Printer Friendly

Two conjectures in Horace, 'Odes.'

I offer here two emendations of the text of the Odes, in two passages that make perfectly good sense, offer Latin that is unexceptionable, and have apparently never been questioned.

Otium divos rogat in patenti / prensus Aegaeo, simul atra nubes / condidit lumen etc. ( None of this text is problematic. But it does contain three peculiarities. First, as far as I can tell, nowhere else in his oeuvre does Horace use rogo with the double accusative. Second, the use of the nominative perfect participle as a substantive is rare in classical Latin and may occur only twice elsewhere in Horace (Carm. 3.20.16; Serm. 1.2.137).(1) Third, and most important, we are struck by the complete absence of definition or characterization of the person who is trapped at sea. This absence is made the more remarkable by the contrast with the Thracians and Medes who are bello furiosa and pharetra decori, descriptions that set off their current yearning for leisure and peace. Commentators so feel this lack that they routinely add a defining subject in their paraphrases or translations of these verses. Thus, E. C. Wickham offers, `The trader prays for [bodily] rest, but it is only in the moment of storm',(2) while Nisbet-Hubbard write (p. 256), `The negotiator ... is driven in a crisis to seek for otium'.

These are small objections, but the fact is that one trivial emendation removes them all. For divos read dives(3): even the most acquisitive materialist prays for otium when caught in a storm(4). Dives is a word Horace likes, both as adjective and substantive (e.g. Carm. 2.18.10, 3.11.6, 3.16.23, 3.29.13). It is a word naturally associated with the mercator (1.31.10f)(5). Otium dives gives us the juxtaposition of subject and object that Horace is so fond of (e.g. Carm. 1.6.9, 2.16.10, 2.18.10, 2.20.17, 3.4.9, 3.7.13, 3.11.31, 4.4.31f.). We may recall the wealthy mercator of Carm. 1.1, who for a moment praises otium, but is soon back on the seas, indocilis pauperiem pati (16-18). Finally, the substantival adjective provides a nice Horatian balance to the descriptions of the Thracians and Medes that follow.

In the opening poem of Odes 4, Horace dismisses Venus and suggests that she will find in Maximus a more suitable soldier in her service: centum puer artium / late signa feret militiae tuae (15f.). I do not think this text has ever been doubted. Nonetheless, I raise one question. While late signa feret is entirely appropriate for a genuine Roman soldier,(6) is it for a soldier in Venus' army? Is it a Don-Juanish call to numerous love affairs? Is that the service of Venus? This seems highly unlikely for a member of the Augustan court, especially if this poem is a virtual epithalamium for Maximus on the occasion of his forthcoming marriage to Marcia.(7) I suggest an alternative. In a poem that is essentally a recusatio of sorts, as Horace expresses his reluctance to serve in Venus, army, it will be appropriate for him to say of Maximus, laete signa feret militiae tuae : Maximus will joyfully serve in this army.(8) At 1.12.57 laetum has a well- attested variant latum.(9)

(1) These two examples are cited by Nisbet and Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace Odes: Book II (Oxford, 1978), ad loc. I know no others. See too Kuhner-Stegmann 1.224 (`sehr selten').

(2) Horace Volume I: The Odes, Carmen Saeculare and Epodes with a Commentary (Oxford, 1904), p. 125.

(3) The confusion of e and o is common. For examples in Horace, see e.g. C. 3.4.16, 4.14.4, Serm. 1.5.78. There are many examples in Lucretius, e.g. at 4.879, 5.1068, 6.589. To be sure, the strictly palaeographic argument will turn on whether Porphyrio (who had divos) read Horace in uncials, which we cannot know.

(4) `Gods', to be sure, is still implicit. Verbs like rogo, oro, quaero often leave out the external accusative when it is obvious from the context. See e.g. Stat. Silv. 3.2.130, alias... rogabimus auras (sc. deos or Aeolum); also Verg. Aen. 4.56-7, 4.451, 8.376-7, 11.101, Georg. 1.100-1, Lucr. 5.1229-30, Ovid, Fasti 4.407-8, Ars 1.442, Stat. Silv. 1.4.95, Theb. 10.66, Caes. B.G. 1.11.

(5) Note too the contrast of the (presumed) mercator to the pauper colonus at 1.35.5-6.

(6) Cf Florus, Praef. 1.2, ita late per orbem terrarum arma circumtulit ut ... (of the Roman people).

(7) So argued cogently by A. T. von S. Bradshaw, CQ 20 (1970), 147-51. Accepted by R. Syme, History in Ovid (Oxford, 1978), 145 with note 3, The Augustan Aristocracy (Oxford, 1986), 403.

(8) Laetus seems almost a vox propria in Venus-contexts. See e.g. Lucr. 1.23, Hor. C. 3.21.21, Mart. 6.21.2, Juv. 6.571, Stat. Theb. 2.191, Sil. 1.2.143.

(9) I am indebted to Professor R. G. M. Nisbet, who read an earlier version of thew notes and offered several valuable suggestions.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Cambridge University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Jacobson, Howard
Publication:The Classical Quarterly
Date:Jul 1, 1996
Previous Article:Mythological incest: Catullus 88.
Next Article:Revisiting Evander at 'Aeneid' 8.363.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters