Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65-8 B.C.), Roman poet, was born near Venusia in the south of Italy, on December 8th, 65 B.C. From his father - a manumitted slave, who had been a tax-collector oran auctioneer and had devoted his savings to the purchase of et small estate - he received a better education than usually fell to the lot of members of his class. His studies at Rome were continued up to his eighteenth or nineteenth year. He then went to Athens to receive instruction in the higher branches of philosophy and rhetoric. Whilst at Athens, in the latter part of 44 B.C., he joined the army of Brutus, who was proprietor of Macedonia and had come to the city for the purpose of raising troops. He held a high command in the republican army at Philippi, and after that disastrous battle effected his return to Italy, where he escaped proscription at the hands of the Triumvirate, but was deprived of his property. A small post in the service of the State hardly gave him enough to live on, and he turned to literature as a means of increasing his income. His earlier productions were mostly satires, some directed against the vices of society, others against the foibles of individuals, and it was not till he began to write lyrics that the higher qualities of his genius became manifest. He now became the friend of Virgil, by whom he was introduced to his patron, the minister Maecenas (about 38 B.C.). Meecenas' gift of a farm amidst the Sabine hills placed him beyond the fear of want, and he was able to give himself up to a life of easy conviviality, alternating with rural pursuits, which was thoroughly in accordance with hil tastes. By Meecenas he was brought to the notice of Augustus, who is said to have offered him a position in the royal household, which he declined. As the author of the Carmen Seculare, written for the celebration of the Secular Games in 17 B.C., he occupied a public position of a more secure and honourable kind. His death took place on November 27 in the year 8 B.C.

The works of Horace, with the dates assigned to them by the best authorities, are - two books of Satires, of which the first appeared in 35, the second in 30'B.C.; the collection of lyrics called Epodes (about 30 B.C.); four books of Odes, of which the first three were published in 19 B.C.; the earlier Epistles, written about the same time; the Carmen Seculare, and the- later Epistles, including the fragment of literary criticism entitled Ars Poetica.

The qualities which entitle Horace to rank among the poets of all time are his wide knowledge oi" men and things, his sympathy with the light and) shades of life and character, and his exquisite literary skill. His artistic gifts are especially conspicuous in his Odes - a form of composition which he carried to the highest state of perfection - while his Epistles owe their charm to their worldly wisdom, their genial humour, and their easy but refined familiarity. Horace was an adherent of the Epicurean school of philosophy - he calls himself "a pig of the herd of Epicurus" - which taught that life is short and that men should make the most of it while they can. But this end is to be realised not by giving way to the violence of the passions, but by cultivating every innocent enjoyment, and thus producing a calm and happy temper of mind. Although the gaiety and carelessness which mark Horace's poetry may at first sight seem somewhat superficial, he by no means disregards. the deep problems of life and destiny. Occasionally he shows a flash of insight into the deeper springs of feeling, and through the whole of his poetry there runs a note of regret for the shortness of life and the vanity of all human effort.