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.