This innovative study explores selected odes and epistles by the late-first-century poet Horace in light of modern anthropological and literary theory. Phebe Lowell Bowditch looks in particular at how the relationship between Horace and his patron Maecenas is reflected in these poems' themes and rhetorical figures. Using anthropological studies on gift exchange, she uncovers an implicit economic dynamic in these poems and skillfully challenges standard views on literary patronage in this period. Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage provides a striking new understanding of Horace's poems and the Roman system of patronage, and also demonstrates the relevance of New Historicist and Marxist critical paradigms for Roman studies.
In addition to incorporating anthropological and sociological perspectives, Bowditch's theoretical approach makes use of concepts drawn from linguistics, deconstruction, and the work of Michel Foucault. She weaves together these ideas in an original approach to Horace's use of golden age imagery, his language concerning public gifts or munera, his metaphors of sacrifice, and the rhetoric of class and status found in these poems.
Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage represents an original approach to central issues and questions in the study of Latin literature, and sheds new light on our understanding of Roman society in general.
Note on Translation
Gladiatorial Imagery: The Rhetoric of Expenditure
Recent Studies of Horace and Literary Patronage
Autonomy and the Discursive Conventions of Patronage
PART ONE: The Gift Economy of Patronage
Poetry and the Marketplace
The Embedded Economy of Rome
Gift and Delay in the Horatian Chronology
PART TWO: Tragic History, Lyric Expiation, and the Gift of Sacrifice
Pollio’s History and the Purification of Ritual Violence: Odes 2.1
Ritual Devotio and the Lyric Curse: Odes 2.13
The Roman Odes and Tragic Sacrifice
The Gift of Ideology
PART THREE: The Gifts of the Golden Age: Land, Debt, and Aesthetic Surplus
Land, Otium, Art: Eclogue 1
Gratia and the Poetics of Excess: Eclogue 4
The Man Protesteth Too Much: Satires 2.6
The Cornucopia and Hermeneutic Abundance: Odes 1.17
PART FOUR: From Patron to Friend: Epistolary Refashioning and the Economics of Refusal
Dyadic Disequilibrium and the Alternation of Debt: Epistles 1.1
The Duplicitous Speaker of Epistles 1.7
The Economics of Social Inscription
PART FIVE: The Epistolary Farm and the Status Implications of Epicurean Ataraxia
Pastoral and Privation
The Economy of Otium and the Material Conditions of the Aequus Animus: Epistles 1.14
The Tenuis Imago, or the Vulnerability of an Image: Epistles 1.16
Conclusion: The Gift and the Reading Community
Phebe Lowell Bowditch is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Oregon.
"In this very substantial contribution to Horatian scholarship, Bowditch focuses on the Roman patronage system, of which Horace was a notable beneficiary. Passing over the early years of the 30s BCE, when Maecenas first befriended Horace and introduced him into his privileged circle of political and literary associates in Rome, Bowditch concentrates on the decisive step in the relationship of the two when Maecenas gave Horace the Sabine Farm in the hill region beyond Tibur (modern Tivoli). Bowditch helps us view the complex significance of this 'gift' through a dazzling array of theoretical material from modern anthropological research into Greek, Roman, and North American Indian prehistory, drawn also from the disputed views on Roman patronage and from postmodern theories about the roles of writer and audiences in literature. . . . Bowditch's versatile interpretations of these Epistles, the most ingenious contribution of this valuable study, will offer a challenge for some time to future readers and scholars."— William S. Anderson, author/editor of Why Horace? : A Collection of Interpretations