Horace, Romanae fidicen lyrae? : analysis of some musical metaphors found in Horace's Carmina

Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2013, vol. 18, iss. 1, pp. [199]-212
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Poetry and music were firmly bound in Classical Greece. Despite numerous allusions to music found in later poetry, the practice of singing verse was probably abandoned in Hellenistic Era and the musical metaphors were the only reminders of the long bygone tradition. However, the discussion over the original mode of performance of Horace's Carmina has now been going on for over a century. Did Horace really sing his odes to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument in front of an audience or his manifold references to musical execution are merely a metaphor drawing on Alcaeus' and Sappho's poetry? It seems that both alternatives gained equal number of supporters, who invoke diverse evidence to prove their point. One often adopted approach is searching for the solution in the internal evidence found in the odes, accepting Horace's own testimony as compliant with reality. In my paper I am going to analyse by juxtaposition and comparison the references to musical performance Horace makes in his odes in order to assess the purpose and function of these allusions, then I am going to judge whether the references provide relevant evidence in the dispute over the mode of performance of the Horatian Odes.
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