert,’’ –. . Rudd, Satires of Horace, . . Although Horace does single out the poetasters by name and states his indifference to the grammatici in Epist.. (see below). . Horace attacks the poet Tigellius throughout Sat. for his vulgarity, inconstancy, and general objectionability (Sat...–, ..–, ..–). . An effect similar to that of Horace’s pleased observation in Odes . (pub-


Notes to Pages –

lished in  .., seven years after Epist.): ‘‘Romae principis urbium dignatur suboles inter amabiles vatum ponere me choros, et iam dente minus mordeor invido’’ (–). By this time, of course, after the death of Virgil and the triumph of his Carmen saeculare, Horace was indisputably Rome’s greatest living poet. . The amusing irony here, of course, is that Horace affirms his elevation and literary exclusiveness by likening himself to a disreputable mime actress who fails to hold the affections of her audience. It is, as Jasper Griffin points out, a further example of the poet simultaneously challenging and acknowledging the likely reactions of his readers (see J. Griffin, ‘‘Horace in the Thirties,’’ in Horace , ed. N. Rudd [Ann Arbor, ], ). . The allusion to Icarus in line  may hint at a more pessimistic coloration, one of risk and ultimate disaster in the moment of triumph. If so, then here too Horace has adroitly accommodated a different potential response to the same statement (see D. P. Fowler, ‘‘Horace and the Aesthetics of Politics,’’ in Homage to Horace, ed. S. J. Harrison [Oxford, ], ). . For the Epicurean nature of Odes ., see V. Pöschl, Horazische Lyrik, vol.  (Heidelberg, ), . . This issue is discussed at much greater length in chapter three.

Chapter Three: Craft and Concern . To recognize the fallacy of such assumptions is not to deny that Horace demonstrates an abiding interest in the nature of poetry and his place within both the contemporary literary scene and the larger poetic tradition. But as we shall see, his discussion of such issues should be treated as a highly conscious invention and not as an overarching critical manifesto. It is instructive in this context to recall Fraenkel’s incisive observations on Horace’s treatment of poetry; he specifically notes the poet’s use of reflections on poetry but does not suggest that such reflections necessarily represent Horace’s actual beliefs: ‘‘Latin poetry, a child of the Hellenistic age, had almost ab origine been ‘self-conscious’ in the primary sense of the word, that is to say given to reflecting upon itself, aware of its own limitations, of the means at its disposal, and of the ends it was aiming at . . . It was, then, no novelty in itself when Horace undertook to discuss themes which we are accustomed to regard as belonging to the theoretical treatment of poetics. What was new, however, was the use he made of theoretical discussions on such topics and the place which they came to occupy in his whole work’’ (Fraenkel, Horace, –). . For a reading of the Ars poetica in particular as a technical literary treatise in large part indebted to earlier Greek aesthetic and poetic theories, and comprising in effect a self-contained and systematic work of critical philosophy, see C. O.

Notes to Pages –


Brink, Horace on Poetry, : The ‘‘Ars Poetica’’ (Cambridge, ), , . As many commentators on the Ars poetica have pointed out, however, the work’s exclusive focus on the genres of epic and especially drama would have made it highly impractical as a critical aid to poetic composition in contemporary Rome. It is, rather, an interesting but disingenuous amalgam of Greek and Roman literary analysis, and it must be understood as something other than a genuine technical handbook. . In tacit acceptance of this concept, Mayer, ‘‘Horace’s Moyen de Parvenir,’’ – , sees a direct correlation between Horace’s goals of high-flown social advancement and the themes he chooses to emphasize in his works: ‘‘Horace turns a social issue into the raw material of poetry . . . [he] was also a man of the world and wanted some of the things that only the upper level of society had to offer . . . At this point it might be suggested that Horace’s experience as a Roman poet exactly paralleled his experience as a Roman citizen.’’ I agree with Mayer that Horace certainly advances his quest for balance between personal independence and social prominence as a model for his development of new techniques in poetic composition, and vice versa. But Horace undermines the simplicity of this identification with equal care, and it is important to recognize it as only one of his separate and fully articulated visions of the poetic craft. . Cf. D. Armstrong, ‘‘Horatius Eques et Scriba,’’ TAPA  (): . . We might note that Horace makes a comparable declaration to forsake poetry for other, more noble pursuits—in verse, in the first few lines of his first book of poetic Epistles (‘‘nunc itaque et versus et cetera ludicra pono’’ [Epist. ..]). Horace can, when he chooses, place a very heavy emphasis on the irony of his statements. . G. Williams, ‘‘Public Policies, Private Affairs, and Strategies of Address in the Poetry of Horace,’’ Classical World (CW)  (): –. . This is made even clearer when one takes into account the disparate statements (and visions of poetry) made to Maecenas in Epist.. and Florus in Epist.., whose respective social positions vis-à-vis Horace necessitate very different approaches on his part to this question of poetry as utilitarian or mercenary pursuit. On this matter see the concise and elegant formulation by Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –. . Horace’s themes and language here have a marked generic precedent in those poems in which the poet excoriates his current or former mistress for her wanton behavior, and with embittered satisfaction predicts her unhappy future as an aged and broken-down hag. Horace himself had practiced this form (Odes .); but here the traditional love-hate ambivalence of the poet for his mistress has been humorously adapted to reflect a similar ambivalence on Horace’s part— genuine or assumed—to the popularity of his poetry. . Horace naturally does not mention here his position as scriba quaestorius, nor does he acknowledge any assistance that he may have received from power-


Notes to Pages –

ful friends such as Messalla Corvinus or Asinius Pollio. His aim is not to give a truthful account of his salad days but to make a point about poetry. . Cf. Epist...–, where Horace portrays himself as being proudest by far of his groundbreaking work in Latin lyric and iambic poetry. . It should be noted that this concept is advanced only in the Satires, and that Horace specifically claims in Sat...– that satire is not poetry: ‘‘Agedum, pauca accipe contra. primum ego me illorum, dederim quibus esse poetas, excerpam numero.’’ However, Horace’s subsequent proposal that the actual validity of the point should be determined some other time (‘‘Hactenus haec: alias iustum sit necne poema’’ [Sat...–]) clearly signals that this rhetorical device is adopted temporarily and does not represent Horace’s actual belief (see Fraenkel, Horace, , and Rudd, Satires of Horace, ). In the context of my discussion of Horace’s self-image as a poet, the distinction between the hexameters of satire and the ‘‘true poetry’’ of epic that he purports to observe should not be read as necessarily constituting his critical position regarding the various literary genres, so much as a means of underscoring the importance of genre in shaping the specifics of a poet’s self-presentation and, thus, the limits to which conscious self-presentation can be engaged in within each genre. . For the suggestion that Horace’s autobiography is simply a generic requirement of satire, and that he presents himself as unenviable and thus nonthreatening by implying that he has no literary pedigree and no poetic authority, see Schlegel, ‘‘Horace and His Fathers,’’ . . See F. Muecke, ‘‘Law, Rhetoric, and Genre in Horace Satires .,’’ in Homage to Horace, ed. S. J. Harrison (Oxford, ), –. . A similar sentiment seems to infuse Horace’s praise of Maecenas’s perceptive nature in Sat..: ‘‘Magnum hoc ego duco, / quod placui tibi, qui turpi secernis honestum/non patre praeclaro, sed vita et pectore puro’’ (–). This is another occasion when the poet employs positive self-presentation to advance what seem intended to be read as general ideals of conduct. . This characterization of his youth and past experience seems to be the reason for his couching his private reminiscences in language that so strongly echoes a comic scene in Terence’s Adelphoe, wherein Syrus twits Demea for his moralizing. (The connection has often been noted; see, for instance, E. W. Leach, ‘‘Horace’s Pater Optimus and Terence’s Demea: Autobiographical Fiction and Comedy in Sermo .,’’ AJP  []: –). By alluding to a widely known episode of Roman comedy in this fashion, Horace is better able to explain the debt he owes his father. For Horace to strike such a parallel between his father and the fatuous Demea seems somewhat troubling at first, but as Horace observes in this same poem, scenes from comedy and events of daily life often overlap (Sat...–). It does not necessarily demean his father to characterize him in this way. . As in book  of the Satires, which contains no reference to Horace’s father

