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Epistle , for example, tactfully declines Maecenas’ request to repeat his 9 —21; A. Terranova, “A proposito dell’ Epistola di Orazio,” Sic Gym. The poetry of criticism: Horace, Epistles II and Ars poetica. Responsibility: Ross S. Kilpatrick. . Orazio, Numicio e la morale del possible []. Preview. Select. The Art of Poetry: An Epistle to the Pisos. English. Book ID: The Art of Poetry: Horace / Horaz / Horacio / Orazio (9 books). Wikipedia: See this author on.

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The epistpe Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses Satires and Epistles and caustic iambic poetry Epodes. The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: His career coincided with Rome’s momentous change from a republic to an empire.

An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian’s right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenasand became a spokesman for the new regime. For some commentators, his association with the regime was a delicate balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence he was “a master of epistlle graceful sidestep” [1] but for others he orazik, in John Dryden ‘s phrase, “a well-mannered court slave”.

Horace can be regarded as the world’s first autobiographer [3] — In his writings, he tells us far more episte himself, his character, his development, and his way of life than any other great poet in antiquity. Some of the biographical writings contained in his writings can be supplemented from the short but valuable “Life of Horace” by Suetonius in his Lives of the Poets. Various Italic dialects were spoken in the area and eplstle perhaps enriched his feeling for language.

He could have been familiar with Greek words even as a young boy and later he poked fun at the jargon of mixed Greek and Oscan spoken in neighbouring Canusium.


According to a local tradition reported by Horace, [9] a colony of Romans or Latins had been installed in Venusia after the Samnites had been driven out early in the third century. In that epistls, young Horace could have felt himself to be a Roman [10] [11] though there are also indications that he regarded himself as a Samnite or Sabellus by birth. Images of his childhood setting and references to it are found throughout his poems.

Horace’s father was probably a Venutian taken captive by Romans in the Social War, prazio possibly he orazil descended from a Sabine captured in the Samnite Wars.

Either way, he was a slave for at least part of his life. He was evidently a man of strong abilities however and managed to gain his freedom and improve his social position. Thus Horace claimed to be the free-born son of a prosperous ‘coactor’. The father spent a small fortune on his son’s education, eventually accompanying him to Rome to oversee his schooling and moral development.

The poet later paid tribute to him in a poem [18] that one modern scholar considers the best memorial by any son to his father.

If my character is flawed by a few minor faults, but is otherwise decent and moral, if you can point out only a few scattered blemishes on an otherwise immaculate surface, if no one can accuse me of greed, or of prurience, or of profligacy, if I live a virtuous life, free of defilement pardon, for a moment, my self-praiseand if I am to my friends a good friend, my father deserves all the credit As it is now, he deserves from me unstinting gratitude and praise.

I could never be ashamed of such a father, nor do I feel any need, as many people do, to apologize for being a freedman’s son. He never mentioned his mother in his verses and he might not have known much about her.

Perhaps she also had been a slave. Horace left Rome, possibly after his father’s death, and continued his formal education in Athens, a great centre of learning in the ancient world, where he arrived at nineteen years of age, enrolling in The Academy.

Founded by PlatoThe Academy was now dominated by Epicureans and Stoicswhose theories and practises made a deep impression on the young man from Venusia. Rome’s troubles following the assassination of Julius Caesar were soon to epitsle up with him. Marcus Junius Brutus came to Athens seeking support for the republican cause. Horace later recorded it as a day of embarrassment for himself, when he fled without his shield, [26] but allowance should be made for his self-deprecating humour.

Moreover, the incident allowed him to identify himself with some famous poets who had long ago abandoned their shields in battle, notably his heroes Alcaeus and Archilochus. The comparison with the latter poet is uncanny: Archilochus lost his shield in a part of Thrace near Philippi, and he was deeply epietle in the Greek colonization of Thasoswhere Horace’s die-hard comrades finally surrendered.


