THAT NO MAN LIVES FOREVER": HORACE ON THE DEATH OF QUINTILIUS (1.24)

Sjarlene Thom

Abstract


On a fIrst reading of Horace's Ode on the death of Quintilius (1.24) it seems that
Horace has written a rather traditional poem of mourning: a poem which praises the
dead man, which attempts to console mutual friends and which even seems to chide
excessive mourning.! This reading is perhaps to be expected since Horace's ode on
the death of Quintilius has never been considered particularly obscure. The poet's
primary aim in the composition of this ode seems to me, however, to express neither
an appreciation of Quintilius (Nisbet & Hubbard 1970), nor an admonition to Vergil
for excessive mourning (Akbar Khan 1967). Furthermore, it does not even function
as a consolation proper for all who mourned Quintilius' death (Esteve- Fornol
1962).2 If the poem is read as it stands, it conveys a different primary aim altogether
even though appreciation for Quintilius is expressed, even though there are hints that
Vergil could channel his mourning more constructively and finally that some
consolation can be gleaned from creative activity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/41-3-4-202

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