The Structure of Tacitus’ Annales: Three Hexads or Two ‘Ogdoads’?

In 2000, I gave a lecture on Tacitus, titled as above, at the University of Durham. It was well-received, and a previous version of the main argument has even been mentioned in a footnote (A. J. Woodman, Tacitus Reviewed, 237 note 62). I’m not getting any younger, and my hopes of turning it into a book someday are looking less and less likely to be fulfilled. Since I still think my idea fairly new, true, and important, I have turned the lecture and accompanying handout into PDFs and uploaded them (here and here). Comments are welcome, and may be attached to this post. Warning: it is still a lecture, not a paper, with all that implies, including written-out jokes. I have only added headers and footers, and updated my e-mail address.

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Which Are Horace’s Shortest Odes?

I’ve been rereading Book IV of Horace’s Odes for the first time in years, and memorizing as much as I can on walks and long drives. When I finish 4.11 tomorrow, I will have 1-3, 7, and 10-13 down, which is probably near the limit of what I can keep in mind at one time. I’ve also compiled a couple of pages of notes, quibbles, emendations, and embryonic reinterpretations. Richard F. Thomas’ 2011 Cambridge ‘green and gold’ commentary has been an invaluable companion, telling me almost everything I needed to know about these poems, but nothing is perfect, and I have noticed one perhaps-not-very-important lapse. In the introduction to 4.10 he writes “With 1.30 and 1.38 the shortest of the Odes“. For a pedant like me, this is problematic in two ways:

1. The number of 8-line odes in Horace is not three but five: 1.30, 1.38, and 3.22 in Sapphics, 1.11 and 4.10 in Greater Asclepiadeans.

2. More important, it seems to me that 1.11 and 4.10 are much longer than the other three, since they have much longer lines. Surely the best measure of the length of a poem is not lines, or even syllables, but morae, short-syllable equivalents. Measured thus, 4.10 and 1.11 are tied for sixth-shortest among the Odes of Horace, and only one mora (0.5%) shorter than the eighth.

Here are the details (I count the final anceps in a line as honorarily long):

  • The very shortest odes are the three 8-liners in Sapphics: 1.30 (O Venus, regina Cnidi Paphique), 1.38 (Persicos odi, puer, apparatus), and 3.22 (Montium custos nemorumque, Virgo). A Sapphic stanza is 18+18+18+8 morae = 62, so these are 124 morae each.
  • The fourth-shortest is a 12-liner, 1.20 (Vile potabis modicis Sabinum), three Sapphic stanzas adding up to 186 morae.
  • Only slightly longer is another 12-liner, 1.23 (Vitas inuleo me similis, Chloe), three stanzas of Third Asclepiadeans (19+19+12+13=63 morae) adding up to 189.
  • Tied for sixth-shortest are the other two 8-liners, 1.11 (Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi) and (the one from which we began) 4.10 (O crudelis adhuc et Veneris muneribus potens), in Greater Asclepiadeans (25 morae per line). Whether we divide them into two stanzas or not is irrelevant: either way, a four-line passage comes to 100 morae, and the whole poem to 200, 61% longer than the three 8-liners in Sapphics.
  • The eighth-shortest ode of Horace is another 12-liner, 3.26 (Vixi puellis nuper idoneus), three stanzas of Alcaics (18+18+16+15=67 morae) for a total of 201.

Have I missed anything – either an ode or an argument or an arithmetic calculation? Contradictions and corrections are welcome, and may be left in the comments.

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A Metrical Joke in ‘Theognis’?

Back to finishing up some long-unfinished papers in my files, I’ve just uploaded a page on two passages of the Theognidea (PDF here).

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Is Plural Salamis Correct? Horace, C. 1.7.21

I have now posted a note or short paper every day of August, two on the 7th, for a total of thirty-two. I will be doing fewer, but longer, ones in September. This last contains a conjecture on one of my favorite passages of Horace. The PDF is here.

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How Many Hetaerae? Pindaric Arithmetic in the Skolion to Xenophon of Corinth

Here is the third and last of the Pindarica that have been lying half-finished in my files for many years. The PDF is here.

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Whose Eyes? Pindar, Ol. 3.12

Here’s another Pindaricum: there will be one more tomorrow on his most twisted poem, and the I will be all Pindared out for the foreseeable future. The PDF is here.

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Another Tiny Subtlety in Horace, I. 1.1

Here’s a note on the first three words of Horace’s Iambi (Epodes), or rather on two of the three. The PDF is here.

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To Form a More Perfect Ring-Composition: Horace, I. 16.9

Even with eight hours on the road, and the first day of school tomorrow, I still managed to put together a note on one of Horace’s Iambi or (if you like) Epodes. Then again, three of those hours of driving were on Skyline Drive, which wasn’t bad at all. The PDF is here.

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Non Omnia Possumus Omnes: Martial 2.86.8

Tonight’s note is half-textual, half-exegetical, on Martial. The PDF is here.

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Time to Change Seats? Horace C. 3.3.34

Here’s a tiny note on a minor point in the text of Horace’s Roman Odes. (I’m away from home where most of my books are, which is complicating my August web-publish-a-textual-or-exegetical-note-every-day plan.) The PDF is here.

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Seek and Ye Shall Find: Martial 4.59.6

Here’s a conjecture on Martial that has been in my on-line text for ten years. It’s about time I gave the argument for it. There is a sordid confession in footnote 2. The PDF is here.

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It’s Always in the Last Place You Look: Martial 7.17.2

I don’t have much time to write tonight – syllabuses and first-week homework assignments are due right about now – but I don’t want to miss a day, so it’s back to Martial for another tiny bit of Orthographica. The PDF is here.

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Someone is Missing the Pointing Here: Pliny, Ep. 1.11.1

Back to Pliny, with a tiny bit of Orthographica. The PDF is here.

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Is a Half-Letter Conjecture Possible? Martial 3.46.4

Back to Martial, with an interesting theoretical question, stated in the title. The PDF is here.

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Interpretatio Foedior Potior: Lucilius 543 Marx

Here is my first paper on Lucilius – the Roman satirist, not the double-elled Greek epigrammatist or the poetical friend of the Younger Seneca. No translation of the Latin is provided, since it’s rather obscene, especially after I’m done with it. The PDF is here.

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Foiled Again: Pindar O. 11.1-6

Here’s a paper on a Greek topic, for a change, my first Pindaricum. The PDF is here.

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What Kind of Rope Makes the Best Gift? Martial 4.70.1

Turning back to Martial, here is a textual-exegetical note on one of Martial’s best epigrams. The PDF is here.

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Two of These Words Need More Os: Juvenal 9.109

Turning back to Juvenal 9, here are two conjectures on a single line, one more plausible than the other. The PDF is here.

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Is This Conjecture Too Bold or Not Bold Enough? Juvenal 8.165

Turning to the other satire in Book III of Juvenal, here’s a note on Juvenal 8, yet another novelty for the 2nd edition of my web-text of Juvenal. The PDF is here.

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Not Often, but I’m Hedging My Bets Here: Juvenal 9.74

Still working on Book III of Juvenal, today’s paper is a conjecture on Juvenal 9, attempting to improve on one of Housman’s. This will be another novelty in the 2nd edition of my web-text of Juvenal. The PDF is here.

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