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Horace's Odes

Richard Tarrant

Publication Date - 23 June 2020

ISBN: 9780195156768

272 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Readers of this book will gain an appreciation for the artistry of one of the finest lyric poets of all time.


Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature introduces individual works of Greek and Latin literature to readers who are approaching them for the first time. Each volume sets the work in its literary and historical context and aims to offer a balanced and engaging assessment of its content, artistry, and purpose. A brief survey of the influence of the work upon subsequent generations is included to demonstrate its enduring relevance and power. All quotations from the original are translated into English.

Horace's body of lyric poetry, the Odes, is one of the greatest achievements of Latin literature and a foundational text for the Western poetic tradition. These 103 exquisitely crafted poems speak in a distinctive voice -- usually detached, often ironic, always humane -- reflecting on the changing Roman world that Horace lived in and also on more universal themes of friendship, love, and mortality. In this book, Richard Tarrant introduces readers to the Odes by situating them in the context of Horace's career as a poet and by defining their relationship to earlier literature, Greek and Roman. Several poems have been freshly translated by the author; others appear in versions by Horace's best modern translators. A number of poems are analyzed in detail, illustrating Horace's range of subject matter and his characteristic techniques of form and structure. A substantial final chapter traces the reception of the Odes from Horace's own time to the present. Readers of this book will gain an appreciation for the artistry of one of the finest lyric poets of all time.


  • Provides fresh translations of several poems
  • Applies detailed literary analysis to select poems
  • Includes historical context for Horace's life and contemporaries

About the Author(s)

Richard Tarrant is Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, emeritus, at Harvard University.


"A superbly readable book.... Tarrant gets in abundant contextual information while keeping the tone easy; the close readings of two dozen or so poems that make up the core of the book are similarly effective." -- Greece & Rome

"This is a superb introduction to Horace's Odes.... Clear, expert orientation for newcomers and their guides is thus a valuable commodity, and Tarrant provides it in generous supply. There is good coverage: 66 of the 88 poems in Odes 1–3 and all the poems of book 4 receive some comment or discussion. Throughout the book there is an easy control of this disparate material, frequent, illuminating comparisons within and beyond the poems themselves, and a wealth of observations pointing to a deep familiarity with these poems.... His lucid and insightful book can be warmly recommended to this audience and to readers more familiar with the Odes as one of the best introductions now available." -- Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

    Editors' Foreword
    Preface and Acknowledgements
    Introduction: Reading the Odes Today

    1. Horace's Life

    2. Before the Odes

    3. To the Cool Grove: The Ascent to Lyric

    4. Odes 1-3: The Collection

    5. Three Odes

    6. Friendship and Advice

    7. Amatory Poems

    8. Political Poems

    9. After the Odes I: The Book of Epistles

    10. Lyric Revisited: The Carmen saeculare and the Fourth Book of Odes

    11. After the Odes II: The Literary Epistles

    12. Reception of the Odes: From Propertius to Seamus Heaney

    Further Reading
    Works Cited