Journal of Roman Studies


Metapoetic Pseudonyms in Horace, Propertius and Ovid*

Peter Heslina1 c1

a1 Durham University


Two poets addressed by Propertius in his first book are in fact pseudonyms. Ponticus was formed on the model of Horace's Alpinus to designate someone who embodies the antithesis of the poet's Callimachean sensibilities. Bassus is none other than Horace himself, who was then in the course of writing iambics. In the eleventh epode, Horace responded in kind by creating the pseudonyms Pettius, Lyciscus and Inachia, all of which derive from aspects of Propertius' first book. This exchange between Horace and Propertius has echoes in their later work. We conclude by examining why Ovid seems to treat Ponticus and Bassus as real poets in the Tristia.

(Online publication June 14 2011)




* I am very grateful to David Langslow and Neil Allies for their help with vulgar Latin; to Ivana Petrović for pointing out the relevance of Aristotle's views on the origin of iambic; to Jennifer Ingleheart for organizing the Classical Association conference panel for which the initial version of this paper was written; and to Kathleen Coleman, Alessandro Barchiesi and the Journal's readers for their advice.