OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS
HORACE was born in 65 BC. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated by conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. Two years later, when they were defeated at Philippi, Horace commanded one of their legions. On his return to Rome he purchased a position in the Treasury and wrote satires and epodes under the patronage of Maecenas, chief adviser of Octavian. With the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BC Octavian became master of the world, taking the name Augustus in 27 BC. Horace Odes ( 23 BC) and Virgil's Aeneid ( 19 BC) were Augustan masterpieces to rival the great achievements of Greek poetry. Virgil died in 19 BC and two years later Horace composed the hymn for the Secular Games, held approximately every 110 years, seeing this commission as recognition for his life's work. In 13 BC he produced his fourth Book of Odes, largely inspired by Pindar, the most daring and sublime of the Greek lyric poets. He died in 8 BC, 59 days after his friend Maecenas.
DAVID WEST is Emeritus Professor of Latin in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. His previous publications include Reading Horace ( 1967), The Imagery and Poetry of Lucretius ( 1969), Virgil Aeneid, a New Prose Translation ( 1990), and Carpe Diem ( 1995), an edition of Horace Odes I with translation and commentary. Similar editions of Odes II and III are in preparation.