Notes to Pages –


or his moral tutelage. Published in  .., five years after Sat., Sat. reflects the poet’s different circumstances and needs of self-presentation, which he meets in turn by different means; nevertheless, the changing specifics of his self-images confirm that the overall technique has remained constant. . Horace himself makes this argument in Sat.., when he argues for a definition of poetry that incorporates genres such as epic but specifically excludes the satire that he himself is writing (see Sat...–, –). . For Odes . as marking Horace’s reaffirmation of his power as a poet, see Pöschl, Horazische Lyrik, –, and Lowrie, Horace’s Narrative Odes, –. . See Zetzel, ‘‘Horace’s liber sermonum,’’ –. . The phrase emunctae naris in particular creates an impression of Lucilius as being especially good at ‘‘sniffing out’’ flaws and misdeeds well deserving of his scorn, but the backhanded nature of this compliment underscores Horace’s ostentatious adoption of the role of clear-sighted and independent-minded critic. . Cf. discussion in Freudenburg, The Walking Muse, . . See, for instance, Fraenkel, Horace, –. . Cf. Armstrong, Horace, ; but see Freudenburg, The Walking Muse, , for an endorsement of the idea that Horace truly had been criticized for his criticisms in Sat... Freudenburg does not satisfactorily demonstrate a causal relationship between the retorts of the Neoterics and Sat.., however; rather, Horace introduces the notion of fending off hostile counter-criticism as an artificial pretext for the introduction of new points about satire. Armstrong and Freudenburg are both correct, in different aspects. . Freudenburg, The Walking Muse, , reads these lines as being ironic and humorous, and attaches to them no greater significance than that. Humorous the conceit may be, but this only masks—in quintessentially Horatian fashion—the serious critical argument that the poet here constructs. . Thus, the emphasis in these lines is on Horace’s seemingly candid admission of inconstancy in his proclaimed literary views and ideals, rather than on the simple fact of writing, as suggested by Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, . . A term that in modern Italy refers to one’s becoming famous and respected within earshot of the bell tower of the church where one was baptized (see A. J. Woodman, ‘‘Exegi monumentum: Horace, Odes .,’’ in Quality and Pleasure in Latin Poetry, ed. A. J. Woodman and D. West [Cambridge, ], ; but cf. Fowler, ‘‘Horace and the Aesthetics of Politics,’’ ). . See T. Habinek, The Politics of Latin Literature (Princeton, ), . . For discussion of the very different stances and self-images qua poet that Horace seems to exchange as he moves from work to work, see, e.g., Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –, and S. J. Harrison, ‘‘Deflating the Odes: Horace, Epistles .,’’ Classical Quarterly (CQ)  (): –. This sheer variety offers further indication that the fundamental technique of self-presentation remains intact from work to work.


Notes to Pages –

. But forcefulness and universal truthfulness are not always identical in Horace’s self- presentation. Under other circumstances (Odes ., for instance), Horace projects a very different attitude toward the prospect of widespread popularity. . As the passage indicates, these two groups overlap in Horace’s estimation. Although the members’ abilities vary widely, most were themselves aspiring if not always adept poets, and made up a knowledgeable and sympathetic audience. . See Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, –, who points out that this same vision of the poet’s role is again articulated (albeit in increasingly public forms) in Horace’s later works as well. . For the suggestion that Horace was somewhat unenthusiastically following Virgil in a Callimachean articulation of a ‘‘vates-concept,’’ see J. K. Newman, The Concept of Vates in Augustan Poetry (Brussels, ), –. But Newman misses Horace’s self-consciousness and deft use of irony in presenting the vates concept without committing himself to it. . All the more important, given the contemporary political-ideological climate in Rome, and the virtuous, restorative message that Augustus himself was eager to project. (See M. Santirocco, ‘‘Horace and Augustan Ideology,’’ Arethusa  []: , and discussion in chapter four). . Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, , . . Indeed, David Schenker has argued that even the Roman Odes are infused with a more private voice or persona, which stands as an integral component of each poem (see D. Schenker, ‘‘Poetic Voices in Horace’s Roman Odes,’’ CJ  []: –, and also Newman, The Concept of Vates, –). . We recall from Odes . Horace’s emphasis of the powerful role played by inspired compulsion in his compositions; his subjects are not always freely determined by him. See Santirocco, ‘‘Horace and Augustan Ideology,’’ –. . This same poem marks the revival after more than twenty years (since publication of Sat. in  ..) of Horace’s concept of relativity of judgment. (See especially Epist...–, with its discussion of the tendency people have to value old authors indiscriminately, simply because of their age.) Given the emphasis elsewhere in this poem on the deeper value of the poet in his community, perhaps Horace intends the relativity argument to provide further support for his more far-reaching claims about the craft of poetry. At the very least, its reappearance signals Horace’s continuing attention to the needs of his own situation and self-presentation as a poet: ‘‘Horace is not primarily concerned with refuting the wrong judgements on the early Roman poets. What is, however, vital for him, since the success of his life’s work depends on it, is to overcome the dull opposition to any fresh production and the common incapacity to recognize any higher stylistic standards’’ (Fraenkel, Horace, ). . See, e.g., C. O. Brink, Horace on Poetry : Epistles Book II: The Letters to Augustus and Florus (Cambridge, ), –.

Notes to Pages –


. See Santirocco, ‘‘Horace and Augustan Ideology,’’ . . G. W. Williams, Tradition and Originality in Roman Poetry (Oxford, ), . . Cf. B. Frischer, Shifting Paradigms: New Approaches to Horace’s Ars Poetica (Atlanta, ), –, who argues that the generic form of the Ars poetica is neither wholly epistolary nor fully didactic but stands as a new ‘‘tertium quid,’’ a form of Horatian sermo. . The image of the poetic censor appears also in Epist...–, although in this case Horace quickly punctures the image by claiming that he would rather be complacent and happy than work too hard at his poetry, and therefore be miserable: ‘‘praetulerim scriptor delirus inersque videri, / dum mea delectent mala me vel denique fallant,/quam sapere et ringi’’ (–). Another instance, perhaps, when the poet invites us to recognize the constructed nature of his selfpresentations. . Also cited previously, in chapter two.

Chapter Four: Worldly Affairs . See Z. Yavetz, ‘‘The Res Gestae and Augustus’ Public Image,’’ in Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects, ed. F. Millar and E. Segal (Oxford, ), –. The quotation is taken from p. , following J. Firth, Augustus Caesar and the Organization of the Empire (). . See G. B. Conte, Latin Literature: A History, trans. J. B. Solodow (Baltimore, ), , –,  (for Cicero’s self-glorifying poetic compositions), –. For politically motivated attacks on literary clientes see, e.g, the background to Cicero’s Pro Archia. Although Conte holds that Naevius’s feud with the Metelli is of ‘‘contested authenticity,’’ it is well attested in ancient sources: see Cicero, Verr.. and Brut., and Caesius Bassus, Gramm.Lat.vi.. . Much of the following discussion of Horace’s handling of the contemporary political situation builds on the ideas of Matthew Santirocco, who claims that the traditional scholarly focus on identifying (or vigorously denying) the existence of an oppositional ideological relationship between the Augustan-era poets and the Augustan regime is both problematic and misguided; he asserts that we must instead recognize Horace’s accomplishments as an independent and equal participant in the construction of Augustan ‘‘ideology,’’ who adroitly manipulated this interplay of politics and literature for his own creative purposes (see Santirocco, ‘‘Horace and Augustan Ideology,’’ –). . R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford, ), , . . P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, trans. A. Shapiro (Ann Arbor, ), –. . These different audiences were often addressed simultaneously, as is indicated by the fact that the Res gestae, Augustus’s public statement of his achieve-


