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Horace's Ars PoeticaFamily, Friendship, and the Art of Living$
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Jennifer Ferriss-Hill

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195025

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195025.001.0001

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Becoming the Ars Poetica

Becoming the Ars Poetica

(p.1) Introduction Becoming the Ars Poetica
Horace's Ars Poetica

Jennifer Ferriss-Hill

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides a background of Horace's Ars Poetica, a 476-line poem revered for over fifteen hundred years as the indispensable guide for practicing poets. Ars Poetica provided a blueprint for efforts at “updated” rules of literary composition and it inspired numerous famous translators and imitators. Yet this poem has proven hard to love for recent readers. As its ostensible value as “a kind of literary 'Magna Carta'” receded and it ceased to be widely regarded as a document that could ever sincerely aid in literary composition, the Ars Poetica came to develop an entrenched reputation of being tedious and devoid of artistry. This duality is inevitably tied up with the understanding of it as modeled upon earlier Greek works, a relation that both granted the Ars Poetica a greater standing and yet doomed it to be seen as “an anthology of previous ideas, not a system of thought in which each idea has its place as a living and flexible member of an organically unified discourse.” This book then considers the Ars Poetica as a complete and exceptional literary achievement in its own right. It also elucidates the key place of the Ars Poetica in the Horatian corpus.

Keywords:   Horace, Ars Poetica, literary composition, poem, Horatian corpus, poetry

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