Scholia Reviews ns 20 (2011) 25.

Kirk Freudenburg (ed.), Horace: Satires and Epistles. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. x, 518. ISBN 9780199203536. UK£92.00.

Suzanne Sharland
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

The series Oxford Readings in Classical Studies is aimed at providing 'students and scholars with a representative selection of the best and most influential articles on a particular author, work, or subject', according to the blurb on the first page of this book. Kirk Freudenburg's volume, the companion piece to Michèle Lowrie's edition in the same series on the Odes and Epodes,[[1]] is a collection of scholarship on Horace's Satires and Epistles published over the past half century.

Of course, the problem with such an undertaking is deciding what to include and what to exclude from the collection. A large volume of work is written on Horace's hexametric poetry (although far less than on his lyric poems), and only few contributions can be selected. One can never please everyone, as the saying goes. In his Introduction ('The Satires and Letters of Horace in Recent Scholarship', pp. 1-14), Freudenburg is able to throw his net wider than in the body of the book, and survey a number of excellent recent contributions to Horatian scholarship. Many of these, Freudenburg admits, have been book-length studies in the form of monographs or commentaries, and have thus of necessity been excluded from this edition (p. 2). Freudenburg explains that he has also generally tried, with some exceptions, to leave out articles already included in published anthologies (p. 2). Living as we are in the 'Age of the Companion', when rival publishing houses bring out new compilations on every conceivable aspect of Classical studies on a seemingly continuous basis, this should have proved challenging.

The book is divided into three sections: Part I is 'Horace's Sermones' (pp. 17-242), Part II 'Horace's Epistles, Book One' (pp. 245-332), and Part III comprises 'Horace's Epistles, Book Two and the Ars Poetica' (pp. 335-479). This is followed by a list of References (pp. 480- 516) and Acknowledgements (pp. 517f.).[[2]] Although the attention given in this volume to the Satires, on the one hand, and Epistles and the Ars Poetica (the so-called 'Epistle to the Pisones'), on the other, is more or less equal, the great loser in this equation is Satires Book Two. Scholars have tended to concentrate overwhelmingly on Horace's first book of Satires at the expense of the second. Where attention has been paid to this work, there has been a 'fly-over' approach, as Freudenburg notes (p. 7), with the 'bookends', Satires 2.1 and 2.8, and occasionally the middle, Satire 2.6, being the main objects of scrutiny. While Freudenburg does acknowledge the recent exception to this trend in Ellen Oliensis' analysis of the second book of Satires as a whole, he forgoes this section of Oliensis' 1998 book on Horace for her analysis of the Ars Poetica from the same work.[[3]] There has also been excellent work by scholars such as Robin Bond on Stoicism and the characterisation of speakers in Satires Book Two, albeit published in Antipodean journals some might consider (quite undeservedly) obscure,[[4]] and also the articles by Michael Bernstein on Satire 2.7,[[5]] which are examples of what could have been included. Admittedly, Freudenburg's task has also been delimited by the imperative to gather articles that have been influential on subsequent scholars. Perhaps the most influential work on the second book of Satires has been that of William S. Anderson, who coined the term doctor ineptus to describe the unreliable instructors that regularly hold sway in this work. Anderson's papers have already been extensively anthologised, however, so this may explain their absence in the present volume.[[6]] The gap in this collection that hovers over Horace's second book may be a cue for future scholars to look into it more closely.

Still, Freudenburg has done an admirable job within the ambit of his brief. The two contributions with which he begins this collection, that of James Zetzel on 'Horace's Liber Sermonum: The Structure of Ambiguity', initially published in 1980 (here reworked by D.M. Eric Guttman as Chapter 1, pp. 17-41), and that of Ian Du Quesnay 'Horace and Maecenas: The Propaganda Value of Sermones I' (Chapter 2, pp. 42- 101), first published in 1984, were each responsible for spurring major trends in Horatian scholarship: Zetzel's article did much to free scholars from pursuing issues of structure at the expense of meaning, and also raised issues of the artist's persona, while Du Quesnay's paper argued, against contradictory opinions at the time concerning the political context and strategy of Horace's writing, that such aspects were indeed significant. Both papers were concerned with Horace Satires I, but the approach of either scholar seems to suggest that their insights were clearly intended to be taken further.

Freudenburg follows these two seminal articles in Anglophone scholarship with an English translation of Mario Labate's views on Horace's Satires and issues of genre. Originally published in Italian as 'Il sermo oraziano e i generi letterari', the piece appears here as Chapter 3 'Horatian Sermo and Genres of Literature' (pp. 102-21). One of the strengths of the Oxford Readings in Classical Studies series is that it offers the English-speaking reader translations of important articles and papers written in other modern languages. In this volume of nineteen papers, Labate's is one of altogether four contributions originally published in Italian and which appear for the first time in English translation; there is also one piece translated from the German, Friedrich Klingner's paper on Horace Epistles 2.1, 'Horazens Brief an Augustus', initially published in 1950, and appearing here, also for the first time in English, as Chapter 14 'Horace's Letter to Augustus' (pp. 335-359). To his credit, Freudenburg has done the translations from Italian and German to English in this work himself, with help from some mother-tongue speakers (see 'Note on Translations', p. ix), which ensures a high standard of translation. The inclusion of papers originally composed in German and Italian has also made for a wider-ranging and more interesting bibliography at the end of this volume than would otherwise have been the case, as these writers inevitably refer to prior works within their own scholarly traditions (see 'References', pp. 480-516).

