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Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 – 8 BC) is known to the English speaking world as Horace. He was born near Venusia in southern Italy and was the son of a manumitted slave. When young he was taken to Rome and was educated by the best masters. At the age of about 18 he traveled to Athens to study Greek and Philosophy. In 44 BC he joined Brutus who was raising an army in Athens. He fought as a staff officer in the battle of Philippi and was forced to flee after the Republican defeat that resulted. When an amnesty was declared he returned to Rome but found that his property had been confiscated. He was, nonetheless, able to purchase an appointment as a Treasury official.

His first writings were chiefly satires and lampoons. It was his early lyrical works, however, that brought him to the attention of Virgil who introduced him to a patron, Maecenas. It was this patronage that allowed Horace to cease his employment in the civil service and concentrate on his writing.

Horace was the unrivaled lyric poet of his time and has enjoyed an extraordinary popularity in literature. He produced a first book of Satires in 35 BC and a second volume in 30 BC. At about the same time he produced a collection of lyrics, the Epodes. The three books of Odes were produced in 19 BC and are considered to be his greatest works. He also produced his Epistles, Carmen Seculare and a fourth book of Odes.

He coined phrases seize the day, the golden mean, and Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (it is sweet and appropriate to die for your country).

Horace was privy to the Circle of Mycenae, an elite group of poets under the direct sponsorship of Augustus, that largely produced panegyric works.

Pede poena claudo.

Retribution comes slowly, but surely.

See also