Horatius auctor: Ideological self-fashioning in the Augustan age
Buczek, Christopher Richard
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Auctoritas is a term most commonly associated in Roman society with the measure of one's power to influence. Politicians and other esteemed citizens usually possessed this quality. In this report, I equate the concept of auctoritas on a literary level, using the poet Horace as an example. An auctor is literally a creator and an initiator. Horace, writing during the turmoil of the late Roman Republic and the early years of the emperor Augustus' reign, composes a specific style of political poetry that encompasses the changing times. He creates his own ideology by utilizing the traditional Roman virtues of clementia, virtus, iustitia , and pietas , and applying them to his works. Also, Horace reiterates himself continuously as a vates, an inspired bard who will instruct the Roman citizens on how to lead a more productive life and guide them away from the impurities that had characterized the late Republican morality. The world ages myth and its degeneration motif figures prominently in parts of the dissertation. The highly figurative language of Epodes 7 and 16, and also Ode 3.6, is analyzed with respect to various ancient interpretations of that story. Also, Horace's debt to earlier poets, especially the Hellenistic author Callimachus, is an important underlying theme. In all accounts, Horace fashions his ideology to shape his point of view at every stage of the ever-changing historical atmosphere. As Augustus becomes more established in his rule, Horace aligns himself more to the emperor. In conclusion, Horace demonstrates that he was neither rebellious nor anti-social. His reflections and significance to the often-called "Golden Age" of Latin literature are essential to our own understanding of the period. Through his auctoritas as a poet and a creator, and a measure of traditional Roman values, he was able to accomplish his objective. Horace's analogies attached themselves to a common ideological structure, whether or not they all can be determined as "Augustan" in nature; they definitely represent this unique "Horatian" perspective. His mastery of the Latin language and ability to adapt it to so many genres and situations proves the validity of his literary auctoritas .