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Poetry, Praise, and Patronage:

Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes


W   meant to Horace (among other important things)

trying out different roles and fluctuating among separate and competing typolo-
gies. This role-playing was not just a matter of selecting among different formal
traditions and genres or subgenres; personalities were involved as well. And
by “personalities,” I mean the complex interplay of authorial voice, poetic self-
representation, and biographical constructions so characteristic of the reception
of archaic lyric in antiquity. A Roman writing in the lyric tradition had to confront
several different role models, among them the praise-singer, the court poet, the
sympotic hetairos and partisan, the commercial author of love-and-wine songs.
Important to bear in mind is that several of these models were loaded with repre-
sentations of a social function, of a special milieu, of a Sitz im Leben, and that this
in turn affected the Roman poet, helping him to realize in his own writing the
many different voices that coexisted in the lyric canon.
Obviously, our scanty and uneven knowledge of the various traditions of
Greek poetry from the seventh century on is a severe limitation. In this paper I
will argue that Horace’s fourth book of Odes has been particularly unfortunate
in the loss of its models. The main focus of modern criticism of this text has
been the coupling of Augustus and Pindar: Pindar the dominating influence,

Preliminary versions of this study have been presented to audiences at the University of California at
Berkeley, Padova, Texas at Austin, Tübingen, Wisconsin at Madison, and Princeton, the last-named
occasion during the tenure of a W. J. Oates Fellowship (appropriately, for a paper on Simonides
and Horace). I thank the audiences there for many contributions and criticisms. My thanks go also
to Elizabeth Ditmars, Donald Mastronarde, and David Sider for their generous help with the final

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Augustus the political reality that urges new demands on the poet’s voice. I
will try to show that if we had more of other likely lyric models, our picture
would be less unitarian. I see this line of inquiry as a contribution to two
projects which are already under way: (1) a reevaluation of this underestimated
book of poetry (following up Michael Putnam’s important book-length study,
Artifices of Eternity), and (2) an increased interest in the interplay between
formalistic and historical readings of Augustan poetry, the gray area between
forms/genres/programs and social codes/values/discourses that is so promising
a field of exploration for contemporary analysis of Roman poetry.
There is some reason to believe that Simonides was important in the process
of appropriation of Greek lyric. If Horace was interested in the flexibility of
the medium, and in the range of social functions available to lyric poets, few
examples could have been more instructive than that of Simonides. Working
for some seventy years, experimenting with dithyrambs and epinicia, dirges and
war elegy, singing of loves and boxers and Persian war ships, this poet had
proved something that was crucial to future generations: that poetry could be
both a traditional medium and also a flexible response to shifting political and
social situations. The legends surrounding this man bespeak a capacity to work
on commission for patrons as different as Ionian aristocrats, Thessalian cattle
barons, mainland poleis, Spartan generals, and Syracusan and Athenian tyrants:
east or west, backward-looking or revolutionaries, Medizers or freedom fighters,
he wrote for all. He survived (with success) Peisistratid Athens, the nervous
aftermath of the Persian wars, and the court of Syracuse. He was not only a
paradigm for creativity and endurance, but more especially the role model for
the artist who adapts himself to circumstances and circumstances to himself.
Proud, wordy, ironical, contradictory, brilliant, pliant, and opportunistic, to the
Augustans he was simply the Greek.
I will come back to this idea after a walk through tantalizing scraps and
indirect clues. For the moment, I register without comment that Putnam’s study
of the fourth book of Odes, the best contribution to our understanding of this
undervalued poetry book, has some forty index entries for Pindar and just one
for Simonides;1 and that the publication of important elegiac fragments by the
Cean (Parsons 1992; West 1992 and 1993) now gives us a chance to imagine a
wider scenario.
Looking for Simonides in Book 4 has a paradoxical result: the more we
scavenge the text of Horace, the more we find traces of Pindar. Understandably,
many have given up and decided that Pindar is all we need in order to respond
to the Greek background of this late book of lyric. The situation has a curious
parallel in a poem we now consider the most Simonidean in Alexandrian poetry,
Theocritus 16. In spite of Gow’s balanced assessment—“As will be seen from the

1. No Simonides entry in Davis 1991, another valuable recent contribution to the study of
Horatian lyric.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 7

notes it is inspired almost throughout by the choral lyrics of Pindar and Simonides,
and its materials are largely commonplaces, but : : : ” (Gow 1952, 305)—modern
criticism of this poem has entered a period of competitive readings. Perrotta in
1925 (9–25) insisted, in characteristically feeling tones, that Pindar is all we need
to understand this epinician poem. But Simonidean influence creeps in again
through the readings of Merkelbach (1952, 313, quoting E. Schwartz): “gewiss,
Theokrit spielt hier ‘die Rolle des Simonides, dessen Kunst nach Brot ging’ ”;
Max Treu (1963, 284): “man hat es : : : ein pindarisches Gedicht genannt : : : im
wesentlich verkennt eine solche Benennung den Charakter dieser theokritischen
Dichtung”; then Norman Austin, who in a justly famous analysis used Bundyan
criteria to show “how unconventional this poem by Theocritus is” and stated
that “to understand Theocritus’ preoccupation with Simonides is the first step
towards solving the problems of the poem: : : : Idyll 16 is an admission of the
un-Pindaric nature of Theocritus’ talent” (1967, 3 n. 4; 16); and Gutzwiller, who
provides a thorough rehearsal of his approach (1983, 214): “Although archaic
encomium was indeed the dominant model for Idyll 16, Theocritus’ use of it
shows that he was no Pindar.” One is left with the impression that Pindar and
Simonides must be simultaneously relevant to the reading of this poem; that their
combined influence becomes difficult to disentangle, at least for a modern reader,
however learned; and, most important, that whenever Simonides is implied the
tone becomes ironical, self-reflexive, and even corrosive. Perhaps the time is
right for a new reading that locates the meaning of the poem in a tussle between a
“Pindaric” and a “Simonidean” model of the praise poet with patron.2 We will
be down this path again later; suffice it to say now that the problem of discerning
in Horace a Simonidean influence besides, and counter to, a Pindaric influence (or
perhaps, in both cases, read “appropriation” for “influence”) is a familiar one3 if
we start from the Hellenistic reception of the two poets. Little wonder if the status
of Simonides as a model for Horace is so hazy: even for Idyll 16, were it not for
the well-informed Theocritean scholia and for the striking naming of Simonides
at line 44, few would have resisted the idea that the whole piece is a resurrection
of Pindarism. Ignoti nulla cupido, and I take my start, as I promised, from
the disclosing of new evidence thanks to newly published Simonidean texts—in
particular, the so-called “Plataea elegy” (POxy 2327 and 3965; Parsons 1992).
“The death and funeral of Achilles, it has been recently claimed, enjoyed
no successful treatment in Greek poetry” (Garner 1993, 153). Starting from the
popularity of the theme in Greek art and from evidence about the Aithiopis, Garner
goes on to show that the new fragments of Stesichorus, POxy 3876 frr. 37–77,
include scraps from a lyric treatment of Achilles’ death and funeral. But good news

2. This is the direction of the chapter on Idylls 16 and 17 in the new book on Theocritus by
Richard Hunter (1996), to whom I am much indebted for showing me a draft.
3. A similar overlap of Pindar and Simonides is present (at a strategic juncture in the Horatian
œuvre) in 3.30: see infra, §6.
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does not travel unaccompanied. In addition to the Stesichorus, we are now able to
compare another treatment of the same theme, this time in elegy: the Simonidean
piece that I will henceforth label Plataea. The beginning of the second Nekyia can
thus be integrated in a continuous genealogy of poetry whose concern is Achilles’
destruction at the hands of Apollo, the hero’s renown, and funeral celebration
with the grief of a divine mother. Simonides also shows how the conventions of
hymn can be reused for the mortal hero Achilles.


Giorgio Pasquali considered 4.6 the finest of Horace’s “Pindaric” pieces. He

probably liked the interplay of myth and national commitment, the passionate
participation in Troy’s distant destiny, and the formal experiment of a long, ram-
bling period disentangling an important myth across seven strophes of sapphics:
“Questo carme mi sembra il più felice fra i pindarici, quello in cui meno si avverte
il dissidio tra gli spiriti pindarici e il Lesbius pes: fra tutti esso è a me il più caro”
(Pasquali 1964, 755).
The poem has two segments: a long invocation to Apollo, encompassing
a reference to Achilles and Aeneas in the Trojan war (1–28), and an address
to the selected youth who are being trained for the Carmen Saeculare to honor
Apollo and Diana (29–44). The bridge section is clearly 25–28, where Apollo
is linked with poetry and called a fidicen after having been considered a terrifying
archer and avenger. When we end the poem, we see the complete picture: Apollo
the archer protects Rome, Apollo the musician inspires Horace. The first part
looks back to the legends of Troy and Rome (featuring Pindaric and Virgilian
echoes); the second part looks forward to Horace’s role as a public vates in
the performance of the Carmen Saeculare. In this perspective, 4.6 has a strong
metapoetic focus. The poem opens with the apostrophe Dive,4 and the god is
not named until the Phoebe of line 26, but Phoebe is in fact the first word of
the Carmen Saeculare; lines 37–40 put in a nutshell the theme and tone of the
Carmen Saeculare. Especially nice is the final utterance:
nupta iam dices: “ego dis amicum,
saeculo festas referente luces,
reddidi carmen docilis modorum
vatis Horati.”
which needs as a counterpart the end of the Carmen Saeculare itself, the dis
amicum carmen referred to in these self-same lines:
Haec Iovem sentire deosque cunctos

4. There is also a reference back to the incipit of 4.5, Divis orte bonis, hinting at the focal
position of Augustus between citizen and godhead.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 9

spem bonam certamque domum reporto,

doctus et Phoebi chorus et Dianae
dicere laudes.
(Carmen Saeculare 73–76)

Note how the singular of 4.6, ego : : : docilis modorum, caps the plural of the
Carmen Saeculare, doctus : : : chorus: the correspondence shows that 4.6 is
about the “making” of the Carmen Saeculare, the difference expresses Horace’s
way of imagining and reconstructing “the monodic” and “the choral” across an
unbridgeable distance from the Greek origins.
This misleading but striking use of archaic Greek conventions is entirely
appropriate in a poem that stands out in Horace’s work as one of the richest
in Pindaric influence. POxy 841 was published in 1908, and in the same year
Richard Heinze (cf. Kiessling-Heinze ad loc.) realized that Paean 6 was a very
important model for the first part of 4.6. Combining his discussion with that
of Fraenkel (1958, 400–403) and especially Pasquali (1964, 751–55), 5 one may
distinguish the following Pindaric traits. (1) The train of thought in 3–24 is
paralleled almost completely by Paean 6.81–104: “Apollo delayed Ilion’s fall
by killing the mightiest of Greek warriors, Achilles; otherwise he would have
taken Troy by storm. Yet it was the town’s unchangeable fate to be destroyed.”
Pindar continues with the story of Neoptolemos and the Delphians, Horace with
Aeneas and Rome. (2) The long narrative parenthesis that cleaves to the hymnic
apostrophe (1 Dive, quem : : : , 26 Phoebe, qui : : : ), with its sinuous structure, is an
attempt to recreate Pindar’s “maniera” comparable to 4.4. (3) The abrupt transition
from the hymnic Du-Stil to the address to the chorus is paralleled in Pindaric
technique and specifically in the sixth Paean, where the poetic voice addresses
first Pytho, then the young men of the chorus, and finally the island of Aegina.
Of course (2) and (3) point to Pindar—and even to Greek lyric in general—
more than to Paean 6 as an individual model; but taken together with (1), they
have some cumulative force. But now we are in a position to understand that the
use of Pindar was by no means the only intertextual activity in the composition
of 4.6. If the argument I have proposed for the tree-simile (Barchiesi 1995) is
sound, Horace has united Pindar’s sober description of Apollo killing Achilles
with other traditional material. Two famous accounts of the death stand out in
the tradition, Homer’s in Odyssey 24 and Simonides’ in the hymnic introduction
to Plataea. Horace, as I have tried to show, alludes to both. The Pindaric influence
is still the most pervasive: the conceptual line, “Achilles would have destroyed
Ilion, but Apollo stopped him by a killing stroke, so the town had to be taken
by another route,” shows the dominant influence of Paean 6. Yet, as I said, we
need to take into account the whole poetic tradition on the death of Achilles—the

5. Surprisingly, Fraenkel refers to Heinze’s findings but not to Pasquali’s illuminating

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whole tradition that we have, I must stress, for (1) before the publication of the
new Simonides critics were perfectly happy with Pindar and Odyssey 24 (and,
maybe, Catullus 64) as “sources”: ignoti nulla cupido, again, so there is nothing
to prevent us from imagining other shades of influence from further lost poetry;
and (2) we know positively of at least two accounts of Achilles’ death we cannot
get hold of, the lost (but influential6 ) Aithiopis, and the very fragmentary and
tantalizing lyric narrative by Stesichorus.7
So it would be illogical to assume that with the Simonidean integration the
intertextual quest is over. On the contrary, I see some reason to emphasize that
Horace’s Book 4 must be a very “echoic” poetic text and that our kind of pre-
selected information—a wide choice of preserved Pindaric texts and obviously
the complete Vergilian corpus in front of us, but almost nothing of several Greek
poets of the classical period except random pieces of evidence—severely distorts
our understanding of Horace’s allusive strategies.
Another aspect of this Pindar-Simonides junction is instructive for the inter-
pretation of 4.6. We have seen that Pindar contributes both the cultic atmosphere
(a Delphic paian transmuted into a Roman song by a “chorodidaskalos”) and
the basic story-line, and we suggested that Paian 6 paves the way for the link
between communal prayer and poetic Selbstdarstellung. The image of inspiration
at 4.6.29–30—spiritum Phoebus mihi, Phoebus artem / carminis nomenque dedit
poetae—is itself colored by Pindaric force since the spiritus is no longer tenuis as
it was at 2.16.38. We are poised between the former more Callimachean programs
of Books 1 and 2 and the excessive energy of Pindaric spiritus (Prop. 3.17.40,
qualis Pindarico spiritus ore tonat).8
Pasquali rightly adds that Horace follows but also caps and corrects the
Delphic bard: to Pindar, Apollo proved his terrible strength by crushing Achilles,
but Troy had to fall to the Greeks; to Horace, the god of Augustus destroyed
Achilles in order to reduce Greek victory over Troy. The town falls but a survivor
is able to escape, reach Italy, and set the stage for Rome and the prince. In
Pasquali’s words, Roman Horace corrects Pindar the Greek.
Yet Pindar cannot be the truest example of the Panhellenic poet. Such
correction or inversion implies similarity, and Horace cannot model his new

