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Through them he secured, probably in 39 or 38 B. Horace was awkward and stammered, and Maecenas, as usual, kept his own counsel; Horace felt that he had failed in his efforts. Nine months later, however, Maecenas wrote to him, and he was admitted to the circle of Maecenas's friends. In 35 B. Meanwhile, Horace was growing in Maecenas's favor and eventually in that of the future emperor Augustus. In 37 B. Horace accompanied Maecenas, along with Virgil and Varius, on a diplomatic mission to Brundisium Brindisi , the discomforts and incidents of which are commemorated in one of the most famous satires of Book I.

Sometime later, probably in 34 or 33 B. Thereafter Horace led a life of comfort and retirement in the company of his books and good friends, including many of the most prominent men in Roman political and literary life, and the major events of his life were the publication of his various books: the first three books of his Odes in 23 B. In the last years of his life, probably after the composition of the fourth book of the Odes, he wrote his Ars poetica.

Horace died on Nov. Suetonius related that at one time Augustus had offered Horace the position of private secretary; but Horace, who had by then acquired a love of leisure and lazy habits totally unsuited to regular work Suetonius says that Horace lay in bed until 10, which is even more indolent than it would be today, since the Romans were up by dawn , also had the tact, and confidence in the Emperor's good graces, to refuse without offending.

He also says that Augustus once wrote complaining that Horace was not mentioning him and his regime's accomplishments enough this would not necessarily have been considered immodest even for a private citizen at the time and asking further references to him. This was probably not long before the writing of the Carmen saeculare, since Horace seems to have felt that his literary activity was finished with the publication of Book I of the Epistles, perhaps because of fears for his health: we do not know when Augustus offered him the private secretaryship.

The Satires, Horace's first published works, although some of the Epodes seem to be earlier, were called by Horace himself sermonesas well as saturae. This combination of terms is accurate in describing their nature. Sermones means "discourses" or "essays, " with the emphasis on the conversational nature of these works. Satura, on the other hand, originally meant a mixture of some sort, a mingling of diverse elements. It had no original sense of personal criticism or attack, nor does it in Horace; in his use of the term he is actually going back to an earlier form of satura, preceding his exemplar, Lucilius.

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In the Satires of Horace, the friend of and apologist for Augustus, the faults and vices attacked are attacked in the abstract; the persons mentioned are types, not recognizable persons; and the geniality and humor with which such characters as the boorish host who makes every conceivable blunder in giving a dinner party or the bore who persists in offering his services and forcing his attentions on Horace cannot be compared to the loathing with which Juvenal pours his scorn on his victims.

Horace, in his Satires, is at his best and most typical in the anecdotal relation of his journey to Brundisium or in the satire in which his slave Davus takes advantage of the license of the Saturnalia to treat Horace to a pointed and detailed account of his faults. It might be said that Horace is throughout more interested in self-revelation and exploration than in the exposure of public vices and faults. The Epode s or "lambs, " as Horace called them, from the meter which predominates in the collection have had the least influence of any of his works.

They seem to be mainly inspired by Archilochus; part of them are satirical, in either the modern or the usual Horatian sense, while others treat various themes—an invitation to dinner, the delights of the country, politics—and are more characteristic of the Odes. It is generally considered that Horace's greatest achievement, and one of the greatest achievements of all poetry, was the first three books of the Odes.

They are in many different meters and on many different themes, although some themes and types recur again and again—the pleasures of convivial drinking and conversation with friends; the joys as distinct from the passions of love with a singularly unreal collection of girls ; the shortness of life and the inevitability and finality of death; rather conventional hymns to the gods; and praises of the benefits and wisdom of Augustus's policies for the restoration of civil order and public morality, especially in the noble and stately first six odes of Book III, the "Roman Odes.

These "Roman Odes, " if overpraised in the past, remain worthy of praise; they are not likely now, however, to attract the unqualified and unexamined assent to their assumptions they once received.

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The official Carmen saeculare and Book IV, largely official and national, are generally of less value: the additional nonofficial poems of Book IV, usually considered little more than filler, include, however, what many consider the greatest of all his poems, the magnificent Odes IV, 7, on the inevitability of death. Here, as in general, Horace's supreme achievement is the expression of ordinary thoughts and sentiments with perfection and finality: this is the true classical ideal, expressed by Alexander Pope as saying "what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed.

The Epistles of Book I are similar to the Satires, except that they are all written as letters, rather than as conversations and dramatizations of scenes. They are more reflective and philosophical in tone than the Satires and seem, as was indicated above, to have been meant as Horace's final statement, beyond which he did not intend to write more. In the last years of his life, however, he returned to the epistolary form to discuss his views on the nature of literature.

The second book of the Epistles consists of only two letters: the first, addressed to the Emperor, contains a sketch of the history of early Roman literature, which Horace prefers to the work of more recent writers, and an analysis of the inherent flaws of Romans which worked against the development of a great literature—coarseness of temperament, carelessness in composition, and the degenerate taste of readers; the second is largely autobiographical but also contains some remarks on the development of style, stressing the need for careful choice of diction and the essentiality of unremitting revision until perfect ease and aptness is obtained.

