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Q Horatius Flaccus

(65BC - 8BC)

Short Biography

Horace was born in Venusia in Southern Italy. His father was a financially successful freedman (former slave), able to buy a small farm and give his son the benefit of an education in Rome. Horace writes a typically warm-hearted and unsentimental appreciation of what his father did  for him in Satires I.6

Education and military service
In 45BC (20) he went to Athens to study at the best school of philosophy, but his education there was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war, and he joined the party of Brutus, serving as a military tribune at the Battle of Philippi, where Brutusí forces were routed. Governance of Italy fell to Octavian (later known as Augustus), and, in order to reward his soldiers, he confiscated the land of his enemies, including Horaceís fatherís farm. 

Return to Rome
Returning to Rome, Horace secured a post as clerk to the quaestor, and in about 38BC (27) he was introduced to Maecenas, who was to become his lifelong patron. 

First publication
His first book of Satires was published in 35BC (30), and it was at about this period that Maecenas presented him with a farm in the Sabine Hills, where he was to spend much of his time, and to which he became increasingly attached. The book of Epodes was published in about 30BC (35), followed by the second book of Satires in 29BC (36), the first three books of Odes in around 23BC (42), and the first book of Epistles in 21BC (28).

Through Mycaenas he came to the attention of the Emperor Augustus, and was asked to compose a sacred hymn for the celebration of the secular games in 17BC (48). He published his second book of Epistles and fourth book of Odes in 13BC (52), at the request of Augustus, in part to celebrate the military victories of the Emperorís stepsons Drusus and Tiberius. The Ars Poetica followed in around 9BC.

Self portrait
He describes himself at the age in 21BC (44) as of small stature, prematurely grey and fond of basking in the sun.

He died suddenly in 8BC (57), shortly after his patron Maecenas.

Horace Biography : Links to poems

Ode to Poetry: Odes Book II Ode XX

Ode to a Wine Jar: Odes: Book III Ode XXI

Winter is Fled: Odes, Book IV Ode VII 


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