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Ancient LettersClassical and Late Antique Epistolography$
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Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.001.0001

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Didacticism and Epistolarity in Horace's Epistles 1

Didacticism and Epistolarity in Horace's Epistles 1

(p.107) 4 Didacticism and Epistolarity in Horace's Epistles 1
Ancient Letters

A. D. Morrison

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates how the ‘epistolarity’, the ‘letteriness’ of Horace's Epistles relates to and complements the didactic, instructive element of the book and vice versa. Horace is the first poet to compose or construct a book of verse-letters, a dedicated poetry-book in epistolary form, Epistles book 1 (in 20/19 BC). Epistles 1 also plays an important role in the development of ancient philosophical epistolography. It adapts, in part, the letters of Epicurus, and itself forms a model (along with those same letters of Epicurus) for Seneca's letters to Lucilius, but it also engages with Lucretius' philosophical didactic poem, the De Rerum Natura, as well as the figure and methods of the archetypal ancient philosopher, Socrates. In Epistles 1 Horace explicitly employs what can be usefully described as the ‘didactic mode’: the collection of letters contains very many imperatives, and other ‘imperatival expressions’, directing, instructing, and exhorting its internal addressees in various ways. In various parts of the different epistles, then, ‘Horace’, the narrator, seems to be teaching or advising his addressees.

Keywords:   Horace, Epistles 1, didactism, epistolarity, ancient letters, epistles, poetry-book, epistolary markers, De Rerum Natura

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