6. Fraenkel 1964.
7. Nisbet apud Barchiesi 1995, 36 n. 9, notes a hint of a snake-bite in Horace’s imagery; one
is tempted to compare Garner 1993, 159 on the possibility of a serpent-simile at a corresponding
stage in Stesichorus’ narrative. On the different traditions (including figurative sources) on the death
of Achilles see most conveniently Gantz 1994, 625–28.
8. Cf. also, for this striving towards a Pindaric status, the acknowledgment to the Muse at
4.3.24, quod spiro et placeo, si placeo, tuum est (cf. Fraenkel 1957, 410 n. 1, who sees that the
passage dovetails with 4.6.29–30). I am tempted to take spiro as a compromise between “be alive”
and “be inspired.” The former interpretation is supported by normal usage and by the implication
“I have success, and already in my lifetime” (see Pascucci 1982, 160–65). I would probably go
further and view the expression as capping Pind. Nem. 8.38, where placeo renders d¸n but spiro
goes one better than “go down to Hades.”
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 11

“vatic” and national stance on a poet whose “politics” were so famously skewed
and individualistic. The Plataea elegy shows us what other kind of Greek poetry
Horace is resurrecting9 —and capping. This time we see a Greek poet praising
Achilles and his heroic death at the hand of a god and using Achilles as a role
model for the triumph and the sacrifice of a new generation of Greek heroes:
Simonides praises Achilles and Achilles’ laudator, Homer, and goes on to praise
the brave warriors who fell at Plataea. Horace alludes to this text but inverts its
nationalistic orientation: Greeks, not Trojans, are the danger that was overcome
with relief. The simile illustrating Achilles’ death is converted from a “hymn”
to Achilles to a hymn to Apollo.
Inversion does not exclude appropriation. On the one hand, Horace is aware
that a certain kind of panhellenic, anti-Persian poetry is a useful precedent
anyway. Augustan ideology has a vested interest in Greek propaganda—especially
Athenian propaganda—of the fifth century. Antony, Cleopatra, and the Parthians
(the Medi of c. 1.2.51 and Carmen Saeculare 54; the Persae of c. 1.2.22, 1.21.15,
3.5.4, and 4.15.2310 ) are ready to take over the legacy of Xerxes and Mardonius.
(This is an area where Pindar and Bacchylides were of limited use, while the
epic representations of the Persian wars never attained the classic status that
was awarded to the figurative monuments or to Herodotus and Xenophon.)
On the other hand, the neat proportion established by Simonides—Homer :
Achilles = Simonides : the Plataea heroes—is continued by Horace with a
new implicit set of equivalences, Vergil : Aeneas = Horace : Apolline songs
for Augustan commission. And we still have to follow the ramifications of the
Homeric/Simonidean model in Carmina 4.8 and 4.9. For the moment, it is enough
to point out that Aeneas’ successful escape from a burning Troy in 4.6 and in the
Carmen Saeculare implies Vergil, the vates who consecrated this Roman myth.
Thus Vergil’s Roman voice takes over the role of the panhellenic immortalizer
that had been reserved for Homer by Simonides.


Carmina 4.8 and 9 are similar and complementary to a degree that is unusual11
for two consecutive pieces in any ancient book of poetry. Were it not for the

9. Caution on Simonides’ self-repetition is advisable here and elsewhere in my paper. It may

well be that Horace knew several comparable passages in Simonides’ œuvre: we simply cannot
tell. However, I am convinced by Boedeker’s arguments (1995, 225) that the Plataea elegy had a
substantial Fortleben as a text.
10. Useful variations on the straight designation Parthi.
11. Note also that the last word of 4.8, exitus, produces a supplement of significance when read
in continuity with the incipit of 4.9, ne forte credas interitura : : : (“endings—no final closure : : :”),
as it were an invitation to “read through” the editorial blanks. The myth of Theseus and Pirithous
at the close of 4.7 features the interesting expression Lethaea : : : vincula, and in fact “the chains
of oblivion” will be a central concern in 4.8 and 4.9. On similar effects in the first three books of Odes
see Barchiesi 1996.
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changes of meter and addressee, one could believe them parts of a unified text. 4.8
states that there could be no memory of deeds si chartae sileant (21), uses as
a main example Ennius and Scipio, and ends with a pattern of sacred immortality:
Romulus, Aeacus, Hercules, Dioscuri, Bacchus. 4.9 starts with the cognate idea
that the words of Horatian lyric are more than mortal, then sets the Greek canon
of the lyric poets, Pindar, Simonides (and Bacchylides?), Alcaeus, Stesichorus,
Anacreon, and Sappho, beside the primacy of Homer’s epic, and goes on with
heroes from the Iliad and the gnome vixere fortes ante Agamemnona multi (25–26).
The work of potentes vates in 4.812
virtus et favor et lingua potentium
vatum divitibus consecrat insulis
is paralleled by the need for a sacer vates in 4.9
:::sed omnes inlacrimabiles
urgentur ignotique longa
nocte, carent quia vate sacro.
The Calabrae Pierides of 4.8.20 are an inverted echo of the Camenae of the Greek
lyric poets at 4.9.5–8, and both types of Greco-Roman merger—the Italicization
of Muses, the Hellenization of Camenae—look back to Horace’s inspiration in
2.16.38, Graiae : : : Camenae.13
There is also a parallelism in the antagonistic forces that threaten the process
of memorialization: praise of Lollius confronts lividas / obliviones (4.9.33–34),
while even Romulus took his risks if taciturnitas / obstaret meritis livida (4.8.23–
24). Again, this cross-reading promotes intertextuality with Greek praise poetry,
with all its ideology of silence and phthonos.
The model of the immortalizing bard finds a pointed contrast in the use of
chartae (4.8.21; 4.9.31), the only two examples in Horatian lyric where lyric
poetry is treated as a textual artifact, not as “voice” or “song.”14 The idea of
poetry as “paper” is both anachronistic and functional, since it backs up the idea
of durability and the implied contrast with monuments: papyrus is a poor thing
when tripods, statues, painting, marble, and inscriptions are the parameter of
praise and memory, yet, through this quality, poetry attains a greater spread and
persistence because it is reproducible. A distance from Pindar is implied: for him,

12. The upper limit of Horace’s self-fashioning had been, in 3.30.12, ex humili potens.
13. Ross 1975, 148–49. See also Nisbet-Hubbard 1970, p. 3 and 1978 on 2.16.38; and now
Miller 1994, 158–60.
14. Feeney 1993, 55. Contrast 4.9.4, verba loquor socianda chordis; Pind. Nem. 7.11–16;
Ol. 10.91–96, where deeds escape obscurity through music, lyre, songs of praise, etc. The presence
of a strongly “bookish” image of poetry is one among many connections with Theocr. 16. The scholia
on Pind. Nem. 4.6–8 (Wilson 1980, 102–103) are a stimulating parallel: the terminology glides from
“word” and “voice” to “hymn” to a very un-Pindaric grafìmena.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 13

the spoken word lasts longer than the deed—û¨ma d' ârgmˆtwn xroni¸teron
bioteÔei (Nem. 4.6)—but here it is the papyrus that could be “silent.”
Again, the two poems are coupled. Another factor of similarity are the two
addressees, Lollius and Censorinus, Augustan aristocrats from important families,
marked both as non-members of the Augustan inner circle and as non-private
friends of Horace.15 Since the main thrust of 4.8 and 4.9 is to explain the value
of poetry to the addressees (4.8.12 pretium dicere muneri; 4.9.1 ne forte credas
interitura : : :), it would be perverse, I think, to deny that 4.8 and 9 are connected to
the issue that we normally, if loosely, label “patronage.”16 Lollius and Censorinus
emerge from their poems as wealthy aristocrats, and the use of wealth, as we shall
see, is the other dominant theme besides the usefulness of poetry: the poet is
concerned to show them what poetry can do for them. The whole argument—
value of poetry, praise, use of wealth—smacks of archaic lyric of the type that
is normally connected with Pindar, Bacchylides, and Simonides (the first names
in the canon at 4.9.6–7, by the way). It would be difficult to point to other
Horatian poems that fall so neatly into this pattern. Pindaric influence is of course
widespread, but the case of 4.2 is different. The poem is about the problem of
imitating Pindar in Augustan culture, and in the most common instances the
addressee does not much resemble the average addressee of classical encomia.
He is either too unique (Augustus) or too special and close to the poet (Maecenas
and, on a different level, several aristocratic addressees in Books 1–3). Even the
sociology of Horatian lyric, as we shall see again, suggests that 4.8 and 4.9 are
a breed apart.


Reading the two poems entails a “stratigraphic” experience: similarly to 4.6

(where, as we saw, the Trojan myth travels via Homer, Pindar, Simonides, and
Vergil to Horace), 4.8 and 9 require a sense of recapitulation, where the main

15. I accept the hypothesis that Censorinus is the younger candidate (see especially Harrison
1990), but I refuse Kiessling-Heinze’s bold speculations on a Bacchic sodalitas as a connection
between him and Horace. In his analysis of Horace’s connections, White (1993, 231) simply classes
him as a recipient of a poem allusive to his wealth (given his avoidance of explicit bibliography,
White is probably warning us elliptically against Kiessling-Heinze). On Marcus Lollius, friend of
Maecenas, possibly but not probably the father of the recipient of Hor. ep. 1.2 and 18, see again
White 1993, 230; see also Mayer 1994, 8–9.
For the present purpose, the main point is that 4.8 and 9 do not “construct” the addressee as
particularly near to the poetic I. On the decisive importance of sympotic atmosphere to construct
the addressee as “friend” in other Horatian poems, see infra, §11.
16. I understand “patronage” as the thing itself, i.e., the social practice, plus the manifold
discourses that construct and affect and contest and imagine the thing itself. My approach is thus
different from that of White 1993, who is interested in the thing itself without the discourses.
Disagreement could arise about the way discourses condition social practice, and even more on the
relationship between “facts” and discourses, but this is a problem of methodology that exceeds the
limits of the present study.
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levels of influence will be recognized as epic poetry, Greek classical lyric and,
less predictably, Theocritus.
Since the impact of Theocritus on Horace’s Book 4 seems still to be
underestimated,17 it is useful to put together some clues. Most of them belong
to two poems that are consecutive in our manuscript tradition—16, “Charites sive
Hiero,” and 17, “Encomium of Ptolemaios”—and are connected by an impressive
amount of cross-references, planned (dis)harmonies, and shared interests. As is
well known, 17 constructs a relationship of successful patron-poet cooperation—
Theocritus as a Ptolemaic court poet, Ptolemy as the King of Patrons—while 16
problematizes the whole issue of patronage in contemporary society, with The-
ocritus as a poet looking for commissions and Hiero II of Syracuse as a possible
It seems noteworthy that allusions to Theocritus 17 feature in two of the most
overt encomia of Augustus Horace ever published: 4.5 (just before the series
of poems where I suggest there is a web of Simonidean/Theocritean memories)
and 4.14. At 4.5.17, tutus bos etenim rura perambulat, the oxen are certainly
“safe” because of the absence of war and raiders, but the conceit is clearer18
if we think that Italian oxen are protected by Augustus just as Egyptian cows
(and private property) are protected by Ptolemy—oÎdè tij aÊgialìnde qoj
âc lato naìj / qwrhxqeÈj âpÈ bousÈn ‚nˆrsioj AÊguptÐhùs in (17.100–101)—
while Sicilian cattle will walk undisturbed by Carthaginians thanks to Hiero’s
spear—bìej d' ‚gelhdän âj aÞlin / ârxìmenai sknifaØon âpispeÔdoien ådÐtan
(16.93–94). And if the sympotic poet feels personally involved in the comfortable
protection ensured by the prince (cf. 4.5.33ff.), the bucolic poet19 has a vested
interest in the secure life of the bìej.
In general, 4.4 and 4.15 pick up the themes of just rule and prosperity that
are elaborated by Theocritus for the emergence of Hiero in 16 and for Ptolemaic
world power in 17. Of course Theocritus is only a stage in a process that is not
purely literary, and whose beginning could be described as the merging of the Just
Town of Hesiod’s Erga with the blessed king of the Theogony. For example, the
theme of “newborn like their fathers” (4.4.23) goes back to the standard model
of âoikìta tèkna goneÜsin (Erga 236) via the multiplication of the theme and its
adaptation to ruler cult in Theocritus 17 (63, 44). Ptolemy’s (semi)divine status, a
very important subject in 17, is an active stimulus for Augustus’ shifting role in the
Horatian Herrscherlob. But more precisely, in 4.14 Horace describes Augustus as
dominating the Nile and the Ocean—Nilus : : : beluosus Oceanus—and the hapax
beluosus seems directed toward another hapax, Theocritus’ use of polukht j for

17. Pasquali 1964, 189 gives some attention to Theocritus’ hexametric encomia but then ends
up arguing for a main influence of lost Hellenistic lyric in praise of the rulers.
18. A note of embarrassment in Quinn 1980, 308 ad loc.: “the ox is safe (if we care to examine
the assertion) from warfare or marauding bands.”
19. On continuity with Hesiod in the context see Treu 1963, 288.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 15

the Nile in his encomium (17.98). Horace transfers the epithet to the Ocean, but
keeps the exotic Nile in sight. When in 4.14 the rehearsal of Augustus’ success
still culminates (in retrospect) with supplex Alexandrea opening up its famous
harbors and the empty Court to the new master (portus Alexandrea supplex /
et vacuam patefecit aulam, 35–36), the pattern becomes almost self-reflexive:
in response to Augustus’ conquest of the Ptolemaic kingdom, the Roman poet
appropriates (and reshapes) the celebratory language of Alexandrian praise poets.
The empty aula welcomes a new adaptation of court poetry. Theocritus’ Ptolemy
entered Greek poetry as a novel type of ruler, one who establishes a cult for his
parents (17.121–23); now Roman culture has experienced a comparable process
of innovation.
This is an area where the contribution of early encomiastic poetry (Pindar,
Simonides) is, for obvious reasons, less direct and pertinent to Horace’s aims. But
the political poems of Theocritus still advertise their Pindaric and Simonidean
background, and interest in Theocritus can be reconciled with the recurring
presence of those classical models in Horace’s fourth book. To this nexus of
Alexandrian, Theban, and Cean praise poetry we shall now turn in discussing 4.8
and 4.9.20


