Q. Hora'tius Flaccus
was born on the 8th of December (vi. idus Decemb.), in the year B. C. 65, A. U. 689, during the consulship of L. Aurelius Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus.
The poet is his own biographer.
The place of his birth, the station and occupation of his father, the principal events and the general character of his life, rest upon his own authority. His birthplace was on the doubtful confines of Lucania and Apulia, in the territory of the military colony Venusia. He appears to have cherished an attachment to the romantic scenes of his infancy; he alludes more than once to the shores of the sounding Aufidus, near which river he was born (Carm.
3.30. 10, 4.9. 2), and in a sweet description of an adventure in his childhood (Carm.
3.4. 9, 20), he introduces a very distinct and graphic view of the whole region, now part of the Basilicata. (Comp. A. Lombardi, Monumente della Basilicata,
in Bullet. della Instit. Archaeol. di Roma,
vol. i. Dec. 19, 1829.)
The father of Horace was a libertinus: he had received his manumission before the birth of the poet, who was of ingenuous birth, but did not altogether escape the taunt, which adhered to persons even of remote servile origin. (Sat. i.
6. 46.) Of his mother nothing is known: from the silence of the poet, it is probable that she died during his early youth.
It has been the natural and received opinion that the father derived his name from some one of the great family of the Horatii, which, However, does not appear to have maintained its distinction in the later days of the republic.
But there seems fair ground for the recent opinion, that he may have been a freedman of the colony of Venusia, which was inscribed in the Horatian tribe. (G. F. Grotefend, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopädie,
and E. L. Grotefend, in the Literary Transactions of Darmstadt.
) We know no reason for his having the praenomen Quintus, or the more remarkable agnomen Flaccus: this name is not known to have been borne by any of the Horatian family.
His father's occupation was that of collector (coactor
), either of the indirect taxes farmed by the publicans, or at sales by auction (exactionum or exauctionum); the latter no doubt a profitable office, in the great and frequent changes and confiscations in property during the civil wars.
With the profits of his office he had purchased a small farm in the neighbourhood of Venusia, where the poet was born.
The father, either in his parental fondness for his only son, or discerning some hopeful promise in the boy (who, if much of the romantic adventure alluded to above be not mere poetry, had likewise attracted some attention in the neighbourhood "as not unfavoured by the gods "), determined to devote his whole time and fortune to the education of the future poet. Though by no means rich, and with an unproductive farm, lie declined to send the young Horace to the common school, kept in Venusia by one Flavius, to which the children of the rural aristocracy, chiefly retired military officers (the consequential sons of consequential centurions), resorted, with their satchels and tablets, and their monthly payments. (Sat. i.
71. 5.) Probably about his twelfth year, the father carried the young Horace to Rome, to receive the usual education of a knight's or senator's son.
He took care that the youth should not be depressed with the feeling of inferiority, and provided him with dress and with the attendance of slaves, befitting the higher class with which he mingled.
The honest parent judged that even if his son should be compelled to follow his own humble calling, he would derive great advantages from a good education.
But he did not expose the boy unguarded to the dangers and temptations of a dissolute capital : the father accompanied him to the different schools of instruction, watched over his morals with gentle severity, and, as the poet assures us, not only kept him free from vice, but even the suspicion of it. Of his father Horace always writes with becoming gratitude, bordering on reverence. (Sat. 1.4. 105.) One of these schools was kept by Orbilius, a retired military man, whose flogging propensities have been immortalised by his pupil. (Epist.
He was instructed in the Greek and Latin languages: the poets were the usual school books -- Homer in the Greek, the old tragic writer, Livius Andronicus (who had likewise translated the Odyssey
into Saturnian verse), in the Latin.
But at this time a good Roman education was not complete without a residence at Athens, the great school of philosophy, perhaps of theoretic oratory.
The father of Horace was probably dead before his son set out for Athens; if alive, he did not hesitate to incur this further expense.
In his 18th year the young Horace proceeded to that seat of learning. Theomnestus the Academic, Cratippus the Peripatetic, and Philodemus the Epicurean, were then at the head of the different schools of philosophy. Horace seems chiefly to have attached himself to the opinions which he heard in the groves of Academus, though later in life he inclined to those of Epicurus. (Epist.
2.2. 45.) Of his companions we know nothing certain; but Quintus Cicero the younger was among the youth then studying at what we may call this university of antiquity.