Octavian offered an early amnesty to his opponents and Horace quickly accepted it. On returning to Italy, he was confronted with yet another loss: Horace later claimed that he was reduced to poverty and this led him to try his hand at poetry. At best, it offered future prospects through contacts with other poets and their patrons among the rich.

The Epodes belong to iambic poetry. Iambic poetry dpistle insulting and obscene language; [30] [31] sometimes, it is referred to as blame poetry. Horace modelled these poems on the poetry of Archilochus.

Social bonds in Rome had been decaying since the destruction of Carthage a little more than a hundred years earlier, due to the vast wealth that could be gained by plunder and corruption. One modern scholar has counted a dozen civil wars in the hundred years leading up to 31 BC, including the Spartacus rebellion, eight years before Horace’s birth. At bottom, all the problems that the times were stirring up were of a social nature, which the Hellenistic thinkers were ill qualified to grapple with.

Some of them censured oppression of the poor by the rich, but they gave no practical lead, though they may have hoped to see well-meaning rulers doing so.

Philosophy was drifting into absorption in self, a quest for private contentedness, to be achieved by self-control and restraint, without much regard for the fate of a disintegrating community. Horace’s Hellenistic background is clear in his Satires, even though the genre was unique to Latin literature. He brought to it a style and outlook suited to the social and ethical issues confronting Rome but he changed its role from public, social engagement to private meditation.

An introduction soon followed and, after a discreet interval, Horace too was accepted. He depicted the process as an honourable one, based on merit and mutual respect, eventually leading to true friendship, and there is reason to believe that his relationship was genuinely friendly, not just with Maecenas but afterwards with Augustus as well.

Horace – Wikipedia

Horace gained encouragement and material support, the politicians gained a hold on a potential dissident. However most Romans considered the civil wars to be the result of contentio dignitatisor rivalry between the foremost families of the city, and he too seems to have accepted the principate as Rome’s last hope for much needed peace. In 37 BC, Horace accompanied Maecenas on a journey to Brundisiumdescribed in one of his poems [41] as a series of amusing incidents and charming encounters with other friends along the way, such as Virgil.

In fact the journey was political in its motivation, with Maecenas en route to negotiatie the Treaty of Tarentum with Antony, a fact Horace artfully keeps from the reader political issues are largely avoided in the first book of satires. The gift, which included income from five tenants, may have ended his career at the Treasury, or at least allowed him to give it less time and energy.

By this time, he had attained the status of eques Romanus[45] perhaps as a result of his work at the Treasury.

Odes 1—3 were the next focus for his artistic creativity. He adapted their forms and themes from Greek lyric poetry of the seventh and sixth centuries BC. The fragmented nature of the Greek world had enabled his literary heroes to express themselves freely and his semi-retirement from the Treasury in Rome to his own estate in the Sabine hills perhaps empowered him to some extent also [47] yet even when his lyrics touched on public affairs they reinforced the importance of private life.

In the period 27—24 BC, political allusions in the Odes concentrated on foreign wars in Britain 1. He greeted Augustus on his return to Rome in 24 BC as a beloved ruler upon whose good health he depended for his own happiness 3. The public reception of Odes 1—3 disappointed him however. He attributed the lack of success to jealousy among imperial courtiers and to his isolation from literary cliques. He addressed his first book of Epistles to a variety of friends and acquaintances in an urbane style reflecting his new social status as a knight.

In the opening poem, he professed a deeper interest in moral philosophy than poetry [50] but, though the collection demonstrates a leaning towards stoic theory, it reveals no sustained thinking about ethics. According to Suetonius, the second book of Epistles was prompted by Augustus, who desired a verse epistle to be addressed to himself. Augustus was in fact a prolific letter-writer and he once asked Horace to be his personal secretary.

Horace refused the secretarial role but complied with the emperor’s request for a verse letter. It celebrated, among other things, the 15 BC military victories of his stepsons, Drusus and Tiberius, yet it and the following letter [56] were largely devoted to literary theory and criticism.