Notes to Pages –

ments, was primarily written for the people of the city of Rome but was also put up in Latin and Greek in cities throughout the empire (see P. A. Brunt and J. M. Moore, eds., Res Gestae Divi Augusti [Oxford ], –). . For further discussion, see Syme, Roman Revolution, and J. Evans, The Art of Persuasion (Ann Arbor, ), – and passim, who focuses on the propagandistic uses of a number of Roman myths and images in coins and the visual arts. See also T. P. Wiseman, ‘‘Cybele, Virgil and Augustus,’’ –, and M. Beard, ‘‘A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday,’’ PCPS  (): –. The quotation is taken from Evans, Art of Persuasion, . For a challenge specifically to the effectiveness of coins as sources of propaganda, see K. Galinsky, Augustan Culture (Princeton, ), –, following M. Crawford, ‘‘Roman Imperial Coin Types and the Formation of Public Opinion,’’ in Studies in Numismatic Method Presented to Philip Grierson, ed. C. Brooke (Cambridge, ), –. But coins represented only one among many media and thus should be taken in context as reflecting or restating themes that were being articulated in far greater detail through other contemporary forms. . J. Ellul, Propaganda, trans. K. Kellen and J. Lerner (New York, ), – . Ellul makes two further distinctions: between vertical propaganda, emanating from a leader or superior body, and horizontal propaganda, made within a group and circulated among its members; and rational and irrational propaganda, which he distinguishes in order to emphasize that even factual information and statistics can serve a propagandistic purpose by having an irrational effect on the individual no less than do appeals to sentimentality, prejudice, and emotion. These categories are less relevant to a discussion of Augustan propaganda, however, inasmuch as Roman propaganda was disseminated largely along ‘‘vertical’’ lines (see Evans, Art of Persuasion), and focused on what Ellul would regard as the ‘‘irrational’’ themes of apparent relief from the threat of civil war and joy at the coming of a Roman Golden Age. . Ellul, Propaganda, , perhaps thinking here of the propaganda of imitation engaged in by Octavian and Marcus Antonius during the triumviral period. . As such, Augustan propaganda combined within itself aspects of both political and sociological propaganda, with integrationist and societal messages disseminated in the furtherance of political ends; however, this by no means lends credence to the ‘‘primitive’’ character identified by Ellul. . Ellul, Propaganda, . Indeed, to A. P. Foulkes, literature by its very nature is a propagandistic enterprise, inasmuch as the aim of any piece of writing is to sway its audience toward acceptance of the views and ideas it puts forth; by the same token, ‘‘the schemes of interpretation [of literature] which prevail at a given time, even though they appear to be natural and spontaneous, may derive from the various processes defined by Ellul as propaganda . . . [therefore] an understanding of the forces which may attempt to control our discovery of [portrayed] realities is as important to our understanding of the text as is the relationship

Notes to Pages –


of the text to the realities it purports to convey’’ (A. P. Foulkes, Literature and Propaganda [London, ], , ). . Illness, unpopularity in the Senate, unrest in Rome and Italy, the specter of betrayal by lieutenants such as Salvidienus Rufus, and the continual political maneuvering of Sex. Pompeius and especially the then seemingly impregnable Antonius: such was Octavian’s lot in the years between Philippi ( ..) and the Pact of Tarentum ( ..) (see Syme, Roman Revolution, –). . Williams, ‘‘Did Maecenas ‘Fall from Favor’?,’’ –. . Augustus no less than Maecenas harbored literary interests; the Res gestae has been praised for its stylistic economy and clarity (see, e.g., Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae ..), while the Suetonian Vita testifies to Augustus’s ability in prose and oratory (–), his avid study of rhetoric and Greek (, , ), and his penchant for literary criticism (). There is also the matter of his allowing only top-flight writers to write about him (), although this speaks more to his canniness as a public figure than to his talents for aesthetic appreciation. . Virgil and Horace, at least, had lost their patrimonies during the land confiscations of the Triumvirate in  .. . Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, , , emphasis in the original. . See also comment by R. J. Tarrant in his review of Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) . (): –. Cf. DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace and Maecenas,’’ : ‘‘Contemporary readers of Horace did not need to be told about the nature of amicitia. They could be relied upon to understand the realities of Roman society and to read the poems accordingly. But Rome was not a totalitarian state and there was no mechanism by means of which Maecenas could have compelled Horace to act as his amicus . . . nor did there exist any means by which Maecenas or even Octavian could have compelled Horace, simply by virtue of his being civis Romanus, to write in support of the regime or could have prevented him from writing if he criticised it.’’ The idea here is that Horace freely and honestly embraced the obligations that were attendant upon his amicitia. But there were in fact inescapable obligations incumbent upon Horace (see chapter one), and furthermore, as we shall see, Horace himself points to the challenge and difficulty of having to support the regime, even as he accomplishes the task. . It is true that Suetonius records that Horace refused an invitation from Augustus (delivered through Maecenas) to become his personal secretary and yet suffered no loss of favor. However, this episode appears to have occurred at a later date, by which time Horace’s position was somewhat more secure; Suetonius quotes Augustus as citing his ill health and pressing duties as the pretext for his invitation (‘‘Ante ipse sufficiebam scribendis epistulis amicorum, nunc occupatissimus et infirmus Horatium nostrum a te cupio abducere’’), which suggests that the letter was written sometime around  .., the year in which Augustus became seriously ill, was forced to confront the conspiracy of Murena, and faced


Notes to Pages –

a serious constitutional crisis. In any case, an imperial request made directly to the poet for an example of his work carried far greater weight: ‘‘ ‘Irasci me tibi scito . . . an vereris ne apud posteros infame tibi sit, quod videaris familiaris nobis esse?’ Expressitque eclogam ad se.’’ . See also the excellent discussion by D. Armstrong, ‘‘Some Recent Perspectives on Horace,’’ Phoenix  (): –, especially his trenchant criticisms of Lyne’s handling of this issue. Moreover, Horace was simply of insufficient importance as a political figure to have warranted personal attacks for having switched sides, especially in the thirties, when he was just another promising young poet. Far more illustrious and socially and politically prominent people made the jump to Octavian’s party even later than Horace with no apparent difficulty—Messalla Corvinus for one, who fought for the republicans at Philippi, then joined Antonius, and did not go over to Octavian before  .. (see the discussion in R. Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy [Oxford, ], –). How much less likely, then, that anyone would have devoted their time and attention to stigmatizing the socially negligible Horace (other than on the charges of arrivisme and libertino patre natus, which have already been discussed)? . Syme, Roman Revolution, . . Action is called for against the Parthians (., .), the Indians, and even the Chinese (., ., .). . R.G.M. Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ in Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus, ed. A. J. Woodman and D. West (Cambridge, ), –, . . I am indebted to A. Thomas Cole for this observation. . Although Sat.. (a punning story of absurd arguments at Brutus’s praetorial court in Asia) and . (a statue of Priapus recalls driving away some witches) might be read as poems with a direct and pro-triumviral political resonance— the former in its picture of the Republican side as litigious, quarrelsome, and trivial; the latter in its garden setting, which incidentally reminds the reader of Maecenas’s generous donation of parks and gardens to the Roman public. In both cases, however, these political issues are not the main point, and indeed the connection in . to Maecenas is decidedly non-encomiastic. Thus, here too Horace undertakes political service to the cause only in a tangential fashion. . Cf. Lyne, Behind the Public Poetry, –. The central thesis of Lyne’s book —that Horace coped with the pressures and difficulties of his public role through careful management of his public image—is sympathetic to my views. Still, there is much variance between our analyses and conclusions as to the nature of these pressures and Horace’s responses to them. . For the political resonance of representations of a private and comfortable existence, see D. Kennedy, ‘‘ ‘Augustan’ and ‘Anti-Augustan’: Reflections on Terms of Reference,’’ in Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus, ed. A. Powell (Bristol, ), , and esp. –. . Hardly a daring move on Horace’s part, perhaps, since by this time Octa-

Notes to Pages –


vian was in complete control of the West; S. Pompeius and Lepidus were now out of the picture. But this does not lessen the political nature of Sat.., in terms of its establishment of a connection between Horace, Maecenas, and Octavian. (Horace demonstrates that such a connection was regularly made, in Sat.., discussed in greater detail below.) . For recent discussion of Octavian/Augustus’s early and abiding preoccupation with the passage of moral legislation, see Galinsky, Augustan Culture, –. . Cf. the ludicrous effect of Cato’s pompous statements in Sat...–: ‘‘Quidam notus homo cum exiret fornice, ‘macte/virtute esto’ inquit sententia dia Catonis,/‘nam simul ac venas inflavit taetra libido,/huc iuvenes aequum est descendere, non alienas/ permolere uxores.’ ’’ See also perhaps Prop...–, where he and Cynthia celebrate the abolition of a law ‘‘qua quondam edicta flemus uterque diu, / ni nos divideret.’’ . ‘‘It is incredible that Satire . should have shocked either Maecenas or Octavian, hard to believe that they gave anything less than wholehearted approval to this first onslaught on adultery’’ (DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace and Maecenas,’’ ). . As indicated by Suetonius, Divus Augustus , –, and the Res gestae. . DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace and Maecenas,’’  and . DuQuesnay goes on to say that ‘‘there is also no reason whatsoever to think that Horace was insincere, that he did not believe genuinely that Octavian represented the best, even the only, hope of achieving peace, prosperity, and freedom’’ (). But the question of the genuineness of Horace’s feeling seems not only unknowable but also unimportant. As noted earlier, what matters more is that Horace certainly intended to present Octavian, and his belief in Octavian, in this fashion. . Similarly, the addressees of the Odes can be seen to have political significance, in that many of them are members of this same senatorial nobility (Pollio, Murena, Aelius Lamia, etc.). . For the suggestion that Horace is here concerned primarily with showing how he has surpassed Lucilius by producing a more skillful version of the same narrative, rather than with developing a politically palatable view of Maecenas’s circle, see P.M.W. Tennant, ‘‘Political or Personal Propaganda? Horace’s Sermones , in Perspective,’’ Acta Classica (AC)  (): –. But Tennant goes too far in arguing (–) that this literary concern (clearly present in the poem) removes all possibility of a simultaneous political resonance. . This passage is cited also in chapter two. . For the suggestion that Horace in Odes . is making similarly propagandistic use of inside knowledge of Octavian’s plans to reward his veterans with cash payments instead of land grants, see I.M.LeM. DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace, Odes .: Pro Reditu Imperatoris Caesaris Divi Filii Augusti,’’ in Homage to Horace, ed. S. J. Harrison (Oxford, ), . . Cf. Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ –. . This alternative coloration is primarily imparted through the poem’s overt


