Horace’s Thematic Development of Ode II 1 (试发表)

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Horace’s Thematic Development of Ode II 1 Xiaoran Luo

1, Horace’s attitude towards war: Ode II 1 is a kind of introduction to the rest part of Book II. This book is relatively darker than the other three books of the Odes of Horace and is a dark scherzo of the larger structural design. The dark atmosphere starts to hover over this ode from the very beginning. Horace uses motum as the first word of the ode, which is followed by the intensive use of derogatory words, all of which are indicating the evil of war (particularly the civil war, but Horace’s attitude toward war will be expressed in a much more general context in the later stanzas). We have expressions like vitia(error, vice), ludum Fortunae(the game of Fortune), nondum expiatis cruoribus(bloodshed not yet expiated), periculosae aleae(dangerous pitfalls), incedis per ignis suppositos cineri doloso(you’re walking over embers hidden under the treacherous ashes). We have in the beginning two whole stanzas of strong accusation against war, yet Pollio’s name has to wait until its appearance much later, in line 14. Thus, we may conclude that Pollio and his works are not in the leading position of this ode; the main theme is the antipathy towards war. The first expressed and elaborated motif often becomes the principle theme of the work (we have numerous examples from the two Homeric epics down to the symphonies of the classical style of 1800s), it is also the case of this ode of Horace. This ode can be divided into two basic parts; the first nine stanzas are the first part, which can be described as a kind of compliment to Pollio, or, more accurately, the accusation towards war; the last stanza is the second part, which sheds some light on this ode of dark mood. If we compare the first three books of the Odes as a three movement concerto, the second book can be seen as a serious and dark movement (can be with either quick or slow rhythms) of minor mode between two relatively delightful and bright outer movements in major. The last stanza of this ode may let the readers think that Horace is going to quickly switch back into his usual tone. However, the later odes contain many odes of a serious tone (2, 3, 7, etc). This is the major effect of Book II: Leonard Bernstein once said about the adagio introduction of Symphony No.4 of Beethoven that it surprisingly leads to the entirely lively later part of the movement and this makes the whole later part of the movement a big surprise. I think it is the same case here when ode II 2 opens with a dark tone similar to the beginning of ode 1 and this is the actual function and meaning of the last stanza of ode 1. We can thus give the conclusion that this ode is essentially about Horace’s accusation towards war. 2, Structure and Thematic Development Now, the focus point is on the serious tone of the ode II 1: our first step is to take a close look at the structure of this ode. We can further divide the first part of it into four minor parts as follows. The first minor part, being stanzas 1-2, tells us about the motives of Pollio’s historical writings. These motives, which can be summarized as the accusation towards war (as I have already illustrated in the former section), are, of course, also the main theme of this ode. We have the expression ludum Fortunae in line 3 is clearly an implication of historians and of Herodotus himself. (Cf. Herodotus, 1. 32) Herodotus speaks in the tongue of Solon that the lives of mortals are all about chance, and since Herodotus also says that his historia is about the great deeds of mortal men, we may infer that a historian’s job is to write down ludum Fortunae. As Herodotus himself said in the introduction of his immortal work, what he writes is how things going, both of the great cities and the small cities.(1) War is the ultimate manifestation of this idea of men being production of chance and luck. Those who were once powerful often go down suddenly (as Xerxes in the Histories and many people in the period of the civil war, such as Caesar and Antony) so it is natural that Horace picks the historian Pollio for the ode as the object of dedication. Now we can be sure about the ode’s principle theme is ludus Fortunae and the parallel descriptions of war are all about it: they are the first variation or development of the major theme. The second minor part is stanzas 3-4 in which Horace gives a compliment to Pollio. This is the second development of the main theme. Note that here the theme is developed from its first development, not from its original form. If we can say that the first development of the main theme (namely, the intensive description of the evil of war) is a kind of elaboration, this second development is a transfiguration, since we now have Pollio, the writer of ludus Fortunae, as the main object of stanzas 3-4, not the war itself. Horace is now praising Pollio’s political life instead of saying the things Pollio writes in his historical work. What Pollio actually did is not our concern but what should be noted is the fact that Horace is now praising Pollio’s doings during the war. It is clear that Horace considers Pollio a positive figure in the period of the civil war. To Horace, Pollio did what was best for the common good, contrary to the destructive war. This is why Horace praises his political life. In this minor part the main theme is transformed into its opposite (similar to the development of a theme in a major key of a classical music work). The third minor part, stanzas 5-7, is very passionate. It is similar to the development section of a movement in sonata form of the classical music style. After the having praised Pollio both for his political doings and for his written works in the second minor part, Horace combines the thematic developments both of the first minor part (that is stanzas 1-2) and of the second minor part (stanzas 3-4). Having pointed out that war is evil (stanzas 1-2) and that Pollio should be praised for his historical works, Horace put these two thematic developments together: the historical work of Pollio is so shocking and vivid that it makes Horace recall his own experience of war which is bloody and horrible. The main effect here is to create the ambiguity between the historical work of Pollio and the actual bloody combats that many of Horace’s contemporaries (including Horace himself) had participated. ‘Thematically’ speaking, in this minor part, Horace combines and contrasts the evil of war and the Pollio’s brilliant historical