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1. Early Life and Education. Quintus Horatius Flaccus was born Dec. 8, 65 B.C., at Venusia, a colony founded in the time of the Samnite Wars, on the borders of Apulia, near Lucania. His father had been a slave, but was free at the time of Horace's birth, so that the son was ingenuus. His mother is never mentioned, and it is probable that she died while the child was too young to remember her. His father was by profession a coactor, a collector of moneys for goods sold at public auctions, who by his thrift acquired a property sufficient to provide his son with the best education obtainable in his time. In later years Horace paid a most sincere tribute of gratitude to his father's devotion and sagacity. From him he learned a rude but practical code of morals, and it is undoubtedly to his influence that we may attribute the poet's marked characteristics of moderation, temperance, and self-control; to his father's training was also due Horace's habit of observing men and manners, which bore fruit in the shrewd and searching comments on life which have endeared him to many generations of men.
Up to the age of nine or ten Horace enjoyed such education as the local school in Venusia afforded. Then his father, whose sole ambition was to provide his son with the best education that could be had, unselfishly gave up his business at Venusia, and took the boy to Rome. Here he gave him proper attendants, provided him with suitable dress that he might not be ashamed among his high-born and wealthy schoolfellows, and with rare devotion attended the boy himself as paedagogus.
During the next nine or ten years Horace received the ordinary literary and rhetorical training; under the rod of the schoolmaster Orbilius, whom he has immortalized with the adjective plagosus (Epist. 2, 1, 70), he studied Latin literature, reading the works of Livius Andronicus and other old Roman poets, for whom he apparently felt little admiration; his studies also included the Iliad and probably other Greek classics, and we can hardly doubt that this early study of Greek literature roused that enthusiasm for it which lasted all his life.
In his twentieth year Horace went to Greece to finish his studies at Athens, which had become a kind of university town to which it was the fashion for young men of his generation to resort. Among his fellow students were Cicero's son, Marcus, and M. Valerius Messala. During the next two years he heard lectures by the leaders of the various philosophic schools, without being seriously attracted by any one system. Speculative thought had little interest for him, or indeed for his fellow countrymen in general; questions relating rather to conduct interested the Roman mind, and while Horace never gave himself up to any system of ethics, Epicureanism attracted him at first; on growing older he turned more and more to the teachings of the Stoics, as the Stoic maxims and paradoxes in his odes abundantly testify; yet no one had a keener sense than he for what was absurd in Stoic practice. His good sense always tempered his philosophy, and in all matters of conduct he steered a middle course. It is also most probable that during his stay in Athens he continued his study of the Greek poets, particularly of Archilochus and the early lyricists, especially Alcaeus and Sappho, who afterward became his chief models. At this time he was ambitious to excel in Greek verse, but wisely forsook the practice later; yet his consummate skill in handling his own language must have been due to his early exercises in Greek. By studying in Athens he had further the negative advantage of escaping the influence of Alexandrianism which prevailed at Rome and affected all con
temporary poets. There, too, he made many friendships which lasted him through life.
In the autumn of 44 B.C. Brutus came to Athens, where the people received him with enthusiasm as a liberator. The young Roman nobles and Horace as well were attracted to his cause. Why the freedman's son was given the office of military tribune in the conspirators' army-a position for which he had no trainingit is hard to say, and the appointment not unnaturally aroused envy at the time. It is probable, however, that Horace had already made some reputation among his fellow students as a skillful versifier, and Brutus' love of literature induced him to prefer the youth. Of Horace's military service we know little; his writings show a familiarity with some islands of the Aegean and the famous cities of Asia, which was probably gained at this time, and it is certain that he shared in the defeat at Philippi in 42 B.C. No doubt he gave as good an account of himself during his two years of service as his fellows; the ironical description of his flight at Philippi (C. 2, 7, 9 f.) is imitated from Archilochus and Alcaeus, and is not to be taken seriously.
The defeat of the conspirators' cause brought a crisis to Horace's life, and at the age of twenty-three taught him the meaning of the vicissitudes of fortune; it seems also to have cured him of any political or social ambitions he may have cherished. He gradually accepted the new order of things, at first despairing of the state; but later, after the battle of Actium had freed Rome from external dangers, he enthusiastically proclaimed the permanence of the Empire and celebrated the beneficence of Augustus' rule. But his entire life after his experience at Philippi was that of a man of letters, who mixed much with men rather as an observer than as a participant in their life. His later history falls into three periods of about ten years each: first, from his return to Rome to 29 B.C., the period during which he published his two books of Satires and the collection of Epodes; second, 29-19 B.C., the period of his maturity, in which his genius reached its height. During