Scholia Reviews ns 14 (2005) 35.

Ortwin Knorr, Verborgene Kunst: Argumentationsstruktur und Buchaufbau in den Satiren des Horaz. Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft Band 15. Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms-Weidmann, 2004. Pp. x + 277. ISBN 3-487-12539-0. Euro34.80.

Bernhard Kytzler
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

The first draft of this book was accepted as a doctoral thesis by Göttingen University in 1999. The delay in printing is explained by the author in English -- after his examination he found himself immediately lecturing 'in the trenches' (p. vii) in an American classroom. After he had spent some semesters criss-crossing the United States from one university to another, refining his text all the while, the manuscript was finally published in 2004.

Knorr presents his findings in five chapters: after analysing the Aufbau of Sat. 1, 2, and 3 (Chapters 1-3, pp. 7-90), Chapters 4 and 5 (pp. 91-224) discuss the structures of Sat. Books 1 and 2. The text is supported by almost a thousand footnotes, rich in material and clear in presentation, conveniently placed at the bottom of each page. At the end we find a bibliography (pp. 229-44),[[1]] an index rerum (pp. 245f.), and an index locorum (pp. 247-77). There are summaries at the end of Chapter 3, 4, 5, and a general Schlußwort (pp. 225-28).

Knorr's work might be seen as a parallel to Santirocco's book on the Odes.[[2]] Knorr, too, looks closely at the poems one by one and notices links between them: he too then proceeds to observe greater units and to define their character. His conclusions are that the satires present themselves as easy-going conversations, artfully hiding any hint of excessive artistic elaboration (p. 31); that they mix facts and comments inextricably to bring about a 'psychagogic' impact (p. 32); and that they use a 'leitmotif' technique in repeating certain ideas (pp. 33 and 63ff.). The satires are all structured according rhetorical rules (p. 90) and show an astonishing artistic maturity. They are interconnected like the links of a chain (p. 163) by means of a great number of allusions and cross references. 'Alle Satiren sind auf vielfältige Weise mit ihren jeweiligen Nachbarsatiren verbunden' (p. 224, 'All these satires are connected to adjacent poems in many ways').

In summing up, Knorr asks why these brilliant pieces were underestimated for such a long time and thought to be juvenile, clumsy, and lacking logic. He finds the answer (p. 225) in the method of investigation formerly employed: these poems were treated in scholarship as single pieces and not as part of an over-arching artistic whole.

In my view, Knorr's results are for the most part convincing. Modern research has quite often come up with similar and equally plausible analyses of Hellenistic poetry. There is, however, one doubt that should not be neglected. The 'links' between various poems, as pointed out here, consist of a wide variety of quite different phenomena. There are verbal parallels, there are grammatical similarities, there are thoughts either repeated or developed (what Knorr respectively calls 'static' or 'dynamic' repetitions); we come across 'echoes', 'parallels', 'similarities', 'repetitions', 'hints', and 'allusions'. Obviously, all these connections differ in their weight considerably. And therefore a very careful approach -- a most cautious handling of all these interferences -- is necessary.

Knorr has no problem with seeing Book 1 as structured into two equally long halves (Sat. 1-5 and 6- 10), and at the same time he observes three triads (Sat. 1-3, 4-6, 7-9), plus an epilogue (Sat. 10). These two structures do not necessarily exclude one another; but their alleged co-existence shows how difficult it is to follow the poet's combinations and concatenations.

One more point should be noted. The quality of a poem is not influenced by its position: in a symphony, a weak opening or an uninspired concluding movement remains weak wherever it is positioned; in an opera, a dull beginning or a lame finale remains dull and lame regardless where it is placed. Correspondences in the arts may enhance each other's weight; but an ode's (or satire's) effect lies in its inner art, not in its outer position.

As valuable as Knorr's observations on structure are, his commentary on the Latin texts is the real treasure in this dissertation. Language, textual transmission, metre, synonyms, grammar, the Greek background, the poetical tradition -- all these elements are given their due. Discussion might go on within learned circles about the design of these books of spirited ancient poetry, but to have cleared the reader's way through them, piece by piece, is an achievement for which we all are grateful.


[[1]] I find it confusing that a book on Horace does not at all use the Encyclopedia Horatiana; the same holds for F. Altheim et al. (edd.), Gedenkschrift Georg Rohde (Tübingen 1961) 151- 67: 'Das früheste Aeneis-Zitat' (on Sat. 2,1ff. South African scholarship is cited eight times (M. A. Gosling and C. A. van Rooy), while there are only three references to the French.

[[2]] M. S. Santirocco, Unity and Design in Horace's Odes (Chapel Hill 1986), for which see my review in Vergilius 34 (1988) 191-93.