Horace's Odes and the Mystery of Do-Re-Mi

BookHorace's Odes and the Mystery of Do-Re-Mi

Horace's Odes and the Mystery of Do-Re-Mi


January 12th, 2007





Lyons's acclaimed verse translation of the Odes is here fully revised and included with revealing new material on Horace and the nature of his work. The book describes the life and times of Horace. It places his experiences and writings in the context of the civil wars and the Augustan Age, and explains how his literary career was bound up with the rise and fall of his sponsor Maecenas. It brings together compelling evidence that Horace composed and conducted the Carmen Saeculare for the Centennial Games of 17 BC, and that his odes were indeed carmina: songs. Horace was not just a superb literary craftsman, but a musician, songwriter and entertainer for the Roman elite, creating a new Latin idiom derived from Greek lyric song. A final chapter, "Horace, Guido and the Do-re-mi Mystery", the result of careful research and detective work, argues that Guido d'Arezzo, an eleventh-century Benedictine choirmaster, used the melody of Horace's Ode to Phyllis to invent the do-re-mi mnemonic, but applied it to an eighth-century Hymn to John the Baptist ("Ut queant laxis") by Paul the Deacon, keeping the true source secret. A musical comparison of the Horatian melody and Guido's version of "ut-re-mi" is included. Lyons' verse translation of the Odes was named a Financial Times Book of the Year (1996) and was welcomed as 'a wonderful rendering of one of the great, central poets in the European tradition.'

With brilliant detective work, Stuart Lyons unravels the musical character of Horaces Odes and traces a remarkable link between Horatian music, Guido dArezzo and the discovery of do-re-mi. He adds a complete set of verse translations which, like the original, are elegant, clear and deceptively simple, and put the tune back into Horaces songs.'

Combining scholarship with a gripping sense of narrative'

An interesting read, written with commenadable warmth for its subject matter,'

Lyons translation is well worth reading for his wit and his often inspired rhymes,'