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LIFE OF HORACE.
QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS was born on the 8th of December, in the year U. C. 689, B. C. 65, in the consulship of L. Aurelius Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus. His birthplace was Venusia, a municipal town in Apulia, close by the borders of Lucania; where his father, who belonged to the humble class of freedmen, owned a small farm, with the care of which, yielding as it did but a scanty revenue, he united the business of a collector of payments at auctions. On this farm, not far from the banks of "the far-sounding Aufidus," and amid the varied scenery of one of the most romantic districts of Italy, the poet passed the years of his infancy and early boyhood. The story recorded in one of his Odes of his preservation by "the fabled wood-pigeons " from the bears and serpents of Mount Vultur-his earliest experience of the Muses' care and the presage of his future fame-is a pleasant recollection of his childhood; and the charming picture, in the same passage, of the places in the neighborhood, and numerous allusions *
1 O. 3, 21, 1; Epod. 13, 6; Epist. 1, 20, 27; Suet. Vita Hor. 6. 20. 3, 4, 9-13; Sat. 2, 1, 34.
* Sat. 1, 6, 6 & 45; Epist. 1, 20, 20; cf. O. 2, 20, 5; ib.3, 80, 12. Sat. 1, 6, 71; cf. Epist. 2, 2, 50.
Sat. 1, 6, 86; Suet Vita. Hor. 1. • O. 4, 9, 2; cf. O. 3, 30, 10.
10. 3, 4, 9.
8 0. 3, 4, 20.
9 O. 8, 13, 1; ib. 30, 10; ib. 4, 9, 2; ib. 4, 14, 25; Epod. 2, 42; ib.
8, 16; Sat. 1, 1, 58; ib. 1, 9, 29; ib. 2, 2.
in his writings to the people and the scenes of his early years, bear witness to the impressions they then made upon his sus ceptible spirit, and to the fond remembrance with which he turned back to them in all his after life.
The father of Horace, though of servile origin, was an upright, intelligent man, and of a turn of mind that was generous and truly noble; and whether from the workings of his own impulses, or from his discernment in the boy of signs of high promise, he early resolved to devote his time, his personal efforts, and his slender resources, to the moral and intellectual culture of his son. The first fruits of this noble resolve were reaped by the poet, as he tells us himself,' in a fine strain of filial pride, when, in his boyhood, perhaps about twelve years of age, he had got beyond the first rudiments of learning. His worthy father, unwilling to send him to the municipal school of Flavius at Venusia, boldly ventured to bring him to Rome, and to give him the liberal education of a knight's or a senator's son. While, however, he was ambitious that the mind of his son should be trained and developed at the best schools and under the best intellectual influences of the metropolis, he was equally careful to keep his heart secure from its vicious allurements; he always attended him in person to all his teachers; by judicious counsels and warnings he guarded and strengthened his expanding character; that the boy escaped not merely the taint, but even the reproach of immorality." To one of his teachers, "the flogging Orbilius," the poet has given an immortal fame; with him he read the poems of Livius Andronicus; and the impressive lessons of the hard disciplinarian he seems to have long remembered, though probably at the time, and certainly in after life, the writings of Livius, and indeed all the old Roman poetry, were not at all to his taste. With Orbilius, or some other teacher, he studied Homer; probably he read other
* Sat. 1, 6, 72.
2 Sat. 1, 6, 71-80.
• Sat. 1, 6, 77.
* Sat. 1, 4, 105 seqq.
Epist. 2, 1, 69-71.
9 Epist. 2, 2, 41; cf. Epist. 1, 2, 1 & 2.
poets both Latin and Greek, and also went through the usual course of instruction in Rhetoric and Oratory.
These school-years of the future poet fell in one of the most eventful periods of Roman history; and doubtless many a day, as, by his father's side, he hastened along the streets to his usual tasks, or sat over his books under the uplifted rod of the stern Orbilius, his eyes and ears were rudely greeted, and his studies were suddenly broken up by the fierce scenes and tumults of political excitement. For it was then that the contest was raging between Cæsar and Pompey; it was the time of the famous passage of the Rubicon, and of Cæsar's triumphant entrance into Rome, of the battle of Pharsalia, and the death of Pompey, of Cæsar's return, and the brilliant scenes of the usurper's rule, destined so soon to end in that memorable far of "the Ides of March."
