Cover image for The complete Odes and Satires of Horace
The complete Odes and Satires of Horace
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Carmina. English
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvii, 353 pages ; 24 cm.
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PA6394 .A54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Horace has long been revered as the supreme lyric poet of the Augustan Age. In his perceptive introduction to this translation of Horace's Odes and Satires, Sidney Alexander engagingly spells out how the poet expresses values and traditions that remain unchanged in the deepest strata of Italian character two thousand years later. Horace shares with Italians of today a distinctive delight in the senses, a fundamental irony, a passion for seizing the moment, and a view of religion as aesthetic experience rather than mystical exaltation--in many ways, as Alexander puts it, Horace is the quintessential Italian. The voice we hear in this graceful and carefully annotated translation is thus one that emerges with clarity and dignity from the heart of an unchanging Latin culture.

Alexander is an accomplished poet, novelist, biographer, and translator who has lived in Italy for more than thirty years. Translating a poet of such variety and vitality as Horace calls on all his literary abilities. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 bce), was born the son of a freed slave in southern rural Italy and rose to become one of the most celebrated poets in Rome and a confidante of the most powerful figures of the age, including Augustus Caesar. His poetry ranges over politics, the arts, religion, nature, philosophy, and love, reflecting both his intimacy with the high affairs of the Roman Empire and his love of a simple life in the Italian countryside. Alexander translates the diverse poems of the youthful Satires and the more mature Odes with freshness, accuracy, and charm, avoiding affectations of archaism or modernism. He responds to the challenge of rendering the complexities of Latin verse in English with literary sensitivity and a fine ear for the subtleties of poetic rhythm in both languages. This is a major translation of one of the greatest of classical poets by an acknowledged master of his craft.

Author Notes

Sidney Alexander is the author of fifteen books on Renaissance history and art, as well as novels, poetry, plays, and criticism. The American Literary Translators Association honored his critical edition of The Complete Poems of Michelangelo as the Outstanding Literary Translation of 1991, and his edition of Guicciardini's History of Italy (Princeton paperback) received the PEN Award for Translation in 1970. His other honors include the Maxwell Anderson Award for Dramatic Composition in Verse, and special recognition from the City of Florence for his numerous writings on figures of the Florentine Renaissance.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Alexander's translations join David Ferry's version of the Odes (LJ 1/98) and Peter Levi's biography (Horace: A Life, LJ 3/15/98) in a recent resurgence of interest in the great Roman poet. Friend and contemporary of Virgil and the Emperor Augustus, Horace was the embodiment of gentle irony and sophistication. Alexander, a poet, novelist, playwright, and Renaissance historian who has also translated Michelangelo and Guicciardini, sees Horace as the quintessential Italian. Alexander's translations are accurate yet vigorous and fluent, avoiding both archaisms and contemporary idioms. The accompanying introduction, textual notes, and bibliography are useful without being overwhelming. While it would have been nice if the Latin had been included on facing pages, as in Ferry's version, Alexander's is an attractive contribution.√ĄThomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Whether the Horace one imagines is the benign "clubman" or the politically savvy ex-soldier, son of an ex-slave, scholars know that he was Italian rather than a native of Rome. That orientation is the beginning for this provocative translation of poems that have fascinated English poets for 500 years. "Milton's mighty line" is Horatian, and Aphra Behn, Cowley, Cowper, Housman, Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, and Darryl Hine used or translated the odes. Alexander (dramatist, translator of Michelangelo's poems, and scholar of the Florentine Renaissance) emphasizes an English that recaptures some Italian syntax and sound. He also bravely slips in several non-Horation couplets. Alexander's very brief introduction dims this fascinating work, as do skimpy endnotes that deal with Roman history rather than translation, textual problems, metrics, or diction. The treasure here is the translations, which raise myriad questions about English and Italian poetics, translation methods, and the art of building lines "more lasting than bronze," as Horace put it. This new translation promises to be a grand adventure for the imaginations of graduates, undergraduates, and general readers still intrigued by Horace, who wanted to be remembered as the first to turn Aoelic verses to Italian meters. Recommended for college and large public collections. R. H. Solomon formerly, University of Alberta

Table of Contents

Richard Howard
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
Note to the Readerp. xxix
Book Ip. 3
Book IIp. 55
Book IIIp. 91
Book IVp. 151
Book Ip. 189
Book IIp. 245
Notes to Odesp. 317
Notes to Satiresp. 343
Bibliographyp. 353