n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Ghostly guests and venomous snakes : traces of civil war in Horace, 2.8

Volume 54, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Not only is 2.8 Horace's final satire, but, dated to around 30 BCE, it was published at a watershed moment in Roman, and indeed world, politics - the aftermath of the Battle of Actium. This article argues that both the poem's literary position as Horace's ultimate satire, and its chronological position at the end of an epoch are significant for our understanding of it. 2.8 reviews and reflects not only on much of Horace's prior writing, but also on the preceding ten to fifteen years of civil war. It is suggested that issues of defeat and death (as well as victory and vengeance), not often considered relevant for this 'comedy of manners', provide a powerful subtext to the satire, and that some of the figures that appear at the banquet described in 2.8 are ghosts from the remote and, in some cases, recent past.

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