68 Facts About Horace


Horace crafted elegant hexameter verses and caustic iambic poetry.


The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings".


Horace's career coincided with Rome's momentous change from a republic to an empire.


Horace could have been familiar with Greek words even as a young boy and later he poked fun at the jargon of mixed Greek and Oscan spoken in neighbouring Canusium.


In that case, young Horace could have felt himself to be a Roman though there are indications that he regarded himself as a Samnite or Sabellus by birth.


Italians in modern and ancient times have always been devoted to their home towns, even after success in the wider world, and Horace was no different.


Horace's father was probably a Venutian taken captive by Romans in the Social War, or possibly he was descended from a Sabine captured in the Samnite Wars.


Horace was evidently a man of strong abilities however and managed to gain his freedom and improve his social position.


Horace never mentioned his mother in his verses and he might not have known much about her.


Horace left Rome, possibly after his father's death, and continued his formal education in Athens, a great centre of learning in the ancient world, where he arrived at nineteen years of age, enrolling in The Academy.


An educated young Roman could begin military service high in the ranks and Horace was made tribunus militum, a post usually reserved for men of senatorial or equestrian rank and which seems to have inspired jealousy among his well-born confederates.


Horace later recorded it as a day of embarrassment for himself, when he fled without his shield, but allowance should be made for his self-deprecating humour.


Octavian offered an early amnesty to his opponents and Horace quickly accepted it.


Horace later claimed that he was reduced to poverty and this led him to try his hand at poetry.


Horace describes in glowing terms the country villa which his patron, Maecenas, had given him in a letter to his friend Quintius:.


The remains of Horace's Villa are situated on a wooded hillside above the river at Licenza, which joins the Aniene as it flows on to Tivoli.


Each poem normally has a archetype person Horace decides to shame, or teach a lesson to.


Horace brought to it a style and outlook suited to the social and ethical issues confronting Rome but he changed its role from public, social engagement to private meditation.


An introduction soon followed and, after a discreet interval, Horace too was accepted.


In 37 BC, Horace accompanied Maecenas on a journey to Brundisium, described in one of his poems as a series of amusing incidents and charming encounters with other friends along the way, such as Virgil.


In fact the journey was political in its motivation, with Maecenas en route to negotiatie the Treaty of Tarentum with Antony, a fact Horace artfully keeps from the reader.


Horace adapted their forms and themes from Greek lyric poetry of the seventh and sixth centuries BC.


Horace attributed the lack of success to jealousy among imperial courtiers and to his isolation from literary cliques.


Horace addressed his first book of Epistles to a variety of friends and acquaintances in an urbane style reflecting his new social status as a knight.


Maecenas was still the dominant confidante but Horace had now begun to assert his own independence, suavely declining constant invitations to attend his patron.


Horace refused the secretarial role but complied with the emperor's request for a verse letter.


The dating of Horace's works isn't known precisely and scholars often debate the exact order in which they were first 'published'.


Horace composed in traditional metres borrowed from Archaic Greece, employing hexameters in his Satires and Epistles, and iambs in his Epodes, all of which were relatively easy to adapt into Latin forms.


Horace's Odes featured more complex measures, including alcaics and sapphics, which were sometimes a difficult fit for Latin structure and syntax.


Horace was influenced in particular by Hellenistic aesthetics of brevity, elegance and polish, as modelled in the work of Callimachus.


Satires 1.5, for example, recounts in detail a real trip Horace made with Virgil and some of his other literary friends, and which parallels a Satire by Lucilius, his predecessor.


Horace generally followed the examples of poets established as classics in different genres, such as Archilochus in the Epodes, Lucilius in the Satires and Alcaeus in the Odes, later broadening his scope for the sake of variation and because his models weren't actually suited to the realities confronting him.


Horace proudly claimed to introduce into Latin the spirit and iambic poetry of Archilochus but without persecuting anyone.


Horace claimed to be the first to introduce into Latin the lyrical methods of Alcaeus and he actually was the first Latin poet to make consistent use of Alcaic meters and themes: love, politics and the symposium.