The civil wars which followed the death of Julius Caesar interrupted the young Horace in his peaceful and studious retirement. Brutus came to Athens; and in that city it would have been wonderful if most of the Roman youth had not thrown themselves with headlong ardour into the ranks of republican liberty. Brutus, it is probable, must have found great difficulty in providing Roman
officers for his new-raised troops. Either from his personal character, or from the strong recommendation of his friends, Horace, though by no means of robust constitution, and altogether inexperienced in war, was advanced at once to the rank of a military tribune, and the command of a legion: his promotion, as he was of ignoble birth, made him an object of some jealousy.
It is probable that he followed Brutus into Asia; some of his allusions to the cities in Asia Minor appear too distinct for borrowed or conventional description ; and the somewhat coarse and dull fun of the story which forms the subject of the seventh satire seems to imply that Horace was present when the adventure occurred in Clazomenae. If indeed he has not poetically heightened his hard service in these wars, he was more than once in situations of difficulty and danger. (Carnm. 2.7. 1.)
But the battle of Philippi put an end to the military career of Horace; and though he cannot be charged with a cowardly abandonment of his republican principles, he seems, happily for mankind, to have felt that his calling was to more peaceful pursuits.
The playful allusion of the poet to his flight, his throwing away his shield, and his acknowledgment of his fears (Carm.
2.7. 9, Epist.
2.2. 46, &c.) have given rise to much grave censure and as grave defence. (Lessing, Rettungen des Horaz. Werke,
vol. iv. p. 5, ed. 1838; Wieland, Notes on Epist.
It could be no impeachment of his courage that he fled with the rest, after the total discomfiture of the army; and that he withdrew at once from what his sagacity perceived to be a desperate cause. His poetical piety attributes his escape to Mercury, the god of letters. Horace found his way back to Italy, and as perhaps he was not sufficiently rich or distinguished to dread proscription, or, according to the life by Suetonius, having obtained his pardon, he ventured at once to return to Rome.
He had lost all his hopes in life; his paternal estate had been swept away in the general forfeiture. Venusia is one of the cities named by Appian (App. BC 4.3
) as confiscated.
According to the life by Suetonius, Horace bought a clerkship in the quaestor's office.
But from what sources he was enabled to obtain the purchase-money (in these uncertain times such offices may have been sold at low prices), whether from the wreck of his fortunes, old debts, or the liberality of friends, we have no clue. On the profits of that place he managed to live with the utmost frugality. His ordinary fare was but a vegetable diet; his household stuff of the meanest ware, and, unlike poets in general, he had a very delicate taste for pure water. How long he held this place does not appear; but the scribes seem to have thought that they had a right to his support of the interests of their corporation, after he became possessed of his Sabine estate. (Sat.
2.7. 36.) Yet this period of the poet's life is the most obscure, and his own allusions perplex and darken the subject.
In more than one place he asserts that his poverty urged him to become a poet. (Epist.
But what was this poetry? Did he expect to make money or friends by it? or did he write merely to disburthen himself of his resentment and indignation at that period of depression and destitution, and so to revenge himself upon the world by an unsparing exposure of its vices ? Poetry in those times could scarcely have been a lucrative occupation. If, as is usually supposed, his earliest poetry was bitter satire, either in the Lucilian hexameter, or the sharp iambics of his Epodes, he could hardly hope to make friends; nor, however the force and power of such writings might command admiration, were they likely to conciliate the ardent esteem of the great poets of the time, of Varius or of Virgil, and to induce them to recommend him to the friendship of Maecenas.
But this assuredly was not his earliest poetic inspiration.
He had been tempted at Athens to write Greek verses: the genius of his country--the God Quirinus--had wisely interfered, and prevented him from sinking into an indifferent Greek versifier, instead of becoming the most truly Roman poet. (Sat. i.
10. 31, 35.)
It seems most probable that some of the Odes (though collected and published, and perhaps having received their last finish, at a later period of his life) had been written and circulated among his friends. Some of his amatory lyrics have the ardour and freshness of youth, while in others he acknowledges the advance of age. When those friendly poets, Varius and Virgil, told Maecenas what Horace was (dixere quid essem
), they must have been able to say more in his praise than that he had written one or two coarse satires, and perhaps a few bitter iambics; more especially if, according to the old scholiast, Maecenas himself had been the object of his satire.
This interpretation, however, seems quite inconsistent with the particular account which the poet gives of his first interview with Maecenas (Sat.
