The Hidden Influence of Horace in Augustine's "Confessions"

Thursday, October 14th
8pm ET

The Davenant Fellows Lectures

horace 3

Augustine's engagement with the poet Virgil in the "Confessions" has been much researched. On the other hand, his engagement with another great Roman poet, Horace, has been almost entirely neglected. Yet we know Augustine read Horace; at key points in the "Confessions", he refers to and alludes to his poetry. The time has come to reappraise Horace's influence on Augustine.

In this lecture, Dr. E.J. Hutchinson will specifically explore how knowledge of Horace's influence illuminates Augustine's famed comparison of himself to Virgil's wandering hero Aeneas. A close reading of a unique Latin phrase lifted directly from Horace's "Odes" reveals that Augustine does not want his readers to think of the "Aeneid" alone in a simple or straightforward way. Instead, he uses Horace, and particularly one of Horace's poems about Virgil, to formulate his own nuanced response to the Aeneid.

This fresh reading of the "Confessions" has implications for how we understand both Augustine's view of his pre-conversion state, and his complex view of the appropriation of pagan literature.

Ej Hutchinson

Dr. E.J. Hutchinson

PhD, Bryn Mawr College

Editor and translator of "On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method" by Niels Hemmingsen


The Davenant Institute seeks to retrieve the riches of classical Protestantism in order to renew and build up the contemporary church.