Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority

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This book explores how Horace's poems construct the literary and social authority of their author. Bridging the traditional distinction between 'persona' and 'author', Ellen Oliensis considers Horace's poetry as one dimension of his 'face' - the projected self-image that is the basic currency of social interactions. She reads Horace's poems not only as works of art but also as social acts of face-saving, face-making and self-effacement. These acts are responsive, she suggests, to the pressure of several audiences: Horace shapes his poetry to promote his authority and to pay deference to his patrons while taking account of the envy of contemporaries and the judgement of posterity. Drawing on the insights of sociolinguistics, deconstruction and new historicism Dr Oliensis charts the poet's shifting strategies of authority and deference across his entire literary career.