In spite of many different accents and an extensive Pindaric influence, it

is widely recognized21 that 4.822 and 4.9 owe their pivotal and parallel nucleus

20. In the meantime, I notice that a similar combination of influences can be traced already
in the ruler-panegyric of 3.3.9–12:
hac arte Pollux et vagus Hercules
enisus arces attigit igneas
quos inter Augustus recumbens
purpureo bibet ore nectar.
Theocritus (17.16–22) had associated Ptolemy II with Herakles and Alexander via the
Homeric image (Od. 11.602–603) of Herakles banqueting with the gods in heaven (see e.g., Harrison
1994, 143–44; note also Pind. Nem. 1.72–75). The striking detail purpureo bibet ore in Horace’s
rewriting of Theocritus could be related to a purple passage in Simonides’ poetry, PMG 585.1,
porfurèou ‚pä stìmatoj. If indeed “the locution was definitely connected with Simonides as
his invention” (Oates 1932, 102), the poetic compliment combines echoes from Simonidean and
Theocritean models. Hercules and the Dioscuri will be cited as prototypes of poetic immortalization
at the close of 4.8. (On other possible references to Simonides in the Roman Odes note Burzacchini
1977.) Here Simonides guarantees heavenly rejuvenation for the prince, and Theocritus contributes
the place at the table that had been booked for his king.
21. See the standard commentaries to 4.8 and 9, and e.g., Merkelbach 1952, 313; Parsons 1992b,
11. Of course, as we shall see repeatedly, Theocritus 16 is difficult to read without cross-reference to
17, just as 4.8 involves cross-reading with 4.9.
22. My work presupposes a text of 4.8 like that of Kiessling-Heinze (see also Harrison 1990)
with only 17 and 33 regarded as spurious. (Of course the line numbers I use do not exclude the
excised lines.)
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of argument to the influence of Theocritus 16, the “Charites.” The following

similarities can be tabulated:

Theocritus: Simonides’ wealthy patrons would be buried in oblivion unless

the Cean poet had made them famous and honored. Who would know about the
Trojan battles23 without the ancient bards? Odysseus and his friends would be
concealed in silence were it not for the songs of the Ionian man that benefited
those people. Good fame comes to men from the Muses.
Horace 4.8 (talking about the value of poetry): Neither inscriptions nor even
the deeds themselves24 are a better memorial than poetry. Ennius’ poems are
the reward for Scipio’s deeds. What would have happened to Ilia and Romulus
if invidious silence prevailed? It is poetry, the favor of powerful poets, that
consecrates Aeacus, snatched from Hell, in the Blessed Islands. It is the Muse
that cancels death for those worthy of praise. The Muse gives heavenly bliss.
Horace 4.9: Do not think that lyric poetry is transient: Homer is the first
of poets, yet Pindar, Simonides, and other lyric poets of the canon are not
forgotten. Helen was not the first wife to be seduced, and many warriors
fought before the epic heroes of Troy, but all are crushed in oblivion and
forgotten in darkness since they lacked a holy poet. So I will not let you pass
in silence, Lollius : : :

Many individual touches, the themes of gift, power of poetry, silence, vin-
dication from Hades, etc., remind us of several passages in Pindar, but it is fair
to concede, as all commentaries do, that only Theocritus 16 has a full pattern25

23. The initial reference to “Lycian leaders and sons of Priam” (16.48–49) seems reminiscent of
Pindar, who speaks of epic as the source of renown for “Lycian Sarpedon” (Pyth. 3.112–15). As
in Horace’s case, we must be wary of assuming that Simonides ousts Pindar as a model when there is
always a merger, or a competition.
24. On this problematic articulation see infra, §6.
25. Suerbaum 1968, 330–31 finds a close parallel to 4.9 in an earlier Latin poem, Prop. 3.1.25–34
(see also Solmsen 1948, 108–109), although he concedes that both Horace and Propertius may be
dependent on Theocritus.
On this last point I agree. The Propertian context is divergent: there the frame is “the passing
of time adds prestige, as in the case of Trojan warriors, and of Homer’s poetry itself.” The conditional
structure and the use of Homeric heroes make a reference to Theocritus very likely, but the contextual
use (as Fedeli 1980 ad loc. notes) is different and linked to the general orientation of 3.1, a contrast of
epic and Propertian elegy. As for the Propertius-Horace link, one may compare the endings of 3.1
(Lycio vota probante deo) and 4.8 (Liber vota bonos ducit ad exitus). This perhaps helps us see
a metapoetic force in Horace’s self-fulfilling end.
Both Propertius and Horace must be relevant to Ovid, A.A. 3.403–14, a striking appropriation
of the formula “were it not for Homer”: the idea here is “were it not for the Iliad, Homer would be
forgotten.” The presence of Horace 4.8 is clear: Ovid mentions Ennius’ glory and Calabrian origins
and Scipionic patronage, and uses commercial language (emeruit : : : praemia : : : largae opes : : :)
as well as the respectful formula sacris : : : poetis (403, cf. Hor. 4.9.28). As a reader of 4.8 and
4.9, Ovid is “unpacking” the references to patronage that, as we shall see again, are an important
background for the two odes. He also likes to deconstruct the Horatian distinction between poetic
success (c. 3.30) and immortalizing praise (c. 4.8 and 4.9).
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 17

similar to that of both 4.8 and 4.9. In 4.8 Horace has substituted Ennius for the
Theocritean Homer and Simonides. In 4.9 Homer, the immortalizer of Trojan
deeds, responds to the same function he had in Theocritus, but Simonides is
not forgotten: he does not disappear from sight (non : : : latent : : : Camenae,
4.9.5–9) and in fact he lurks in the attribute Ceae as the second lyric poet26 after
Pindar. For Theocritus 16.44 he was å K ioj. The favor (4.8.26) of the bards
is reminiscent of the theme of charis and Charites, doubtless the focal area of
Theocritus 16, an area where Simonidean and Pindaric models converge and de-
fine each other. The holiness of the bards (4.9.28 vate sacro) is compatible with
Pindar’s standard reputation,27 with the Theocritean ideal of holy interpreters
of the Muses (16.29 ÉeroÔj), and with the Theocritean image of Simonides as
qeØoj ‚oidìj.28
By another nice coincidence, the prospective success of Hiero, the dux ad-
versus Carthaginienses of Theocritus 16, could be summarized using Horace’s
words: celeres fugae / reiectaeque retrorsum (Hannibalis) minae (4.8.15–16).
The memory of Scipio’s Punic victory perfectly matches Theocritus’ expecta-
tions about Hiero: the Sicilian poet was looking forward to a man who would
eliminate the Punic menace and make the Phoenicians themselves tremble in
fear (16.76–90).29 Thus Horace 4.8 in a sense fulfills the hopes of Theocritus
l6. But the man who made a lasting praise of the victorious dux is Ennius,
not Horace.


A traditional problem in the stanza leading to Ennius’ introduction regards

the continuity of the two negative clauses.
non incisa notis marmora publicis
per quae spiritus et vita redit bonis
post mortem ducibus, non celeres fugae
reiectaeque retrorsum Hannibalis minae (16)

26. The initial order, Pindar, Simonides, respects the typology of the lyric canon in Hellenistic
epigrams (see the late A.P. 9.571, also with Sappho in the final position; on Pindar as the first see
Barbantani 1993, 7–9, and Stat. silv. 4.7.5, regnator lyricae cohortis), but of course Horace gives his
personal “spin” to this selective catalogue.
27. As in the late A.P. 9.184.1 (Barbantani 1993, 9).
28. The ms. reading of 16.44, accepted by Gow 1952, 315; with the variant deinìj (cited
in the second century by Hermogenes) things do not change very much, since deinäj ‚oidìj is
regarded by Kiessling-Heinze as the likely model of a parallel expression, potentium vatum, at
4.8.26–27. On Simonides qeØoj in Plato compare Bell 1978, 78 n. 191, with bibliography. Note
also Griffiths 1979, 32 n. 61 on “holiness” in Theocr. 16 and on possible puns with “Hiero,” the
29. Where of course Theocritus looks back to another Sicilian dynasty, heroes of past campaigns
against the Carthaginians, and laudandi of early classical praise poetry: Gelon and the battle of
Himera, and his brother Hiero I.
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eius qui domita nomen ab Africa (18)

lucratus rediit clarius indicant
nomen quam Calabrae Pierides : : : .

Everybody understands that poetry is better than inscriptions, given the topos
of contrasting poetry with monuments and memorials. The contrast reminds us
of 3.30,30 another poem where Pindaric, Ennian, and Simonidean echoes are
combined. Aere perennius possibly included a reference to bronze letters—names
on mausolea, pyramids, and the like. And Pindar may have thought of inscribed
statue-bases when he contrasted statues with song as media of lasting praise.31
But, if the text is sound and authentic, the second “non” clause means “not even
the deeds—i.e., Scipio’s routing of Hannibal—are a clearer witness to Africanus’
glory than Ennian poetry is,” that is, “the deeds themselves promote their own fame
in contrast to the marble inscriptions of the first ‘non’ clause : : : a contrast which is
then undesirably followed by the fame-giving powers of poetry” (Harrison 1986,
36). To circumvent the problem, Stephen Harrison suggests that the second clause
means the content of the epigraphic medium indicated by the first: “it is not public
inscriptions or their recording of routs : : : which have made Scipio famous, but
the poems of Ennius.” Yet the syntax can have more point if the second clause
goes one better than the first.
I will come back to this sinuous transition in a moment. First let us note that
the choice of Scipio and Ennius has several important implications. (1) Scipio
was accused of being a greedy conquistador and famously replied that his name,
Africanus, was all he kept for himself from the victory over wealthy Karthago.
This gives edge to both nomen and lucratus. (2) Scipio refused statuary honors in
Rome, but received in the end a famous memorial with an Ennian epitaph as a
poetic award. As the hero who refused money but received glory, and who declined
monuments but accepted carmina (not least an Ennian poem called Scipio!), he is
a perfect fit for the initial argument, “my gift is poetry, not art.”32 (3) Ennius,
as we shall see again, is a promising choice if the intention is to show a Roman
model of the poet with patron. Not least, he was believed to have received the

30. Thus linking two out of three examples of this metrical shape in the Odes: the three are
respectively the first and last piece of the triadic collection and the central ode, the “mesologos”
of Book 4 (Heinze 1960, 248 with n. 40): “eine Art von Mesolog” (a reference to 4.8 can thus be
added to Conte 1992, who discusses the recurrent importance of “proems in the middle”). Heinze
notes that Horace seems to perceive stichic Asclepiadea as “not thoroughly lyrical”: since the use
is limited to 1.1, 3.30, and 4.8, one has the impression of a specialization of this verse for, as it
were, liminal situations where Horace highlights his lyrical program from an external vantage point.
See also Putnam 1986, 154.
31. Cf. Steiner 1993.
32. One among many arguments against critical indictments of 4.8 as a poorly structured poem.
On the reference to Ennius and its function, Suerbaum 1968, 198–221 is still fundamental.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 19

honor of a statue33 in the Scipionic family tomb: a path-breaking award for a

poet at Rome. In the fragments we have, Ennius asks what statue and column
will be enough for Scipio (Scipio fr. II Vahlen);34 declines funeral honors—in
a sepulchral epigram!35 —because his verses live on after his demise (epigr. II
Vahlen); contrasts praise poetry with the kings’ attempt to “construct” their name
(ann. 404–405 Sk.: aedificant nomen) through statues and graves; and defines
his celebratory verse as a statue larger than bronze statues (ann. 579 Sk.).36 He
must be a good fit for the initial argument of 4.8 (“as a poet, I offer carmina,
not objects”) and for the subsequent idea that “poetry is the best memorial.”
It is perhaps worth asking whether Ennius himself was more interested in
Simonides than we are able to prove from the fragments. Alexandrian praise
poetry could have directed him (as it happened with Horace) to this earlier
model of poetry and patronage. Ennius’ interest in the competition of poetic and
monumental memory is neatly paralleled in Simonides. The paradigmatic value of
Homer as the immortalizing bard is ubiquitous in Ennian poetry, and the starting
point is a generalized attitude in Greco-Roman culture, but few Greek masters—
certainly not Pindar or Callimachus or Theocritus—are so firmly committed to
this ideology as Simonides. Ennius is reported to have said (cf. Scipio fr. I Vahlen),
“only Homer, who made a towering fame for Achilles, could sing praises worthy
of Scipio,” an interesting parallel to the appropriation of Homer in Simonides’
Plataea.37 And the Ennian search for an enlightened model of the poet as confidant
and counselor of the Great—with the striking “self-portrait” of Servilius’ friend
in the Annales (268–86 Skutsch)—could have found a stepping stone in the
biographic model of Simonides the Wise Man at Court starting from Xenophon’s
Hiero38 and developing through biographers and anecdotal lore in the fourth and
third centuries.39 One would like to imagine Ennius looking for useful precedents
when confronted with the problems of fashioning a role for poetry in Catonian
Rome, and only partially satisfied with the more recent examples of Alexandrian
epic and court poetry.

33. Ovid uses the story in a context marked by appropriation of our poem (A.A. 3.409–10): there
is perhaps a hint that the topos “poetry better than statues” is valid for patrons but does not prevent
poets from being proud of statuary honors.
34. Hor. c. 4.14.1ff. starts from a similar aporia about Augustus, and of course the ode, as it
unfolds, creates a poetic Ersatz for the honorary inscriptions that fail to match Augustus’ glory (cf.
Suerbaum 1968, 241–44; Putnam 1986, 302–303).
35. See Hardie 1993, 135.
36. Where I accept text and interpretation by Scevola Mariotti (cf. Skutsch’s apparatus and note
ad loc.).
37. Silius 13.793–97 has Scipio saying: “I wish Roman deeds had Homer as their narrator!
Happy Achilles—your virtue was amplified by a carmen!” The latter idea seems indebted to views
of Homer typical of early classical lyric; one wonders if the Ennian text that is reported in the indirect
fr. I Vahlen of the Scipio was similarly connected with Pindar (see e.g., Nem. 7.12ff.) or Simonides.
38. Gray 1986.
39. Bell 1978.
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Few Greek poets are more fitting than Simonides as a counterpart to the idea
of the “poetic immortalizer.” Before praising Hiero’s Punic wars, he composed
various poems to be performed and/or inscribed as celebrations of the Persian war
dead. Then his name was used as a convenient peg for spurious post-war epitaphs.
The rhetoric of vita returning post mortem through epigraphic glory (4.8.13–
15) is anticipated by “Simonides” (FGE 9): war heroes oÎdà teqnsi qanìntej,
âpeÐ sf' ‚ret˜ kaqÔperqe / kudaÐnous' ‚nˆgei d¸matoj âc ÇAÐdew. Here
of course the text is composed or imagined as a public inscription (and cf. 25
ereptum Stygiis fluctibus, 27 dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori). Simonides
was credited as the post-war “immortalizer” just as Pindar had the top position
as the victory poet par excellence. The two traditions of course interfuse, e.g.,
in the shared topic of “vindicating from Hades and oblivion,”40 but Simonides’
link with Panhellenism and the Persian wars is a convenient niche, separated from
Pindar’s excellence in religious and agonistic poetry.
Simonides is remembered also as the inventor of mnemotechnics, and his
“art of memory” saved his Thessalian patrons from oblivion.41 According to
Callimachus, Simonides’ tomb was removed and his own epitaph lost—a paradox
which allows Simonides’ voice (in the Aitia) to speak about the permanence of his
name versus the loss of its material recording, the tomb (fr. 64 Pf.). After having
been the master of memory and of sepulchral poetry,42 Simonides is resurrected
by Callimachus to defend the permanence of his name. Hardly a surprise, since
in a famous poem (PMG 581) Simonides had explained that it is foolish—as
the famous epitaph of Midas had asserted—to compare the permanence of a
mere tombstone with the eternity of nature: of all poets, he should be the most
wary of claiming a lasting existence for his grave-marker. This witty contrast
must have some ample basis in the authentic voice of Simonides’ poetry, for
we find similar paradoxes in one of his major compositions, one that Horace
demonstrably used elsewhere,43 a dirge (?) for the heroes of Thermopylae and
their chieftain Leonidas (PMG 531). The fragment experiments with a language
of praise where the monuments are transcended by memory and glory, deeds
perpetuate themselves, and the dead Leonidas is a “witness” to his own fame.44

40. 4.2.22–24 provides the link with Pindar’s threnodic poetry.