work. The forth minor part, stanzas 8-9, is the passionate climax. Horace accuses every war. (qui gurges aut quae flumina lugubris ignara belli? What river or pool is ignorant of these wretched wars? Lines 33-34) In my opinion, a great work of art should has a general context, and this ode is not lacking that: it is definitely not merely about the civil war itself, but about every war. As a lyric poet, Horace doesn’t use any openly moralistic or rationalistic tone; instead, he poses questions, which are in fact Horace’s sigh and exclamation. This minor part is a recapitulation of the first development of the main theme, not in a more subtle way as stanzas 5-7, but in a strong tone denouncing the evil of war. I am note trying to stuff this ode into the sonata form, but every good artwork has something in common: you should straightforwardly put forth the main theme and develop it in different ways and put the climatic exclamation near the end. Why the sonata form is immortal and every musician since the 1800s has to learn it? Because it concentrates the essence of structural and thematic development of any great artwork, and the Horace ode II 1 is in common with it in this sense. note: (1) The reason of it is that those who were once strong and great are probably now weak and small, or even have vanished. It is the direct illustration of the point that mortal affairs are all ludus Fortunae. 3, An attempt to explore the motivic construction of the metre of this ode Poems are not argumentative prose writings. Although by the time of Augustus, poets more often recite their poems without instrumental accompaniment than not, there is always the musical element playing an important role in the poetic works. (2) note: (2) From Homer to Pinar, from Shakespeare to Lord Byron, from Wordsworth to T. S. Eliot, you name it, (cf. Leonard Bernstein, The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard, Chapter V, pp .375 ff.) to say nothing that there are also numerous examples in literatures all over the world. Now, we can’t exactly know how these poems were recited or performed in the ancient times, but here I want to make an attempt to put out some guesses that can lead us to the knowledge of what role the metres play in Horace’s poems. We take the ode II 1 as an example. The Alcaic stanza is in the following pattern: _ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ _ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ _ _ u _ _ _ u _ _ _ u u _ u u _ u _ _ Lines 1 and 2 are in the same pattern and they are divided into two parts: _ _ u _ _ and _ u u _ u _. The first part (_ _ u _ _) contains two spondees (_ _) and a short syllable between them (but this is going to be transformed in the later part of the ode). The second part contains a coriambus (_ u u _) followed by an iambus (u _). Line 3 (_ _ u _ _ _ u _ _) has many ways to be constructed, for example: it can be constructed by a bacchius (_ _ u), a molossus (_ _ _) and a antibacchius (u _ _). This is the case of the first two stanzas but also be changed. Line 4(_ u u _ u u _ u _ _) in the first stanza is constructed by a dactyl (_ u u), a coriambus (_ u u _) and an antibacchius (u _ _). What listed above are our basic thematic elements. Now I’ll give some examples showing how these elements are functioning within the pattern of the Alcaic metre of this ode. In order to illustrate the effect of it, I will give examples from various musical works. (And these samples are packed into a .zip file sent together with this paper.) In the beginning, the _ _ u _ _ motif (I will call it motif A) has the effect of the French overture of the Baroque style. Its dotted rhythm at first was to splendidly welcome the aristocratic listener’s coming, however, later it becomes the welcome and leading into the work itself. Compared to the much lighter dotted rhythm that are more often used in Baroque operas and suites (_ u_ u _), here Horace uses a darker version of the dotted rhythm (motif A, which is _ _ u _ _) to introduce his much more serious poetic expression. (3) note:(3) Compare sample 1 (_ u _ u _, Handel’s overture to Alcina 0’-1’30’’) and the much more serious and melancholy sample 2 (_ _ u _ _, opening theme [0’-0’25’’] of Corelli’s La Folia). I call the coriambus (_ u u _) motif B. Horace uses it in the opening stanza to express the evil of war (vitia) and the consulship of Metellus (consule) which makes the readers think about the dark ages of civil war. The effect of motif B is march-like, fits perfect to the introductory effect of motif A. (4) note:(4) Here, the motif B is used in a serious tone, see sample 3 (_ u u _, Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 in A major, movement II, opening phrase, which is in A minor mode 0’-0’53). Line 3 is thematically symmetrical, thus it gives us rather steady effect, which proves my point that ludum Fortunae is the essential theme of the ode. Its expression in a stable or steady way points out its important function. Line 8, which is also the fourth line of the Alcaic stanza, winds up the first minor part of the ode (see section 2). The metre of this line is nearly symmetrical, but not entirely, the last three syllables are antibacchius (u _ _), not in symmetry with the first three syllables’ dactyle (_ u u). This kind of almost-symmetry pushes the poetry forward and also shows the uncertainty and the ‘danger’ of doloso. (5) note:(5) At first I couldn’t find a perfect example of the ‘almost-symmetry’ in a musical work, however, the perfect example is right under my nose. It is the first prelude of Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier Book I (sample 4 0’-1’36’’). The steady and stable thematic pattern is interrupted by the last three bars. This not only illustrates the instability of the dominant seventh chord (in our case, doloso), but also pushes the music to the following fugue section. In this manner, there are so many ways to interpret the effect created by the use of the motives in the larger metric construction. However, I want to illustrate one more, which is worth to be noticed. In the first line of stanza 8 (line 29), Horace mentions what strikes his heart extremely: the bloodshed of the Romans. As I have said, the minor part led by this line is the emotional climax of the entire poem. Horace here breaks motif A into a kind of expression resembles to an operatic tone. He turns motif A (_ _ u _ _) into three pounding words (_ / _ / u _ _). In this way, we can almost feel the melancholy appoggiatura of the operatic singing (very much to the pounding questions of Leonora).

