By Michael Putnam
An in depth exam of Horace's hymn Carmen Saeculare which was once commissioned by way of Augustus in 17 BC for functionality on the Ludi Saeculare . A presentation of the poem itself is followed through discussions of the Horatian and Hellenistic heritage and comparisons are made with different Latin poems. Extracts in Latin with English translation.
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Additional info for Horace's Carmen Saeculare: Ritual Magic and the Poet's Art
Horace conﬁgures his ﬁnal three stanzas with a parallel act of framing. At the same time he is at pains to maintain continuity between the poem’s major segments. Our ﬁrst meeting with Tyndaris occurs as valles reecho with the sound of the syrinx. As we move from the doings of animals to the activities of humankind and as Tyndaris and, vicariously, the speaker take over the poem, we turn from a general to a particular setting. 24 This equally solemn moment in Horace’s lyric world imparts its own sense of ceremony to Tyndaris’ role in what follows.
His incipient amatory impetuosity balances, and absorbs, the ‘‘passions’’ of nature, and together they form the poetic bounds of the poem’s second half. As ﬁgures whether natural, allegorical, or human, Mars, Bacchus, and Cyrus are eliminated from the charmed moment of song, wine, and shade, but their mention as part of its deﬁnition keeps their ominous presence before us. The metronymics Semeleius and Thyoneus, which distinguish Bacchus, oﬀer a case in point. It has been observed that ‘‘Horace is not wholly serious in accumulating these eponymiai,’’ 26 but he does have at least one purpose that is highly apropos.
26 13:20 OCV:1 The chiasmus the two poems create is thus both expansive and particular. 26 13:20 OCV:1 as well, suggests an interchangeable possessiveness between poet and patron. Maecenas presents himself as bulwark, sheltering Horace from the pressures of reality, and the poet accepts and pinpoints the association. For all appearances the relationship is one of dependency: Horace will strike his head against the stars if his ‘‘bastion’’ ranks him among lyric bards. By the time we reach the conclusion of the penultimate ode, Horace has coopted Maecenas’ word for himself.