By indexer
90 days ago

Horace: a celebrated Roman poet

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On 8th December 65 BC the famous Latin poet Horace was born in southern Italy. Quintus Horatius Flaccus was destined to become the virtual poet laureate of Rome under Emperor Augustus, but he was lucky to have lived long enough to get that far, considering his backing of the wrong side in his youth.

He came from humble stock, his father being a freed slave, but he was given an excellent education, including being sent to Athens which was the intellectual hub of the Roman world.

While he was in Athens, Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC and Horace took the side of the republicans who had committed the murder for fear that Caesar would make himself king. Horace fought at the two battles of Philippi in Greece, at which the conspirators were defeated by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian (who later became Emperor Augustus).

In the second battle, Horace saved himself by running from the field. In later life he was to write the notorious line (the “old lie” as Wilfred Owen was to call it many centuries later), “Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori” – how sweet and noble it is to die for one’s country. Clearly, he was not thinking such elevated thoughts as he fled from the battle!

Horace returned to Italy where he made a living of sorts from writing poetry. This brought him to the attention of the then poet laureate Virgil, who in turn introduced him to Maecenas, a close associate of Octavian.

Maecenas gave Horace a country house, in which he poured out a huge corpus of poetry, including his famous odes, satires and epodes. He also composed “Ars Poetica”, a treatise on the art of poetry that was to be influential on European poetry right through to modern times.

Horace was introduced to Augustus, whom he had fought against at Philippi, and was elevated to the laureateship when Virgil died. Augustus was clearly prepared to overlook Horace’s former life and accept him for what he was, namely a highly gifted poet.

Horace gave the world several phrases that are still used today, notably “carpe diem” (seize the day) and “concordia discors” (harmony in discord).

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90d
carmen3521 Good content!
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RasmaSandra Interesting story. I am interested in ancient poets. This is one I had not heard of. I do recognize those phrases.
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indexer @RasmaSandra I'm surprised that you hadn't heard of Horace. He was one of the "big three" - the others being Ovid and Virgil.
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RasmaSandra @indexer Ovid and Virgil I know well
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