The literary theme was explored still further in Ars Poeticapublished separately but written in the form of an epistle and sometimes referred to as Epistles 2.

Suetonius recorded some gossip about Horace’s sexual activities late in life, claiming that the walls of his bedchamber were covered with obscene pictures and mirrors, so that he saw erotica wherever he looked. Both men bequeathed their property to Augustus, an honour that the emperor expected of his friends. The dating of Horace’s works isn’t known precisely and scholars often debate the exact order in which they were first ‘published’. There are persuasive arguments for the following chronology: Horace composed in traditional metres borrowed from Archaic Greeceemploying hexameters in his Satires and Epistlesand iambs in his Epodesall of which were relatively easy to adapt into Latin forms.

His Odes featured more complex measures, including alcaics and sapphicswhich were sometimes a difficult fit for Latin structure and syntax. Despite these traditional metres, he presented himself as a partisan in the development of a new and sophisticated style. He was influenced in particular by Hellenistic aesthetics of brevity, elegance and polish, as modeled in the work of Callimachus.

As soon as Horace, stirred by his own genius and encouraged by the example of Virgil, Varius, and perhaps some other poets of the same generation, had determined to make his fame as a poet, being by temperament a fighter, he wanted to fight against all kinds of prejudice, amateurish slovenliness, philistinism, reactionary tendencies, in short to fight for the new and noble type of poetry which he and his friends were endeavouring to bring about.

In modern literary theory, a distinction is often made between immediate personal experience Urerlebnis and experience mediated by cultural vectors such as literature, philosophy and the visual arts Bildungserlebnis. Though elitist in its literary standards, it was written for a wide audience, as a public form of art.

Horace generally followed the examples of poets established as classics in different genres, such as Archilochus in the EpodesLucilius in the Satires and Alcaeus in oraxio Odesepisrle broadening his scope for the sake of variation and because his models weren’t actually suited to the realities confronting him.

Archilochus and Alcaeus epistlf aristocratic Greeks whose poetry had a social and religious function that was immediately intelligible to their audiences but which became a mere artifice or literary motif when transposed to Rome.

However, the artifice of the Odes is also integral to their success, since they could now accommodate a wide range of emotional effects, and the blend of Greek and Roman elements adds a sense of detachment and universality. It was no idle boast.

His Epodes were modeled on the verses of the Greek poet, as ‘blame poetry’, yet he avoided targeting real scapegoats. Whereas Archilochus presented himself as a serious and vigorous opponent of wrong-doers, Horace aimed for comic effects and adopted the persona of a weak and ineffectual critic of his times as symbolized for example in his surrender to the witch Canidia in the final epode. He imitated other Greek lyric poets as well, employing a ‘motto’ technique, beginning each ode with some reference to a Greek original and then diverging from it.

The satirical poet Lucilius was a senator’s son who could castigate his peers with impunity. Horace was a mere freedman’s son who had to tread carefully. His work expressed genuine freedom or libertas. His style included ‘metrical vandalism’ and looseness of structure. Horace instead adopted an oblique and eoistle style of satire, ridiculing stock characters and anonymous targets.

His libertas was the private freedom of a philosophical outlook, not a political or social privilege. The Epistles may be considered among Horace’s most innovative works. There was nothing like spistle in Greek or Roman literature. Occasionally poems had had some resemblance to letters, including an elegiac poem from Solon to Mimnermus and some lyrical poems from Pindar to Hieron of Syracuse.

Lucilius had composed a satire in the epistlw of a oraazio, and some epistolary poems were composed by Catullus and Propertius. But nobody before Horace had ever composed an entire collection of verse letters, [73] let alone letters with a focus on philosophical problems.

The sophisticated and flexible style that he had developed in his Satires was adapted to the more serious needs of this new genre. His craftsmanship as a wordsmith is apparent even in his earliest attempts at this or that kind of episle, but his handling of each genre orazjo to improve over time as he adapted it to his own needs.