In the thirty years separating the publication of Horace’s Odes in 23 from Catullus’ death, life changed dramatically at Rome. The republic collapsed. Julius Caesar seized power and was assassinated. Thousands were killed in the civil wars, their property confiscated and distributed to the victorious veterans; and Augustus established the principate, granting himself effective political control while preserving the forms of republican government. This last phenomenon, the retention of traditional political institutions under the principate, had a greater impact on literary history than has generally been recognized. It allowed the discursive practices of traditional Roman public life to be
maintained, even as the actual political impact of those practices was carefully circumscribed (Ogilvie 1980:161).