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Ancient Roman lyric poet and satirist

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Life of Horace

Horace (65-8 BC) was an ancient Roman lyric poet and satirist.

Born Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Horace (as he is known in English), the son of a freed slave, studied in Rome and Athens. When the Civil War broke in the wake of the murder of Julius Caesar, Horace served under Brutus and fought in the Battle of Philippi. After the war, he obtained a post in the civil service and turned to writing poetry (at first mainly satires and lampoons) to supplement his income.

He then began writing verse. This brought him to the attention of Virgil, Rome's greatest poet, who introduced him to Maecenas, the patron of the arts and advisor of Octavian (the latter was soon to become the Emperor Augustus). Horace obtained the patronage of Maecenus and was rewarded with the gift of a farm in the Sabine Hills where spent the rest of his life. After the death of Virgil, Horace reigned as the supreme Roman lyric poet.

Horace's main works included:
* Satires (c. 35-30 BC)
* Epodes (30 BC)
* Odes (Latin, Carmina) (c. 25 BC and c. 11 BC), written in four books
* Epistles (c. 21 BC and c. 11 BC), a series of letters (epistles) in hexameter verses
* Ars Poetica (c. 10-8 BC), a critical work of similar influence over the centuries to that of Aristotle's Poetics.

The Odes of Horace were originally imitations of Greek poets such as Pindar, Sappho and Alcaeus; but Horace was to write ode in his own unique way. His odes addressed topics that ranged from politics to personal concerns.

Horace was an Epicurean in good times and a Stoic in difficult times. He was independent and yet loyal to his friends. These virtues can be seen in his literary works.

Horace Over the Centuries

In antiquity Horace was imitated by other Roman poets such as Ovid and Propertius.

In the Middle Ages he was admired and imitated by Petrarch, Ronsard and Du Bellay.

In the 17th and 18th centuries his odes were imiated by Alexander Pope, his Ars Poetica had a great influence on literary theory and criticism, and his Satires and Epistles were greatly admired by John Dryden.

In the 19th and 20th centuries Horace influenced poets as diverse as Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, A. E. Housman, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNiece and Robert Frost. One famous First World War poem quotes Horace ironically (Wilfred Owen's Dulce et decorum est).

Some Famous Quotes from Horace

Nil desperandum.
(Never despair)
-- Odes, Book I, ode vii, line 27

Permitte divis cetera.
(Leave all else to the gods.)
-- Odes, Book I, ode ix, line 9.

...dum loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
(As we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.)
-- Odes, Book I, Ode xi, line 7

Aequam memento rebus in arduis
Servare mentem.
(In adversity, remember to keep an even mind.)
-- Odes, Book II, ode iii, line 1

Pulvis et umbra sumus.
(We are but dust and shadow.)
-- Odes, Book IV, ode vii, line 16

Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri,
Quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.
(Not bound to swear allegiance to any master,
wherever the storm drives me, I turn in as a visitor.)
-- Epistles, Book I, epistle i, line 14

Virtus est vitium fugere et sapientia prima
stultitia caruisse.
(To flee vice is the beginning of virtue, and to have got rid of folly is the beginning of wisdom.)
-- Epistles, Book I, epistle i, line 41

Dimidium facti qui coepit habet; sapere aude; incipe!
(He who has begun has half done. Dare to be wise; begin!)
-- Epistles, Book I, epistle ii, line 40

Ira furor brevis est: animum rege: qui nisi paret imperat.
(Anger is a momentary madness; so control your passion or it will control you.)
-- Epistles, Book I, epistle ii, line 62

Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci,
Lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.
(He wins every hand who mingles profit with pleasure, by delighting and instructing the reader at the same time.)
-- Ars poetica, line 343

Inde fit ut raro, qui se vixisse beatum
Dicat et exacto contentus tempore vita
Cedat uti conviva satur, reperire queamus.
(We rarely find anyone who can say he has lived a happy life, and who, content with his life, can retire from the world like a satisfied guest.)
-- Satires, Book I, satire i, line 117

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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