41. On the nexus of mnemotechnics, encomium, and patronage, see Kurke 1991, 59–61.
42. So Bing 1988, 68–69. Perhaps it is also relevant that Simonides is not only a famous author
of inscriptional epigrams, but in fact the only classical author, as far as I know, to be on record in
pre-Alexandrian literary sources as an author of inscriptional epigrams (cf. Page 1981, 208–209): he
succeeds even in “signing” his epigraphic production through literary fame. His poetry thus literally,
and literarily, outlived the monuments.
43. Woodman 1974, 118 notes that the contrast of “metaphorical burial” and physical decay
in Simonides parallels the contrast of “metaphorical monumentum” and physical decay in Horace
3.30.1–5. See also Pasquali 1964, 740. The Thermopylae fragment is also connected with c. 2.20, the
end of Book 2: Nisbet-Hubbard 1978, 336–37. When Ovid develops the theme of decay and time in
met. 15.234–36, he will rediscover another Simonidean image, the “teeth of time”; cf. fr. eleg. 13 W.
44. See especially the sophisticated reading by Carson 1992. On the nexus of action and
dissemination of lasting fame (from the doer’s perspective), cf. Cic. Arch. 30.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 21

One wonders what the role of the poetic voice is here: is Simonides proclaiming,
or subtly undermining, the superfluity of words of praise when deeds are so
exceptional? This could have a relevance to our problem, particularly if Horace
interpreted the Simonidean model more or less as Giorgio Pasquali does (boldly:
1964, 740, on Hor. c. 3.30): rust and time cannot destroy this ântˆfion—because
their graveyard or burial is in fact the present song by Simonides.45 Alternatively,
Horace could be using Simonides to cap him: deeds and heroes are self-preserving,
they are their own monument and memorial—but poetry is even better: : : : Going
one (or two) better is exactly what Horace will do in the last part of the ode.
Where Theocritus and Pindar and Simonides had poetry preserving the memory
of short-lived mortal heroes, Horace has poetry immortalizing the immortals, a
culminating paradox46 for a poem which is the culmination of the tradition of
poetic fame in Rome.


Starting from Horace’s interest in Ennius and Simonides as providers of

immortality, one might go back to the incipit of 4.8 to shed more light on the
choice of the Greek visual artists as a paradigm. Parrhasius and Scopas are
selected as producers of high-priced and highly prized masterpieces: in this field,
Greeks are still unchallenged (excudent alii). Turning to poetry, Horace will be
able to show that Rome can produce, if not figurative, then poetic celebrations
of men and gods. Both Parrhasius and Scopas are said to be superior both in
human and divine images (sollers nunc hominem ponere, nunc deum, 8): the
alternative of victory Standbilder and cult images (to paraphrase the Latin in
more technical terms) makes one think of the Pindaric beginning of Carmina
1.12, Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri / tibia sumis celebrare Clio, / quem
deum (cf. Pind. Ol. 2.1ff.). In fact the alternative closely matches the double
register of Pindaric song: praying to the gods, celebrating human success; so
Parrhasius and Scopas complement the Pindaric language of the whole beginning.
Parrhasius, at least, is actually famous for his command of both deorum and
heroum effigies (Quint. Inst. 10.3). It may be significant that three of his favorite
subjects are Herakles, Dionysus, and the Dioscuri (Plin. nat. 35.69–71):47 three
laudandi of poetry according to the end of 4.8 (29ff.). As for Scopas, besides the
famous Apollo Palatinus with its Augustan implications, Roman readers could
be invited to think of the spectacular group of Achilles and the marine deities

45. Suerbaum 1968, 328–29, starting from Roman examples of the theme, “poetry the best
memorial,” notes how tantalizing is the absence of a similar move in the Simonidean fragment.
Much hinges on the interpretation of ântˆfion (which Pasquali took to mean “grave”) and, even
more, of å dà s¨koj or íde s¨koj: here I simply refer to the overview by Molyneux 1992, 185–86,
with bibliography.
46. See also my final Appendix.
47. See A. Corso’s notes in the Italian edition of Pliny the Elder, Turin, 1988, V, 367–71.
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(Plin. nat. 34.26) in the Circus Flaminius. The peculiarity of this masterpiece was
the reference to Achilles’ deification, not a common theme in poetry, but clearly
signaled by the artist through the presence of Thetis and Poseidon, the deities who
granted Achilles a superhuman afterlife.48 In conclusion, Parrhasius and Scopas
are not simply examples of hyperbolic gifts, but also givers of immortality: they
mediate between the areas of wealth and immortality and concretize the idea
of a visual/verbal competition. The link with the final series of poetic laudandi
is especially welcome, since 4.8 has often been accused of being a strangely
disorganized composition.
Equally rewarding is a retrospective look to the beginning of 4.8 now that
a whole pattern of intertextuality with Greek lyric is apparent.49 The basic
situation of gift giving for sodales enables Horace to reenact the basic economy
of Pindaric praise: an ideal equality of poet and “friend” sustained by social
practices of hospitality and honorific exchange. The initial choice of drinking-
bowls as gifts (donarem pateras)50 can be tied to the Pindaric transfer from
“cups” to “songs.”51 When statues are discarded in favor of poetic cadeaux,
one remembers that Pindar associated his epinician poetry with agalmata.52 The
qualification Graiorum praemia fortium foreshadows the importance of âpinÐkia
for this poem. Tripods are not only typical honors in aristocratic exchange 53 but
also a prize for poetic contests—Simonides is famous for his fifty-six tripods
won for dithyrambic performances. And of course the whole initial move, “I
have no precious statues to offer as gifts : : : ,” exploits the authority of Pindar’s
incipit at Nemean 5 (1–4), “I am no maker of statues : : : ,” hinting54 that 4.8
will be about a new self-definition for lyric. According to the Pindaric scholia,
there is a whole history to be told about the beginning of Nemean 5: Pindar
stipulated a fee for a poem; the “committenti” were reluctant and said they could
do better by commissioning a statue for such a sum, then capitulated. Hence
the beginning, “I am no maker of statues: : : :”55 In a similar vein, the scholia
to Isthmian 2 pretend that the reference to “silver-faced songs” is a Pindaric
indictment of money-loving Simonides.56 If he cared about such stories, Horace
must have learned that mentions of wealth in praise poetry have a potential for

48. Ghedini 1994, 306 (with bibliography) points out the exceptional nature of this represen-
tation of Achilles in Roman culture. On the relevance of Olympian 2, with its myth of Achillean
afterlife, to the final section of 4.8, see my Appendix infra.
49. See also Harrison 1990, 34–35, who collects other Pindaric features.
50. There is also a link with the final response of Liber to vota: paterae are the instrument
for libations to Bacchus. For a constellation of paterae, Dionysiac celebration, and poetry see
Prop. 4.6.85.
51. On Nem. 9.48–53; Ol. 7.1–11; Isthm. 6.1–9, see e.g., Steiner 1993, 175.
52. E.g. Kurke 1991, 156.
53. On “top-rank goods” and “aristocratic intercourse” in lyric see Kurke 1991, 94–95.
54. There is a “triangular” allusion with c. 4.2.19–20 (Pindar) centum potiore signis / munere
55. See Bell 1978, 33.
56. Bell 1978, 36–37.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 23

interpretive reversals: Pindar the “friend” of addressees vs. Pindar the hypocrite;
greedy Simonides vs. Simonides the sofìj, not afraid to speak about material
The impossible costliness of the suggested gifts to Censorinus implies that
Censorinus, a millionaire perhaps, with a name57 redolent of census, could be
very generous in reciprocating. Talk about a poet’s generous use of wealth
brings us again to the world of early classical lyric: Pindar knows how to be
generous (Nem. 1.31–32), thus suggesting an ideal partnership with his sponsors.
Perhaps the echo of Nemean 5 conveys the whole endless debate about commercial
language in Pindar and Simonides. Horace is writing lyrical encomia in a world
that has no shared conventions about money and poetry. His interest in Pindar,
Simonides, and Theocritus must have something to do with the difficulty of
reenacting “the economy of praise” in Augustan Rome.
When the initial argument climaxes in pretium dicere muneri (12), interpreters
are very quick to conclude that it is just a transitional joke.58 How can he be so
indelicate as to put a price tag on his liberality? Can he really allude to the
monetary value of poetry? Well, yes and no. If we are slower (as I think we
should be) in seeing the joke, we can spare a moment to consider a background
where pretium dicere muneri would be a realistic expression. In a poem where
patronage is faced without qualms59 and poetry and money are convertible entities,
Theocritus shows that Ptolemy knows how to “appreciate” skillful poets: “he
offers the gifts their art deserves (17.114: dwtÐnan ‚ntˆcion ºpase tèxnaj), and
those mouthpieces of the Muses sing of Ptolemy for his benefactions. And for
a prosperous man what finer aim is there than to win goodly fame on earth?”
As for pretium, the Roman equivalent of dwtÐna ‚ntˆcioj, here is a Greco-
Roman poet imagining the negotiations of poets and “committenti” in the time
of Simonides:
Simonides idem ille, de quo rettuli,
victori laudem cuidam pyctae ut scriberet,
certo condixit pretio : : :
(Phaedr. 4.25.4–6)

57. Cf. Harrison 1990, 35 n. 34 and contrast Putnam 1986, 149: “Censorinus, whose cognomen
implies the practiced critic’s ability to compose proper aesthetic judgments”; I would keep the
hesitation between the two readings because it is reenacted in a number of ways throughout the
poem (cf. infra on pretium, vis, res, merces, and Theocritus 16 in general). On praise of a patron’s
Kunstverstand cf. Maehler 1982, 86–87.
58. Quinn ad loc.: “H. is hardly speaking seriously”; Kiessling-Heinze ad loc.: “scherzt, denn
nur der taktloser Geber spricht vom Preis seines Geschenks: : : : Aber sofort wird der beabsichtigte
Missverständnis geklärt: Horaz meint die Macht und Würde der Poesie überhaupt.” For a cognate
reason, they print pretium dicere muneris against the best tradition: “to tell the value of the gift”
is certainly less disturbing than “to set a price upon”; but on the superiority of muneri see Klingner’s
apparatus; Harrison 1990, 36 n. 37.
59. But on the ambiguities of cash and poetry in Theocritus 16 see infra.
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For Horace, the poem is a munus,60 but munera describes the reciprocations of
a patron at ep. 2.1.246 (Augustus to Vergil and Varius, poets so different from
the greedy and disgusting panegyrists of Alexander : : : ).
The gap between face value and metaphor in pretium dicere muneri corre-
sponds to the space between a system (or an imagined system) where poetry and
fee worked together without friction and a system where the economy of poetry
needs a new and difficult language to find an expression.61 It is significant, I think,
that alternative explanations of lexical items can be grouped under the competitive
headings “financial” and “metaphorical”: on one count, the metaphorical veils the
financial; on the other, the financial will be sublimated—being a “joke”—to a
solemn self-appraisal of poetic value. As we saw, the history of ancient Pindaric
criticism, and the double register of Pindaric “equality” and Simonidean “trade of
poetry,” prepare us for a simultaneous and dialectical reading of the Horatian text.
Sed non haec mihi vis oscillates between a literal “supply”62 and poetic élan;63 the
teasing juxtaposition of res and animus in line 10 promotes readings as different as
“res surely implies that Censorinus, a senator, is rich enough to have these things
anyway” and “the word res could bend either way, to mean the literal possessions
Censorinus does not now desire or the mental inclination, which is currently his,
for Horace’s invisible handicraft.”64 When all is said and done, the conclusion
that “The singer of songs is in the end the authentic patron with the most lasting
power to enrich” (Putnam 1986, 149, my italics) cannot oust the literalist readings
from this text, for no critical authority can safely wipe away the idea that 4.8 is
a gift for a wealthy addressee. Allusions to early Greek praise poetry reinforce
this indecision.
My reading of 4.8 has been anticipated by a recent description of Pindar’s
Isthmian 2: “the whole poem is an ellipse, turning back on itself and on the issue
of money.”65 A quick glance at the Horatian ode shows not only the diffusion
of monetary values (Donarem : : : grataque commodus, Censorine : : : aera : : :
donarem : : : praemia : : : munerum ferres, divite : : : vis : : : res : : : deliciarum egens
: : : donare : : : pretium dicere muneri : : : lucratus : : : mercedem : : : divitibus

insulis : : : beat : : : epulis : : :) but also the striking inversion by which every

60. I assume that 4.8 itself is the gift: for doubts about this reading strategy see Suerbaum 1968,
182 with n. 545, but there are several parallels in the earlier books of Odes for this “performative”
attitude; see e.g., Nisbet-Hubbard 1970, 359 (on 1.32); 254 (on 1.21); 302 (on 1.26).
61. On other ironical tropes of economy in Horace see Barchiesi 1993, 156 (on Epistles 2.1
and 2.2).
62. Quinn 1980 ad loc.
63. So Harrison 1990, 35 with n. 32.
64. Harrison 1990, 35; Putnam 1986, 149, respectively.
65. Kurke 1991, 246.
66. Cic. Tusc. 1.34 has Ennius himself asking for a non-material merces of lasting fame: poetae
nonne post mortem nobilitari volunt? : : : (Ennius) mercedem gloriae flagitat ab iis, quorum patres
adfecerat gloria. Compare and contrast, on the merces of glory coveted by the laudandi, Arch. 28; on
the pretium of facta, the Ennian epitaph of Scipio, epigr. III Vahlen.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 25

profit and benefit comes to the patrons from the artists. Artists are givers, patrons
recipients. Laudandi cash fame (lucratus, mercedem tuleris) and go to the Blessed
Islands, here interestingly renamed Wealthy Islands; poems are munera. Poets act
out of favor (26), the standard motivation of patronage in Roman society: they
patronize their patrons, as it were (poets are potentes, 26). From the poet’s
perspective, the role of being commodus (1), of showing favor (26), of giving
gracious (1 grata) presents, is a way of anticipating the patron’s gratitude—so
the poem, a gift for Censorinus, but also a “price tag” (pretium dicere), is ready
to turn on itself and prescribe “reciprocity,” generosity from the patrons for the
poets. This self-fulfilling use of commodus, favor, and grata shows that Horace
has meditated on the subtle use of xˆrij and Xˆritej in Theocritus 16,67 to which
I turn again.68


It has never escaped anyone’s notice69 that Theocritus 16 is a mischievous

and insidious poem. It is “inspired almost throughout by the choral lyrics of
Pindar and Simonides” (Gow 1952, 305), yet the reference that would help to
organize those imitations in a systematic parallel is purposely withheld. “Since
T. is addressing his appeal for patronage to Hiero II of Syracuse, it is legitimate to
ask why he points his moral with these Thessalian princes” (Gow ad 16.34ff.)
instead of naming a model that would be political and literary at the same time.
“Hiero I of Syracuse might seem a more cogent example to bring to the notice
of his namesake” (ibid.)70 as the Sicilian hero of encomia by Pindar, Bacchylides,
and presumably Simonides,71 and as one of the greatest patrons of Greek literary
The conspicuous absence of Hiero I must have something to do with the
sense of a gap between Theocritus and fifth-century encomiastic poetry. “The
pretense that Theocritus is a writer of encomia is evident in his use, or rather
misuse, of encomiastic poetry” (Gutzwiller 1983, 222). “As an advertisement of
the encomiastic genre, however, the poem is not promising: : : : We can scarcely
find a more striking misuse of the conventions of encomium” (Austin 1967, 2–3).

