Addressees of Horace's Odes

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Cite this page: Chrysovalantis Sitsanis, “Addressees of Horace's Odes”, Archiopedia / Αρχειοπαίδεια (April 2020), p. 11 (revision #-), ISSN 2732-6012. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4672581.

Many themes and many characters find their way into Horace’s Odes. In what follows I attempt to list the direct addressees of the poet in this work. My classification is summarized in a table added as an apendix to this entry.

Some clarifications are now in order. This is a list of directly addressed individuals. Obviously many odes can be interpreted as a more or less unambiguous eulogy or censure of specific persons, but these indirect addresses are not recorded here.[1] There are, nevertheless, two notable exceptions. Firstly, the gods are deemed as direct addressees in the cases when the poet admonishes others to praise them.[2] Secondly, despite also being an indirect recipient, Plotius Numida is listed here due to the lack of other direct addressees in Ode 1.36.

Furthermore, the scope of this list also excludes exclamations,[3] as well as addresses in embedded narratives.[4]

Moreover, the oaristys between the poet and Lydia (3.9) (“the only one of Horace’s lyrics in dialogue”)[5] is indexed under both headings – as would have happened with any ode including more than one addressees.

Finally, the Latin wording of each address is given in parentheses next to the numerical designation of the odes.[6] My purpo-se is to include only the information which is required to identify the addressee. Thus, writing down the collocation “Aeli vetusto nobilis ab Lamo” (3.17) is necessary to recognize Lucius Aelius Lamia, but the phrase “Maecenas atavis edite regibus” (1.1) does not play the same crucial role in establishing the identity of Gaius Cilnius Maecenas.

1. Specified addressees

1.1. Persons

1.1.1. Poet’s self

☞ 1.19, 1.34, 2.5,[7] 3.9, 3.30.

1.1.2. Others Non-human Mythological

Apollo: 1.12 (“Phoebe”), 1.21 (“intonsum [...] Cynthium”), 1.31 (“Latoe”), 4.6 (“Dive”).

Bacchus: 1.12, 2.19 (“Liber”), 3.25 (“Bacche”, “Lenaee”).

Calliope: 3.4 (“Calliope”).

Clio: 1.12 (“Clio”).

Diana: 1.12 (“saevis inimica virgo beluis”), 1.21 (“Dianam”), 3.22 (“montium custos nemorumque”).

Faunus: 3.18 (“Faune”).

Fortuna: 1.35 (“diva, gratum quae regis Antium”).

Jupiter: 1.12 (“orte Saturno”).

Latona: 1.21 (“Latonamque”).

Melpomene: 1.24, 3.30, 4.3 (“Melpomene”).

Mercury: 1.2 (“filius Maiae”), 1.10, 3.11 (“Mercuri”).

Muse: 1.26 (“quae fontibus integris gaudes”, “Piplei dulcis”).[8]

Venus: 1.30, 4.1 (“Venus”), 3.26 (“quae beatam diva tenes Cyprum et Memphin carentem Sithonia nive, regina”). Conceptual

☞ Roma: 4.4 (“Roma”). Human Individuals Eponymous Kinfolks

Gaius Cilnius Maecenas: 1.1, 1.20, 2.12, 2.17, 2.20, 3.8, 3.16, 3.29 (“Maecenas”).

☞ Gaius Marcius Censorinus: 4.8 (“Censorine”).

☞ Lucius Aelius Lamia: 3.17 (“Aeli vetusto nobilis ab Lamo”).

☞ Lucius Manlius Torquatus (filius): 4.7 (“Torquate”).

☞ Lucius Sestius Nepos: 1.4 (“Sesti”).

☞ Marcus Aristius Fuscus: 1.22 (“Fusce”).

☞ Plotius Numida: 1.36 (“Numidae”).

☞ Pompeius Grosphus: 2.16 (“Grosphe”).

☞ Pompeius Varro: 2.7 (“Pompei”).

☞ Publius Alfenus Varus: 1.18 (“Vare”).

☞ Publius Vergilius Maro: 1.24, 4.12 (“Vergili”).[9]

☞ Quinctius Hirpinus: 2.11 (“Hirpine Quincti”).[10]

☞ Septimius: 2.6 (“Septimi”). Public figures Philosophers

Archytas: 1.28 (“Archyta”).

☞ Gaius Sallustius Crispus: 2.2 (“Crispe Sallusti”).

☞ Iccius: 1.29 (“Icci”). Poets

Albius Tibullus: 1.33 (“Albi”).

Gaius Antonius Iullus: 4.2 (“Iulle”). Statesmen

Augustus: 1.2, 4.15 (“Caesar”), 4.5 (“Divis orte bonis, optume Romulae custos gentis”, “duxe bone”),[11] 4.14 (“Auguste”).

Gaius Asinius Pollio: 2.1 (“Pollio”).

Gaius Valgius Rufus: 2.9 (“Valgi”).

☞ Lucius Licinius Murena: 2.10 (“Licini”).

Lucius Munatius Plancus: 1.7 (“Plance”).

☞ Marcus Lollius: 4.9 (“Lolli”).

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa: 1.6 (“Agrippa”).

