Date of Degree


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Philip Thibodeau

Subject Categories

Ancient Philosophy | Classical Literature and Philology


Philosophy, Horace, Parrhesia, Poetry, Dogs


Within Horace's fifth and sixth Epodes there is a juxtaposition of canine imagery. This imagery parallels two different interpretations of the philosophical concept of parrhesia or frank speech. Horace examines the parrhesia of Cynicism and contrasts it with the parrhesia of Epicureanism. After establishing Horace's philosophical influences, I engage in a close reading of the two poems through the lens of these competing philosophical interpretations of the same concept. I make the argument that Horace is using his knowledge of philosophy to make a larger poetic point. Although Horace's own stance on parrhesia favors Epicureanism, to the extent that one can ascertain any philosophical allegiance within Horace's poetry, his philosophical stance is not central for this reading. Horace intentionally makes use of the philosophical debate so that he may make a meta-argument about the function and role of poetry. The competing philosophies act as poetic metaphors regarding the style and function of poetry. The metaphor of the dog acts as a symbol for the philosophical debate, which in turn is aligned with two different goals-- vapid and vindictive invective versus poetry as a socially therapeutic art.