67. On this semantic area (including “gratitude,” “favor,” “beauty,” and “reward”) in Theocritus
16 see e.g., Austin 1967, 11 with n. 19; Gutzwiller 1983, 220–22.
68. But in general, a poet who practiced the genres of satire and diatribe surely knew that every
utterance about money is bound to be received as potentially ambiguous: contrast the embarrassing
everyday expression “I am not doing this for the sake of money” with L. F. Céline’s sly rhetoric “the
reason why I write is to buy me an apartment”; Hor. ep. 2.1 on disgusting Greeks writing celebratory
poetry for Alexander’s doubloons with ep. 2.2 on Horace choosing poetry under the stimulus of
poverty (Barchiesi 1993, 156).
69. See supra, §1.
70. See also Treu 1963, 284.
71. See now Molyneux 1993, 224–33.
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Thus, most recent interpreters would probably agree that Theocritus 16 is a

mischievous poem and therefore a difficult one. The patronage of Hiero emerges,
after many adjustments and negotiations, as a hope, but the poem does not seem to
fulfill the expectations set up thereby. The use of past models of patronage strikes
us as counterfactual more than constructive. One scholar has even suggested72
that 16 is a single survivor of a whole series of “applications for patronage,”
recycling for different addressees a prefab pattern. This extreme idea has met,
of course, a cool reception, but as a response to Theocritus 16 I find it instructive:
the poem is both a revival of fifth-century patronage and a problematization of the
issue, and the two poetic heroes indicated by Theocritean intertextuality, Pindar
and Simonides, were in fact famous for their “serial” versatility. If not actually
part of a systematic strategy, 16 poses as such a poem, caught in a process of
experiment and continuous refashioning. It even toys with the idea of a set piece
that can be readapted to different addressees in a continuous negotiation between
poet and patron.
It has not gone unnoticed either that the two exempla of Simonides and Homer
are integral to this mischievous strategy. The recovery of Simonides’ Plataea is
illuminating in this context.73 Theocritus couples Simonides and Homer, while
echoing a Simonidean poem where the author was using Homer as a precedent.
The wording supports a precise allusion:
eÊ m˜ qeØoj ‚oidäj å K ioj aÊìla fwnèwn
bˆrbiton âj polÔxordon ân ‚ndrˆsi q¨k' ænomastoÔj
åplotèroij : : :
eÊ m  sfeaj ºnasan ÇIˆonoj ‚ndräj ‚oidaÐ.
(Theocr. 16.44–46, 57)
oÙsin âp' ‚qˆnaton kèxutai klèoj ‚ndräj ékhti
çj par' Êoplokˆmwn dècato PierÐdwn
psan ‚lhqeÐhn, kaÈ âp¸numon åplotèroisin
poÐhs' ™miqèwn ²kumìrwn gene n.
(Simon. fr. eleg. 11.11–14)
The uncommon use of åplìteroi, “future generations,”74 marks the parallelism of
ân ‚ndrˆsi q¨k' ænomastoÔj åplotèroij with âp¸numon åplotèroisin poÐhs'.
Simonides volunteers as the “Homer” of the Persian wars; Theocritus advertises
himself as the Simonides of the new Hiero (with his new crusade against the
Phoenicians). Homer, the immortalizing ‚n r of Simonides 11.11, is still there
as the Ionian ‚n r of Theocritus 16.57. The formula “Cean singer” responds
to a periphrasis for Homer, “Chian singer,” that was probably made popular by

72. See Kühn 1978, 15–20.

73. See the excellent remarks of Parsons 1992b, 11–12; West 1993, 6; cf. Hunter 1993, 14 n. 13:
“the echo confirms and demonstrates the power of poetry to preserve fame.”
74. Noticed by Griffiths 1979, 37 n. 68.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 27

Simonides.75 The hymnic atmosphere of the Simonidean passage on Homer per-

haps contributes again to the celebratory ending of Theocritus 17, the “Encomium
to Ptolemy”: note the half-gods (17.136; Simon. fr. eleg. 11.18 W), the idea of
“speaking to future generations” (17.137; cf. 11.17–18), and the hymnic envoi,
xaØre, for both Achilles (fr. eleg. 11.19 W) and Ptolemy (17.135).76
Yet the project of 16 involves Simonides as the poet who made of poetry a
trade, and ironical overtones are a continuous presence. AÊìla fwnèwn (16.44)
well expresses the sparkling variations of choral style, and yet, precisely in choral
lyric, aÊìloj tends to be associated with lies.77 Simonides idealized Homer as
the bard of Achilles, and Theocritus is looking for a new Achilles who, having
done as much, will be dependent on a praise singer (the crucial lines 16.73–74).
Yet with Theocritus we do not come full circle. Homer is cited not as the singer
of Achilles, but of Asiatic princes (16.48–49), and of Odysseus and his country
servants (16.51–56).78 No patriotic or panhellenic vision of Homer here. (This
lack of close parallelism must have something to do with the conspicuous absence
of Hiero I, the hero of Pindar, Simonides, and Bacchylides, from a poem devoted
to launching the career of Hiero II as a poetic laudandus and patron. Theocritus is
more interested in differences than in continuity.)
It has been shown that the prominence of livestock as wealth and of rural
scenery—so natural for Simonides’ Thessalian aristocracy (16.34–47), so sur-
prising when in the Odyssey Eumaios, Philoitios, and Laertes are singled out
(54–56) instead of more spectacular characters—must have something to do with
Theocritus’ bucolic vein.79 However, in a poem obsessed with patronage, it is
interesting to see that Homer “benefited” (57) with his poetry the properties of
Odysseus, while Simonides “made famous” for posterity the owners of cattle,
sheep, and race horses. Did Homer sing of Odysseus (cf. the use of Ímnèw at
16.50; 17.8) as a poet hymns a patron? Unbelievable, since in Hellenic culture
“Homer provided a model of the independent poet.”80 Pausanias (1.2.3) contrasts
him with the lyric poets who associated themselves with the kings: he chose
universal reputation instead of individual largesse. As for Simonides, the model
of his Plataea again encourages the vision of a disinterested panhellenic immor-
talizer, but Theocritus recycles the model for Simonides’ most materialistic and
even mean patrons and has his Simonides immortalizing neither Achilles and

75. See infra, nn. 104 and 120.

76. Of course the coda of 17 is based—like the hymnic experiment in the Plataea—on formulaic
hymnic structures, so the similarity may be coincidental.
77. Note Pindar Nem. 8.25.
78. Possibly an arch reminder of Pind. Nem. 7.12–22, where the pattern “deeds need song to
escape darkness” leads to the subversive idea that Homer’s poetry seduces the audience into thinking
that Odysseus’ wanderings were greater than they actually were. Compare the curious emphasis
on “one hundred and twenty months” of tribulations at Theocritus 16.51, and cf. supra, n. 37.
79. Treu 1963, 286–87; more fully, Gutzwiller 1983, 232–33. On the selection of Homeric
characters see also Griffiths 1979, 31.
80. Bell 1978, 76–77.
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the short-lived heroes who conquered Troy, nor the Thermopylae dead, but the
philistine cattle barons of Thessaly. Money talks.
It is perhaps time to point out that if the Plataea is alluded to by Theocritus
here,81 the switch from Achilles to the Aleuads has some edge. Some Theocritean
interpreters note that the Aleuads were famous as a clan of Medizers.82 Reading
Theocritus in light of the Plataea fragment, we can now contrast the freedom
fighters of Plataea with a rich family whose leader, Thorax the Red, was in
the Persian camp at Plataea and gave military advice to the war council.83
Blending the allusion with its model, we can see Simonides as the national
vates and as the hired praise-singer of Thessalian, pro-Persian rancheros. The
versatility of poetic gifts and rewards is of course a basic subject of Theocritus
16. When a delicate borderline is established between poetry and pay, language
becomes a site of nervous bifurcations. Theocritus seems ready to come to a new
patron kexarismènoj—i.e., both “welcome” and “for free.” He—unlike a greedy
Simonides—looks not for material goods,84 but for tim , a word available for both
“honor” and “fee.” We know of this ambivalence of language from our experience
of Horace 4.8.
Students of Theocritus 16 rightly emphasize the gap between current con-
ditions of poetry and early classical models of patronage. It would be easy to see
Horace as flogging a dead (Olympic) horse, at many removes from the realities
of patronage. But this reading of Horatian lyric overlooks the fact that the issue
of “cash and poetry” must have been a lively one for someone who, in recreating a
lyric language of praise, rubbed elbows with contemporary Greek poets in search
of patrons. Greek authors of celebratory epigrams are an important presence in
Augustan Rome. Readily despised, but successful in their way, they hawk their
easy pieces through an unashamed language of praise and rewards. One such
epigram is quoted (with different intention from mine) by Kiessling-Heinze on
4.8.11–12: Apollonides says (A.P. 10.19; 26 Gow-Page)
dwreÜntai xrusèoisin, âg° d' ÉlaroØj âlègoisin;
oÎ g€r d˜ ploÔtou MoÜsa xereiotèrh.

This man did not have to reinvent a language of praise or a communication tool
for speaking with the Great.

81. It is possible, however, that Theocritus has one or more other Simonidean models here: it is
likely that Simonides practised self-repetition with variation, and Theocritus was equally conversant
with his lyric and elegiac production.
82. See the remarks of Dover 1971, 222; Austin 1967, 7–9, who insists on the disturbing
associations of the Thessalian patrons and even discerns “a veiled threat—not that Hiero will be
forgotten but that he may regret the immortality he achieves if he does not respond to Theocritus’
call for patronage.” This is perhaps too crude, but the problem is an important one, as Horace 4.9 also
shows (see the extreme reading by Winsor Sage 1994).
83. Herodotus’ version (9.1 and 58).
84. See now Hunter 1996.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 29

Seen from this angle, Horace’s rhetoric of praise and poetic benefaction looks
much less obvious and self-confident. Rediscovering Theocritean and Simonidean
ironies on the subject of patronage, with a glance in the direction of Pindar’s
impossible model of friendly “equality,” Horace is playing a delicate game: a
predominant idea of Odes 4 is that practicing lyric in Augustan Rome means an
ongoing play of continuity and difference, deconstructing and reconstructing the
classical tradition across an unbridgeable gap.


The beginning of 4.9 resituates Homer in his traditional function of immortal-
izer: Horace is now perfectly aligned with Theocritus 16 and Simonides. But the
presence of Homer (and, to a degree, Ennius in 4.8) creates a traditional difficulty:
if the argument is an appraisal of lyric, why does the emphasis fall on epic?
The publication of Simonides’ Plataea shows us the beginning of a tradition
where a non-epic poet85 uses Homer as a model of poetic immortality. It is often
claimed (especially by students of Horace) that Pindar and other early classical
poets are a unitary model in this respect: from them Horace takes over the habit of
measuring lyric against Homer. Thus we construct a unitary picture of Homer’s
role in the “praise poetry” tradition, then proceed to show its influence on Horace.
It would be interesting to bring more nuances and differences to this pic-
ture. Comparing Simonides’ Homer with Pindar’s Homer, Martin West has a
stimulating comment: “Contemporary parallels for the thought [i.e., the idea that
without Homer epic accomplishments would have fallen into oblivion] are to be
found in Pindar (Pyth. 3.110–15; Nem. 7.11–16; Isthm. 3/4.53–60). But whereas
Pindar regards Homer as liable to embellish reality with beguiling inventions
(Nem. 7.20–23), Simonides treats him, here and elsewhere, as a guarantor of
truth, and speaks of him in terms of unqualified admiration (fr. eleg. 19; 20.13–16
W2; PMG 564)” (West 1993, 6). The ambivalent idea of “possession” is used
by Nagy (1990) much to the same effect: to show that Pindar is influenced by
Homeric tradition but also appropriates it, even to the point that epic is engulfed
by lyric, while lyric becomes the mainstream poetry of memory and praise.
In fact, some of the Pindaric passages often quoted to prove a linear tradition
of “epic into lyric” can be interpreted in a much less continuous perspective. So,
for example, Isthmian 4.31–41 explains that sometimes the techne of inferior men
prevails over that of better ones, but song, Homeric song (37), gives honor to
Aias’ misfortune and “bloodstained strength.” We are meant to think of Aias’
attitude in the Odyssean Nekyia, where the poet has a tribute for the victim of
Odysseus’ guile. Yet this was a poem called Odysseia, and in a few lines Pindar

