The epistolary addressee: A study of Horace's "Odes" and "Epistles"

Christopher L Trause, Fordham University


For Horace, the use of the epistolary addressee goes far beyond the fulfillment of a convention of genre. The figure of each addressee as portrayed by Horace represents a composite of personae where the poet draws his portrait both from reality, for he knows a recipient as friend, and from his creativity, for he has definite literary plans in addressing a specific work to him. An addressee's particular personality and perspective therefore play an important role in the crafting of a poem. Recipients, however, are not unique to the Epistles, but occur as well in the Odes. The two collections share not onLy this literary feature and structural trait, however, but also several common addressees. Horace's dual treatments of Tibullus, Quinctius Hirpinus, Torquatus, Aristius Fuscus, Iccius, and Maecenas, interconnected by similar motifs, verbal echoes, and parallel features, show us how the poet employs his addressee in both lyric and epistolary settings to formulate and articulate his poetry. As a result the development of theme in a work, and, for that matter, in the genre it represents, hinges upon Horace's presentation of his recipient and of the relationship between addressor and addressee. Reading the ode and epistle pairings in conjunction and recognizing the use of addressees as a principle of organization within both an individual poem and a collection of poems render a more complete illustration of Horace's technique of working out his own approaches, meditations, and productions in the dual role of poet and philosopher.

Subject Area

Classical studies|Ancient languages

Recommended Citation

Trause, Christopher L, "The epistolary addressee: A study of Horace's "Odes" and "Epistles"" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9816360.