Classical Antiquity 22 (1):55-91 (2003)

Horace's first book of Satires is his poetic debut, and has traditionally been read as a reliable account of the poet's coming of age and arrival in society. Recently, scholars have taken a more skeptical view of the authenticity of this account and have argued that Horace's self-portrait is generically determined, with the author invisible behind a composite of comic stereotypes. Nonetheless, this collection of casual and scattered fragments can, according to a less literal and more flexible definition of autobiography, be regarded as a coherent life history or self-presentation. This paper attempts to rehabilitate and expand the notion of the autobiographical in Satires I, and indeed to treat autobiography as the driving impulse of the book. Close readings of individual passages, some of them more overtly autobiographical than others, reveal striking patterns in the telling of this life-story, with special prominence given to the elements of self-preservation, socialization, and development of speech. Horace repeatedly replays various formative acts of emergence - from speechlessness, from his birthplace, from Philippi - even though these are referred to only indirectly. Critical events that are apparently underplayed in the book - Horace's official pardoning and his rebirth as a civil servant - are signaled instead by means of metaphor, displaced activity, or moral advice; they can also be found concealed beneath the trivial-seeming or circumstantial incidents Horace records from his daily life. As for the more obviously autobiographical highlights of the book - Horace's moral lessons at his father's knee or his first interview with Maecenas - these are not just isolated "moments," but can be shown to conflate an entire aspect of the poet's development, linguistic, moral, or social, in all its different stages. Other passages, apparently dealing with non-personal subjects - human behavior, the progress of civilization, Roman history, or the history of satire - can also be read as narratives of Horace's own civilizing process.
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DOI 10.1525/ca.2003.22.1.55
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References found in this work BETA

A History of Autobiography in Antiquity.T. M. Knox, Georg Misch & E. W. Dickes - 1951 - Philosophical Quarterly 1 (4):380.
Self-Scrutiny and Self-Transformation in Seneca's Letters.Catharine Edwards - 2008 - In John G. Fitch (ed.), Seneca. Oxford University Press.
Horace.Edmund T. Silk & Eduard Fraenkel - 1959 - American Journal of Philology 80 (3):316.
Only a Wet Dream? Hope and Skepticism in Horace, Satire 1.5.Kenneth J. Reckford - 1999 - American Journal of Philology 120 (4):525-554.

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