85. For my present purposes, I do not investigate the difference between Simonides’ elegiac and
lyric production. On elegy and epic in the fifth century see Stehle 1996; Boedeker 1995; Aloni 1994,
30   Volume 15 / No. 1 / April 1996

praises the skill of Melissus, a “foxy” wrestler (47–48) who, despite his limited
size, prevails with every possible ruse over his antagonists. One finds it hard not to
think of the wrestling match in the Iliad (23.708–37), where Homer has Odysseus
using a refined trick to achieve a deadlock against all odds, and Aias gets only
a draw despite his physical superiority. So the poem focuses on the flexibility
of Homeric praise more than on Homer’s epic objectivity.
Students of Simonides’ Plataea have some reason to pay special attention
to Isthmian 8. Composed probably soon after the battle of Plataea,86 the poem
combines allusion to Persian danger, “the stone of Tantalos,” uneasiness for the
Theban bard after the Persian war, Achilles and Aeacus, and a teasing “avoidance”
of Homer. The rehearsal of Achilles’ life is especially telling if we keep an eye on
the hymnic tribute to Achilles and Homer that prefaces Simonides’ war elegy. At
47–48 “poets’ voices” (cf. Nem. 3.43–63) “have shown to apeiroi the valor of the
boy”; at 56–58 (after a presentation of Achilles’ midcareer without a mention of
poetic glory) “even when dead, he was not abandoned by songs.” The continuation,
“but Homer made his fame perpetual,” seems unavoidable in light of audience
response and of the Simonidean parallel—and in fact the Muses made a threnos
for him! Of course this can still be construed as an allusion to Odyssey 24.92–94,
but it would be an implicit one. Homer is a covert influence, not a touchstone
as in Simonides’ contemporary poem—which is Achillean, patriotic, and overtly
Homeric. Simonides’ habit of referring to Homeric authority at face value (“the
Chian said : : : ”) looks different, and generalizations such as that of Dover (1971,
222 on Theocritus 16.34–57), “Pindar on several occasions illustrates the fame
conferred by poetry by reference to the Iliad and the Odyssey,” will need further
So we can try to view Horace against a more differentiated tradition. Views and
appropriations of epic in lyric can vary from homage to passivity to competition;
the emphasis can fall either on its status as absolute truth or on manipulations
and negotiations of praise.
Horace recreates a “Simonidean” set of equivalences in 4.6 by alluding to
Odyssey 24—the Homeric text on Achilles’ early death and undying fame, already
reactivated by Simonides in exactly the same context—and, immediately after,
to a passage from the Iliad, then finally to Vergil’s “Romanized” Iliupersis. The
lyric and elegiac appropriation of grand epic continues from Pindar and Simonides
to Horace, the canon now embraces Vergil and Homer, and self-fashioning and
competition are still the dominant forces, as they were for the great “non-epic”
poets of the sixth and fifth centuries. Ennius in 4.8 and the striking supremacy of
Homer in 4.9 are important cases, but I would not minimize the recurrent presence
of the Aeneid in Book 4. Here, I suspect, confronted with the impressive success
of Vergilian epic, Horace rediscovers the manifold strategies of appropriation and
deviation adopted by poets like Pindar, Simonides, and Theocritus (and Sappho

86. Privitera 1982, 118; Carey 1981, 184.

: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 31

and Ibycus). We should not allow the concept of personal friendship to obfuscate
the signs of tension and competition with the Aeneid that are so important in
Book 4. Only an inept view of “poetic homage” can construe the ending of the
whole book—4.15.32, canemus—as if it could mean flatly “we shall rehearse
Virgil’s epic verse.”87
In a similar vein, the defensive move that opens 4.9—“don’t think that my
lyric is perishable; Homer has the first place, but : : : ”—clearly recalls the problem
faced by Theocritus in the “Charites,” where the wealthy miser refuses patronage
by saying ‰lij pˆntessin ‡Omhroj (16.20), while the affinity to Pindar is here
particularly slight: the Pindaric strategy does not take epic primacy for granted,
and works towards a powerful idea of praise poetry, older and wider than Homeric
epic itself.88
In the following list of Homeric heroes, Horace focuses not just on the
durability of their names but also on the potential of epic narrative to manipulate
praise and blame; so Homeric poetry is subtly integrated into the discourse of
lyric praise. Helen—smitten by Paris’ gold (13–16)—is an obvious example of
poetic plasticity; and Deiphobus fighting pro coniugibus pudicis (23–24) sounds
a weird note for those who remember him as Helen’s next husband. So, while
epic is frontally viewed as the recuperation of the past (vixere fortes : : :), there
is also a dissonant (and Pindaric?) touch: the epic poet, no less than the lyric, can
construct through poetry a fame that is open to negotiations. In the transition from
the canon of lyric to the list of epic heroes, Horace juxtaposes Sappho’s lasting
eroticism (4.9.11 calores) and Helen, Sappho’s favorite epic character: Helen’s
passion for Paris (13 arsit), so paradigmatic to Sappho’s poetics (fr. 16.4–12 V), is
now unmasked as financial greed.
This emphasis on manipulation is significant for 4.9 as a whole. In 4.8 there
was a gap between the evanescent addressee Censorinus and a series of past
laudandi, ready-made recipients of honors such as Scipio and the demigods. But
here Lollius is much more present, and the emphasis falls on the actions of the
laudandus as a source of poetic praise. Talk of Lollius’ ethical responsibility as
laudandus—his appropriate use of money, his virtue, military inclinations, and
judicial honesty—involves the poetic voice in the making of a new fame through
the nexus of admonition and acknowledgment, exhortation and praise. Tensions
and ambiguities are not lost on readers conscious that it is a dangerous thing for a
general to be eponymous of a rout, and that Lollius’ renown in money matters was
possibly open to criticism.89 But ambivalent and ironical readings of this poem

87. See already Wilamowitz 1913, 320.

88. On Pindar’s position see Nagy 1990, 192.
89. Kiessling-Heinze view the poem as a Rehabilitierung of the politician after the clades of
16  (cf. 35f., secundis / temporibus dubiisque rectus), and on vindex avarae fraudis et abstinens
/ ducentis ad se cuncta pecuniae (36–37) no commentator can afford to omit Vell. 2.97, homine
in omnia pecuniae quam recte faciendi cupidiore et inter summam vitiorum dissimulationem [note
42–43, alto : : : voltu] vitiosissimo. Of course Velleius is a political enemy and could be writing
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would be more convincing if linked with a whole tradition of lyric praise and
Greek models of patronage. The construction of Lollius’ ethical model recalls
the positive exemplarity of Homeric epic: non ille pro caris amicis aut patria
timidus perire (51–52) picks up excepit ictus pro pudicis / coniugibus puerisque
primus (23–24). But the Homeric section ending with blameless wives started with
Helen’s adultery, the cause of the war. There is a studied (dis)symmetry between
lyric praise (with its implicit inverse) and epic bifocality on praise and blame.
Now it is useful to remember the insidious Homer of Isthmian 4, weaving together
praises of Aias the strong loser and of his enemy Odysseus the sly survivor.
Reading 4.9 in light of this tradition, it is possible to think that Lollius has
been selected not just as the recipient of some digs—such is the trend of “ironical”
interpretations—but rather as a typical “problematic” patron. When lyric praise
underlines its own creative resources, or tilts the balance towards admonition
instead of representation, interpretive communities tend to construct a critical
picture of the addressees. This is the drift of Theocritus 16 on Simonides: naming
the wealthy but undistinguished Thessalian patrons implies a biographic scenario
of mean patrons and ironical poets. The famous encomiastic fragment for Scopas
(PMG 531) is quoted by Plato, and indeed appropriated, as if it were a piece of
autonomous speculation on “what is the good man” (Prot. 339a–346d), but the
dialectical trend of Simonides’ discussion (“I am not a fault-finder : : : ”) could
be aimed at an audience that realizes how useful it is for a patron like Scopas
to be confronted with a pattern of virtue that wisely improves on his public image
and comes to terms with unflattering views of him.90 Similarly, the reflection
on virtue in PMG 541 (POxy 2432, attributed to Simonides for its similarity to
542) focuses on difficulties: it is not easy to be good, irresistible greed for profit
makes it difficult to travel the path of justice. This is the kind of wisdom that can
be accommodated for controversial patrons and show the poet’s skill in fusing
realism with laudatory intention.
Against this background, Horace’s construction of rectum, bonum, honestum,
and beatitudo (cf. 34–52) is even more remarkable. The accumulation of positive
values comes close to the idealizations of 3.2.91 The demonstration that a truly
beatus is not a possidens but a sapiens (45–49) could be a correction of a
scandalous anecdote about Simonides. When asked “would you prefer to be
rich or wise?” the poet replied, “rich, because I see so many wise men waiting at

with an eye on Horace. But my point is that no matter how we imagine Horace’s agenda, the
poem recalls an early-classical Greek tradition where poetry advertises its capacity to construct an
encomiastic image of the addressee: it is up to interpretive communities, with their own ideas about
Lollius, to color this pattern with innuendos or subversive intentions (as does, e.g., Winsor Sage
1994, without reference to Greek lyric). This is possible because Greek models and interpretive
traditions (malicious Pindaric scholia or Simonidean anecdotes) pave the way for a complex model
of patronage, inclusive of a “mean patron” model.
90. See now Most 1994.
91. For speculations on Simonides and 3.2 see Oates 1932, 1–55; Burzacchini 1977, 39–40 and
n. 20.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 33

the rich men’s doors.” 92 Now the theme of greed that opens the Iliadic section
(12–16) and the image of those buried in Hades without Agamemnon’s renown
(25–29) have more edge, and the nexus with Lollius’ praise becomes significant.
As an addressee, Lollius is poised somewhere between the questionable patrons
of Simonides in Theocritus 16 and the more constructive model of patronage in
Theocritus 17. In the latter poem, the Atreidai won lasting fame through poetry,
but lost in Hades the treasure won at Troy: wealthy Ptolemaios wisely benefits
the bards (Theocr. 17.115–20). In the former, the Thessalian said good-bye to
the treasures (16.40–43). Theocritus provides the sorely needed link between
Lollius’ financial moderation (plus eÎdaimonÐa) and the idea of vixere fortes ante
Agamemnona multi.


Diffugere nives : : : (4.7), often regarded as forming a triad93 with the Censori-
nus and Lollius odes, interrupts a series of three poems (4.6, 8, 9) where we have
tried to localize Simonidean echoes. It could be coincidental that this ode is the one
which has previously raised, alone in the fourth book, suspicions of Simonidean
allusion. Coincidentally, again, the hypothesis rests on elegiac fragments that are
now seen in a new light thanks to the new scraps of Simonidean elegy edited by
Parsons and West: not the remains of Plataea, but a group of fragments that shows
a much more personal and introspective Simonides. (The papyrological dossier
suggests, however, that elegiac Simonides would be available, in Horace’s times,
as a unitary book, including civic ballads and “personal”—or sympotic, to be
more correct—poetry.)
The first possible clue was seen by Cataudella and Oates at 16–20:
quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae
tempora di superi?
cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico
quae dederis animo.
The standard commentary of Kiessling-Heinze claims that the model for dederis
animo is a Greek poetic phrase, represented both by the Simonidean fragment,
‚ll€ sÌ taÜta maq°n biìtou potÈ tèrma
yux¨ù tÀn ‚gaqÀn tl¨qi xarizìmenoj

(20.11–12 W2 , known to Kiessling-Heinze as 85 Bergk, with the significant

modification “vielmehr Semonides von Amorgos”), and by Theocritus 16.24:
‚ll€ tä màn yux¨ù, tä dè poÔ tini doÜnai ‚oidÀn. Oates insisted that the
Simonidean model must have been important, and that the Theocritean occur-

92. Bell 1978, 44–46.

93. See especially Putnam 1986, 170–73.
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rence is set close to a famous quotation of Simonidean poetry; and I hope

that the coupling of Simonides and Theocritus 16 sounds interesting after our
reading of Horace 4.8 and 9. I think that Oates’ observation can be slightly
expanded: there is another trace of Theocritus 16 in the sentence, since the
context about enjoying wealth instead of hoarding it (16.22–33) is paralleled
at 16.59,94 xr mata dà z¸ontej ‚maldÔnousi qanìntwn, again in a context
molded by the economic language of archaic lyric. A whole tradition about
“the right use of money” (the one we find with a different “spin” at 4.9.45ff.;
2.2.1ff.?) makes available to Horace, via Theocritus, Simonidean and Pindaric
The brief exhortation to enjoy stands out in an ode that develops a gloomy
transformation of Spring into Death. The stepping stone for this brief aside95 is the
couplet 17–18 on the incertitude of tomorrow. In the lyric collection of Horace, it
would be perverse to claim that sentences about crastina or posterum derive from
an individual poetic model. In our case, however, one could still point out that (1)
Simonides 521.1–2 (text from Campbell 1991) offers what is commonly regarded
as an archetype of the “tomorrow” motif:
Šnqrwpoj â°n m  pote fˆshij í ti gÐnetai aÖrion,
mhd' Šndra Êd°n îlbion ísson xrìnon êssetai.

In the apparatus to his corresponding fragment, printed without the revealing

aÖrion because of its absence from one of the sources in Stobaeus,96 Page
confidently asserts that the line is a model for Horace c. 1.9.13, quid sit futurum
cras fuge quaerere. More to the point, (2) the critical “bridge” between the
pervasive idea of caducity and the brief admonition to enjoy is the idea of “hope,”
immortalia ne speres. In fact, âlpÐj was a dominant conceit in the Simonidean
elegy that offers the parallel for the hedonistic expression amico animo : : : dare.
It is repeated at eleg. 19.4 W, pˆresti g€r âlpÈj ákˆstwú, and eleg. 20.7, oÖte

94. Sallustius, the addressee of c. 2.2, is praised by Crinagoras (A.P. 16.40) for his inexhaustible
liberality, and the beginning of the ode, Nullus argento color est avaris / abdito terris, is interpreted
by Kiessling-Heinze as a reference to buried treasures. If that is right (but see Nisbet-Hubbard 1978,
33 and 35), it could have something to do with early classical lyric on patronage (note also Nisbet
1995, 32).
An anecdote about money-loving Simonides (see Bell 1978, 67) has the old poet saying
“I’d rather leave a lot of money as a legacy for my enemies than depend on my friends’ generosity
while living.” Although it is a “floating gnomic utterance” (Bell, op. cit.) attested for different
authors, it is much funnier if set against the conventional criticism of hoarding practiced by praise
poets—including, one suspects, Simonides himself.
95. Interestingly, the couplet 19–20 has often been regarded as a disturbing interruption in the
Gedankengang; see e.g., Stinton 1990, 374: “But I feel with Fraenkel and Quinn that IV 7, for all
the beauty of its controlled movement and sombre close, is marred by an alien note (19–20 cuncta
manus avidas fugient heredis : : :).” Cf. Quinn 1980, 313: “The modern reader finds it hard, however,
to avoid the feeling that H.’s Epicureanism is weakened by an intrusive cynicism which lacks the
dramatic justification it possesses in 2.14.25–27.”
96. The line is taken over from Page in the list of parallels offered by Nisbet-Hubbard ad 1.9.13.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 35

g€r âlpÐd' êxei ghrasèmen oÖte qaneØsqai, possibly from the same Simonidean
poem97 or maybe from two separated but (it seems to me) closely related texts.
An overconfident guess would be that Horace found in a Simonidean continu-
ous elegy (or in twin pieces?) a constellation of three significant elements: (1) a
metapoetic reflection on the Homeric tag “lives/leaves”—compare the opening of
4.7 redeunt iam gramina campis / arboribusque comae (!);98 a few lines later, the
transition to death is so phrased—nos ubi decidimus (14)—that the idea of fallen
leaves surfaces again;99 (2) the idea of controlling one’s youthful expectations; (3)
the admonition about the pleasures of life. Of course this is just a partial influence.
Horace was certainly interested in the lives/leaves topic: as often, he recapitulates
a whole intertextual genealogy without eliding the sequence of models into a
single dominant “master-text.” The springtime atmosphere of the opening looks
implicitly but clearly to the association of “lives/leaves” with the spring that is
so prominent in the Homeric archetype
oÑh per fÔllwn gene , toÐh dà kaÈ ‚ndrÀn.
: : : Šlla dè q' Õlh

thleqìwsa fÔei, êaroj d' âpigÐgnetai ¹rh.