☞ Quintus Dellius: 2.3 (“Delli”). Others

This section mostly (but not always) lists the poet’s love interests: “Horace introduces so many different names [...], and refrains so consistently from decisively casting his erotic lot with any of these, that readers must either marvel at the variegation of his love life or recognize that Horatian lyric is not invested in the development of a coherent erotic ‘plot’” (Ellen Oliensis, Loving Writing / Ovid’s Amores, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, p. 109).

☞ Asterie: 3.7 (“Asterie”).

☞ Barine: 2.8 (“Barine”).

☞ Chloe: 1.23 (“Chloe”).

☞ Chloris: 3.15 (“Chlori”).

☞ Galatea: 3.27 (“Galatea”).

☞ Leuconoe: 1.11 (“Leuconoe”).

☞ Ligurinus: 4.1, 4.10 (“Ligurine”).[12]

☞ Lyce: 3.10, 4.13 (“Lyce”).

☞ Lyde: 3.28 (“Lyde”).

☞ Lydia: 1.8, 1.13, 1.25, 3.9 (“Lydia”).

☞ Neobule’s self: 3.12 (“Neobule”).

☞ Phidyle: 3.23 (“Phidyle”).

☞ Phyllis: 4.11 (“Phylli”).

☞ Postumus: 2.14 (“Postume, Postume”).

☞ Pyrrha: 1.5 (“Pyrrha”).

☞ Pyrrhus: 3.20 (“Pyrrhe”).

☞ Thaliarchus: 1.9 (“Thaliarche”).

☞ Tyndaris: 1.17 (“Tyndari”).

☞ Xanthias the Phocean: 2.4 (“Xanthia Phoceu”). Anonymous

☞ 1.16 (“matre pulcra filia pulchrior”).

☞ 2.18 (“tu”).[13]

☞ 1.38, 3.14, 3.19 (“puer”).[14]

☞ 3.24.[15] Multitudes

☞ 1.21 (“tenerae [...] virgines”, “pueri”, “mares”).

☞ 1.27, 1.37 (“sodales”).

☞ 2.19 (“posteri”).

☞ 3.1 (“virginibus puerisque”).

☞ 3.6 (“Romane”).[16]

☞ 3.14 (“plebs”, “pueri et puellae”).

1.2. Things

Bandusia’s fount: 3.13 (“fons Bandusiae”).

☞ Lyre: 1.32, 3.11 (“testudo”).

☞ Ship: 1.3, 1.14 (“navis”).

☞ Tree: 2.13 (“arbos”).

☞ Wine-jar: 3.21 (“testa”).

2. Unspecified addressees

☞ 1.15, 2.15, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5


  1. For example, Ode 4.4 is an encomium of the Claudii Nerones and especially of Claudius Nero Drusus, but Rome is the direct addressee.
  2. Ode 1.21 provides an example of this.
  3. For example, the “pro curia inversique mores!” part in Ode 3.5.
  4. For example, the invocation of gods (“o deorum siquis haec audis”) during Europa’s outburst in Ode 3.27.
  5. Clifford Herschel Moore, Horace: The Odes, Epodes and Carmen Saeculare, American Book Company, New York and Cincinnati, 1902, p. 267.
  6. As always, the first number denotes the book, while the second one marks the ode.
  7. The anonymous addressee of 2.5 is most certainly the poet himself” (Mario Citroni, “Occasion and Levels of Address in Horatian Lyric”, in Michele Lowrie (ed.), Horace: Odes and Epodes, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009, p. 73n6).
  8. Pipla is “a bizarre spelling of Pimplea’” (David R. Slavitt, Horace: Odes, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison and London, 2014, p. 40). Pimplea or Pimpleia (Πίμπλεια in Greek) was a place sacred to the Muses in Pieria, Greece.
  9. Concerning the Ode 4.12, let it be noted that “it is a matter of dispute whether this Vergil is the famous poet or another, unknown individual” (Jeffrey H. Kaimowitz (trans.), The Odes of Horace, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2008, p. 165n3).
  10. Paul Shorey and Gordon J. Laing, Horace: Odes and Epodes, Benj. H. Sanborn & Co, Chicago, 1919, read “Quinti”. I follow the corrections of Stanley Lombardo (trans.) and Anthony Corbeill (introd. and notes), Horace: Odes with Carmen Saeculare, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis and Cambridge, 2018, p. xviii.
  11. The word “Caesar” exists in this ode, but Augustus is addressed here only through the use of honorific vocatives.
  12. Shorey and Laing, op. cit., read “Ligurinum” in Ode 4.10. I follow the corrections of Lombardo and Corbeill, op. cit.
  13. This anonymous addressee is perhaps Maecenas, see R. G. M. Nisbet and M. Hubbard, A Commentary on Horace: Odes, Book II, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1978, p. 289-290.
  14. The ode contains a toast to Lucius Licinius Murena and yet “in 3.19 none of the characters addressed can be identified with Murena” (Citroni, op. cit., p. 73n2).
  15. The ode is addressed to a “diatribic ‘you’” (Citroni, op. cit., p. 74).
  16. Needless to say, “Romanus” is here a collective noun.