Epode VIII: Billy Puts his Cards on the Table
[You Dare to Question Me!]
‘Effigies … triumphator: wax effigies of ancestors were carried in procession at Roman funerals. The lady is so old that Horace looks at her and thinks of her funeral. The triumph was the highest public distinction.
Stoic tracts: the Stoics prided themselves on their virtue and austerity. This woman is therefore exposed as a hypocrite, as well as a blue-stocking and a fool.’ (1)
Throughout this collection the relationship between the increasingly impotent trade-union leader, Billy and his long-suffering wife, Aggie, (who gets her first mention in ‘Grown-Up Girls Below the Railway) develops – and it is not an easy relationship. Horace’s poem with its strong invective against an old woman seemed to lend an ideal opportunity for Billy to blame his wife for their deteriorating sexual relationship.
(1) West, D. (1997) Horace: The Complete Odes and Epodes. Oxford University Press. Oxford (p.135)