At about the age of twenty, Horace went to Athens, which held nearly the same relation to the Romans of that time, as the German universities do to us. We may easily imagine with what eager delight the young scholar hastened to that ancient seat of the Muses, where yet lingered, long after the loss of freedom, the lights of learning and the arts, with what enthusiasm he touched the soil which all his youthful studies had taught him to reverence as the cherished home of genius, where every spot on which he gazed and the very air he breathed awoke in his breast the glorious memories of poets, orators, and philosophers. Of the studies he there pursued, under the inspiring influence of the genius of the place, we have to gather our knowledge partly from a few direct words, but chiefly from scattered hints and intimations in his works. Speculative inquiries could hardly fail to have some attractions for the young student in a city, where philosophy had, in a former age, employed in her service the greatest intellects the world has known, and had ever since engaged the ablest minds of every generation. In quest of truth, as we learn from himself, he resorted to the Academy; and in those quiet groves where
2-inter silvas Academi quaerere verum; Epist. 2, 2, 45.
Plato once taught his disciples, he listened to the teachings of Theomnestus, who was then the chief of that celebrated school of philosophy; probably, too, with something of the roving turn of mind, to which he often playfully alludes, he frequently strayed from the Academy to the lecture-room of Philodemus the Epicurean, and of Cratippus the Peripatetic, who at this time numbered among his pupils the son of Cicero ;2 and thus with the independent and practical spirit which always characterized him in later life, he heard all the great teachers of philosophy, and began to construct for himself, not a consistent speculative system, but a body of sound and valuable lessons, that might be taught and practised in the real life of the world. But we may well suppose that, guided by his prevailing tastes, he was constantly occupied at Athens. with Attic literature, and especially with the immortal productions of the Attic Muse. Doubtless he studied Homer again, perhaps in the identical copy he had thumbed over at school, and he now read the great poet with a sense of freedom and a lively intelligent interest he had never felt under the rule of Orbilius; and to his more willing mind and more mature intellect the tale of Achilles' wrath, and of the wanderings of Ulysses, now began to reveal, as they had never done before, all their wondrous significance. The masterpieces of the Grecian drama must also have found their place in this more genial course of study; especially the plays of Aristophanes and of other writers of the Old Comedy, which undoubtedly had a large share of influence in developing that singular aptitude for the nice observation and skilful painting of life and manners, which he afterwards displayed in a kindred species of poetry in his own language. With the lyric writers, too, he gained a familiar acquaintance, and in the study of these great models trained himself for the honors he was destined to win
1 Sat. 1, 2, 121.
* Quamquam te, Marce fili, annum jam audientem Cratippum, idque Athenis, etc., Cic. de Offic. 1, 1:
Epist. 2, 2, 42.
4 Sat. 1, 4, 1 & 2.
as the "minstrel of the Roman lyre." It was probably at this time that he applied himself to the composition of Greek verses; but warned by a vision from Romulus, or rather by the teachings of his own good sense, he speedily abandoned the gratuitous task, doubtless convinced "that no man can be a great poet except in his own native speech."
The stay of Horace at Athens was brought to an abrupt and unwelcome close by the political commotions of the times. From a place and from pursuits so congenial to his tastes, he was borne away by the storm of civil war that broke out at Rome, on the death of Julius Caesar, and had now involved in its spreading influence the provinces east of the Adriatic. The Caesarian party, headed by Octavianus, Antony, and Lepidus, was now in the ascendant at Rome. Brutus and the other conspirators, and all their adherents, had either fled from Italy or been cut down by the sword of proscription, and all things were gathering to that crisis which was to decide the fortunes of the Roman Commonwealth. Brutus, on his way to Macedonia to secure that province with its legions, arrived at Athens; and with the rallying cry of "the Republic," uttered in a place where liberty had so many and so brilliant associations, he readily kindled the patriotic ardor of the Roman youth who were there residing, and drew them to the ranks of his party. Horace was one of the number who yielded to the summons of the republican commander, and though a young man of but twenty-two, the son of a freedman, and a stranger to the service, he was at once raised to the rank of military tribune; an appointment which, under the circumstances, might reasonably excite some pride in himself, as well as provoke the envious carping of the world. In this capacity he entered the republican army at
1 Romanae fidicen lyrae, 0.4, 3, 23.
* Sat. 1, 10, 31.
* Sat. 1, 10, 32 & 33.
• In silvam non ligna feras, etc., Sat. 1, 10, 34.
• Dura sed emovere loco me tempora grato, Epist. 2, 2, 46