Horace Odes II: Vatis Amici

By David West; Horace | Go to book overview

Introduction

THE LIFE OF HORACE

Quintus Horatius Flaccus was born in 65 BC in Venusia, a town in central southern Italy near where the regions Lucania and Apulia met. His father was an auctioneer's agent, owned a small farm, and was a freedman, that is a slave who had been freed in his lifetime. He took a great interest in his son's education, taking him to Rome to study Greek, and sending him to Athens, where his principal study was Greek philosophy. On the Ides of March 44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated by conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. Brutus then withdrew to Athens, and while attending lectures in philosophy and gathering an army, he recruited young Horace with the rank of tribunus militum, the second level of legionary command under the legatus. After the conspirators were defeated in 42 BC by Antony and Octavian* at the battle of Philippi, Horace returned to Rome and purchased an administrative post as assistant to the magistrates, a treasury official, scriba quaestorius. In 38 BC he was introduced to Maecenas, friend and adviser of Octavian. Horace's first book of Satires appeared in 35 BC, and soon after that, thanks to the generosity of Maecenas, he became the happy owner of an estate in the Sabine country. In 31 BC Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium and in 27 BC he took the title of Augustus. The Epodes and a second book of Satires appeared in 30 BC, the first three books of Odes in 23, the Epistles in 19, the Secular Hymn in 17, the fourth book of Odes in 13 BC and at about the same time the second book of Epistles. Maecenas died in 8 BC and in his will, by which he left all his property to Augustus, there is a clause: 'Be mindful of Horatius Flaccus as though he were myself', Horati Flacci ut mei memor esto. Horace died fifty-nine days later and the two men were buried close to one another on Maecenas' estate on the Esquiline Hill in Rome.

____________________
*
Augustus was born Gaius Octavius in 63 BC. In 44 BC he was adopted as son by his great-uncle Julius Caesar under the name of Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus (normally called Octavian in English).

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Horace Odes II: Vatis Amici
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Odes Book 2 1
  • List of Works Cited 149
  • Brief Notes on Authors 153
  • Index of Topics 156
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