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The Complete Odes and Epodes: with the…

The Complete Odes and Epodes: with the Centennial Hymn (Penguin Classics) (edition 1983)

by Horace

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398143,452 (3.38)None
Horace (65-8 BC) is one of the most important and brilliant poets of the Augustan Age of Latin literature whose influence on European literature is unparalleled.Horace's Odes and Epodes constitute a body of Latin poetry equalled only by Virgil's, astonishing us with leaps of sense and rich modulation, masterly metaphor, and exquisite subtlety. The Epodes include proto-Augustan poems, intent on demonstrating the tolerance, humour and the humanity of the newleaders of Rome, robust love poems, and poems of violent denunciation; the Odes echo Greek lyric poetry, reflecting on war, politics and the gods, and celebrating the pleasures of wine, friendship, love, poetry and music. Steeped in allusion to contemporary affairs, Horace's verse is best read interms of his changing relationship to the public sphere, and David West's superb new translation is supplemented by a lucid introduction illuminating these complexities, extensive notes, a chronological survey and a glossary of names.… (more)
Title:The Complete Odes and Epodes: with the Centennial Hymn (Penguin Classics)
Info:Penguin Classics (1983), Paperback, 256 pages

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The Complete Odes and Epodes by Horatius



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This was my first exposure to the entirety of Horace’s odes and epodes. I’d encountered snippets before, such as “carpe diem” (1.11) and “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (3.2). The latter I came across when reading Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem “Dulce et Decorum est”, in which he rightfully called Horace’s phrase the “old Lie”.

I really enjoyed Odes 1.6, 3.1, 3.3 and 4.9. The last (“ne forte credas”) was really interesting, talking about immortality through writing. I love lines 25-28: “Many heroes lived before Agamemnon, / but all are oppressed in unending night, / unwept, unknown, because they lack / a dedicated poet.”

The introduction by Betty Radice and the Notes by Shepherd were helpful and most welcome. I liked Radice quoting from Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, where he wrote “Then farewell, Horace, whom I hated so…” (p.36; Canto IV.LXXV in Byron). In a note to that stanza, Byron added “I wish to express that we become tired of the task before we can comprehend the beauty; that we learn by rote before we can get by heart; that the freshness is worn away, and the future pleasure and advantage deadened and destroyed” (p. 37; Note 40 in Byron). A valid commentary, for then and now, on teaching foreign languages and literature.

Except for the few odes I highlighted, I wasn’t particularly taken with this translation. At first, I wondered if it was just Horace I didn’t like. So, I checked two other translations, one by Philip Francis (revised by H.J. Pye, 1806) and select odes by Lord Derby (1862). I found I liked both of those translations better than Shepherd’s version. Further, looking as best I could at the original Latin, I enjoyed those too.

So, I am sure I will return to Horace, in translation mostly but will also try to dig a little deeper into some of the odes in Latin. ( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
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