The Poet and the Princeps: Odes 1.2

Jana Adamitis

Christopher Newport University

Both G. Davis (1991) and M. Lowrie (1997) have convincingly argued that Horace identifies himself in the Odes as a lyricist who traverses traditional poetic 'boundaries' in order to create a kind of poetry that can encompass a variety of traditions and styles without sacrificing coherence. This paper argues that in Odes 1.2 Horace builds upon this representation in order to ensure his success within the public sphere of Augustan politics at Rome.  In this poem Horace depicts Augustus as a fellow negotiator of boundaries who, like the poet himself, will achieve immortality because of his ability to accommodate, particularly his ability to do so within the political sphere.  On one level, by using the motif of accommodation to depict Augustus's political agenda as similar to his own poetic program, Horace lends an aura of authority and validity to his own lyric mission.  On another level, Horace builds upon this connection to explore his role as a vates in Augustus's restoration of peace in the wake of the civil wars at Rome. In an act of accommodation, Horace combines his own vatic voice with that of the Vestal virgins in offering up the expiatory prayer for Rome's salvation, a prayer that is brought to fulfillment by the end of the ode.  In this way Horace presents himself as integral to the establishment of civic order and elevates further his status as a lyric poet.

Other scholarly treatments of Odes 1.2 have tended to focus on the portents and prodigies of the poem's opening half; the catalogue of gods at the beginning of Horace's prayer for salvation; and the themes of civil war and vengeance.  However, Commager (1959), Womble (1970), Kraggerud (1985) and Parker (1992) all discuss, with varying degrees of depth, the role of Horace in the process of restoring order at Rome.  My unique contribution to this discussion is the examination of the relationship between Horace and Augustus in the ode and its effects on the efficacy of Horace's poetic voice. 

Back to the Meeting Program

[Home] [ About] [Awards and Scholarships] [Classical Journal] [Committees & Officers]
[Contacts & Email Directory
] [Links] [Meetings] [Membership] [News]