1.6, 54, &c). On his own side there is at first some shyness and timidity, afterwards a frank and simple disclosure of his birth and of his circumstances: on the other the careless, abrupt, and somewhat haughtily indifferent manner of the great man, still betrays no appearance of wounded pride, to be propitiated by humble apology. For nearly nine months Maecenas took no further notice of the poet but at the end of that period he again sought his acquaintance, and mutual esteem grew up with the utmost rapidity. Probably the year following this commencement of friendship (B. C. 37), Horace accompanied his patron on that journey to Brundusium, so agreeably described in the fifth Satire, book i.
This friendship quickly ripened into intimacy; and between the appearance of the two books of Satires, his earliest published works, Maecenas bestowed upon the poet a Sabine farm, sutficient to maintain him in ease, comfort, and even in content (satis beatus unicis Sabinis
), during the rest of his life.
The situation of this Sabine farm was in the valley of Ustica (Carm.
1.17. 11), within view of the mountain Lucretilis, part of what is now called Mount Gennaro, and near the Digentia, about fifteen miles from Tibur (Tivoli).
The valleys still bear names clearly resembling those which occur in the Horatian poetry: the Digentia is now the Licenza; Mandela, Bardella; Ustica, Rustica. (Capmartin de Chaupy, Maison d'Horace,
vol. iii. Rome, 1767; Sir W. Gell, Rome and its Vicinity,
vol. i. p. 315.)
For the description of the villa, its aspect, climate, and scenery, see Epist.
1.10. 11, 23, and Epist.
A site exactly answering to the villa of Horace, and on which were found ruins of buildings, was first discovered by the Abbé Capmartin de Chaupy, and has since been visited and illustrated by other travellers and antiquarians. (Domenico di Sanctis, Dissertazione sopra la Villa d'Orazio Flacco,
The site and ruins of the Temple of Vacuna (Epist.
1.10. 49) seem to be ascertained. (Sebastiani, Viaggio a Tivoli.
The estate was not extensive; it produced corn, olives, and vines; it was surrounded by pleasant and shady woods, and with abundance of the purest water; it was superintended by a bailiff (villicus
), cultivated by five families of free coloni (Epist.
1.14. 3); and Horace employed about eight slaves (Sat.
2.7. 118). Besides this estate, his admiration of the beautiful scenery in the neighbourhood of Tibur inclined him either to hire or to purchase a small cottage in that romantic town; and all the later years of his life were passed between these two country residences and Rome. (For Tibur, see Carm.
1.7. 10-14. 2.6. 5-8, 3.4. 21-24, Epod.
1.7.44-45, 1.8. 12, Carm.
4.2. 27-32, 4.3. 10-12.) In Rome, when the poet was compelled to reside there, either by business, which he hated (invisa negotia),
or the societv which he loved, if he did not take up his abode, he was constantly welcome in some one of the various mansions of his patron; and Maecenas occasionally visited the quiet Sabine retreat of the poet.
From this time his life glided away in enjoyable repose, occasionally threatened but not seriously interrupted by those remote dangers which menaced or disturbed the peace of the empire. When Maecenas was summoned to accompany Octavius in the war against Antony, Horace (Epod.
i.) had offered to attend him; but Maecenas himself either remained at Rome, or returned to it without leaving Italy. From that time Maecenas himself resided constantly either in his magnificent palace on the Esquiline, or in some of his luxurious villas in the neighbourhood of Rome. Horace was one of his chosen society.
This constant transition from the town to the country life is among the peculiar charms of the Horatian poetry, which thus embraces every form of Roman society.
He describes, with the same intimate familiarity, the manners, the follies, and vices of the capital; the parasites, the busy coxcombs, the legacy-hunters, the luxurious banquets of the city; the easy life, the quiet retirement, the more refined society, the highest aristocratical circles, both in the city, and in the luxurious country palace of the villa; and even something of the simple manners and frugal life of the Sabine peasantry.
The intimate friendship of Horace introduced him naturally to the notice of the other great men of his period, to Agrippa, and at length to Augustus himself.
The first advances to friendship appear to have been made by the emperor; and though the poet took many opportunities of administering courtly flattery to Augustus, celebrating his victories over Antony, and on the western and eastern frontiers of the empire, as well as admiring his acts of peace, vet he seems to have been content with the patronage of Maecenas, and to have declined the offers of favour and advancement made by Augustus himself.
According to the life by Suetonius, the emperor desired Maecenas to make over Horace to him as his private secretary; and instead of taking offence at the poet's refusal to accept this office of trust and importance, spoke of him with that familiarity (if the text be correct, coarse and unroyal familiarity) which showed undiminished favour, and bestowed on him considerable sums of money.