Notes to Pages –

similarities to the extravagant promises of Furius and Aurelius in Catullus .– —there rejected by the poet. . See Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, , for discussion of how Horace here employs the appropriated moral superiority of Octavian’s party as a weapon against his political rival Antonius: ‘‘Rehearsing the kind of propaganda favored by the Octavian party in this period, Horace thus projects disorder outward, away from the purified and reconstructed Roman community represented here by the hierarchy Horace-Maecenas-Caesar.’’ . Fraenkel, Horace, , imagines the scene as taking place in Horace’s house; Williams, Tradition and Originality, , suggests that it is set in the home of Maecenas. Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ –, argues at length that Epod. follows the form of a running commentary on the battle and would like to see Horace as having been present at Actium itself; but this seems both untenable and unnecessary, given the alternative interpretation outlined above. . Sex. Pompeius styled himself ‘‘Neptunius,’’ the son of Neptune, following his naval victories in Sicily. . Syme, Roman Revolution, . . This is the traditional allegorical interpretation of Odes . advocated by most Horatian scholars; see, e.g., Fraenkel, Horace, –; R. Nisbet and M. Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace: Odes, Book I (Oxford, ), ; and Syndikus, Die Lyrik des Horaz, –. W. S. Anderson, ‘‘Horace Carm. .: What Kind of Ship?’’ CP  (): –, argued that the erotic terminology used in the final stanza (taedium, desiderium, cura) suggests that the allegorical reference is to a woman, ‘‘Horace’s mistress,’’ rather than to a ship (much less to the res publica); he is followed in this belief by A. J. Woodman, ‘‘The Craft of Horace in Odes .,’’ CP  (): –. In response, one need only point out that the political situation in Rome was far from stable in  .., and that contemporary Romans—as well as later Romans, such as Quintilian, for whom this period was still recent and relevant history—would have been far more likely to read Horace’s remarks in a political light. The arguments of Anderson and Woodman, however ingenious, unfortunately trivialize the poem and unfairly lessen its impact; it might be suggested that one must have stronger grounds for discounting an interpretation that has had currency since the first century .. . There is perhaps an implicit hope here that Augustus, as the helmsman, will pilot Rome to safety. . The reference to populus et princeps and their frontier enemies in particular indicates the political thrust of the poem. For the political and artistic resonance of such references to remote peoples, see Jean-Paul Brisson, ‘‘Horace: Pouvoir poétique et pouvoir politique,’’ in Présence d’Horace, ed. R. Chevallier (Tours, ), –. . The hint becomes especially broad if, as has been suggested by some scholars, Augustus had already attempted (unsuccessfully) to promulgate moral legis-

Notes to Pages –


lation in  or  ..; see G. Williams, ‘‘Augustan Moral Legislation,’’ JRS  (): –. For a contrasting view, see E. Badian, ‘‘A Phantom Marriage Law,’’ Philologus  (): –, although in attacking the idea of an early attempt by Augustus at moral legislation, Badian seems overly restrictive in refusing to consider any evidence other than ‘‘positive attestation of a high order of reliability’’— which he does not find. Galinsky, Augustan Culture, , inclines toward acceptance of the idea that Augustus had always been concerned with such matters. . Odes ..–; see Res gestae .. . For these passages as suggesting the growing awkwardness of the divinity metaphor as genuine cult worship of Augustus spread in the East, see S. Commager, The Odes of Horace: A Critical Study (New Haven, ), . For a more enthusiastically pro-Principate reading, see E. Kaus, ‘‘ ‘Rapidos morantem fluminum lapsus’: Dichter und Staat in Hor. c.,,’’ Gymnasium  (): –. . For Horace’s double goal of fulfilling the rhetorical function of praise poetry for Augustus while maintaining his aesthetic and poetic independence, and his achievement thereof through exemplary narrative and indirect accommodation, see Lowrie, Horace’s Narrative Odes, –, –. . Horace had already forecast Augustus’s assumption of the title in Odes ..; see Brunt and Moore, Res Gestae, , and G. Williams, The Third Book of Horace’s Odes (Oxford, ), –. . It might be argued that this abandonment of the Satires’ ‘‘common man’’ persona as a medium for political discussion may partly reflect the nature and generic limitations of the lyric form—very different from the more characteroriented satire. However, further evidence for this tactic of independently advising Augustus can be found in the Epistles as well. When Horace advises Quinctius in Epistles ..– not to place much faith in the accolades of a fickle public, he quotes a poem identified by the scholiasts as the Panegyric on Augustus by Varius: ‘‘tene magis salvum populus velit an populum tu, servet in ambiguo, qui consulit et tibi et urbi, Iuppiter,’’—Augusti laudes agnoscere possis . . . . . . ‘‘nempe vir bonus et prudens dici delector ego ac tu.’’ qui dedit hoc hodie, cras, si volet, auferet, ut si detulerit fasces indigno, detrahet idem. ‘‘pone, meum est’’ inquit: pono tristisque recedo. Horace’s thoughts on the transitory nature of public acclaim thus seem implicitly directed as well toward Augustus, the original recipient of these praises, as he hovers in the background of the poet’s address to Quinctius. . See Syndikus, Die Lyrik des Horaz, –. . Nisbet and Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace (), , .


Notes to Pages –

. Syme, Roman Revolution, –. . Cf. West, Reading Horace, . . On exclusion and effacement as motifs in Odes ., see Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –, –. . For a further example, see Odes ., in which Horace specifically refuses to write about Augustus’s triumphs and military campaigns, and suggests that Maecenas do it himself, in prose no less: ‘‘Tuque pedestribus / dices historiis proelia Caesaris,/Maecenas, melius ductaque per vias/regum colla minacium’’ (–). Michael Putnam observes of these two poems that ‘‘in each case the strong recusatio is at least balanced by the lyricist’s apparent assumption that eulogy was Augustus’ due’’ (M.C.J. Putnam, ‘‘Augustus and the Ambiguities of Encomium,’’ in Between Republic and Empire, ed. K. A. Raaflaub and M. Toher [Berkeley, ], ). . Suetonius, Divus Augustus, : ‘‘Componi tamen aliquid de se nisi et serio et a praestantissimis offendebatur, admonebatque praetores ne paterentur nomen suum commisionibus obsolefieri.’’ . Octavian’s judgment is what matters more than anything, as Horace suggests in his closing pun about mala carmina (libel or bad poetry): ‘‘ ‘Si mala condiderit in quem qui carmina, ius est / iudiciumque.’ esto, si quis mala, sed bona si quis/iudice condiderit laudatus Caesare?’’ (Sat...–). For consideration of the interplay of direct and indirect compliment to Augustus in these lines, and especially for the difficulty of finding the right moment (given Octavian’s pressing concerns in Asia), see E. Doblhofer, Die Augustuspanegyrik des Horaz in formalhistorischer Sicht (Heidelberg, ), –. . See Pliny, NH ., and discussion in R.G.M. Nisbet, ‘‘Notes on Horace, Epistles ,’’ CQ  (): . . DuQuesnay, ‘‘Horace and Maecenas,’’ suggests that Maecenas proposed writing an epic on the achievements of Octavian to each and every top-rate poet with whom he associated, regardless of their particular tastes and proclivities. However, such a view requires that one accepts these poets’ recusationes as representing the literal truth, which is most unlikely. . Epod. likely in / .., Epod. perhaps a year later. For the arguments in favor of these dates, see Fraenkel, Horace, –, and Williams, Tradition and Originality, –; cf. Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ –. Nisbet ascribes Maecenas’s recruitment of Horace to these very poems, ‘‘so impressive and so damaging’’ as they were to Octavian’s cause. But in so doing Nisbet makes the a priori assumption that Horace began his poetic career as a genuine all-out foe of the triumvir, until he was ‘‘bought out’’ with Maecenas’s bribe of the Sabine farm. . For the connections of this poem to Ennius and Sallust as well as to the larger Roman mythic saga, including its dark coloration, see D. AbleitingerGrünberger, Der junge Horaz und die Politik (Heidelberg, ), –. . The relative dating and priority of Epod. and Ecl., and the proper place-

