Ross Kilpatrick discusses how the three epistles are related, what the roles of the three addressees are, how the themes and views expressed relate to them, and whether there is in the Ars Poetica a single unifying theme.
'What's the harm in using humour to put across what is true?' Gluttony, lust, and hypocrisy are just a few of the targets of Horace's Satires. Writing in the 30s BC, Horace exposes the vices and follies of his Roman contemporaries, while still finding time to reflect on how to write good satire and along the way revealing his own persona to be as flawed and bigoted as the people he attacks. Alongside famous episodes such as the fable of the town mouse and the country mouse, the explosive fart of Priapus, and the grotesque dinner party given by the nouveau-riche Nasidienus, these poems are stuffed full of comic vignettes, moral insights, and Horace's pervasive humanity. They influenced not only Persius and Juvenal but the long tradition of English satire, from Ben Jonson to W. H. Auden. These new prose translations by John Davie perfectly capture the ribald style of the original. In the Epistles, Horace uses the form of letters to his friends, acquaintances, foremen, and even the emperor to explore questions of philosophy and how to live a good life; and in 'The Art of Poetry' (the Ars poetica), he gives advice on poetic style that informed the work of writers and dramatists for centuries. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
This commentary fulfils the need for a student edition of Horace's literary epistles, which have recently been the subject of renewed scholarly interest. Professor Rudd provides a clear introduction to each of the three poems: the Epistles to Augustus, to Florus, and to the Pisones (the so-called 'Ars Poetica'). He sketches the historical context in which the poems were written, and comments on their structure and purpose. Attention is paid to the literary preoccupations of the individual epistles: the relations of poet and patron, and the role of poetry in the state (Augustus), the problems of a (professedly) tiring poet (Florus), and the presentation of classical poetic theory in the 'Ars Poetica'. Horace's influence on later criticism is noted, and there is a brief section on one of Alexander Pope's Imitations. In his commentary on the text Professor Rudd addresses problems of grammar and style, focusing on linguistic difficulties and on the subtle movement of the poet's thought.