He was ambitious also of being celebrated in the poetry of Horace. The Carmen Seculare was written by his desire; and he was, in part at least, the cause of Horace adding the fourth book of Odes, by urging him to commemorate the victory of his step-sons Drusus and Tiberius over the Vindelici.
With all the other distinguished men of the time, the old aristocracy, like Aelius Lamia, the statesmen, like Agrippa, the poets Varius, Virgil, Pollio, Tibullus, Horace lived on terms of mutual respect and attachment. The "Personae Horatianae" would contain almost every famous name of the age of Augustus.
Horace died on the 17th of November, A. U. C. 746, B. C. 8, aged nearly 57. His death was so sudden, that he had not time to make his will; but he left the administration of his affairs to Augustus, whom he instituted as his heir. IIe was buried on the slope of the Esquiline Hill, close to his friend and patron Maecenas, who had died before him in the same year. (Clinton, Fasti Hellen.
Horace has described his own person. (Epist.
He was of short stature, with dark eyes and dark hair (Art. Poet.
37), but early tinged with grey. (Epist. l.c.; Carm.
In his youth he was tolerably robust (Epist.
1.7. 26), but suffered from a complaint in his eyes. (Sat.
In more advanced life he grew fat, and Augustus jested about his protuberant belly. (Aug. Epist. Frag. apud Sueton. in Vita.
) His health was not always good.
He was not only weary of the fatigue of war, but unfit to bear it (Carm.
2.6, 7, Epod.
1.15), and he seems to have inclined to be a valetudinarian. (Epist.
1.7. 3.) When young he was irascible in temper, but easily placable. (Carm.
1.16. 22, &c., 3.14. 27, Epist.
In dress he was rather careless. (Epist.
1.1. 94.) His habits, even after he became richer, were generally frugal and abstemious; though on occasions, both in youth and in maturer age, he seems to have indulged in conviviality.
He liked choice wine, and in the society of friends scrupled not to enjoy the luxuries of his time.
Horace was never married; he seems to have entertained that aristocratical aversion to legitimate wedlock, against which, in the higher orders, Augustus strove so vainly, both by the infliction of civil disabilities and the temptation of civil privileges.
In his various amours he does not appear to have had any children. Of these amours the patient ingenuity of some modern writers has endeavoured to trace the regular date and succession, if to their own satistfaction, by no means to that of their readers.
With the exception of the adventure with Canidia or Gratidia, which belongs to his younger days, and one or two cases in which the poet alludes to his more advanced age, all is arbitrary and conjectural; and though in some of his amatory Odes, and in one or two of the latter Epodes, there is the earnestness and force of real passion, others seem but the play of a graceful fancy. Nor is the notion of Buttman, though rejected with indignation by those who have wrought out thisminute chronology of the mistresses of Horace, by any means improbable, that some of them are translations or imitations of Greek lyrics, or poems altogether ideal, and without any real groundwork. (Buttman, Essay in German, in the Berlin Transactions,
1804, and in his Mythologus,
translated in the Philological Museum, vol. i. p. 439.)
The political opinions of Horace were at first republican. Up to the battle of Philippi (as we have seen) he adhered to the cause of Brutus. (On his return to Rome, he quietly acquiesced in the great change which established the imperial monarchy.
He had abandoned public life altogether, and had become a man of letters. His dominant feeling appears to have been a profound horror for the crimes and miseries of the civil wars.
The sternest republican might rejoice in the victory of Rome and Augustus over Antony and the East.
A government, under whatever form, which maintained internal peace, and the glory of the Roman arms on all the frontiers, in Spain, in Dacia, and in the East, commanded his grateful homage.
He may have been really, or may have fancied himself, deceived by the consummate skill with which Augustus disguised the growth of his own despotism under the old republican forms. Thus, though he gradually softened into the friend of the emperor's favourite, and at length the poetical courtier of the emperor himself, he still maintained a certain independence of character.
He does not suppress his old associations of respect for the republican leaders, which break out in his admiration of the indomitable spirit of Cato; and he boasts, rather than disguises, his services in the army of Brutus. If, with the rest of the world, he acquiesced in the inevitable empire, it is puerile to charge him with apostacy.
The religion of Horace was that of his age, and of the men of the world in his age.
He maintains the poetic and conventional faith in the gods with decent respect, but with no depth of devotion.
