Artifices of Eternity. Horace's Fourth Book of Odes.
Cornell University Press, Ithaca/London, 1996. (Paperback ed. 1st ed.1986). 352p. Paperback.‘It would be difficult to imagine a more welcome subject explored by a more sensitive scholar. We focus first on the broad outline of ‘Odes 4’: ‘Venus’ is the second word of 4.1, ‘Veneris’ the penultimate word of 4.15. The framing marks direction: 4.1 addresses Venus as mistress of love-making; 4.15, which turns to the renewal of Rome is about music-making. The personal vocative in 4.1 gives way to the genitive, ‘Veneris’: Venus hands us on, through birth, to the Roman descendants of Aeneas. Book 4 thus takes us from private eroticism, outward into the world at large. For Putnam this perception of private voices as they grow into public song is moving: the encroachment of time upon the individual, and his increasing awareness of physical limitations, are superseded by the spiritual energy which derives from greater horizons. (…) Five triads structure ‘Odes 4’. In each set, three poems lead us from a sense of personal loss to consider the role of poetry, in the abstract at first but then also applied to the Augustan present. (…) It is argued, further, that in the five triads which make up the fifteen odes of this book, all beginning poems have something in common, just as the middle members of each group share in the role they play vis-à-vis the opening and concluding selections of their several units. (…) The overall design of the book passes us from Horace’s reflections upon himself as a poet of love or of Rome (1-3˜), as a poet of political ambiguities toward Roman military might (…) or as an immortalizer of the new Augustan future (…). Putnam meets the challenge, eliciting the precise tonality which makes of his performance of this music all that we have come prepared to praise.’ (WILLIAM R. NETHERCUT in The American Journal of Philology, 1988. pp.615-18).