COLLOQUIUM: Stephen Harrison, Oxford, "Horace’s hymn to Bacchus (Odes 2.19): poetics and politics"

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

This paper considers Odes 2.19 in which Horace represents himself as encountering Bacchus in the wild teaching carmina to Nymphs and Satyrs. It argues as follows:

in Odes 2.19 Bacchus can be seen as the inspiration for Horatian lyric; the god can also be viewed as a parallel in his conquest and divine nature for one of Horace’s key poetic subjects,  Augustus.  Further, Odes 2.19’s description of Bacchus’ wide-ranging actions and deeds suggest the range of topics covered by the lyric poet Horace himself, including the self-conscious incorporation of material from another genre associated with this god – Attic tragedy.  Thus the Horace/Bacchus parallel, that between matching  poet and patron god of poetry, sits in interesting tension with the Bacchus/Augustus parallel, that between divine conqueror and the mortal victor and ruler who is ultimately destined for the status of a god.