Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

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Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

Sources

8 Dec. 65-27 Nov. 8 b.c.e.

Soldier, administrator, poet

Financial Independence. Horace, as he is known in English, was born on 8 December 65 B.C.E. in Venusia in southeast Italy as the son of a freedman. Nonetheless, he was sent to Greece, like many noblemen, to finish his education. There he joined Caesar’s assassin, Marcus Brutus, and followed him into Asia Minor. As military tribune he fought on the losing (republican) side at Philippi. He returned to Rome, where he obtained an administrative position. He got to know Vergil and Varius, who introduced him to Maecenas. Horace became Maecenas’s protege and lifelong friend. In 32 B.C.E. Maecenas gave him a farm in the Sabine country, which made the poet financially independent. Maecenas also introduced him to Augustus, who offered him a post as his secretary, but Horace declined. Shortly after the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.E. he published his Epodes, which included some of his earliest works. The first book of Satires was actually published earlier, in 35 B.C.E., the second book in 30. This work was followed by the first three books of Odes, which were published as an artistic unit in 23 B.C.E. Since this work was not a success, Horace returned to hexameter poetry with his verse Epistles. The first book of these appeared in 20 B.C.E.; the second book, including the so-called Ars Poetica, appeared maybe as late as 10. He was commissioned to write a hymn for Augustus’s celebration of a new century, which he followed up by a fourth book of Odes. He died on 27 November 8 B.C.E., only months after his friend Maecenas.

Sources

David Armstrong, Horace (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).

S. J. Harrison, Homage to Horace: A Bimillenary Celebration (Oxford: Clarendon Press / New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

David H. Porter, Horace’s Poetic Journey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).

Matthew S. Santirocco, Unity and Design in Horace’s Odes (Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1986).