There is more sincerity in a sort of vague sense of the providential government, to which he attributes his escape from some of the perils of his life, his flight from Philippi, his preservation from a wolf in the Sabine wood (Carm.
1.22. 9), and from the falling of a tree in his own grounds. (Carm.
2.13. 17, 27, 3.8. 6.)
In another well-known passage, he professes to have been startled into religious emotion, and to have renounced a godless philosophy, from hearing thunder in a cloudless sky.
The philosophy of Horace was, in like manner, that of a man of the world.
He playfully alludes to his Epicureanism, but it was practical rather than speculative Epicureanism. His mind, indeed, was not in the least speculative. Common life wisdom was his study, and to this he brought a quickness of observation, a sterling common sense, and a passionless judgment, which have made his works the delight and the unfailing treasure of felicitous quotation to practical men.
The love of Horace for the country, and his intercourse with the sturdy and uncorrupted Sabine peasantry, seems to have kept alive an honest freedom and boldness of thought; while his familiarity with the great, his delight in good society, maintained that exquisite urbanity, that general amenity, that ease without forwardness, that respect without servility, which induced Shaftesbury to call him the most gentlemanlike of the Roman poets.
In these qualities lie the strength and excellence of Horace as a poet. His Odes want the higher inspirations of lyric verse--the deep religious sentiment, the absorbing personality, the abandonment to overpowering and irresistible emotion, the unstudied harmony of thought and language, the absolute unity of imagination and passion which belongs to the noblest lyric song. His amatory verses are exquisitely graceful, but they have no strong ardour, no deep tenderness, nor even much of light and joyous gaiety.
But as works of refined art, of the most skilful felicities of language and of measure, of translucent expression, and of agreeable images, embodied in words which imprint themselves indelibly on the memory, they are unrivalled.
According to Quintilian, Horace was almost the only Roman lyric poet worth reading.
As a satirist Horace is without the lofty moral indignation, the fierce vehemence of invective, which characterised the later satirists.
In the Epodes there is bitterness provoked, it should seem, by some personal hatred, or sense of injury, and the ambition of imitating Archilocus; but in these he seems to have exhausted all the malignity and violence of his temper.
In the Satires, it is the folly rather than the wickedness of vice, which he touches with such playful skill. Nothing can surpass the keenness of his observation, or his ease of expression : it is the finest comedy of manners, in a descriptive instead of a dramatic form. If the Romans had been a theatrical people, and the age of Augustus a dramatic age, Horace, as far at least as the perception of character, would have been an exquisite dramatic writer.
But the Epistles are the most perfect of the Horatian poetry -- the poetry of manners and society, the beauty of which consists in a kind of ideality of common sense and practical wisdom. The Epistles of Horace are with the Poem of Lucretius, the Georgics of Virgil, and pert haps the Satires of Juvenal, the most perfect and most original form of Roman verse.
The title of the Art of Poetry for the Epistle to the Pisos, is as old as Quintilian, but it is now agreed that it was not intended for a complete theory of the poetic art. Wieland's very probable notion that it was intended to dissuade one of the younger Pisos from devoting himself to poetry, for which he had little genius, or at least to suggest the difficulties of attaining to perfection, was anticipated by Colman in the preface to his translation. (Colman's Works, vol. iii.; compare Wieland's Horazens Briefe,
The works of Horace became popular very soon.
In the time of Juvenal they were, with the poems of Virgil, the common school book. (Juv. Sat.
The chronology of the Horatian poems is of great importance, as illustrating the life, the times, and the writings of the poet.
The earlier attempts by Tan. Faber, by Dacier, and by Masson, in his elaborate Vie d'Horace,
to assign each poem to its particular year in the poet's life, were crushed by the dictatorial condemnation of Bentley, who in his short preface laid down a scheme of dates, both for the composition and the publication of each book.
The authority of Bentley has been in general acquiesced in by English scholars.
The late Dr. Tate, with admiration approaching to idolatry, almost resented every departure from the edict of his master; and in his Horatius Restitutus
published the whole works in the order established by Bentley. Mr. Fynes Clinton, though in general favouring the Bentleian chronology, admits that in some cases his dates are at variance with facts. (Fasti Hellenici,
vol. iii. p. 219.) Nor were the first attempts to overthrow the Bentleian chronology by Sanadon and others (Jani's was almost a translation of Masson's life) successful in shaking the arch-critic's authority among the higher class of scholars.
Recently, however, the question has been reopened with extraordinary activity by the continental scholars.
