Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.09.14

Ronnie Ancona, Horace: Selected Odes and Satire 1.9; with Teacher's Guide.   Wauconda:  Bolchazy-Carducci, 1999.  Pp. xxxii, 199; viii, 87.  ISBN 0-86516-416-9.  $19.00.  ISBN 0-86516-430-4.  $20.00 (teacher's guide).  

Reviewed by Shannon N. Byrne, Ball State University (
Word count: 3133 words

Ronnie Ancona (hereafter RA) wrote these books for high school students studying for the Advanced Placement Latin Literature Examination on Horace and for college students at the intermediate Latin level. The poems in this collection are those that constitute the syllabus of required readings for the AP Horace exam: twenty Odes (1.1, 5, 9, 11, 13, 22, 23, 24, 25, 37, 38; 2.3, 7, 10, 14; 3.1, 9, 13, 30; 4.7) and Satire 1.9. The first and main part of this review concentrates on the Student Text.

The book begins with a brief and straightforward introduction on Horace's life and writings (xiii-xviii), suitable for students with little or no background on the poet and his place in Roman society. The section on his writings includes information about Horace's predecessors in lyric poetry on which all teachers will want to elaborate, especially high school AP teachers, as students taking the AP Horace exam may be tested on the development of Latin lyric as a genre. There is an excellent cautionary section for first-time readers regarding Horace's "exploitation of the possibilities of the Latin language" (xviii) in which students are warned that word order in Horace is even more flexible than expected for Latin, and that the placement of words, whether or not they are grammatically connected, is often crucial for meaning. Teachers should spend time on this section.

The bibliography that follows is far more comprehensive than necessary, a point RA acknowledges (x-xi), and separately lists commentaries, general works, translations, reference works, and a few individual entries for all of the poems in this collection. RA's reason for presenting such a lengthy bibliography is to show students that scholars continue to develop fresh approaches to ancient literature. If ignored by teachers, the bibliography will go to waste. If teachers use the bibliography as RA intended and review the individual entries as each poem is read, then students will appreciate that Horace's poetry is a viable subject of debate and discussion (and so by extension classical studies).

Each poem begins with a brief introduction followed by the Latin text and a line-by-line vocabulary and commentary. The Latin text appears on odd-numbered pages with commentary and vocabulary at the bottom and continuing over to even-numbered pages. The meter for each poem is listed after the introduction. The Latin text contains no macrons, nor does the running vocabulary, as these are not used in the AP exam. Students are encouraged to determine vowel length through meter and translation, but if this fails the vocabulary in the glossary at the end of the book contains macrons.

The running vocabulary is inserted into the line-by-line commentary, which includes notes on grammatical, literary, and historical subjects. Each word or phrase in the vocabulary/commentary is in bold face, making it easy to find the word in question. The running vocabulary will greatly reduce the amount of time students spend looking up words, and any word that does not appear on the page with the Latin text can be found in the glossary.

The introductions provide a context or background for each poem "meant to be suggestive rather than constricting" (ix). These will give the students a good sense of a poem's content and key ideas to keep in mind while translating; e.g., for Ode 4.7, RA writes: "In this poem thoughts of spring give way to thoughts of death. Here Horace articulates, perhaps more powerfully than in any other poem of his, the difference between what time means for nature and what it means for humankind: the repeated, cyclical, motion of time versus the inexorable one-way progression of time from human birth to human death" (125). At times the introductions contain questions, as Ode 3.13: "This hymn to a spring celebrates the complexity of the site of poetic creativity. On the one hand, a hymn involving a proposed dedication, the poem also functions as vehicle for the poet's self-praise. How do humility and pride operate in the poem? What is gained and lost in the sacrifice of the kid to the spring? What, finally, is the relationship between the spring and the poet?" (115). These questions will prompt students to think about more than translation, a bonus for AP students who can expect to write an interpretive essay as part of the AP exam requirements.

