Listening to Classical Latin literature I have noticed what sounds like songs being sung! For example the Lydia Dic part in Lydia Dic Per Omnes and the probās vocārī, Seu Genitālis part of Phoebe silvarumque potens Diana! It sounds like there is also a song being sung in the eō pertinent, ut ostendam part in the third part of Pliny's Panegyricus! http://www.stilus.nl/ce-geluid/PlinMinPan-LIII.htm Is there a reason why there are songs being sung in Classical Latin literature?

  • 2
    I think the only person who can answer that question is whoever made those recordings.
    – TKR
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 1:35
  • Just a note, these are more commonly called "Odes 1.8" (or sometimes Carmina) and the Carmen Saeculare. The website provides the first lines, but they're not the actual titles.
    – cmw
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Well, for the latter example, the Carmen Saeculare was indeed sung. From here:

Sacrificio perfecto puer. [X]XVII quibus denuntiatum erat patrimi et matrimi et puellae totidem| carmen cecinerunt; eo[de]m modo in Capitolio.| Carmen composuit Q. Hor[at]ius Flaccus.|

After the sacrifice is completed, 27 boys for whom it had been made known that their parents were still alive, and just as many girls, sang the Carmen [Saeculare]. They similarly [sang it] on the Capitol. Q. Horatius Flaccus composed the Carmen.

Scholars are fairly unanimous in saying that this was a sung poem, not merely one spoken aloud, although in Barbara Gold & Genevieve Liveley's new book A Guide to Roman Elegy and Lyric, they claim that:

Horace's Odes were never sung aloud (only his Carmen Saeculare, a choral ode, was sung). (p. 45)

If this is the case, then the first example you showed us is anachronistically sung.


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