Notes to Pages –


ment of these poems within their historical context, was long a problematic matter of debate (see, e.g., Ableitinger-Grünberger, Der junge Horaz, –). However, Nisbet points the way toward the most plausible explanation: ‘‘On general grounds it is easier to believe that Horace deflated unrealistic optimism than that his friend reversed the process, and this view already draws some support from the first line of the epode. When the overall resemblances of the two poems are taken into account, this must have some relationship to the opening of the eclogue . . . but whereas the new Sybilline age gave Virgil his organizing principle, Horace’s aetas is inexplicit by comparison and therefore more probably derivative’’ (Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ –; see also Griffin, ‘‘Horace in the Thirties,’’ –). . Nisbet, ‘‘Horace’s Epodes and History,’’ . . Suetonius, Divus Augustus, ; see commentary by Syme, Roman Revolution, –, . . See the remarks of Maria Wyke regarding ‘‘the potential [of Augustan poetry within its full discursive context] as propaganda, its capacity to control our perception of the literature.’’ Horace’s poem both demands that we engage with its political and propagandistic resonance, and plays with our tendency to construct untested assumptions about its message, based upon our prior convictions—in effect, our ‘‘complicity with the ideological apparatus of the Augustan state’’ (M. Wyke, ‘‘Augustan Cleopatras: Female Power and Poetic Authority,’’ in Roman Poetry and Propaganda, ed. A. Powell [], , and  for later discussion). . Nisbet and Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace (), ; see also Gregson Davis, Polyhymnia: The Rhetoric of Horatian Lyric Discourse (Berkeley, ), – , for a pro-Octavian interpretation. But cf. W. R. Johnson, ‘‘A Quean, a Great Queen? Cleopatra and the Politics of Misrepresentation,’’ Arion  (): –, and most recently, Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, –. . M.C.J. Putnam, ‘‘Horace Carm..: Augustus and the Ambiguities of Encomium,’’ in Between Republic and Empire, ed. K. A. Raaflaub and M. Toher (Berkeley, ), . . See Santirocco, ‘‘Horace and Augustan Ideology,’’ , and the comparable viewing of public events from a resolutely private perspective in Odes . (see below). . Cf. Commager, Odes of Horace, –, who identifies a subtle overtone of ‘‘vague discontent’’ in Horace’s affirmation of allegiance; if so, then Odes . offers further evidence of Horace’s careful handling of multiple potential responses. . Fraenkel, Horace, –. . Nor should future problems and potential issues consume his attention; such concern is unnecessary, and even counterproductive: ‘‘Tu civitatem quis deceat status/curas et urbi sollicitus times, / quid Seres et regnata Cyro / Bactra


Notes to Pages –

parent Tanaisque discors. / . . . quod adest memento / componere aequus; cetera fluminis/ritu feruntur’’ (Odes ..–). The symbolic resonance of such blandishing advice becomes very great when it is directed to an important political figure like Maecenas. . Syme, Roman Revolution, , . . If, in fact, Pollio had arranged for Horace to receive his position as scriba quaestorius, as discussed in chapter one.

Conclusion: Creating Reality . See Oliensis, Rhetoric of Authority, . . See esp. Carm.saec.–: quaeque vos bubus veneratur albis clarus Anchisae Venerisque sanguis, impetret, bellante prior, iacentem lenis in hostem. iam mari terraque manus potentis Medus Albanasque timet securis, iam Scythae responsa petunt superbi nuper et Indi. iam Fides et Pax et Honos Pudorque priscus et neglecta redire Virtus audet, apparetque beata pleno Copia cornu. And that which the illustrious stock of Venus and Anchises asks of you with the sacrifice of white oxen, let it obtain—victorious over the warlike, gentle to the vanquished enemy! Now the Parthian fears our forces, powerful on land and sea; he fears the axes of Alba. Now the Scythians and Indians, so haughty of late, seek answers to their petitions. Now Fides and Peace and Honor and ancient Pudor and neglected Virtus are emboldened to return, and blessed Plenty appears with her brimming horn. . This is not to suggest that Odes  is in any way less subtle in its handling of public and political issues, only that a new, more direct tone of address now makes its appearance. See the excellent discussion by M.C.J. Putnam, Artifices of Eternity (Ithaca, ), –, where he notes that the motifs and messages first crafted by Horace in the Carmen saeculare and pursued throughout Odes  are far less equivocal and far more celebratory and in line with Augustus’s interests. At the same time, as Putnam points out, ‘‘However the content and presentation of his verse may have altered [after  ..], the excellence of his final master-

Notes to Pages –


piece is fully equal to that of his first collection of odes’’ (). The subtlety of Horace’s earlier handling of multiple implications is also retained (albeit in modified form), although by now only one audience member really matters. See also T. Habinek, ‘‘The Marriageability of Maximus,’’ AJP  (): –, and Armstrong, ‘‘Some Recent Perspectives,’’ –, although here the case for Horace’s independent tack in Odes  is, if anything, somewhat overstated. . See Putnam, Artifices of Eternity, –, who points also to the pervasive influence of Virgil’s Aeneid in these lines, although cf. White, Promised Verse, esp. –. . If he maintains any self-image at all, that is to say, ‘‘gone, apparently, is the entire presence of a shaping first person . . . we seem to be in an intellectual world as impersonal as it is expansive’’ (Putnam, Artifices of Eternity, ). . Robin Seager sees in Odes  a ‘‘discontented and disillusioned, irked’’ Horace, a subversive who gives blunt and open expression to his unhappiness by emphasizing in his poems the increasingly restrictive and non-benevolent nature of the regime. But such a reading of the poems appears implausible, based as it is largely on the absence of what Seager takes to be a proper level of enthusiasm and on ‘‘discordant undertones’’ that may or may not be present in the poetry. Such a view also flies in the face of what we have seen both of Horace’s graceful subtlety in addressing those for whom he writes, and his solid (if complicated) commitment to and support of the Augustan cause found in Odes – and, indeed, earlier (see R. Seager, ‘‘Horace and Augustus: Poetry and Policy,’’ in Horace , ed. N. Rudd [Ann Arbor, ], –). . See J. Thibault, The Mystery of Ovid’s Exile (Berkeley, ), for discussion of the carmen (the Ars Amatoria) et error (an unknown indiscretion) cited by Ovid as the reasons for his downfall (Tr..), although Thibault’s speculative conclusions do not convince. Cf. P. Green, ‘‘Carmen et Error,’’ Classical Antiquity (CA)  (): –, and G. P. Goold, ‘‘The Cause of Ovid’s Exile,’’ Illinois Classical Studies (ICS)  (): –. . We must take issue with E. J. Kenney’s assertion that ‘‘for the type of poetry that Ovid [in exile] was now called upon to write there was no precedent and no model . . . the poems can lay claim, as Mr. A. G. Lee has pointed out, to considerable originality: ‘an Ovidian invention, without parallel in Greek or Latin literature’ ’’ (see E. J. Kenney, ‘‘The Poetry of Ovid’s Exile,’’ PCPS  []: – ). The Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto are indeed remarkably innovative works in their own right; but Ovid’s indebtedness (openly acknowledged) to Horace’s technique of consciously manipulated self-presentation, and his comparable application of created self-images as a means of calling the attention of his audiences to his immediate situation, is clear and undeniable. More successful is recent discussion by Habinek, Politics in Latin Literature, –, esp. –. . The images collapse under the weight of their fictions, however. Ovid displays undiminished vigor and inventiveness in the very act of mourning his failing