The commentary includes information on various historical, mythological, and geographical subjects that appear in this collection. These notes will be useful but not overwhelming for students just beginning to learn about Roman history and culture. Students taking the AP Horace exam are expected to know the cultural, societal, and political context for the poems in the AP syllabus, and the commentary notes address these needs. I have only two very slight complaints here. For Sat. 1.9.11-12: O te, Bolane, cerebri felicem has fine grammatical explanations, but no note on Bolanus except that his identity is unknown; students will have to wait for class to learn that Horace refers to this man, whoever he was, because he was famous for his short temper and for speaking his mind, someone who therefore would have told the pest to go away without hesitation, which is what Horace cannot bring himself to do. I also noticed that RA tentatively identifies the Licinius of Ode 2.10 as Maecenas' brother-in-law, which is quite possible, and as "consul with Augustus in 23 B.C.E" (91), which is quite impossible.

The strength of an intermediate text lies in its grammatical notes, and for the most part RA does a fine job in this area. Students will find much assistance in the explanations in the commentary, especially on matters that do not appear often in practice readings of beginning texts, such as epexegetical infinitives and syncopated forms. There are numerous examples of very helpful notes, such as hoc identified as a one-word ablative of cause in Sat. 1.9.8; moliar and permutem as deliberative subjunctives in Ode 3.1.46 and 47; and diffugere as the dreaded alternate third person plural in Ode 4.7.1. I actually would like to have seen more notes of this sort. For instance, while some partitive genitives are explained (e.g., Ode 1.38.3; locorum with quo; Sat. 1.9.4, rerum with dulcissime), others are ignored, not all of which may be apparent to students; e.g., in Sat. 1.9.2, nescio quid meditans nugarum, the word nugarum is discussed in terms of Catullus 1.3-4 without mention that it is a partitive genitive with quid; likewise there is no note on the partitive genitive harum ... arborum at Ode 2.14.22, although the word it goes with (ulla) does not appear until line 24. The subjunctive in indirect question is noted for moretur in Ode 1.38.4, but not for moreris in Ode 2.3.23, or macerer in Ode 1.13.8. In Ode 1.1.13-14 the verb secet in line 14 is explained as a subjunctive in indirect command introduced by demoveas in line 13, "which functions here as verb of persuading" (24), and yet the subjunctive demoveas is not identified as being potential. In Ode 1.24.14 moderere is identified as the alternate form of modereris, which is helpful for students who have not seen this form in use, but there is nothing on the type of condition that calls for the word to be subjunctive, or even that it is a subjunctive. RA does suggest that teachers ask about the type of condition for this verb in the Teaching Text (see below), but a word of explanation might have been better in the Student Text for the implication it brings to the meaning.

Again, RA's notes are generally helpful in explaining tricky constructions or unusual word order, as in the case of Ode 1.22.13, where quale portentum is indicated as being the direct object of alit in line 14; and Ode 1.24.11, where the non ita creditum, which modifies Quintilium in line 12, is nicely explained: "i.e., not entrusted to you on the basis that the gods would return him if asked?" (58). But there is no note at Ode 1.13.13-15: non ... speres perpetuum dulcia barbare/laedentem oscula, where students might not see that perpetuum is subject accusative, with the infinitive understood, and is modified by laedentem. The words viro vir latius in Ode 3.1.9 also could have used a note. These are minor points that can and will be taken care of in class discussions, and they should not discourage the use of this book. RA's grammatical explanations are well defined in concise and easy to follow language. Horace, however, can be frustrating for intermediate Latin students, and a few more notes on grammar and syntax would have been welcome.

Notes in the commentary on style are especially good and will go a long way in guiding students through the intricacies of Horatian thought. For example, at Ode 1.23.11-12 tandem desine matrem/tempestiva sequi viro, RA points out that Horace often juxtaposes words in such a way that while they do not go together grammatically they still affect each other; desine matrem at first strikes the reader as "stop the mother"; sequi viro could convey the (ungrammatical) sense of "following a man" (55). For Ode 1.37.5 antehac nefas depromere Caecubum and 14 mentemque lymphatam Mareotico, RA explains that the lack of diaeresis in line 5 "seems to have the effect here of speeding up the line and thus hastening the bringing out of the wine" (68), whereas in line 14 "the displacement of the normal diaeresis underscores the distracted state of Cleopatra's mind" (70). Throughout the commentary on Satire 1.9 students will find helpful tips to deal with the colloquial stylistic touches.

