Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes

By Gordon Jennings Laing | Go to book overview

HORACE

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

WHAT Virgil did for epic poetry, Horace did for lyric. Disregarding everything that Roman precursors in the same field had attempted, he looked to Greek poetry for his models. He even went so far as to speak slightingly of Catullus, whose lyrical gift far surpassed his own. His position in literature is unique. Without any very special inspiration, intensity of feeling, or profundity of thought, he produced a body of verse that not only succeeded in winning the interest of his own generation, but has held the attention of all subsequent ages. The real basis of this success is probably the character of the man, with his wide human sympathy, his practical wisdom and knowledge of the world, and his fund of humor and good fellowship,-- qualities which find their expression through a medium to which felicity of phrase, unusual skill in handling metrical forms, and the fine sense of appropriateness in figure, word, and theme, which is an attribute of the artist only, give a rare distinction. He was a freedman's son, born at Venusia, a town on the confines of Apulia, in 65 B. C. Of his education at Rome, which he owed to his father's foresight and self-sacrifice, he himself tells us something in his Satires.

If pure and innocent I live, and dear
To those I love (self-praise is venial here),
All this I owe my father, who, though poor,
Lord of some few lean acres, and no more,
Was loath to send me to the village school,
Whereto the sons of men of mark and rule--

-273-

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Masterpieces of Latin Literature: Terence: Lucretius: Catullus: Virgil: Horace: Tibullus: Propertius: Ovid: Petronius: Martial: Juvenal: Cicero: Caesar: Livy: Tacitus: Pliny the Younger: Apuleius; with Biographical Sketches and Notes
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