(Il. 6.146–48)100
and in its elegiac successor, Mimnermus 2 W = 2 Allen101

97. Sider 1996.

98. By a nice coincidence, West 1993, 11 uses the tag diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina
campis to identify the image of a snow-covered field where grass begins to appear at Simon.
eleg. 21.5–9.
The illustrandum there is the transition from boyhood to mature masculinity. Introspection,
desire, the passing of time, are themes that make us think of Carmina 4.10, but I must stop here
before claiming too much for a neglected Simonidean influence. The revelation of Simonides as
a love poet, interested in old age and inwardness, beautiful boys and seasonal changes, is, however,
of general interest for students of Horace’s voice in a book that starts with Intermissa, Venus, diu : : :
and develops a retrospective approach to love and love poetry. We can suspect Simonidean influence,
especially where the tone seems too introspective for Anacreon and the Hellenistic epigram.
99. Well pointed out by Davis 1990, 157. For decido used of foliage, or flowers, see e.g., Plin.
nat. 12.40; Ov. Fast. 5.317. The relationship of leaves to human generations is picked up in the
Nachleben by another famous simile of humans and leaves, on whose history see Austin on Verg.
Aen. 6.309ff.; Sider 1996, Appendix.
100. Cataudella 1928, 231; Oates 1932, 80–81. Critics who do not like the nexus between the
leaves/lives topos and economic imagery (adiciant : : : summae : : : manus heredis) should probably
meditate more closely on the nexus between that topos and the economy of gift exchange in Iliad 6 (I
owe this point to Tony Long).
101. Allen 1994, 42 prints poluˆnqeoj ¹rhi, taking fÔlla as the subject and fÔei as intransi-
tive, a solution I find unconvincing (contrast Griffith 1975, 77). Taking ¹rh as subject we might
compare Horace’s almum / quae rapit hora diem (4.7.7–8): the transposition of “the flowery period of
spring” (for this meaning see Allen, op. cit.) into the destructive hour that snatches the nurturing day
away would be signalled by the Greco-Roman pun ¹rh / hora. The mention of Gratiae and nymphs
dancing in a springtime exuberance (5–6) could promote a reference to Greek Horai, imagined as
dancing goddesses of youth, beauty, and spring. Note that Horace is the first Roman poet to use
the Graecism hora = season (c. 1.12.16 etc.). Mimnermus could have taught Horace not less than
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™meØj d' oو te fÔlla fÔei poluˆnqemoj ¹rh

êaroj : : :

This association of ideas and texts enables Horace to write an extraordinary blend
of springtime poem and meditation on death.
But Simonides offered a more complex reuse of the topic: precisely the insis-
tence on âlpÐj may well be Simonides’ personal contribution to this evergreen. 102
When the elegiac fragment formally quoting Iliad 6.146 was known only through
Stobaeus, a majority of scholars claimed for it either a place in the remains of
Semonides of Amorgos or an attribution to some post-Simonidean elegist. This
has not clarified the relationship to Mimnermus. If the text is by Semonides, then
Mimnermus should be later, and possibly the imitator. If it is a later secondary
byproduct, much of its appeal vanishes.
But the two texts make more sense if Mimnermus is the earlier, and the other
one not just an echo but a critical response. This has been sensibly observed by
Thomas Hubbard in a paper that seeks to subvert the chronology of Semonides.
Hubbard accepts Semonidean authorship, quoting the fragment 103 as “29 Diehl,”
and starts from his new sixth century dating of Semonides, writing before the
publication of POxy 3965. Now, as I said, the new papyrus makes it evident that
lines 6–12 of old fr. 29 D are by the Cean and very likely that 1–5 are by the same
author. But Hubbard’s observations are even more pertinent if the elegiacs are
by Simonides, not Semonides. As a preparatory stage we may note that Simonides
is known for (1) his explicit references to Homer, (2) the habit of labeling Homer
“the Chian,” (3) intertextual references to Mimnermus, and (4) the habit of citing
authorities before analyzing their wisdom.104

four possible implications of the Greek word (“¹rh is used in perhaps four overlapping senses in this
poem” Griffith 1975, 86 n. 34).
102. Note also, in Horatian lyric, 2.16.17, quid brevi fortes iaculamur aevo?, with Nisbet-
Hubbard ad loc. (who reject the attractive interpretation “deriving confidence from our short lives,”
and quote, among other parallels, Sim. 520.1ff.); 1.4.15, vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare
longam; Davis 1990, 155–60; 2.11.11–12, aeternis minorem / consiliis animum fatigas. Compare, in
Simonidean lyric, PMG 542.22–23 (“Therefore I will not waste my allotted span / of life in vain
and insubstantial hope, / trying to find what is not possible : : : ,” tr. West 1993b); PMG 615.
103. Already in 1990 Pellizer-Tedeschi, in their edition of Semonides of Amorgos, had moved
fr. 85 Bergk = 29 Diehl to the spuria; they had early news about the forthcoming Simonides in the
1992 POxy.
According to Babut 1971, 23 n. 36, and Pellizer 1976, Werner Jäger had claimed Bergk’s
attribution of the fragment to Semonides of Amorgos as the best of philological contributions ever
made. This strange idea (which prompts even the title of Pellizer 1976) is not supported by the
German first edition of Paideia, where there is no superlative and the attribution is simply viewed as
a convincing starting point. Perhaps the English, French, and Italian versions are all misleading. The
debate on the Stobaeus fragment is superseded by the papyrus, but there is no reason to be dismissive
about those who had claimed Semonides of Amorgos as the author.
104. (1) Besides the new papyrus, fr. eleg. 20.14 and 19.1–2 W, note PMG 59; (2) Plut. vit. et
poes. Hom. 2.1 p. 7 Kindstrand (rejected by Page, PMG 652 (v), because he attributed to Semonides
of Amorgos the Stobaeus excerpt we are discussing); (3) Sider 1996; (4) see PMG 542 (Pittakos);
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 37

Moreover, Hubbard notes that Mimnermus’ piece is much more uniform

than “fr. 29 D”; “fatalistic and pessimistic” (Hubbard 1994, 192), Mimnermus
has no positive lesson to develop: no leaves are growing again in this elegy.105
The exhortation to be “gratifying one’s soul” in “fr. 29 D” gives a new twist
to the regular pattern of Mimnermus. And the striking criticism of 19.3–4
W, “very few mortals, after listening to this dictum, have understood its full
meaning,” is much more apt if the Homeric tag has been repeated by other
poets and bandied about but not rightly interpreted—that is, if the author is
reacting to Mimnermus’ appropriation of the same tag (Hubbard 1994, 192–93).
In correspondence with this increasing tendency to inwardness and reflexivity, I
discern in Simonides vis-à-vis Mimnermus an increase in metaphoric and abstract
language: the poluˆnqemoj season of spring (Mimn. 2.1 W = A) reappears as
Šnqoj polu raton, but of youth (Sim. 20.5 W); the activity of nature that
physically fÔei fÔlla in Homer and Mimnermus becomes a mental “growth”
of young expectations: (19.5 W) âlpÈj : : : âmfÔetai.
Now we can assume that the Roman poet was aware of both Simonides’
and Mimnermus’ reworking of the original Homeric “lives/leaves.”106 A leaf,
so to say, was taken from all those Greek books. Horace 4.7 as a whole is very
dependent on Mimnermus’ gloomy elegy, but the role of hope and expectation and
the admonition to enjoy show that Simonides’ contribution has been assimilated.
The situation again shows the problem of reading Horace not against a single
model, but against a whole recession of models linked by a continuous tradition.
Even metrical form supports the connection with elegy: 4.7, with its rare epodic
form, comes as close as possible to the elegiacs of Mimnermus and Simonides.107

When we discuss the presence of allusions in Horace to Pindaric lyric we
easily get used to ambiguities and shifts.108 Ambiguous are, also, the “economic”

579 (Hesiod); 581 (Cleobulus), and West ap. Parsons 1992, 43. See also Rösler 1990, 233; Oates
1932, 85–86. Mulroy 1992, 207–208, writing before the new Simonides, is a remarkable assessment.
105. For another correction of Mimnermus’ pessimism by a contemporary of Simonides, note the
Pindaric texts discussed by Bona 1988, 5–6; Segal, 1976, 71–76.
106. On Mimnermus and Homer see Griffith 1975.
107. As Cataudella noted (1928, 230).
108. Ambiguities are legion. 4.2 is both about the unlikely task of imitating Pindar and an
actual imitation of Pindar. The swan simile distances Pindar from Horace, yet Horace had been
metamorphosed into a swan by the time of 2.20, and the bee simile is actually a Pindaric alternative
(Davis 1991, 136–37; Putnam 1986, 55–56) to the high-flying bird—so the point is probably that the
swan is Pindar’s Horace, Horace being swept away by the dangerous vis of the model, while the
bee is Horace’s Pindar, Pindar as appropriated through a tradition of reduction and miniaturization,
inclusive of Callimachus’ cicadae (Aitia 1.32 Pf.) and holy bees (hymn. Apoll. 110)—and Simonides’
bees? Some traces of a bee simile in Simonides have been interpreted as a competitive model for
4.2.27–32 (Oates 1932, 98–100; Waszink 1979, 117 n. 18). Wilson 1980, 102 n. 17, quotes the
schol. on Pind. Nem. 3.76–79, where the idea of ponos, laboriousness—absent in the poetic text—is
38   Volume 15 / No. 1 / April 1996

statuses of Pindar and Simonides. “The disproportionate praise they appeared to

lavish on wealth in an age when it was becoming intellectually respectable to
praise poverty”109 was bound to produce tensions as Horace started to confront
the conventions of choral lyric.
Simonides’ renown—easily accessible for us through the generous research
of Bell (1978)—centers on poetry for cash, the outspoken “trade of lyric.” Of
course this is not just from Simonides’ text, but the effect of an interplay among
conventions of praise or self-representation, biographical information, anecdotal
lore, and the competitive references (true or inferred) to Simonides by other
authors. Pindar’s position depends on a different mix of proud self-references,
images of patronage, and expectations about the social role of a Theban lyric
Both constructions can be (and sometimes actually were) reversed: Simonides
can be “unmasked” as an Aristippean wise man, and it is not a coincidence that
some of his sayings and anecdotes are also found under Aristippos’ name. One
need hardly repeat the fundamental study of Traina (1994) to comprehend the
importance of Aristippos for Horace’s late career. Pindar’s stance of equality and
autonomy can be undermined as lofty hypocrisy (cf. ancient interpretations of
Nemean 5.1–2), with all his talk of the right use of money, “traffic in praise,”
autonomy of poetic values, and aristocratic exchange. 110 So the two masters
of praise poetry become involved in a role-playing game that becomes highly
significant for Horace’s Book 4. How do we relate this confrontation with past
and foreign models of “poet with patron” to Horace’s position as an Augustan—a
Recent writing on patronage and Augustan poetry has relied too much on
the assumption that the system “worked” by itself, as separated from discourses
“about” patronage: as if patronage could exist as “the real thing” without being
affected by the discourses that construct, contest, and differentiate forms of pa-
tronage. But in fact the confident tone of the poetic voice in Book 4 must be
more of a self-fulfilling discourse (and not without its ironies) than the reflec-
tion of a ready-made equilibrium. For instance, Book 4 displaces the dynamic
equilibrium set up by Books 1–3 of the Odes: the centrality of Augustus requires
a new orientation and promotes references to poetic models that require new
negotiations—Pindar the victory singer, Simonides’ political and “panhellenic”

emphasized: this reference is, I think, a breakthrough, since it shows that the Pindaric image of the
bee has been alienated and filtered through Alexandrian ideals. Hubbard 1995, 221 and Führer 1992,
256f. are also helpful on the different images of the poetic bee; the whole approach of Nagy 1994
(“copies and models”) deserves attention. Compare the Sapphic subtext of 4.1, where the initial
move of a dialogue with Aphrodite—a gesture towards Sappho 1—is eventually substituted by a
reference to a statue of Venus—a “copy” of the famous Sapphic epiphany of Aphrodite. So Pindaric
influence is active but continuously renegotiated with the help of other models. We can expect a
complex use of Simonides as well.
109. Slater 1972, 234.
110. See the different approaches of Lefkowitz 1981, 49 ff..; Kurke 1991, passim.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 39

celebrations, Theocritus’ court poetry. Simultaneously, the eclipse of Maecenas111

creates a gap in the previous set of references. The presence of a new “Augustan
aristocracy” interferes with this situation and brings on new laudandi for a poet
who does not rely any more on the atmosphere of “friendship” sustained for most
aristocratic addressees in Books 1–3. Most important, the basic “institution” of
Horatian lyric in the tribiblos, the “Greco-Roman,” “realistic-idealized” sympo-
sion, is transformed and reduced throughout Book 4: 112 the private dimension of
sympotic poetry is now regularly oriented towards the reception of “public,” even
national, praise for Augustus. Last but not least, and easy for us to minimize,
the competition with contemporary Greek praise poetry for the Roman Greats
contributes to this dynamics. These factors of instability set the stage for the
new confrontation with Simonides, with Pindar, and with Alexandrian poets who
deftly construct their belatedness against the foil of early classical lyric.
We are left with three points that could stimulate further discussion. (1)
Horace’s approach to the poetic tradition: the Roman poet is able to glance
across whole genealogies of models, without necessarily making a choice, but
making the invocation of several predecessors, already linked in a tradition,
relevant to his new text. The dynamics of 4.6 unites and contrasts Homer, Pindar,
Simonides, and Vergil. 4.7 features a dialogue of Horace, Homer, Mimnermus,
and Simonides. 4.8 and 9 use Theocritus’ encomiastic poetry as a prism oriented
towards Pindaric and Simonidean origins. The oscillation in modern criticism
between an “Alexandrian” and a “classicizing” Horace could be better refocused
by constructing a complex model of intertextuality, e.g., “Pindar” plus “the Pindar
in Callimachus,” “Simonides” plus “the Simonides in Theocritus.”113 (2) The
dominating influence of Pindar in Book 4 could be a part of a richer picture of
influence, now difficult to reconstruct since all we have is the four Pindaric books
of epinicia—not necessarily the only (and not even the most) widely read choral
lyric in antiquity—plus scraps of various genres which repay further scrutiny. (3)
The reuse of early-classical praise poetry includes references to social constructs
and cultural models of patronage, gift exchange, and poetic addressee. They
are important in Augustan lyric precisely because they are felt as distant and
impossible to recreate, and they become a part of Horace’s deft and often ironical
negotiations with the problem of being a lyric poet in Augustan Rome.

