Quintus Horatius Flaccus By Joanna Shoemaker
Early Life -Born 65 BC in Venusia -Father was a freedman of humble means -Father took great pains to educate Horace, who studied in Rome and later lived in Athens
The Civil War years -Served as an officer in Brutus' Republican army -Escaped after loss at battle of Philippi -Returned to Rome and Augustus' ascendency, obtained government clerkship
Life on the Farm -Early writing in Rome impresses Mycenas, friend of Augustus -Mycenas becomes dear friend and patron, providing a farm in the Sabine Region -Became acquainted with other greats of the time -Died in 8 B.C.
General Philosophy -Horace is generally regarded as an Epicurean -appreciation for aesthetic pleasures of life, little regard for religious matters or the immortal soul However: "Horace, too, for all his having been a student of formal philosophy in Athens, for all his professed faith in philosophy as a boon for rich and poor and old and young, and for all his inclination to yield to the natural human impulse toward system and adopt the philosophy of one of the Schools, is a consistent follower of neither Stoic nor Epicurean. Both systems attracted him by their virtues, and both repelled him because of their weaknesses. His half-humorous confession of wavering allegiance is only a reflection of the shiftings of a mind open to the appeal of both" --Showerman, Horace Interpreted Y O L O
Works Part I: Satires -Two Books, released in 35 and 30 BC and inspired by Greek Lucilius -Deal with larger moral issues, concrete experiences, literary criticism, and various subjects -Can often be quite harsh and even vulgar, but derive a lot of humor from references to known public figures "Horace is much more pure than Lucilius, and, unless my love for him misleads me, is the first of satirists" --Quintilian, quoted by Fairclough in Defense of Horace
A Satirical Sample: -Book I, satire 9: Horace relates meeting a clingy acquaintance in the forum who refuses to leave him alone Fuscus Aristius comes up, a dear friend of mine, and one who knows the fellow well. We make a stop. "Whence come you? whither are you going ?" he asks and answers. I began to twitch him [by the elbow], and to take hold of his arms [that were affectedly] passive, nodding and distorting my eyes, that he might rescue me. Cruelly arch he laughs, and pretends not to take the hint : anger galled my liver. " Certainly," [said I, " Fuscus,] you said that you wanted to communicate something to me in private." "I remember it very well ; but will tell it you at a better opportunity : to-day is the thirtieth sabbath. Would you affront the circumcised Jews?" I reply, "I have no scruple [on that account]." "But I have : I am something weaker, one of the multitude. You must forgive me : I will speak with you on another occasion." And has this sun arisen so disastrous upon me! The wicked rogue runs away, and leaves me under the knife.
A comment on the satire "The whole poem exhibits a confident combination of humour and humanity, and in the dialogue form the resources of metre and language are exploited to the full. Yet underneath the wit Horace has a serious message for his readers about admission to Maecenas' circle and hence, by implication, to the entourage of Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) himself." --A.J. Woodman in A Reference Guide to World Literature
Works Part II: Epodes -Epodes are iambic and usually invective in nature--inspired by the Greek Archilochus -Published in 29 BC -Some of these Epodes are not biting in tone, but instead deal with episodes of war, life, and love: "In these the poet takes as his model the biting verses of the old Greek poet Archilochus, whose caustic bitterness of personal satire is to some extent reproduced, though this tone cannot be long main- tained by the genial Horace, who even here gives utterance to a lighter and happier note. Thus, the third is an amusing retort on Maecenas, who has played a practical joke on the poet; the thir- teenth is a drinking-song in a merry vein; the fourteenth is an apology for not finishing his book, on the pretense that he is in love" --Fairclough, In defense of Horace
