Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

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Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC–8 BC), “Horace” to the English-speaking world, was a Roman lyrical poet of satire and historical/pastoral odes. Son of a freedman, eventually he became close friends with Virgil. His famous Ars poetica has been an abc of poetry practice and criticism. He was given a farm near Tivoli, and there he wrote his pastoral and other poems. His main works are his Satires, Odes, Epodes, and Epistles. His Ars suggests that a poet should read widely, and be precise and plain in thought and speech. His influence has been enormous on Pope, Ben Jonson, Auden, and Frost. Too often missing is the fact that he is also a passionate, songful poet (as is Catullus, who is also hysterically funny as well as being amorous), and is as moving as William Blake in his poignant portraits. Horace’s legacy has largely been limited, because of ignorance of the original text, to the satiric. He remains a world still to be discovered.