Notes to Pages –

poetic abilities, while his claims of obscure mediocrity are too extravagant to be taken seriously: at the time of his exile Ovid was Rome’s greatest living poet, with fame to match. . ‘‘Laesi principis ira,’’ (the anger of the injured princeps []); ‘‘nec qui detractat praesentia livor iniquo / ullum de nostris dente momordit opus,’’ nor has the jealousy that disparages current things ever bit into any work of mine with its unfair tooth –); ‘‘Ille ego qui fuerim, tenerorum lusor amorum,/ quem legis, ut noris, accipe posteritas . . ./iure tibi grates, candide lector, ago.’’ Accept what you are about to read, Posterity, so that you may know what sort of man I was, I who played with the tender amores . . . As is proper, I thank you, dear reader (–, ). . The translation is adapted from that of A. L. Wheeler for the Loeb Classical Library, nd ed. (rev. G. P. Goold). . As when Ovid casts the proem to the Tristia as a fond address to his anthropomorphized work: he carefully explains the things it will see when it arrives in Rome, including its ‘‘brothers’’ in the poet’s library: ‘‘Cum tamen in nostrum fueris penetrale receptus, / contigerisque tuam, scrinia curva, domum / aspicies illic positos ex ordine fratres’’ (Tr...–). Compare Horace’s characterization in Epist.. of his book as a wayward young slave eager to see the world. . S. Treggiari, ‘‘Home and Forum: Cicero between ‘Public’ and ‘Private,’ ’’ TAPA  (): –.


All journals are listed according to the standard abbreviations used in L’Année Philologique. Ableitinger-Grünberger, D. Der junge Horaz und die Politik: Studien zur . und . Epode. Heidelberg, . Ahl, F. M. ‘‘The Rider and the Horse: Politics and Power in Roman Poetry from Horace to Statius.’’ In ANRW II.., –. Berlin, . Allen, A. W. ‘‘ ‘Sincerity’ and the Roman Elegists: How Genuine Is It?’’ CP  (): –. Ancona, R. Time and the Erotic in Horace’s Odes. Durham, N.C., . Anderson, W. S. ‘‘Horace Carm..: What Kind of Ship?’’ CP  (): –. . Essays on Roman Satire. Princeton, . . ‘‘Ironic Preambles and Satiric Self-Definition in Horace Satire ..’’ Pacific Coast Philology  (): –. . ‘‘Horatius Liber, Child and Freedman’s Free Son.’’ Arethusa  (): – . Armstrong, D. ‘‘Horatius Eques et Scriba.’’ TAPA  (): –. . Horace. New Haven, . . ‘‘Some Recent Perspectives on Horace.’’ Phoenix  (): –. Badian, E. ‘‘A Phantom Marriage Law.’’ Philologus  (): –. Baker, R. J. ‘‘Maecenas and Horace Satires II..’’ CJ  (): –. Balsdon, J.P.V.D. Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome. London, . Beard, M. ‘‘A Complex of Times: No More Sheep on Romulus’ Birthday.’’ PCPS  (): –. Beard, M., and Crawford, M. Rome in the Late Republic. Ithaca, . Berg, D. ‘‘The Mystery Gourmet of Horace’s Satires .’’ CJ  (–): –. Bond, R. P. ‘‘Dialectic, Eclectic, and Myth (?) in Horace, Satires ..’’ Antichthon  (): –. Borzsák, S., ed. Horatius Opera. Leipzig, . Bowditch, L. ‘‘Horace’s Poetics of Political Integrity: Epistle ..’’ AJP  (): –. Bowersock, G. Augustus and the Greek World. Oxford, . Braund, S. H. ‘‘City and Country in Roman Satire.’’ In Satire and Society in Ancient Rome, edited by S. H. Braund, –. Exeter, .




, ed. Satire and Society in Ancient Rome. Exeter, . Braund, S. M. The Roman Satirists and Their Masks. London, . Brink, C. O. Horace on Poetry, : Prolegomena to the Literary Epistles. Cambridge, . . Horace on Poetry, : The ‘‘Ars Poetica.’’ Cambridge, . . Horace on Poetry, : Epistles Book II: The Letters to Augustus and Florus. Cambridge, . Brisson, J.-P. ‘‘Horace: Pouvoir poétique et pouvoir politique.’’ In Présence d’Horace, edited by R. Chevallier, –. Tours, . Brown, D. The Modernist Self in Twentieth-Century English Literature. London, . Brunt, P. A. Roman Imperial Themes. Oxford, . Brunt, P. A., and Moore, J. M., eds. Res Gestae Divi Augusti. Oxford, . Cairns, F. ‘‘The Power of Implication: Horace’s Invitation to Maecenas (Odes .).’’ In Author and Audience in Latin Literature, edited by A. J. Woodman and J.G.F. Powell. Cambridge, . Caston, R. R. ‘‘The Fall of the Curtain (Horace S. .).’’ TAPA  (): –. Chevallier, R., ed. Présence d’Horace. Tours, . Citroni, M. Poesia e lettori in Roma antica: Forme della communicazione letteraria. Rome, . Commager, S. The Odes of Horace: A Critical Study. New Haven, . Conte, G. B. Latin Literature: A History. Translated by J. B. Solodow. Baltimore, . Costa, C.D.N., ed. Horace. London, . Crawford, M. ‘‘Roman Imperial Coin Types and the Formation of Public Opinion.’’ In Studies in Numismatic Method Presented to Philip Grierson, edited by C. Brooke, –. Cambridge, . Crawford, R. Identifying Poets: Self and Territory in Twentieth-Century Poetry. Edinburgh, . Cunningham, M. P. Review of Syndikus, Die Lyrik des Horaz. CP  (): –. Curchin, L. ‘‘Literacy in the Roman Provinces: Qualitative and Quantitative Data from Central Spain.’’ AJP  (): –. Damon, C. The Mask of the Parasite. Ann Arbor, . D’Arms, J. H. ‘‘The Roman Convivium and Equality.’’ In Sympotica, edited by O. Murray, –. Oxford, . Davis, G. Polyhymnia: The Rhetoric of Horatian Lyric Discourse. Berkeley, . Dilke, O.A.W. ‘‘The Interpretation of Horace’s Epistles.’’ In ANRW II.., – . Berlin, . Doblhofer, E. Die Augustuspanegyrik des Horaz in formalhistorischer Sicht. Heidelberg, . . Horaz in der Forschung nach . Darmstadt, . . ‘‘Horazens tria nomina als autobiographische zeugnisse.’’ WJA  (): –. Drexler, H. ‘‘Zur Epistel , des Horaz.’’ Maia  (): –.



DuQuesnay, I.M.LeM. ‘‘Horace and Maecenas: The Propaganda Value of Sermones I.’’ In Poetry and Politics in the Age of Augustus, edited by A. J. Woodman and D. West, –. Cambridge, . Eck, W. ‘‘Senatorial Self-Representation: Developments in the Augustan Period.’’ In Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects, edited by F. Millar and E. Segal, –. Oxford, . Ellul, J. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. Translated by K. Kellen and J. Lerner. New York, . Evans, J. The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus. Ann Arbor, . Fantham, E. Roman Literary Culture. Baltimore, . Feeney, D. C. ‘‘Si licet et fas est: Free Speech under the Principate.’’ In Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus, edited by A. Powell, –. London, . Foulkes, A. Literature and Propaganda. London, . Fowler, D. P. ‘‘Horace and the Aesthetics of Politics.’’ In Homage to Horace: A Bimilllenary Celebration, edited by S. J. Harrison, –. Oxford, . Fraenkel, E. Horace. Oxford, . Frank, T. ‘‘Horace’s Description of a Scene in Lucilius.’’ AJP  (): –. Freudenburg, K. The Walking Muse. Princeton, . . ‘‘Canidia at the Feast of Nasidienus (Hor. S. ..).’’ TAPA  (): –. Frischer, B. Shifting Paradigms: New Approaches to Horace’s Ars Poetica. Atlanta, . Galinsky, K. Augustan Culture. Princeton, . Garnsey, P., and Saller, R. The Roman Empire: Economy, Society and Culture. Berkeley, . Gohrbandt, D., and von Lutz, B., eds. Self-Referentiality in Twentieth-Century British and American Poetry. Frankfurt, . Gold, B. K., ed. Literary and Artistic Patronage in Ancient Rome. Austin, . . Literary Patronage in Greece and Rome. Chapel Hill, . . ‘‘Openings in Horace’s Satires and Odes: Poet, Patron, and Audience.’’ YCS  (): –. Goold, G. P. ‘‘The Cause of Ovid’s Exile.’’ ICS  (): –. Gowers, E. The Loaded Table: Representations of Food in Roman Literature. Oxford, . . ‘‘Horace, Satires .: An Inconsequential Journey.’’ PCPS  (): –. Green, P. ‘‘Carmen et Error.’’ CA  (): –. Griffin, J. ‘‘Caesar Qui Cogere Posset.’’ In Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects, edited by F. Millar and E. Segal, –. Oxford, . . Latin Poets and Roman Life. London, . . ‘‘Horace in the Thirties.’’ In Horace : A Celebration, edited by N. Rudd, –. London, . Habash, M. ‘‘Priapus: Horace in Disguise?’’ CJ  (): –.



