Two Conjectures on Horace’s 16th Epode

    Horace introduces his proposed solution for the corruption of contemporary Rome with a Greek precedent (17-22):(1)

nulla sit hac potior sententia: Phocaeorum
    velut profugit exsecrata civitas
agros atque Lares patrios habitandaque fana
    apris reliquit et rapacibus lupis,        20
ire pedes quocumque ferent, quocumque per undas
    Notus vocabit aut protervus Africus.

For the last few years, I have been taking long walks for my health, memorizing as much of Horace and Catullus as I can along the way. It helps me think, and I notice incongruities and other difficulties, often because they make passages unusually difficult to remember correctly. Two things bother me about this passage:

    1. The shift from the Phocaean comparison (17b-20) to the Roman recommendation (21-22) is awkward. Granted that ire (21) can depend on sententia (17), they are a long way apart, unlike either of Mankin’s parallels from Cicero and Pseudo-Cicero.(2) It seems to me that a very small change would make 19-20 refer to the Romans, not the Phocaeans, and provide another infinitive, a little closer to sententia, to prepare for ire. Read relinquere et for reliquit et. This might easily have been haplographized to relinqueret, and it would not have taken a great deal of scribal acumen to correct the tense and mood to match profugit two lines above, making room to put the obviously needed et back in. Of course, we also need a comma at the end of 18 to mark the end of the simile.

    2. Whenever I recite this poem to myself, I can’t help thinking that the second quocumque in 21 should be quascumque. Googling quascumque per undas, I find that Valerius Flaccus used the phrase in the first lines of his last book, and paired it with quamcumque . . . puppem – a closer match than I have proposed for Horace (8.1-5):

At trepidam in thalamis et iam sua facta paventem
Colchida circa omnes pariter furiaeque minaeque
patris habent, nec caerulei timor aequoris ultra
nec miserae terra ulla procul: quascumque per undas
ferre fugam, quamcumque cupit iam scandere puppem.        5

For better or worse, I should note that I have yet to sit down and read Valerius Flaccus, so my conjecture was not inspired by memory of the parallel.

    My final text, with the changes highlighted:

nulla sit hac potior sententia: Phocaeorum
    velut profugit exsecrata civitas,
agros atque Lares patrios habitandaque fana
    apris relinquere et rapacibus lupis,        20
ire pedes quocumque ferent, quascumque per undas
    Notus vocabit aut protervus Africus.


(1) Shackleton Bailey quotes no variants. Commentators mentioned by name include D. Mankin (Cambridge, 1995) and L. C. Watson (Oxford, 2003).

(2) Madvig (Adversaria Critica 1873, ii.58-9) proposed ite for ire (21), which helps in some ways, but does not satisfy. K. Lehrs, in his meta-Adversaria (“Adversarien über Madvigs Adversarien und ihren Verfasser III”, RhM 30 (1875), 105-17, at 111), quotes an unnamed friend as noting that second person ite does not suit the following first persons moramur (24) and iuremus (25).

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