hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Wed Nov 21 09:22:08 EST 2007
Erick Ramalho writes: "As for Harold Skulki’s assertion ‘Horace's
malignant witch Canidia imports her noxious herbs from the land of
Medea--Caucasian Iberia "fertile in poisons" (Epodes, 1.21)’, I should
recall that Horace doesn’t use the word Iberia (the accusative
Caucasium is the Latin word employed in Epodes 1)."
If only I had been aware that I was making a momentous "assertion"
(rather than hastily reporting what I was reading on the page in front
of me), or had been able to count on the civility of a fellow Horatian,
I would have spared myself the time it takes to add the following
I'm afraid that in my haste I typed a "1" for a "5"; this is the kind
of error that sometimes besets a hapless emailer, as in Mr. Ramalho's
misspelling of my name in the quotation above. A little charity,
fortified by familiarity with the text in question, usually does the
In the current case, familiarity with the corpus horatianum would have
made it clear that Canidia appears in Epode 5, not Epode 1; the relevant
lines: "herbasque [scilicet Canidia iubet], quas Iolcos atque HIBERNIA
mittit venenorum ferax." The point of my reference to Colchian Medea is
that for Horace (and no doubt Milton) the whole area is notorious for
the pharmacopeia favored by Medea and Canidia.
Few annotated editions of the Epodes known to me overlook the
association between Canidia and Medea, with Iberia (by metonymy) as the
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