Horace imitated other Greek lyric poets as well, employing a 'motto' technique, beginning each ode with some reference to a Greek original and then diverging from it.


Horace was a mere freedman's son who had to tread carefully.


Horace instead adopted an oblique and ironic style of satire, ridiculing stock characters and anonymous targets.


Horace's libertas was the private freedom of a philosophical outlook, not a political or social privilege.


Horace's Satires are relatively easy-going in their use of meter but formal and highly controlled relative to the poems of Lucilius, whom Horace mocked for his sloppy standards.


Horace developed a number of inter-related themes throughout his poetic career, including politics, love, philosophy and ethics, his own social role, as well as poetry itself.


Many of Horace's poems contain much reflection on genre, the lyric tradition, and the function of poetry.


The reception of Horace's work has varied from one epoch to another and varied markedly even in his own lifetime.


Horace's Odes were to become the best received of all his poems in ancient times, acquiring a classic status that discouraged imitation: no other poet produced a comparable body of lyrics in the four centuries that followed.


Horace's Epistles provided them both with a model for their own verse letters and it shaped Ovid's exile poetry.


Juvenal's caustic satire was influenced mainly by Lucilius but Horace by then was a school classic and Juvenal could refer to him respectfully and in a round-about way as "the Venusine lamp".


Statius paid homage to Horace by composing one poem in Sapphic and one in Alcaic meter, which he included in his collection of occasional poems, Silvae.


Horace's poems continued to be school texts into late antiquity.


Horace was often evoked by poets of the fourth century, such as Ausonius and Claudian.


Prudentius presented himself as a Christian Horace, adapting Horatian meters to his own poetry and giving Horatian motifs a Christian tone.


Boethius, the last major author of classical Latin literature, could still take inspiration from Horace, sometimes mediated by Senecan tragedy.


The German scholar, Ludwig Traube, once dubbed the tenth and eleventh centuries The age of Horace, and placed it between the aetas Vergiliana of the eighth and ninth centuries, and the aetas Ovidiana of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a distinction supposed to reflect the dominant classical Latin influences of those times.


Such a distinction is over-schematized since Horace was a substantial influence in the ninth century as well.


Almost all of Horace's work found favour in the Medieval period.


Horace wrote four different kinds of poems on account of the four ages, the Odes for boys, the Ars Poetica for young men, the Satires for mature men, the Epistles for old and complete men.


Horace's popularity is revealed in the large number of quotes from all his works found in almost every genre of medieval literature, and in the number of poets imitating him in quantitative Latin meter.


However he borrowed from Horace when composing his Italian sonnets.


The vernacular languages were dominant in Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth century, where Horace's influence is notable in the works of such authors as Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Boscan, Sa de Miranda, Antonio Ferreira and Fray Luis de Leon, the last writing odes on the Horatian theme beatus ille.


Horace was often commended in periodicals such as The Spectator, as a hallmark of good judgement, moderation and manliness, a focus for moralising.


Horace's verses offered a fund of mottoes, such as simplex munditiis, splendide mendax, sapere aude, nunc est bibendum, carpe diem.


Horace's works were used to justify commonplace themes, such as patriotic obedience, as in James Parry's English lines from an Oxford University collection in 1736:.


Some Latin imitations of Horace were politically subversive, such as a marriage ode by Anthony Alsop that included a rallying cry for the Jacobite cause.


Horace even emerged as "a quite Horatian Homer" in his translation of the Iliad.


Horace appealed to female poets, such as Anna Seward and Elizabeth Tollet, who composed a Latin ode in Sapphic meter to celebrate her brother's return from overseas, with tea and coffee substituted for the wine of Horace's sympotic settings:.


French editions of Horace were influential in England and these too were regularly bowdlerized.


Horace maintained a central role in the education of English-speaking elites right up until the 1960s.


Horace was translated by Sir Theodore Martin but minus some ungentlemanly verses, such as the erotic Odes 1.25 and Epodes 8 and 12.


Horace's Epodes have largely been ignored in the modern era, excepting those with political associations of historical significance.


Horace was portrayed by Norman Shelley in the 1976 miniseries I, Claudius.