Horace, Carmen 4.2.53–60: Another Look at the _Vitulus_

Classical Quarterly 63 (1):346-352 (2013)
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Carmen4.2 is one of the most commented upon of the odes of Horace. It is indeed a complex poem. To summarize roughly: addressing the young poet Iullus Antonius, Horace presents the dangers of emulating Pindar, offering what seems like a lengthy description as well as an approximation of Pindar's own poetic style (1–24). Not as a doomed Icarus imitating the grand Pindaric swan, but in his own preferred mode, like a bee on the banks of Tibur, Horace will continue to produce his own highly refined poems on a small scale (25–30). Iullus Antonius, on the other hand, will sing of Augustus’ triumphmaiore plectro(33, a phrase which in all likelihood refers to his activity as an epic poet). Modestly, Horace himself will be content to join in with the popular chants for Augustus’ triumphal return as one happy civilian among the crowd (33–52). Iullus Antonius will moreover offer a grand sacrifice of ten bulls and as many cows on that occasion, whereas Horace promises a single bull-calf that he is saving especially for the purpose (53–60). I will try to offer a new interpretation of these last two strophes by pointing out an unnoticed allusion to a Hellenistic subtext.



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Horace.Edmund T. Silk & Eduard Fraenkel - 1959 - American Journal of Philology 80 (3):316.
Orazio Lirico.W. P. Mustard & Giorgio Pasquali - 1921 - American Journal of Philology 42 (1):93.

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