Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)hôrˈəs, 65 B.C.–8 B.C., Latin poet, one of the greatest of lyric poets, b. Venusia, S Italy. He studied at Rome and Athens and, joining Brutus and the republicans, fought (42 B.C.) at Philippi. Returning to Rome, he was introduced by Vergil to Maecenas, who became (c.38 B.C.) his friend and constant benefactor. Maecenas gave him a farm in the Sabine Hills, where he lived thereafter except for lengthy visits to Rome. His first book of Satires appeared in 35 B.C., the Epodes c.30 B.C., the second book of Satires in 29 B.C., three books of Odes c.24 B.C., and the first book of Epistles c.20 B.C. The fourth book of Odes, the second book of Epistles, a hymn (the Carmen Saeculare ), and the Ars Poetica, or Epistle to the Pisos, appeared c.13 B.C. Horace was an unrivaled lyric poet. His early poems show the influence of the Greek Archilochus, but his later verse displays complete and individualized adaption of Greek meters to Latin. As his genius matured, Horace's themes turned from personal vilification to more generalized satire and to literary criticism. He gives a vivid picture of contemporary Roman society and represents especially the spirit of the Augustan age of Rome—a time of peace, when the arts were cultivated earnestly without pretense. He had much influence on European poetry.
See Loeb translations by H. R. Fairclough (rev. ed. 1929) and C. E. Bennett (rev. ed. 1964); poetic translations by J. Michie (1965) and N. Rudd (1979, repr. 1981); biography by P. Levi (1998); studies by E. Fraenkel (1957), S. Commager (1962), L. P. Wilkinson (1951, repr. 1965), D. A. West (1967), and C. D. N. Costa, ed. (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.