Figure 1: Leonora’s aria from act IV of Verdi’s Il Trovatore (no music sample provided)
Figure 1: Leonora’s aria from act IV of Verdi’s Il Trovatore (no music sample provided)
My study of the literary way and the musical way of Horace’s poetic expression is just an attempt. I am sorry that I write this paper in a hurry and I haven’t done enough research, but I do believe that these two ways of expression are equally important to our understanding of Horace’s poetry and by combining these two parts of interpretation together, we may have a chance to grasp the meaning of these poems more clearly and more deeply. Note: The following page is the metrical chart of the ancient rhythmic devises (Anton Reicha, Vollständiges Lehrbuch der musikalischen Composition, German trans. Carl Czerny, 4 vols. [Vienna: Diabelli & Co., n.d. 1834], vol. 2, pp. 472-73), translated by Maynard Solomon (Maynard Solomon, Late Beethoven, [California, 2003] p. 105).
Figure 2: Metrical chart
Figure 2: Metrical chart
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最后更新 2011-12-15 18:00:15
陈凭轩
2011-12-15 18:04:37 陈凭轩 (社恐中的交际花 好人里的冷碧池)

图是你自己做的?

烛光前
2011-12-15 18:06:15 烛光前 (小站:site.douban.com/122030)

有出处的啊

陈凭轩
2011-12-15 18:14:50 陈凭轩 (社恐中的交际花 好人里的冷碧池)

我只是好奇你怎么把他们弄成图片的,扫描?

烛光前
2011-12-15 18:21:24 烛光前 (小站:site.douban.com/122030)

google上有部分预览,刚好有这页。谱子在imslp上找