The Relationship between Horace's Sermones and Epistulae Book 1: "Are the Letters of Horace Satires?" (2006)
AuthorsWhybrew, Linda Christineshow all
"Are the Letters of Horace Satires?" (Hendrickson 1897: 313). In response to this question, this thesis investigates whether Horace's Sermones and Epistulae 1 all belong to the genre of satura. Ancient and modern evidence from the use of the terms Sermones, Epistulae, and satura, is surveyed, and is found to be inconclusive, but not to preclude Epist. 1 as satura. The nature of specifically Horatian satura is ascertained from the text of Serm. 1, especially Serm. 1.1 and the explicitly literary Serm. 1.4 and 1.10. The redefinition of Lucilian satura, and its political implications are also considered. To confirm Epist. 1 as satura a sequential reading of the three libelli is undertaken, tracing the evolution of the theme of locus: place, both as geographical location, and as status, place in the social hierarchy, in the context of the socio-political environment of the time of composition. Serm. 1.1 as a programmatic poem is shown to establish Epicurean moderation as a prerequisite for a vita beata. In Serm. 1 Horace's status as client-poet of Maecenas and Octavian initially permits this ideal lifestyle in the Urbs. The misperceptions of outsiders lead to a preference for a life of Epicurean quietude in the rus in Serm. 2, although Horace's aequanimitas is disturbed by urban officia, and abuse of libertas dicendi associated particularly with Stoicism. The ideal of rural withdrawal is reinforced in Epist. 1 through an exploration of appropriate behaviour in relationships with potentes amici. Horace's addressees cover the entire range of the social hierarchy, and in his letters he utilizes the arguments of moral philosophy, thus reconciling poetry and philosophy. He achieves a pragmatic compromise whereby he can enjoy libertas in his role as a poet, while acknowledging that personal libertas and true aequanimitas are still to be attained.