Works Part III: Epistles and Ars Poetica -Epistles I were written in hexameter and released in 20 BC -Ars poetica, a longer critique of literature, was released with Epistles II, in 14 BC "Horace in these works produced a body of poetry which for its principal inspiration owes virtually nothing to the world of Greece. In this his poetry differs fundamentally both from that of other Roman poets, almost all of whom wrote in rivalry of Greek genres, and from the rest of the poetry which he wrote himself." --Woodman, A Reference Guide to World Literature
Works Part IV: Odes, Carmen Saeculare -Odes written in Aeolic meters--unrivalled in lyrical skill -Odes I-III were released in 23 BC, Odes IV was released in 11 BC -Subjects include history, love, beauty, war, immortality of art, but also life's simpler pleasures "The poet's ethical as well as literary aesthetics are shaped by the opposition between the grand and the slight. As in the satires, there are many statements of Horace's preference for the small and simple over the grandiose...Serious poetic ambition is tempered by the comic self-deprecation recurrent in Horace's work" --O'Neill, Ancient Roman Writers
Odes Book III, Ode 3 -Horace is exalting what men have accomplished through determination, and tangentially brings up Juno's conditional reprieve of Trojans in Italy: "'The fortune of Troy, reviving under unlucky auspices, shall be re peated with lamentable destruction, I, the wife and sister of Jupiter, leading on the victorious bands. Thrice, if a brazen wall should arise by means of its founder Phoebus, thrice should it fall, demolished by my Grecians ; thrice should the captive wife bewail her husband and her children.' These themes ill suit the merry lyre. Whither, muse, are you going ? — Cease, impertinent, to relate the language of the gods, and to debase great things by your trifling measures." "In this group of poems a digression of this nature surely has a special significance, and various explanations have been offered. Possibly the last stanza offers a suggestion: Horace stops himself by the reminder that this is matter for epic, not lyric, poetry. Is not this perhaps a complimentary allusion to Virgil's great work already well under way?" --Ullman in The Journal of Classics
Critical Reception and Lasting Influence "Neither simple nor passionate, sensuous only in so far as he is a gourmet of food and of language, aere perennius,QuintusHoratiusFlaccus, bald-headed, pot-bellied, underbred, sycophantic, less poetic than any other great master of literature, occupies one complete volume of the British Museum Catalogue and about half the bad poetry in English might seem to have been written under his influence" --Ezra Pound "For every educated man of what we may loosely call Western Christendom read some Horace, from the time of the Renaissance when we first started the wholesale production of educated men" --Peter Oliver "Not only a "monumentum aere perennius" (monument to outlast bronze, Odes 3.30.1), the Odes are a challenge no other Latin poet equaled...nothing like the Odes had ever before been attempted in Latin poetry. Although Horatian lyric would significantly influence later poetry, in antiquity few Latin poets imitated Horace's lyric precedent. --Jeanne O'neill
Bibliography Woodman, A.J. "Horace: Overview." Reference Guide to World Literature. Ed. Lesley Henderson. 2nd ed. New York: St. James Press, 1995.Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2013. O'Neill, Jeanne Neumann. "Horace." Ancient Roman Writers. Ed. Ward W. Briggs. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 211. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. Showerman, Grant. "Horace Interpreted." Horace and His Influence (1922). Longmans, Green and Co., 1927. 3-39. Rpt. in Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2013. A Defense of HoraceH. Rushton Fairclough The Classical Journal , Vol. 11, No. 8 (May, 1916), pp. 454-465 Q. Horatius Flaccus, Ph.D., Professor of Ethics Berthold L. Ullman The Classical Journal , Vol. 13, No. 4 (Jan., 1918), pp. 258-266 Pound, Ezra. "Horace." The Criterion 9.35 (Jan. 1930): 217-227. Rpt. in Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 39. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. Oliver, Peter. "Introductory Essay." Trans. Fred Bates Lund and Robert Montraville Green. Quintus Horatius Flaccus: A Selection of His Works. Club of Odd Volumes, 1953. vii-xiv. Rpt. in Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Mar. 2013. The Works of Horace, Translated Literally C. Smart, New York, 1894