Haber, J. Pastoral and the Poetics of Self-Contradiction. Cambridge, . Habinek, T. ‘‘The Marriageability of Maximus: Horace, Ode ..–.’’ AJP  (): –. . The Politics of Latin Literature. Princeton, . Habinek, T., and Schiesaro, A., eds. The Roman Cultural Revolution. Cambridge, . Harris, W. V. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge, Mass., . Harrison, G. ‘‘The Confessions of Lucilius: A Defense of Autobiographical Satire?’’ CA  (): –. Harrison, S. J. ‘‘Deflating the Odes: Horace, Epistles ..’’ CQ  (): –. . ‘‘The Literary Form of Horace’s Odes.’’ In Horace, Entretiens Hardt , edited by W. Ludwig, –. Geneva, . , ed. Homage to Horace: A Bimillenary Celebration. Oxford, . Heinze, R. Horaz.  vols. Revision of Kiessling (–). Leipzig, –. Henderson, J. ‘‘Be Alert (Your Country Needs Lerts): Horace, Satires ..’’ PCPS  (): –. Herman, G. Review of Konstan, Friendship in the Classical World. JRS  (): . Highet, G. ‘‘Libertino Patre Natus.’’ AJP  (): –. . ‘‘Masks and Faces in Satire.’’ Hermes  (): –. Holmes, T. R. The Architect of the Roman Empire. Oxford, . Horsfall, N. ‘‘The Collegium Poetarum.’’ BICS  (): –. Johnson, W. R. ‘‘A Quean, a Great Queen? Cleopatra and the Politics of Misrepresentation.’’ Arion  (): –. . Horace and the Dialectic of Freedom. Ithaca, . Jones, F.M.A. ‘‘The Role of the Addressee in Horace, Epistles.’’ LCM  (): –. Jowett, G., and V. O’Donnell. Propaganda and Persuasion. London, . Kaus, E. ‘‘ ‘Rapidos morantem fluminum lapsus’: Dichter und Staat in Horaz c. I,.’’ Gymnasium  (): –. Kennedy, D. ‘‘ ‘Augustan’ and ‘Anti-Augustan’: Reflections on Terms of Reference.’’ In Roman Poetry and Propaganda in the Age of Augustus, edited by A. Powell, –. London, . Kenney, E. J. ‘‘The Poetry of Ovid’s Exile.’’ PCPS  (): –. Kiernan, V. G. Horace: Poetics and Politics. New York, . Konstan, D. ‘‘Patrons and Friends.’’ CP  (): –. . Friendship in the Classical World. Cambridge, . Leach, E. W. ‘‘Horace’s pater optimus and Terence’s Demea: Autobiographical Fiction and Comedy in Sermo ,.’’ AJP  (): –. . ‘‘Personal and Communal Memory in Horace’s Odes.’’ Arethusa  (): –. Lejay, P. Oeuvres d’Horace. Paris, . Levy, D. Horace: A Life. New York, .



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General Index

Ableitinger-Grünberger, D.,  n.  access: of audiences to Horace, , – , –, ,  n. ; of Horace to Maecenas, –, , , –, ; of others to Maecenas through Horace, –, –, – n. ,  n.  Actium, , , –, –, ,  n.  advice and instructions: to clients, – ; of Horace’s father, –, ; to poets, , –; to political figures, –, –, –,  n. ,  n. ; to Vinnius, – amicitia, , , . See also amicus amicus: ambiguity of term, , , ,  n. ; inferior and superior, , – , ,  n. ; obligations of, , , , ,  n. . See also patronage Anderson, W. S., ,  n.  anxiety: regarding Maecenas, , –, –,  n. ,  n. ; regarding politics, , ; regarding powerful figures, , , ; regarding social circles, –, –, ; resulting from misjudgment, , , –, ,  n.  Armstrong, David, ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  audience: composition of, , –, , , , –,  n. ; ideal of, , –, , ,  n. ; manipulation of, –, , , –, , –,  n. . See also rings of audience; simultaneous address Augustus, , –, , , –, , , ,  n. ; as hero of Rome, –, –, –, , , , –

, –, ,  n. ; Horace’s relationship with, , , – n. ,  n. ; as manipulator, –, , – n. ; as moral reformer, – , –, , – n. . See also civil war; Maecenas, as lieutenant of Augustus; political issues Badian, Ernst,  n.  Baker, Robert,  n. ,  n.  biographical and rhetorical interpretations, –, –, –,  n. ,  n.  booksellers, , , ,  n.  Braund, S. M.,  n.  Brink, C. O., – n.  Brisson, J.-P.,  n.  Caesar, Julius, , ,  campanilismo, . See also pride Catullus,  Cicero, , , , ,  n.  Citroni, Mario,  n.  civic role of poets, , – civil war, , –, , , , –, –, – Cleopatra, , – clients: as clientela, , , , , , ; dealings of, with patrons, –, – ,  nn. , ; dealings of, Horace’s presentation of, –, –; dealings of, tensions and predicaments of, ; duties of, , , , , –  n. ; literary services by,  n. ; uncertain status of, –, . See also anxiety, regarding Maecenas Commager, Steele,  n. ,  n. 



General Index

Conte, G. B.,  n.  credibility: attaining through being appealing, –, –, –, –; attaining through fabrication, ; attaining through self-deprecation, –, , , –,  criticism and attacks: literary, by Horace, ,  n. ; literary, on Horace, –, , , –, ,  n. ; social, on Horace, , , . See also anxiety, regarding social circles; Lucilius; scorn Damon, C.,  n.  D’Arms, J. H.,  n.  dinner parties, , , –, , , ,  nn. , ,  nn. ,  distant lands, , , ,  n. ; as enemies of Rome, –, –, – ; as eventual sources of popularity, – Doblhofer, E., – n. ,  n. ,  n.  DuQuesnay, Ian, ,  n. ,  nn. ,  Ellul, J., –, ,  nn. , ,  father, Horace’s, –, –,  n. . See also Libertino patre natus Foulkes, A. P., – n.  Fowler, D.,  n.  Fraenkel, E., ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Freudenburg, K., ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Frischer, B.,  n.  Galinsky, K.,  n. ,  n.  genre and literary forms: and the Ars poetica, , – n. ; comedy,  n. ,  n. ; continuity of technique across,  n. ,  n. ; didactic, , ; effects of, on selfpresentation, , –, ,  n. ;

epistolary,  n. ; and Hellenistic ideals, ,  n. ; moralizing in, –, –, –; panegyric, , , –; recusatio, –,  n. ; satire, , –,  n. ,  n. ; symposium, – n. ; used in selfpresentation, , , –,  n. . See also self-presentation Gold, Barbara, ,  n.  Griffin, Jasper, ,  n.  Gowers, Emily,  n.  Habash, Martha,  n.  Habinek, T.,  n.  hacks, –, ,  Harris, William, – Harrison, S. J.,  n.  Henderson, J.,  n.  Highet, Gilbert,  Horace: interpretations of, –,  n. ; as manipulator,  n. ; pressures faced by, –, , , –, ; responses to, –, , , , –, , , , ,  n. . See also audience; biographical and rhetorical interpretations; self-presentation Hubbard, M.,  images: control of, , , , –, –, , –, , –; multiple and contradictory: of Horace, , , , –, ,  n. ; of Horace and Augustus, ; of Horace and his friends, ; of Horace and Maecenas, –, , ,  imitators, – independence: as client, , –, – , , ; as poet, –, , ; as private citizen, –, –, – , –. See also political issues, gestures of support in; relativity of judgment irony, , ,  n. ,  n.  instructions. See advice and instructions Jones F.,  n. 