At least five new and complete schemes have been framed, which attempt to assign a precise period almost to every one of the poems of Horace. 1. Quaestiones Horatianae,
a C. Kirchner, Lips. 1834. 2. Histoire de la Vie et des Poesiées dHorace,
par M. le Baron Walckenaer, 2 vols. Paris, 1840. 3. Fasti Horatiani,
scripsit C. Franke, 1839. 4.
The article Horatius, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopädie,
by G. F. Grotefend. 5. Quintus Horatius Flaccus als Mensch und Dichter,
von Dr. W. E. Weber, Jena, 1844. Besides these writers, others, as Heindorf (in his edition of the Satires), C. Passow, in Vita Horat.
(prefixed to a German translation of the Epistles), C. Vanderbourg, Preface and Notes to French translation of the Odes, and Weichert, in Poetar. Latin. Reliq.,
have entered into this question.
The discrepancies among these ingenious writers may satisfy every judicious reader that they have attempted an impossibility; that there are no internal grounds, either historical or aesthetic, which can, without the most fanciful and arbitrary proofs, determine the period in the life of Horace to which belong many of his poems, especially of his Odes.
On the other hand, it is clear that the chronology of Bentley must submit to very important modifications.
The general outline of his scheme as to the period
of the publication
of the several books does not differ very materially from that of Franke. On the successive order
of publication there is the same agreement, with few exceptions, in all the writers on this prolific subject. Though Bentley's opinion, that the poems were published
collectively in separate books, be unquestionably true, yet his assertion that Horace devoted himself exclusively to one kind of poetry at a time, that he first wrote all the Satires, then began to write iambics (the Epodes), then took to lyric poetry, is as hardy, groundless, and improbable, as any of the theories which he rejects with such.sovereign contempt.
The poet himself declares that he was driven in his sweet youth
to write iambics (the Bentleian theory assigns all the Epodes to his 34th and 35th years). Some of the Odes have the freshness and ardour of youth; and it seems certain that when Horace formed the friendship of Pollio, Varius, and Virgil, and was introduced by the two latter to Maecenas, he must have shown more than the promise of poetic talent.
It is hence most probable that, although not collected or published till a later period, and Horace appears to have been slow and unwilling to expose his poems on the shelves of the Sosii (Sat.
1.4. 70), many of his lyric and iambic pieces had been recited before his friends (Sat.
1.4. 73), had been circulated in private, and formed, no doubt, his recommendation to the lovers and patrons of letters. Either this must have been the case, or he must have gained his reputation by poems which have not survived, or which he himself did not think worthy of publication.
The first book of Satires (on this all agree) was the first publication. Some indeed have asserted that the two books appeared together; but the first line of the second book--
Sunt quibus in Satira videar nimis acer,
is conclusive that Horace had already attained public reputation as a writer of satire.
The difference between the Chronology of Bentley and that of Franke, in his Fasti Horatiani,
is this: that Bentley peremptorily confines the composition (natales
) of this book to the 26th, 27th, and 28th years of the poet's life (and Bentley reckons the year of the poet's birth, though born in December, as his first year), and leaves him idle for the two following years. Franke more reasonably enlarges the period of composition from his 24th to his 30th year.
In this year (u. 100.719, n. 100.35), the publication of the first book of Satires took place.
In the interval between the two books of Satires, Horace received from Maecenas the gift of the Sabine estate.
The second book of Satires is assigned by Bentley to the 31st, 32d, and 33d (30, 31, 32) of the poet's life; the publication is placed by Franke in the 35th year of Horace (B. C. 30).
This is perhaps the most difficult point in the Horatian chronology, and depends on the interpretation of passages in the sixth Satire. If that Satire were written and the book published after the war with Antony and the victory of Actium, it is renarkable that neither that Satire, nor the book itself, in any passage, should contain any allusion to events which so fully occupied, it appears from other poems, the mind of Horace. If, however, the division of lands to be made to the veterans in Italy or Sicily (Serm.
1.6. 56) be that made after the battle of Actium, this must be conclusive for the later date. To avoid this objection, Bentley suggested a former division, made in the year of Horace 31 (30), B. C. 35.
But as seven full, and nearer eight years (septimus octavo propior jam fugcrit
annus) had elapsed when that Satire was written, since his introduction to Maecenas, to which must be added nine months between the first introduction and the intimate friendship, the introduction is thrown up before the battle of Philippi, B. C. 42, and we have besides this to find time for Horace to acquire his poetic fame, to form his friendships with Virgil and Varius, &c.
