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Horace's voladictory: Carm. 2.20

  • Howard Jacobson (a1)

‘It is not likely that anything absolutely new can be added to the interpretation of this familiar poem.’ So G. L. Hendrickson forty five years ago. It need scarcely be noted that in spite of these cautionary words much has been written on this ode in the intervening years. With hesitation I add here a few words on what seems to me an overlooked yet central aspect of this poem.

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1 CP 44 (1949), 30.

2 For the influence of Platonic imagery in Carm. III. 5, see Harrison S. J., CQ 80 (1986), 502–7.

3 See e.g. the red-figure vase (Brit. Mus. E477) depicting the death of Prokris, in which the bird-soul is seen flying away from the dying human (Weicker G., Der Seelenvogel in der alten Litteratur und Kunst [Leipzig, 1902], 166–7. Further examples with illustrations and discussion at Fairbanks A., Athenian Lekythoi (New York, 1907), 191–2.

4 The latter passage noted by Nisbet-Hubbard (Oxford, 1978), p. 333.

5 Bonfante L., PP (1992), 39 n. 26.

6 The poem is cited by Syndikus H. P., Die Lyrik des Horaz (Darmstadt, 1972), vol. 1, 482 n. 16.

7 See Porter D., Horace's Poetic Journey (Princeton, 1987), 145.

8 Porter, ibid.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
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