Horace on Horace 'Odes' 4
The original publication is available at http://akroterion.journals.ac.za/pub
Horace’s fourth Book of Odes was published in 13 B.C.1 Ten years had passed since the publication of Odes 1-3. In Epistles 1.1.4 published 7 years before Odes 4 Horace already indicated that for him neither age nor mind was the same (non eadem est aetas, non mens, Epistles 1.1.17) and that a wise person (sanus) would turn the aging horse to pasture (solve senescentem mature sanus equum, Epistles 1.1.8). It is clear then that Horace would have needed some serious inducement to return from that pasture of retirement into the fray of committing himself to writing lyric poetry and especially odes again. This paper agrees with i.a. Putnam that critics have often underestimated the achievement represented by Odes 4. And if the artistic achievement of Odes 4 is accepted, then justification for the existence of the collection seems to be self-evident, in spite of Horace’s clear reluctance to write the poems contained in the collection. When we turn to Odes 4 it seems reasonable to assume that – amongst other things – the opportunity to reassess his stance on matters with which he had been preoccupied in Odes 1-3 posed a challenge which Horace in the end could not resist. For without very specific inducement to return to writing odes again Horace could have remained out to pasture as he indicated in Epistle 1.1. Why did it make good sense to add Odes 4 to the existing collection of odes – apart from giving further proof of artistic excellence?
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