General Index Kaus, E.,  n.  Kennedy, Duncan,  n.  Kenney, E. J.,  n.  Kiernan, V. G.,  n.  Leach, E. W.,  n.  Lewis, C. S.,  libertino patre natus, –, ,  literacy, –,  n.  literary Satires, –,  Lowrie, M.,  n. ,  n.  Lucilius, , –, ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Lucretius, ,  n.  Lyne, R. O. A. M., , , ,  n. , –  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  McGann, M. J., – n. ,  n. ,  n.  Maecenas, , –; casual relationship of, with Horace, –, –,  n. ; compliments to, , , , – ,  n. ; intimate relationship of, with Horace, –, –,  n. ,  n. ; as lieutenant of Augustus, –, , , –, ,  n. ; limited relationship of, with Horace, –,  n. ; tense and uncertain relationship of, with Horace, –, –; views of relationship of, with Horace, –,  n.  Martindale, C.,  nn. , ,  n.  Mayer, R. G.,  n. ,  n.  messages, disparate, –, –, , –, , , , ,  n. . See also images; simultaneous address Messalla (C. Valerius Messalla Corvinus), –, ,  n.  Muecke, Frances, ,  n.  Naevius,  Newman, J. K.,  n.  Nisbet, R., ,  n. ,  n.  Nisbet, R., and Hubbard, M., , –


Octavian / Augustus. See Augustus Oliensis, Ellen, , ,  n. ,  nn. , ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Ovid, –,  n. , – n.  parasites, , ,  n.  patronage: benefits of, –, , ; introductions to, –,  n. ; and propaganda, –, ; reciprocal arrangements of, , ,  n. , – n. ; and sportulae, . See also clients Pedrick, V., and Rabinowitz, N., ,  n.  persona, , –, ,  nn. , . See also images; self-presentation ‘‘Personal Heresy’’ controversy,  pests, –, –, – political issues: backhanded gestures of support in,  n. ; discretion concerning, , –, –; indirect gestures of support in, , –, , –; and likable portraits, –; and moral portraits, –; and partisan endorsement, , , –; and propaganda, –, , , ,  n. . See also Augustus, as hero of Rome Pollio (C. Asinius Pollio), , –, , –,  n.  popularity: as fame, –, –, – ,  n. ,  n. ; vulgar, , –, , . See also pride; scorn Pöschl, V.,  n. ,  n.  poverty ( paupertas), , –, – preemptive defense, , , , –, , ,  pride, , , –, –, ,  propaganda. See political issues, and propaganda Propertius, , –, ,  n.  Putnam, Michael, ,  n. ,  n. , – nn. , 


General Index

relativity of judgment, –,  n.  rings of Audience: composition and operation of, , –, –, , ; inner rings, , , ; outer rings, , , –, ,  Roman Odes,  Rudd, Niall, , 

social climbers, , ; attacks on, –, –; pressure from, –, , – . See also access; anxiety; criticism and attacks, social, on Horace; pests; scorn Suetonius,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Syme, Ronald, 

Saller, Richard, –, ,  n.  Santirocco, Matthew,  n.  Schenker, David,  n.  Schlegel, Catherine, ,  n. ,  n.  scorn: for arrivistes and outsiders, –,  n. ; for Horace, –, –; for scribblers, , –. See also hacks; anxiety, regarding social circles scurra, , , , ,  n. . See also dinner parties Seager, R.,  n.  Secular Games,  Seeck, G. A.,  n.  self-deprecation, . See also credibility, attaining through self-deprecation self-presentation: alterations to, ; consciousness of, , –; constancy of technique for, – n. ; as mechanism of poetry, –, , , –; as medium for universal statements, –, , , . See also images Shackleton Bailey, D.,  n. ,  n.  simultaneous address, , ; of Augustus and others, , ; compliments and implications of,  (see also Maecenas, compliments to); of inner and outer rings, , , ,  nn. ,  (see also rings of audience); of Maecenas and critics, –; by Ovid, ; of proand anti-Augustans, , –, 

Tatum, W.,  n.  Tennant, P.,  n.  Terence,  Thibault, J.,  n.  Thomas, Rosalind,  Tillyard, E. M. W.,  traveling companion, –, –, –,  nn. ,  umbrae, . See also dinner parties utilis urbi. See civic role of poets Varius, , , , , – Varus, Quintilius, – vates, , –, ,  n.  Virgil, , , , , , , ,  n.  West, D.,  n.  White, Peter, , –,  n. ,  n. ,  n.  Williams, Gordon, ,  Wiseman, T. P., ,  n.  Woodman, A. J.,  n.  Wyke, Maria,  n.  Yavetz, Z.,  n.  Zanker, Paul,  Zetzel, J. E. G.,  n. ,  n. 

Index of Passages Discussed

Italic numerals indicate numbers from original passages. ., – ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ., – ..–,  ..–,  ., –, –,  ..–, – ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  n.  ..–,  ., , –,  ..–, ,  n.  ..–,  ..–, – ., , –, ,  n.  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  n.  ..–, – ..–, – ., –, , ,  n.  ..–, – ..–,  n.  ..–,  n.  Epodes , – .–,  , – ., – .–, – .–, 

Augustus Res gestae, , – n. ,  n.  Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae ..,  n.  Cicero Brutus,  Philippics .,  Pro Archia,  n.  in Verrem .,  n.  Ennius Annales .–,  n.  Homer Iliad .–,  Horace Ars poetica, –, – n.  –,  –,  –, – Carmen saeculare, , ,  n. ,  n.  Epistles .,  .., ,  n.  ., , –,  n. ,  n. ,  nn. ,  ..–, – ..–,  n.  .,  n.  ., – ..–, – ..–,  ..–,  n. 



Index of Passages Discussed

, –,  , – .–, – , – .–, – .–, – Odes –, , –, , ,  n.  ., –,  ..–, – ., – ..–, – ..–, –,  n.  ..–: – ..–,  ., –,  n.  ..–, – ..–,  ..,  .,  n.  ., ,  ..–,  ..–,  ., – ..–, – ..–, – ..–, – ., – ..–, – ..–, – ., – ..–, – ..–, – ..–,  n.  ., –, ,  n. ,  n.  ..,  n.  ..–, – ., ,  n.  .–, – ., –,  ..–, – ., – ..–,  ..–, – ., , – ..–, –

..–,  ., –,  n.  ..–, – ..–, – ., – ..–, – ..–,  ., ,  n.  .,  ..–, – n.  ., ,  n.  ..–,  ..–, –, – n.  .,  ..–,  ..–,  ., –,  n.  ..–, – ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–, – .,  n.  ..–, – Satires ., –, ,  n.  ..–,  ..–,  ., –,  ..–,  n.  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..,  ., – ..–, – ..–,  ., –, –, , , –,  ..–, – ..–,  ..–, – ..–,  n.  ..–,  n.  ..–,  n.  ..–,  n. 

Index of Passages Discussed ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–, – ..–, – ..–,  ., –, –, – n.  ..–,  n.  ..–, –,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  n.  ..,  n.  ..,  n.  ., –, –, –, ,  n.  ..–, ,  n.  ..–, – ..–, ,  n.  ..–, – ..–, –, –,  ..–, – ..–, – .,  n.  .,  n. ,  n.  ., –, –,  n.  ..–,  ..,  ..,  ..–,  ..–, –,  ., –, , –, –,  n.  ..–,  ..–, – ..–, – ..–, –,  ..–, – ..–, – ..–,  ..–, –, ,  n.  ., , , , –,  n. ,  n.  ..–, –


..–,  ..,  ..–,  n.  ..–,  n.  ., –, , , , – n. ,  n.  ..–, – ..–,  ..–, –,  ..–, , , , – ., –,  ..–, – ..–,  ., –,  n.  ..–, – ..–,  ..–,  ..,  Lucretius .–,  .,  n.  .,  n.  .,  n.  .,  n.  Ovid Tristia ..–,  n.  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  ..–,  Epistulae ex Ponto ..–, – Plato Symposium,  n.  Pliny Epistles .,  n.  Plutarch Quaestiones Conviviales  AB,  n.  Propertius ..–, – ..–,  n. 


Index of Passages Discussed

Suetonius Divus Augustus –,  n.  –,  n. ,  n.  Vita Horati –,  n.  Terence Hecyra prol.  and .–, – n.  Adelphoe,  n. 

Varius Panegyric,  n.  Virgil Aeneid .,  n.  Eclogues .–,  Georgics: .–,  ., 