The only way to escape, if we refer the division to that suggested by Bentley, is to suppose that it was promised
in B. C. 35, but not fulfilled till several years later; but this is improbable in any way, and hardly reconcileable with the circumstances of that division in the historians.
It is quite impossible to date the publication of this book earlier than the latter part of B. C. 32 (aet. Horat. 33), the year before Actium; but the probability is strong for the year after, B. C. 31.
Still so far there is no very great discrepancy in the various schemes; and (with the exception of M. Vanderbourg and Baron Walckenaer) the Epodes are generally allowed to be the third book in the order of publication; and Bentley and the more recent writers likewise nearly concur in the date of publication,
the poet's 35th or 36th year. Bentley, however, and his followers authoritatively confine the period of its composition
to the 34th and 35th year of his life.
There can be no doubt that when he speaks of himself as a writer of iambics, Horace alludes to his Epodes. (Franke, note, p. 46.)
The name of Epodes is of later and very questionable origin.
But as he asserts that in his sweet youth he wrote iambics, either those iambics must be lost, or must be contained in the book of Epodes.
The single passage in which he seems to rest his poetical fame up to a certain period on his Satires alone, is in itself vague and general (Sat.
1.4. 41.); and even if literally taken, is easily explicable, on the supposition that the Epodes were published
later than the Satires.
The observation of Bentley, which every one would wish to be true, that all the coarser and more obscene poems of Horace belong to his earlier period, and that he became in mature years more refined, is scarcely just, if the more gross of the Epodes were written in his 34th and 35th years : the adventures and connections to which they allude are rather those of a young and homeless adventurer, cast loose on a vicious capital, than the guest and friend of Maecenas, and the possessor of a sufficient estate. Franke dates the publica ion late B. C. 30, or early B. C. 29. (Vit. Hor.
36.) We are persuaded that their composition extended over the whole period from his first residence in Rome nearly to the date of their publication. Epodes vii. and xvi. ? are more probably referred to the war of Perusia, B. C. 40, than to that with Antony; and to this part of the poet's life belong those Epodes which allude to Canidia.
The three first books of Odes follow by almost universal consent in the order of publication, though the chronologists differ as to their having appeared consecutively or at the same time.
According to Bentley, they were composed and published in succession, between the 34th and 42d, according to Franke, the 35th and 41st or 42d year of the poet. Their successive or simultaneous publication within that period might appear unquestionable but for the great difficulty of the third Ode, relating to the poet Virgil about to embark for Greece.
It is said by Donatus that Virgil did undertake such a voyage in the year B. C. 19, three years later than the last date of Bentley--five than that of Franke. Hence Grotefend and others delay the publication of the three books of Odes to that year or the following; and so perplexing is the difficulty, that Franke boldly substitutes the name of Quintilius for that of Virgilius; others recur to the last resort of desperate critics, and imagine another Virgilius. Dr. Weber, perhaps more probably, suspects an error in Donatus. If indeed it relates to that voyage of Virgil (yet may not Virgil have undertaken such a voyage before?), we absolutely fix the publication of the three books of Odes to one year, that of Virgil's voyage and death; for after the death
of Virgil Horace could not have published his Ode imploring the gods to grant him safe return. We entertain no doubt that, though first published at one of these periods, the three first books of Odes contain poems written at very different times, some in the earliest years of his poetry; and Buttman's opinion that he steadily and laboriously polished the best of his smaller poems, till he had brought them to perfection, and then united them in a book, accounts at once for the irregular order, in point of subject, style, and metre, in which they occur.
The first book of the Epistles is by Bentley assigned to the 46th and 47th (45th and 46th), by Franke is placed between the 41st and 45th years of Horace. Bentley's chronology leaves two years of the poet's life, the 44th and 45th, entirely unoccupied.
The Carmen Seculare
, by almost universal consent, belongs to the 48th year of Horace, B. C. 17.
Fourth book of the Odes
The fourth book of-Odes, according to Bentley, belongs to the 49th and 51st; to Franke, the 48th and 52d years of the poet's life.
It was published in his 51st or 52d year.
The dates of the second book of Epistles, and of the Ars Poetica,
are admitted to be uncertain, though both appeared before the poet's death, ann. aet. 57.
There are several ancient Lives of Horace : the first and only one of importance is attributed to Suetonius; but if by that author, considerably interpolated.
The second is to be found in the edition of Horace by Bond.
The third from a MS. in the Vatican library, was published by M. Vanderbourg, and prefixed to his French translation of the Odes.