The Ars poetica Art of Poetry , the last of Horace's works, is in form a letter to the Pisones, probably the sons of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, based on a lost Hellenistic treatise. It is divided into three parts, discussing, respectively, poetry in general, the form of the poem, and the poet. Throughout, suitability—of subject, of form and language to the subject, of thought and dialogue to the character—is stressed, and the poet is advised to read widely in the best models, to be meticulous in his composition, and to submit his work to the best criticism which he can obtain.

A very large part of the poem is concerned with the drama, and Horace's descriptions and precepts, hardened into unbreakable laws, had a great influence in and after the Renaissance, especially in setting the rigid rules which French classical drama imposed on itself. The poem as a whole, in fact, seems to the modern reader to suffer because it has been so often quoted and adapted, and its teachings so absorbed into the elements of criticism, that it must perforce seem hackneyed. Few works of literary criticism have ever had an influence approaching that of the Ars poetica or have contained such sound advice.

There have been several important books on Horace in English in recent years.

Eduard Fraenkel, Horace , provides the most masterly overall account of Horace's works. Sensitive attention to the lyric poems is given by L. Wilkinson, Horace and His Lyric Poetry ; 2d ed. Two studies that deal with the Satires and Epistles are C. See also Jacques Perret, Horace ; G. Among the older works are W.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

Atkins, Literary Criticism in Antiquity, vol. It celebrated, among other things, the 15 BC military victories of his stepsons, Drusus and Tiberius, yet it and the following letter [56] were largely devoted to literary theory and criticism. The literary theme was explored still further in Ars Poetica , published separately but written in the form of an epistle and sometimes referred to as Epistles 2. Suetonius recorded some gossip about Horace's sexual activities late in life, claiming that the walls of his bedchamber were covered with obscene pictures and mirrors, so that he saw erotica wherever he looked.

Life at COTR: Horace

Both men bequeathed their property to Augustus, an honour that the emperor expected of his friends. The dating of Horace's works isn't known precisely and scholars often debate the exact order in which they were first 'published'. There are persuasive arguments for the following chronology: [60]. 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.

His Odes featured more complex measures, including alcaics and sapphics , which were sometimes a difficult fit for Latin structure and syntax. Despite these traditional metres, he presented himself as a partisan in the development of a new and sophisticated style. He was influenced in particular by Hellenistic aesthetics of brevity, elegance and polish, as modelled in the work of Callimachus.

As soon as Horace, stirred by his own genius and encouraged by the example of Virgil, Varius, and perhaps some other poets of the same generation, had determined to make his fame as a poet, being by temperament a fighter, he wanted to fight against all kinds of prejudice, amateurish slovenliness, philistinism, reactionary tendencies, in short to fight for the new and noble type of poetry which he and his friends were endeavouring to bring about.

In modern literary theory, a distinction is often made between immediate personal experience Urerlebnis and experience mediated by cultural vectors such as literature, philosophy and the visual arts Bildungserlebnis. Though elitist in its literary standards, it was written for a wide audience, as a public form of art.

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. Archilochus and Alcaeus were aristocratic Greeks whose poetry had a social and religious function that was immediately intelligible to their audiences but which became a mere artifice or literary motif when transposed to Rome.

However, the artifice of the Odes is also integral to their success, since they could now accommodate a wide range of emotional effects, and the blend of Greek and Roman elements adds a sense of detachment and universality. It was no idle boast. His Epodes were modelled on the verses of the Greek poet, as 'blame poetry', yet he avoided targeting real scapegoats. Whereas Archilochus presented himself as a serious and vigorous opponent of wrong-doers, Horace aimed for comic effects and adopted the persona of a weak and ineffectual critic of his times as symbolized for example in his surrender to the witch Canidia in the final epode.

He 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.

Protégé of Maecenas

The satirical poet Lucilius was a senator's son who could castigate his peers with impunity. Horace was a mere freedman's son who had to tread carefully. His work expressed genuine freedom or libertas. His style included 'metrical vandalism' and looseness of structure.

Horace instead adopted an oblique and ironic style of satire, ridiculing stock characters and anonymous targets. His libertas was the private freedom of a philosophical outlook, not a political or social privilege. The Epistles may be considered among Horace's most innovative works. There was nothing like it in Greek or Roman literature. Occasionally poems had had some resemblance to letters, including an elegiac poem from Solon to Mimnermus and some lyrical poems from Pindar to Hieron of Syracuse.

Lucilius had composed a satire in the form of a letter, and some epistolary poems were composed by Catullus and Propertius. But nobody before Horace had ever composed an entire collection of verse letters, [73] let alone letters with a focus on philosophical problems.

Horace: A Life

The sophisticated and flexible style that he had developed in his Satires was adapted to the more serious needs of this new genre. His craftsmanship as a wordsmith is apparent even in his earliest attempts at this or that kind of poetry, but his handling of each genre tended to improve over time as he adapted it to his own needs. Nevertheless, the first book includes some of his most popular poems. 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. His Epodes and Satires are forms of 'blame poetry' and both have a natural affinity with the moralising and diatribes of Cynicism.