I especially liked RA's interpretation of Ode 1.13.17-20 (46): felices ter et amplius,/quos inrupta tenet copula, nec malis/divolsus querimoniis/suprema citius solvet amor die; RA first gives the traditional approach to translating these lines, which calls for inrupta to be rendered "unbroken," and takes nec with both querimoniis and the verb solvet, "Happy three times and more are those whom an unbroken bond holds, and whose love, torn apart by no serious complaints, will not loosen them sooner than the final day!" (RA's emphases). RA suggests an alternative reading (which she has published elsewhere) that retains the standard meaning for inrupta and takes nec strictly with the verb solvet: "Happy three times and more are those whom an interrupted bond holds and a love torn apart by serious complaints will not loosen sooner than the final day!" This interpretation has Horace describing a more realistic love, one that endures despite difficulties that can and do arise. On the other hand, I was less impressed with RA's note on Ode 1.9.24 male pertinaci: "literally, badly holding fast. Some take male here as a quasi-negative almost equivalent to non. While such a use of male is not uncommon, the adverb's literal meaning, 'badly,' is significant, for it would suggest not that the girl puts up hardly any resistance, but rather that her resistance is not very successful" (37). Undoubtedly RA has explained why she prefers this interpretation to the more standard one in her book Time and the Erotic in Horace's Odes (Durham 1994), which she describes as a "feminist critique of Horace as a love poet" (Teacher's Guide 78). As presented the comment is unbalanced, as is the final observation on lines 18-24: "The possible suggestion of a game between boy and girl is countered by the violence of the language of their interaction (dereptum). The poem ends with the ambiguous male pertinaci" (37). This poem has definite problems in terms of style and consistency that would have been more appropriate to note for students reading Horace for the first time.

The commentary also contains notes on figures and tropes, such as synchysis (Ode 1.5.6-7); chiasmus (Ode 1.5.1); anaphora (Ode 1.37.1-2); litotes (Ode 1.25.16); enjambment (Ode 1.37.20-21); tmesis (Sat. 1.9.33; Ode 1.9.14); hyperbaton (Ode 1.9.21-22), and so on. In addition to noting where the figures and tropes occur in the commentary, definitions for all terms are found in the appendix on metrical terms (see below).

Four appendices follow the poems and commentary. The first appendix consists of four maps that illustrate different geographical references from the poems in this collection; these are black and white with a gray background and provide sufficient information to help students visualize the different places mentioned by Horace in his poems.

The second appendix discusses the nine meters encountered in this collection: dactylic hexameter, Alcaic, Sapphic, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth Asclepiadeans and first Archilochean. The scansion for each is explained and presented on its own, complete with pointers on where to find diaeresis (caesura for Satire 1.9), then RA superimposes the scansion above a few lines or a stanza of a poem from this collection. Students and teachers alike will find this section particularly valuable. Some basic experience in Latin meter is assumed: after a brief discussion on the quantitative aspect of Latin metrical patterns, RA advises students to consult a grammar for determining syllable length and general rules for Latin meters. AP students will have to memorize these meters, as they may be asked to scan and identify them on the exam. After a general introductory lecture on Latin meter, intermediate college students will find RA's treatment of Horace's meters clear and easy to apply.

The third appendix, entitled "Metrical Terms, Tropes, and Rhetorical Figures," nicely complements the second; here students will find definitions for thirty-four terms that occur in the poems in this book, from "alliteration" to "tricolon crescendo." Each definition includes a reference to a poem that employs the figure or trope in question. Students will refer to this appendix often, as references to these terms occur throughout the running commentary.

