Horace, whose real name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, was the most famous Augustan poet. He was a member of Virgil’s and Lucius Varius Rufus’ literary group. Love, the pleasures of friendship and simple living, and the craft of poetry were the most common subjects in his works. Many playwrights and writers, including Lope de Vega, Michel de Montaigne, Henry Fielding, Calderón de la Barca, Pierre Corneille, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Voltaire, and Diderot, were affected by his work “Ars Poetica.” Later writers such as Ben Jonson, Alexander Pope, W.H. Auden, Robert Frost, and others were affected by his work. “Odes,” “Epodes,” “Satires,” “Epistles,” and “Carmen Saeculare” were among his other notable compositions.
Horace’s Childhood and Adulthood
Horace was born in Venusia, a small village on the border of Apulia and Lucania, on December 8, 65 BC. In Venusia, his father, an Italian freedman, maintained a small farm.
His father eventually relocated to Rome, where he worked as a collector at auctions, acting as a middleman between buyers and sellers and earning 1% of the purchase price for each service.
His father spent a significant amount of money on his son’s education, sending him to the Grammaticus Orbilius, Rome’s finest school.
Later, he was assigned to study Greek and philosophy in Athens. After Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, he joined the army and served under the command of Brutus.
He fought in the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC as a staff officer. Marc Antony and Octavian (later Augustus) destroyed Brutus’ army in this fight.
Horace stated that he fled the combat, leaving his shield behind. His military career was ended by defeat at war, and he lost his family’s possessions.
Horace decided to return to Rome after the triumphant Octavian proclaimed an amnesty for those who had fought against him.
He was relegated to living in poverty after losing his family’s property. However, he was soon employed as a scribe quaestors, a Treasury officer. It gave him the opportunity to work on his poetry.
During this time, he got acquainted with the poets Virgil and Varius, and by 38 BC, he had met Maecenas, Augustus’ counselor.
Maecenas became a personal friend of his and bestowed upon him an estate in the Sabine Hills near Tibur. This estate provided Horace with little income as well as the opportunity to write.
Satires, composed in hexameter verse and describing the poet’s rejection of public life, were probably published around 35 BC. Horace produced the “Epodes” in 29 BC, and the first three books of his famous work, “Odes,” in 23 BC. He produced the first book of “Epistles” in 20 BC.
When Virgil died in 19 BC, Horace rose to prominence as Rome’s most famous poet. He was already overworked, so when Augustus offered him the position of his personal secretary, he had no choice but to turn down the generous offer.
Emperor Augustus commissioned Horace to write a ceremonial poem commemorating his reign, which was to be read at the Secular Games in 17 BC. He wrote the second book of “Epistles” around 14 BC.
The fourth book of “Odes” was published the following year. Horace authored the critical “Ars Poetica” in the closing years of his life.
He died on November 27, 8 BC, at the age of 57, just a few months after his close friend Maecenas. Horace donated his inheritance to Augustus because he had no heirs, and he was buried beside Maecenas’ tomb.
His main Influence
Along with Virgil and Ovid, Horace is regarded as one of the most important poets of the Augustan Age. Many of his poetic topics, such as the beatus file (an appraisal of humble living) and carpe diem (literally “choose the day,” or “enjoy the day”), became popular in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, influencing writers such as Petrarch and Dante.
The topics of his poetry were taken seriously as early as the 16th century when Renaissance culture and its veneration of Roman and Greek history had become well-established.
Horace’s influence can be seen in the works of notable writers such as Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Boscán, Torquato Tasso, Pierre de Ronsard, and Fray Luis de León throughout this time period. Fray Luis de León is credited with composing some of the most famous “Odes” based on the beatus ille teachings.
Horace’s poetry had a strong influence on other notable poets such as Shakespeare and Quevedo. Until the conclusion of romanticism, his key book “Ars Poetica” served as a canonical guide for creating poetry.
Despite the fact that most people didn’t understand the work’s premise or concepts, it was widely read and analyzed by numerous writers. “Ars Poetica” maintained the unrivaled distinction of being one of the most important works of any poem, play, or prose work in terms of form, phrase, and location.
Several playwrights and writers, including Lope de Vega, Michel de Montaigne, Henry Fielding, Calderón de la Barca, Pierre Corneille, Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Voltaire, and Diderot, were influenced by this book.
Horace is also credited with coining a number of Latin idioms that are still used today, whether in Latin or in translation.
Carpe diem, Dulce et decorum est pro-Patria Mori (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s nation), Nunc est Bibendum (Now we must drink), and aurea mediocrities (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country) are some of these words (“golden mean”).
In the Oxford Latin Course, a Latin textbook for secondary students, Horace is the inspiration for the character Quintus Horatius Flaccus.
Style of Writing
Horace’s poems were composed in Greek meters, as were the writings of the majority of early Latin authors.
Some were written in hexameters, which were relatively straightforward to convert into Latin, but others, such as “Odes,” were composed in more sophisticated forms like alcaics and Sapphics.
Despite the fact that “Odes” was composed in a variety of meters and themes, it had a deceptive finality and simplicity in expressing ordinary ideas and sentiments.
Love, the pleasures of friendship and simple life, and the craft of poetry are recurring topics in Horace’s works. His writings were autobiographical at times and dealt with moral and political themes.
He stated in “Epodes” that he is departing Rome in search of a new Golden Age across the Atlantic. Horace expressed his acceptance of Augustus’ reforms in his work “Secular Hymn.”
Estimated Net worth
Horace is a retired American basketball player who has a net worth of $35 million.