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Horace, Catullus, and Maecenas

Horace, Catullus, and Maecenas Abstract: This essay argues that the scenario of Horace’s Epode 3 is modeled upon that of Catullus 14. In each case the speaker protests against a practical joke played by a friend; the obvious programmatic stance of the latter poem, moreover, casts light on the operations of the former. In c. 14, Catullus threatens to respond to Calvus’ gag volume of doggerel with his own collection of no less awful verse. Suffering heartburn from a dish primed with garlic, Horace meanwhile wishes garlic breath upon his host Maecenas should he try the same trick again. Both malefactors will thus be repaid in kind. Like the anthology of bad poets, the garlic arguably has metapoetic significance, and an allusion to Catullus 13 at the close of the epode suggests that Horace is poking fun at Maecenas’ fondness for composing verse in the neoteric style. Fragments of Maecenas’ own hendecasyllabics addressed to Horace support that possibility. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Syllecta Classica Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Horace, Catullus, and Maecenas

Syllecta Classica , Volume 24 – May 17, 2013

Horace, Catullus, and Maecenas


: 29­45 HORACE, CATULLUS, AND MAECENAS Marilyn Skinner Abstract: This essay argues that the scenario of Horace's Epode 3 is modeled upon that of Catullus 14. In each case the speaker protests against a practical joke played by a friend; the obvious programmatic stance of the latter poem, moreover, casts light on the operations of the former. In c. 14, Catullus threatens to respond to Calvus' gag volume of doggerel with his own collection of no less awful verse. Suffering heartburn from a dish primed with garlic, Horace meanwhile wishes garlic breath upon his host Maecenas should he try the same trick again. Both malefactors will thus be repaid in kind. Like the anthology of bad poets, the garlic arguably has metapoetic significance, and an allusion to Catullus 13 at the close of the epode suggests that Horace is poking fun at Maecenas' fondness for composing verse in the neoteric style. Fragments of Maecenas' own hendecasyllabics addressed to Horace support that possibility. "What might Maecenas' liking for the neoteroi have meant for Horace?" asks Lindsay Watson in his recent commentary on the Epodes (2003, 19). The question calls attention to the private context of Horace's reception of Catullus. Although indebtedness is evident throughout his oeuvre,1 echoes of Catullus occur most often in the Epode collection, raising queries about the extent to which the poet's artistic choices respond to the preferences of the dedicatee (Hierche 1974, 155). Unmistakable allusions to his Republican predecessor frame the volume at beginning and end: in Epode 1.11­14 a list of war zones to which Horace, if asked, will accompany Maecenas is based on the catalogue of distant lands that opens Catullus 11; in Epode 17.36­44, Horace's terminal plea to Horace's engagement with Catullus has been the topic of a number of significant studies recently, including a full-length monograph. Putnam (2006), a major...
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Abstract

Abstract: This essay argues that the scenario of Horace’s Epode 3 is modeled upon that of Catullus 14. In each case the speaker protests against a practical joke played by a friend; the obvious programmatic stance of the latter poem, moreover, casts light on the operations of the former. In c. 14, Catullus threatens to respond to Calvus’ gag volume of doggerel with his own collection of no less awful verse. Suffering heartburn from a dish primed with garlic, Horace meanwhile wishes garlic breath upon his host Maecenas should he try the same trick again. Both malefactors will thus be repaid in kind. Like the anthology of bad poets, the garlic arguably has metapoetic significance, and an allusion to Catullus 13 at the close of the epode suggests that Horace is poking fun at Maecenas’ fondness for composing verse in the neoteric style. Fragments of Maecenas’ own hendecasyllabics addressed to Horace support that possibility.

Journal

Syllecta ClassicaDepartment of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Published: May 17, 2013

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