111. I am referring to the weak presence of Maecenas as addressee in Book 4, not to the competing
political scenarios that can be indicated to “motivate” this textual reality.
112. Oswyn Murray’s study of Horatian symposia (1985), centered on Books 1–3, is indispensable
reading to understand the problems of Book 4.
113. The idea that Greek masters are subject to their own influences too is an important focus
in the self-presentation of ep. 1.19.34 (Libera per vacuum : : : princeps : : : non aliena : : : “I was
the first to imitate and transform Archilochus: : : : Sappho and Alcaeus appropriated Archilochus
too : : :”). Cf. Bryson 1984, 154 on the importance of Poussin to Ingres (“Poussin’s urgent gesturing
toward Antiquity establishes that he, too, is a latecomer on whom the burden of the past gravely
40   Volume 15 / No. 1 / April 1996



The choice of models for poetic praise and immortality in the final section of
4.8 can be discussed from different angles. The similarity with the list Pollux-
Hercules-Bacchus-Romulus at c. 3.3.9–16 points to a shared area of Augustan
ideology. Pasquali and others have discussed the link with the position of Augustus
between man and god and indicated philosophical affiliations of these exempla.114
In fact the common factor seems to be that Romulus, Aeacus, the Dioscuri,
Hercules, and Bacchus were all born as “demigods”—from a mortal woman and a
god—and eventually became recipients of divine honors (compare Augustus, son
of a divus and looking forward to the status of a Roman divus). Yet it is important
to pay attention to the special frame of 4.8. Here Horace is saying that poetry
“consecrates” and “promotes to heavenly bliss” those (half)gods because they are
worthy of praise. It is important to understand that this is no euhemerism (if it were,
there would be embarrassing implications for Augustus: see Ov. Am. 3.8.51–52;
E.P. 4.8.55).115
Here it is useful to keep an eye on Simonides’ Plataea and its continuation
in Theocritus 16. The idea was “a mortal bard, Homer, made lasting the mortal,
and short-lived, ‘half-gods’ of the Trojan war.”116 Horace caps this thought:
even immortal “half-gods” need poetry in order to be consecrated, as virtue and
deed need word and fame in order to be acknowledged. So the normal metaphor of
choral lyric—poetry saves one from Hades, from darkness and oblivion—receives
a new slant: those laudandi were actually spared for a godlike afterlife, accessible
to humans through poetry.
From this angle, it becomes important to pay attention to poetic sources.
In a context where the thought is “poetry immortalizes even the immortals,”
intertextuality carries the burden of proof: the formal markers of allusion “prove”
their content, because if poetry was able to overcome death and spread devotion,
then the very act of recalling past poetic utterances has a self-fulfilling function—
just as the final line, Liber vota bonos ducit ad exitus, “carries through” Dionysiac
protection and rounds off the poem. Poetic memory becomes self-reflexive if the
argument says “poetry is a lasting memorial of praise.”117

114. Pasquali 1964, 684–87.

115. La Penna 1963, 144 has a useful warning against euhemeristic implications in 4.8. Contrast
Lyne 1995, 211–12.
116. The Iliad presupposes a divine machination whose goal is the elimination of a whole
generation of “half-gods” from the earth (see e.g., Scodel 1982; Slatkin 1991, 121): the poem can be
viewed as a remuneration for its doomed heroes. On the paradigm of heroic “mors immatura” in
Simonides’ Threnoi see PMG 523.
117. Note the parallel technique analysed by Sider 1996 in Horace’s Ars (the illustrandum is
“the prudent modification of Greek sources,” the illustrans a famous Greek image modified by
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 41

This reading strategy is clearly useful for the example of Romulus (22–24).
The context shows that we are meant to think of Romulus’ apotheosis. This event
was famously endorsed in Roman culture by the epic poem of Ennius, the praise
singer who had been indicated two lines above as the bard of Scipio’s victories
(above, §6). Mention of Ilia and Mavors as the parents is enough to show that
Ennius’ poetic version is being selected.118 The function of poetry is important
here, because Romulus’ upwards journey had never been an article of faith for
the Romans: there is no cult of the founder in Rome, the episode of Romulus’
disappearance was often regarded as a political plot, and the identification with
Quirinus was in need of much support from the Julians. Quid foret Romulus
without the Annales, indeed.119
The choice of Hercules, the Tyndaridae, and Dionysus seems less promising,
since they are such universal divinities and c. 3.3 offers a standard parallel. I
mention as a coincidence another shared feature: they are the recipients of the
only extant Theocritean hymns (22: Dioscuri, 24: Herakles, 26: Dionysus). Here
we are meant to think primarily of religious poetry, not of epic or encomiastic
poetry but of cult hymns, paeans, and dithyrambs. The lines on Castor and Pollux,
clarum Tyndaridae sidus ab infimis / quassas eripiunt aequoribus ratis (4.8.31–
32), are in fact a reworking of Theocritus 22, ÍmeØj ge kaÈ âk buqoÜ élkete n¨aj
(17). It is worth noting that this poem seems to be indebted to early classical
lyric. Theocritus creates a famous conundrum when he ends his praise of the
Dioscuri by saying “Homer granted you glory, O Lords, singing of the Trojan
battles and of Achilles” (22.215–20). Homer is the one who “hymns” (22.219)
his heroes, like the Homer who is paralleled with Simonides at 16.50ff.; now
Theocritus, as a modern poet of the Dioscuri, parallels himself with Homer. But
if the poet of the Iliad is meant—and lines 216–20 mention Helen, Menelaos,
the town of Priam, the Achaean ships, Iliadic battles, and Achilles—a reader
conversant with the model will quickly remember that the Tyndaridae are not
only not hymned there, they happen to be dead and buried (Il. 3.243–44). Perhaps
Theocritus is merging Homer’s text with some more recent model, just as he sees
Homer through Simonides’ Plataea in Idyll 16. And the periphrasis for Homer,
XØoj ‚oidìj, has, as we saw,120 Simonidean credentials. In fact no other lyric
poet is more closely associated with the Dioscuri than Simonides. The action
of Plataea opens with a bold vision of the twins riding in the forefront of the
Spartan army (fr. eleg. 11.30–31 W2 ).121 And the Dioscuri have a major role
in the most notorious anecdote of Simonides’ career: the Skopadai had said,
“go ask half your wages of the Twins, since you extol them on a fifty percent

118. Suerbaum 1968, 228–29 offers a precise analysis.

119. Note also epigr. IV Vahlen, where Scipio is boldly introduced as the only mortal who could
claim to trespass heaven’s gate.
120. Supra, n. 104.
121. In Menelaos’ company: for Theocritus’ interests in Spartan cults see Idyll 18, with Hunter
42   Volume 15 / No. 1 / April 1996

basis with us,” and the divine saviors spared the poet from the (literal) fall
of that aristocratic house.122 Nothing can be proved, but the impression is that
Horace, here and elsewhere, uses Alexandrian models to evoke a recession of
earlier, especially lyric, praise poems. This is also true of Hercules’ promotion to
Heaven, : : : sic Iovis interest / optatis epulis impiger Hercules (29–30), where
the wording resonates with Theocritus’ Encomium for Ptolemy (17.22–23) but
also with a Pindaric and Homeric tradition.123 The promotion of Ptolemaios from
mortal, i.e., not a god (17.1–2) to (by implication) half-god (17 end) provides 4.8
with a dynamic model of discourse about poetry promoting—as the poem itself
unfolds—heroes to Heaven. Again, the continuity of poetic traditions of praise
proves the content: “poetry provides immortality.”124
In this sequence of examples, Aeacus is clearly “the odd man out,”125 and
his introduction raises questions.
ereptum Stygiis fluctibus Aeacum
virtus et favor et lingua potentium
vatum divitibus consecrat insulis.

Here the language of “snatching from Hades” has ample parallels in Greek
praise poetry and in Horatian reflections of that tradition,126 but the meaning cannot
be simply “poetry consecrates Aeacus to immortal renown and, yes, immortality.”
Aeacus is not simply a dead hero, he is bound fast to the underworld because his
fame is that of a Judge of the Dead; he is normally “upgraded” to an infernal
appointment,127 not to the Isles of Bliss. Horace’s Aeacus is in charge of the
dead at 2.3.22, so ereptum here must have its full force. The power of poetry
can dislodge a hero from the place where mainstream opinion locates him.
This instance of a heaven-bound trip must be connected with some famous
cases of hell-bound traffic in Book 4 of the Odes, especially in the preceding poem,
4.7. Horace has Hippolytus forever assigned to the underworld (25–26 infernis
neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum / liberat Hippolytum) against the testimonies
of Callimachus and Vergil.128 The idea “we have to die just like good king Ancus”

122. On the story and its origin (?) in Simonides’ poetry see PMG 510; Molyneux 1971; Slater
1972; Molyneux 1992, 124–26. For actual mentions of the Dioscuri in the remains cf. PMG 509.
Stories about Simonides’ miraculous escapes from danger have often been thought relevant to Hor.
c. 2.13 and 3.4.25–28.
123. Supra, §4. Like the Dioscuri (on which see e.g., Young 1993), Herakles has a crucial role
in victory poems as a mediator between gods and men, and particularly as a counterpart of the
homecoming winner who is the standard laudandus.
124. On Horace’s use of Pindar’s Olympian 2 see below.
125. Harrison 1990, 41; cf. Lyne 1995, 212, “the unexpected Aeacus.”
126. Parallels include c. 4.2.23–24 (Pindar’s dirges) nigroque / invidet Orco.
127. On the different traditions see Nisbet-Hubbard 1978, 214–15.
128. Call. fr. 190 Pf.; Verg. Aen. 7.765–80. Note also Prometheus in the underworld at c. 2.18.35.
: Simonides in Book 4 of Horace’s Odes 43

(15) is a topos,129 but when Horace finds a place for pius Aeneas in the exemplum
of dead kings from the good old days, the effect is hardly “a compliment to Virgil’s
poem, recently published.”130 On the contrary, Horace is asserting the power of his
lyric to appropriate deviant traditions and create its own appointments to Heaven
and Hell, for the lyric claim to immortality cannot be simply a reflex of epic
“truths.” An important precedent for this strategy is Pindar’s Olympian 2. Pindar
moves from praise of the victor’s liberality, to immortality conferred by song, and
then—more boldly—to immortal life and eschatology. The movement from poetic
to “actual” immortality is concretized in the exemplum of Achilles—a gloomy
ghost in Hades according to Homer,131 a hero of the White Island according to
other poets, but now for Pindar the model of a blessed life in the Happy Islands.
It is important to see that Pindar corrects Homer here: the bold refashioning of
the epic tradition shows that poetry can create an afterlife—just as lyric can define
a new fame for the addressee of Olympian 2.132 So Horace is using a Pindaric
strategy: first an addressee (Censorinus), then poetry as provider of lasting fame
(Scipio), and finally as a source of immortality (Aeacus). But where does Aeacus
come from?
The unanimity of references to Pindar by Horatian interpreters is influenced
not only by the wealth of Pindaric sources for the whole ode,133 but also, and
especially, by the notorious vested interest in Aeacus that is apparent in Pindar’s
epinicia. His role of umpire for the gods is clearly the effect of a laudatory
intention on the poet’s part, and Pindar’s link with Aegina acts as a catalyst.134 Yet
the distribution of the evidence may be fallacious. What we have of Pindar about
Aeacus is not meager, and there is no trace of the idea that Aeacus is assigned to
the Isles. On the other hand, we have almost nothing of other lyric poets who
might be relevant to this innovation. And “innovation” by a creative poet must be
what is interesting to Horace here: “the reader is surely invited to remember a
particular Greek poetic source, very likely one lost to us.”135

129. Based on Lucr. 3.1025, where Lucretius was appropriating Ennius (ann. 137 Sk.) in a context
to be contrasted with Ennian afterlife ideology. This gives additional point to the Horatian reference
to Vergil (see the next note).
130. Quinn 1980, 312: one would rather expect a place for Aeneas in the exempla of poetic
immortality at 4.8, cf. Aen. 12.794–95, Indigetem Aenean scis ipsa et scire fateris / deberi caelo
fatisque ad sidera tolli.
131. On the importance of the Homeric model see Solmsen 1982.
132. So Nisetich 1988 (whose interpretation I appropriate), especially 16–17, “a poet who has
rescued Achilles from the gloom of Hades and the twilight of Leuce should have no difficulty putting
Theron’s name beyond the reach of oblivion.”
133. See especially Suerbaum 1968, 221 (Pindar is the model) with nn. 648 and 649 (on a more
cautious note).
134. See especially Köhnken 1975; Privitera 1982, xxix–xxxii, 118–20, 230–32; Hubbard 1987,
8 with n. 11; Cole 1993, 84–85 with n. 25.
135. Harrison 1990, 41 (with good points against alternative solutions, such as a confusion of
Aeacus and Rhadamanthys: as we saw, the “hell-heaven traffic” in Horatian lyric is never careless or
44   Volume 15 / No. 1 / April 1996

If an alternative guess can be made, Simonides is a good candidate. The

new fragments show this poet to be a devotee of the Isles and a good match for
Pindar’s initiatives in Olympian 2. He sent Achilles to Elysium (PMG 558) and,
while Pindar sent Peleus, Cadmos, and Achilles himself to the Isles, he took the
bold step of reserving the Isles for his patron Echecratidas(?) and presumably
for himself.136 And he was not short of motivations for praising the Thessalian-
Aeginetan hero Aeacus. Narratives of the Persian wars make much of Aeacus’
role at Salamis: a ship was sent to fetch “him” from Aegina (Herod. 8.64), and
a poetically colored source shows him appearing in the mist during the battle
(Plut. Them. 15.1).137 Otherwise, Simonides’ activity in Thessaly could be the
link: an interest in genealogies from Aeacus and Achilles seems likely for an
aristocracy of conservative horsemen. The Aleaudai from Larissa, the Skopadai
from Krannon, or the Echecratidai from Pharsalus138 were in a position to enjoy
stories about Blessed Aeacus. Be that as it may, it is important to keep in mind
that the selection of immortals at the close of 4.8 must concern not just the
immortalizing power of poetry, but specifically the capacity of lyric poetry to
praise its own status as immortalizing medium.
Having risked more than once the danger of claiming too much for inaccessi-
ble models, I feel I have to stop with a Horatian warning:
est et fideli tuta silentio

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