A fourth from a Berlin MS. edited by Kirchner, Quaesliones Horatianae.
These, however, are later than the Commentators, Acron and Porphyrion.
The Editio Princeps of Horace is in 4to, without name or date. Maittaire (with whom other bibliographers agree) supposes it to have been printed by Zarotus at Milan, 1470
. Fea describes an edition which contests the priority by T. P. Lignamini
, but this is doubtful.
II. Folio, without name or date, of equal rarity.
3.4to. (the first with date 1474) Milan, apud Zarotum.
IV. Ferrara, 1474, Odae et Epistolae.
V. Neapol. 1474.
VI. Milan, 1476, P. de Lavagna.
VII. Fol. without date, but it appeared 1481, with the Scholia of Acron and Porphyrion.
VIII. Florence, 1482, with the Commentary of Landino.
Of the countless later editions we select the following as the most important :--
I. Cruquii, last edit. Lug,. Bat. 1603.
It contains the Scholia of a commentator, or rather a compiler of commentaries, some of but late date, quoted as Comm. Cruquii.
II. Lambini, last edit., Paris, 1605.
III. Torrentus, Antwerp, 1608.
Lambinus and Torrentius are the best of the older editors.
IV. Bentleii, Cantab. 1711.
V. Gesneri et Zeunii, Lips. and Glasg. v. y. from 1762 to 1794.
VI. Carmina, Mitscherlich, Lips. 1800.
VII. Doering, Lips. 1803.
VIII. Romae, à C. Fea.
Fea professed to have collated many MSS. in the Vatican, &c.
IX. Carmina (with French translation), C. Vanderbourg, Paris, 1812. Vanderbourg collated 18 MSS.
X. A. J. Braunhard, Lips. 1833, with a reprint of the old Scholia.
XI. Orellii, Turici, 1843.
This last surpasses all former editions.
XII. Satiren erklart von L. F. Heindorf. Neu-bearbeitet von E. F. Wüstemann, Leipzig, 1843.
The German Commentary excellent.
XIII. Episteln erklärt von F. E. Theodor Schmid. Halberstadt, 1828.
The translations of Horace in all languages are almost innumerable, perhaps because he is among the most untranslateable of poets. Where the beauty of the poetry consists so much in the exquisite felicity of expression, in the finished terseness and perspicuity of the Odes, or the pure idiomatic Latin of the Satires and Epistles, the transfusion into other words almost inevitably loses either the meaning or the harmony of thought and language. In English the free imitations of Pope and of Swift give by far the best notion of the charm of the Horatian poetry to an unlearned reader. Some of Dryden's versions have his merits and faults--ease and vigour, carelessness sand inaccuracy.
The translation of Francis is that in common use, rather for want of a better than for its intrinsic worth. We shall name in our selection of the most important among the numberless critical and aesthetical works on Horace (a complete list of Libri Horatiani
would occupy many columns) the best of the French and German translations:
Dacier, Oeuvres d'Horace.
Masson, Horatii Vita,
Lug. Bat. 8vo. 1708. Casaubon, de ,Satira,
à Rambach, Halae, 1774. Ernesti, Onomasticon Poetarum impr/imis Q. Horatii Facci. Horaz als Mensch und Bürger von Rom,
R. von Ommerai übersetzt von Walch. Lips. 1802. Lessing, Rettungen des Horaz.
Werke, vol. iv. Berlin, 1838. Horazens Stiren, übersetzt von
C. M. Wieland, Leipsig, 1815; Briefe,
1837. To these clever translations are appended dissertations and notes full of very ingenious criticism, on the characters and on the works of Horace. Wieland is well corrected by F. Jacobs in his Lectiones Venusinae
in his Vermischte Schriften. Les Odes d'Horace,
par C. Vanderbourg.
See above. M. Van(derbourg's translation is hard and stiff, not equal in ease and fluency to the translation by Count Daru.
On the Topography, see Capmartin de Chaupy, and other works, quoted above.
On the Chronology, Buttmann.
See above. Baron Walckenaer, Kirchner, Franke, Grotefend, Weber, Passow, Vit. Hor.; Vanderbourg, Odes d'Horace;
Weichert, Poet. Lat. Reliq. et de Lucio Vario et Cassio Parmensi;
Heindorf. ad Sat. &c.; T. Dyer, in Classical Museum,
No. 5. Compare Fynes Clinton, Fasti Hellenici.
On the Metres of Horace--Tate, Horatius Restitutus;
Hermann, de Metris,