Many of the papers in this volume are of excellent quality, contributions to the scholarly dialogue on Horace's hexametric poetry which future scholars would do ill to ignore or avoid. William Turpin's innovative take on the first triad of the liber sermonum (first published in Ramus),[[7]] Gordon Williams' investigation into the truth of Horace's self-claimed servile ancestry,[[8]] Emily Gowers' brilliant study of Satires 1.5,[[9]] and John Henderson's hilarious 'Be Alert (Your Country Needs Lerts): Horace, Satires 1.9',[[10]] as well as a number of other worthy contributions on the Satires and Epistles are all there. This volume would make a welcome gift to a young scholar just starting out on Horatian studies, to bring him or her up to speed with the history of recent scholarship. For the seasoned Horatian scholar, though, it is all a bit tedious, as the original versions of the articles included in this collection (most of them largely unchanged) have long since been gathering dust in the filing cabinet or on the shelf. While it is useful to have new copies of these papers all in one volume for handy access, this is no substitute for a truly fresh perspective on Horace's hexameter poems. This is no doubt due to the nature of the Oxford Readings in Classical Studies series itself, rather than the fault of the individual compiler. Nevertheless, those of us who crave aliquid novi will have to look elsewhere.


[[1]] See Michèle Lowrie (ed.), Horace: Odes and Epodes. Oxford Readings in Classical Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

[[2]] The pages of acknowledgements (pp. 517f.) are very useful, as here the details of the articles' original publications are all provided.

[[3]] Oliensis' conclusions concerning the second book of Satires can be found both in her chapter 'Ut arte emendaturus fortunam: Horace, Nasidienus, and the art of satire', in Thomas Habinek & Alessandro Schiesaro (edd.), The Roman Cultural Revolution (Cambridge 1997) 90-104, and in the section entitled 'The self-incriminating satirist of Satires 2', in Ellen Oliensis, Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority (Cambridge 1998) 41-63.

[[4]] Robin Bond brilliantly discusses the ironies of the Stoic theory of tonos in 'A discussion of the various tensions in Horace Satires 2.7', Prudentia 10 (1978) 85-98. His other contributions include 'The Characterisation of Ofellus in Horace Satires 2.2 and a Note on v. 123' Antichthon 14 (1980) 112-26, 'The Characterisation of the Interlocutors in Horace, Satires 2.3', Prudentia 19 (1987) 1-21, and 'Horace on Damasippus on Stertinius on…' Scholia 7 (1998) 82-108. Another Antipodean scholar whose innovative musings on Horace's Satires could have been included is Frances Muecke.

[[5]] See M.A. Bernstein, 'When the Carnival turns bitter: Preliminary Reflections upon the Abject Hero' in Gary Saul Morson (ed.), Bakhtin: Essays and Dialogues on his Work (Chicago 1981), 99-121, and 'O totiens servus: Saturnalia and Servitude in Augustan Rome', Critical Inquiry 13 (1987) 450-74.

[[6]] Anderson's paper entitled 'The Roman Socrates: Horace and his Satires', first published in J.P. Sullivan (ed.), Critical Essays on Roman Literature. Vol. II: Satire (London 1963) 1-37 was republished in William S. Anderson, Essays on Roman Satire (Princeton 1982) 13-49.

[[7]] This appears as Chapter 4 (pp. 122- 137). For the original publication, see William Turpin 'The Epicurean Parasite: Horace, Satires, 1.1-3', Ramus 27.2 (1998) 127-140. Turpin argues that in Horace's first triad, Maecenas is jokingly satirised as a Stoic, a foil to Horace's self-satiric presentation as an Epicurean parasite. In real life, however, Maecenas was known for his Epicurean tendencies, as was Horace, so in my view the 'joke' falls flat.

[[8]] Here Gordon Williams, 'Libertino patre natus: true or false?' appears as Chapter 5 (pp. 138-55), the original publication having been in S.J. Harrison (ed.), Homage to Horace (Oxford 1995) 296-313.

[[9]] Here appearing as Chapter 6 (pp. 156-179), the original was Emily Gowers 'Horace, Satires 1.5: An Inconsequential Journey', PCPhS 39 (1993) 48-66. In the postscript to Chapter 6 added by Gowers herself (p. 180), she notes that she has altered and supplemented some aspects of her article, and refers the reader to her chapter entitled 'Horace, Satires I: the Ends of the Beginning' in L. Houghton and M. Wyke (edd.), Perceptions of Horace: A Roman Poet and His Readers (Cambridge 2009).

[[10]] Here Chapter 7 (pp. 181-211), this also first appeared in PCPhS 39 (1993) 67-93, likewise following Gowers' article. This begs the question: why not just dig up an old copy of PCPhS 39 (1993) instead of buying this new volume?