HORACE, THE LIAR PERSONA AND THE POETRY OF DISSIMULATIO: THE CASE OF EPISTLES 1

L. Maric

Abstract


In this paper I examine Horace’s Epistles 1 and argue that Horace
constructed the main speaker of this collection as a duplicitous ‘liar
persona’. Horace’s persona of Epistles 1 admits that his past
relationship with his patron Maecenas was paramount to slavery and
appears determined to restore himself to freedom. Nevertheless,
Horace employs various strategies to make us question the sincerity
of his persona’s resolve and to suspect we may be being addressed
by a slave dissimulating as a free man. Furthermore, Horace seems
to have implicated the Epistles as a whole in this pretence; they are
poems written to a patron’s demand but ‘pose’ as his personal letters.
I argue that Horace created this poetic dynamic, the liar persona in
his false letters, in order to ‘unmask’ himself and disclose his real
view of the nature of his relationship with Maecenas.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/57-0-131

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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