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Who was Horace?
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. The rhetorician Quintillian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words."
Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses and caustic iambic poetry. The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings". Some of his iambic poetry has seemed repulsive to modern audiences.
His career coincided with Rome's momentous change from Republic to Empire. An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian's right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenas, and became a spokesman for the new regime. For some commentators, his association with the regime was a delicate balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence but for others he was, in John Dryden's phrase, "a well-mannered court slave".
- In the word of no master am I bound to believe.
- Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.
- Seize the day.
- Let us my friends snatch our opportunity from the passing day.
- The avarice person is ever in want; let your desired aim have a fixed limit.
- A word once uttered can never be recalled.
- Nothing is too high for the daring of mortals: we storm heaven itself in our folly.
- He that has given today may, if he so please, take away tomorrow.
- One gains universal applause who mingles the useful with the agreeable, at once delighting and instructing the reader.
- Who then is free? The one who wisely is lord of themselves, who neither poverty, death or captivity terrify, who is strong to resist his appetites and shun honors, and is complete in themselves smooth and round like a globe.