Document Type


Publication Date

January 1982


Few of Horace's Odes have occasioned as little recent critical commentary as his poetic pledge to die along with Maecenas. Although a profitable direction for analysis was indicated by Meineke's outraged condemnation of the fourth stanza and PEERLKAMP'S even earlier obelization of a full five of the poem's eight stanzas, the road most commonly taken by critics has been to ignore this ode altogether, or to mention it in passing only. Of the most recent studies on Horace, only FRAENKEL and (necessarily) NISBET and HUBBARD'S exhaustive commentary on Odes II meet the poem head on.

Critics' difficulties with the ode have most often centered in the fourth to sixth stanzas, where the poet first defies the fire-breathing Chimaera and hundred-handed Gyas to pluck him from Maecenas's side on the road to death and then adduces astrological evidence to guarantee the truthfulness of his pledge. The grandiloquence of the former and the presumed hypocrisy of the latter have subjected the poet to uneasy suspicions of a maudlin and obsequious lapse of taste.



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