The last appendix presents the text for all of the poems without notes or commentary. This handy practice tool will allow students to review without the immediate temptation of glancing down the page for assistance.

RA's experience with AP Latin as a reader and as an instructor of high school teachers makes her an authority on the subject, and this book will more than meet the needs of high school students preparing for the AP Horace exam. This will also be an excellent book for use at the intermediate college level. In upper level classes another text, such as Daniel H. Garrison's Horace (Norman 1991) will probably be more suitable. But RA's book will make the process of translation easier and more rewarding for college students translating a Roman author for the first time.

Teacher's Guide

The Teacher's Guide, which is 8 1/2" x 11", is designed to accompany the Student Text and provide teachers with additional information and tips on teaching Horace. RA does not repeat material contained in the Student Text, which teachers will need to have to follow along with students. The Teacher's Guide is divided into five sections.

The first section presents each of the twenty Odes and Satire 1.9 in large font to make the poems easily reproducible for pedagogical needs. Transparencies in particular will project nicely as overheads made from these pages.

The second section contains RA's own translations for all of the poems. These are intended to provide teachers, especially beginning teachers, with a handy reference for checking their own understanding of the Latin, for discussions comparing different translations, and for discussions on what RA calls "the 'untranslatability' of Horace (by showing ways in which the particular English words and constructions I have chosen are 'inadequate' to the Latin)" (vii).

The third section is entitled "Sample Tests." This section includes selected passages (sometimes a few lines, sometimes the whole poem) with short-answer questions on grammar, general comprehension, and identification of people and tropes (including some cross references with other poems), and essay questions that call for interpretation and analysis; e.g., for Sat. 1.9.22-25, RA asks "Who is the speaker in the passage above? How do these lines give a sense of the speaker's character?" (53); for all of Ode 1.23 teachers are prompted to ask students to "Identify the form of dimovere and translate it literally. Write out at least two Latin words from the poem above that indicate seasonal imagery. In an essay, discuss Horace's use of the seasons in the poem above and in at least one other poem of his" (57). These questions are not from actual AP exams (that material is copyrighted), but they capture the essence of the type of questions that appear on it: students who can respond well to these questions are bound to do well on the exam itself. Teachers of intermediate college Latin will also benefit from RA's suggested questions on grammar, forms, figures, meter, and style, in generating class discussions and developing skills in literary analysis.

The fourth section, like the third, is intended as practice for the AP exam. Here RA gives discussion questions aimed at honing analytical skills. Teachers are advised to "try to get the students to think in terms of how things function in the poems rather than what the poems are about" (65, RA's emphases). For each poem RA repeats the brief introduction that heads the poems in the Student Text, and then asks a set of questions for discussion. Some of the questions refer to other poems or material not included in this collection "in the hope that this may encourage both teacher and student to venture further in their reading" (vii). For example, these questions accompany Ode 2.10: "How does Horace create variety in this poem of opposites? How does the end of the poem 'echo' the beginning? How does the sea imagery function in this poem as compared, for example, with Ode 1.9 or Ode 1.5? Look at Aristotle's discussion of the 'mean' in Book 2 of the Nicomachean Ethics for a philosophical context in which to read the poem" (73).

The fifth section is the bibliography for the Teacher's Guide, which isn't much different from the bibliography in the Student Text, except that a few entries have annotations, three reference works are added to the two that appear in the Student Text, and there is a new category (pedagogical sources) with two entries. It was a good idea to provide "the busy teacher" with annotations for works of interest (viii), but RA does not give nearly as many of these as she could have to make the project really worthwhile. Of the eighteen entries under "Commentaries" (same number as in Student Text), only seven are annotated; of the forty-eight under "General Works" (one more than in Student Text), only twelve have comments, some of which are too brief to be of much help.

Apart from the bibliography, the Teacher's Guide is certainly worthwhile and will enhance the applicability of the Student Text. Novice teachers will find here many good pointers to assist in class preparation, and more experienced instructors will discover new ideas for teaching Horace.

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