Horace-Brief Biography

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Horace-Brief Biography

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(Brief Life Sketch of Horace)

Quintus Horatius Flaccus Horace

Horace

Horace-Brief Biography

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, briefly Horace (65 B. C.– 8  B. C.) was an ancient Roman poet. He is famous through the centuries as a writer of odes and satires. English odes and satires were greatly inspired and influenced by him.

Horace was born at Venosa in Apulia about 65 years before Jesus Christ was born. His mother died when he was quite young. His father’s name is not known, but it is evident that his father was a slave in his early life. But later on, he was freed after compensation. Through his self endeavour and educational carrier, he became able to hold a high office in the state. During that day, Greece, as well as Rome, was culturally rich and there had many schools and even universities like that of our times. Horace’s father sent him, at a tender age, to school and took care of educating him properly. But his school days were bitter because his fellow students, who generally came from the upper classes of society, often bullied and insulted him, because he happened to be a son of a freedman. His school teacher, Orbilius was a man of cruel heart, who flogged his students mercilessly. This multiplied Horace’s bitterness about school life. Horace tolerated all insulation with patience and thus with a bitter experience he had ended his primary education at Rome. Horace had goodwill towards higher education; so his father, who already became somewhat well-to-do, willingly sent Horace to the University of Athens. At Athens, Horace read Greek literature with curious attention and became a scholar. There he also read Greek history and philosophy and came into contact with many literary men of that time.

While he was still a student in Athens, he heard the news of the assassination of Julius Caesar, the director of Rome. Horace did not like Caesar’s directorship. He was a votary of Liberty and Republicanism. So Horace went back home making an end of his education and joined the Republican army of Brutus. Brutus was an advocate of Republicanism and he took the leadership of the Republic Movement in Rome. But the Republicans were defeated at the battle of Philippi. Since then Horace drew away himself from the army and devoted himself with heart and soul to writing poetry.

Horace’s age was an age of political unrest but of heroism, economically it was an age of prosperity, religiously it was an age of image worshipping with less devotion, socially it was an age of fashion but morally it was an age of degradation. Horace began his writing at such an age and all these phases were reflected in his writings. 

At the age of thirty or so, he wrote his first poetry book of odes. At that time he fell into appalling poverty, but some well-wishers and some of his friends assisted him to be rescued from it. One of such friends and well-wishers was Virgil. Virgil was an epic poet of the age. Horace was much encouraged by him and gave Horace his company.

As soon as Horace’s first book of odes came to light, it caught the warm welcome of the general readers. Though ode as a form of literature had been in circulation much earlier before him, yet he had not written his odes after the imitation of them. He wrote with some innovation both in theme and style. He introduced for the first time in Roman literature, common events, common themes, common thoughts, neat language, sparing imagery, a genial mood of expression, and well-suited form—for which the average reader easily could grasp his poetry with a warm heart. Thus he gained both fame and popularity. One by one being inspired by the success of his first book of odds, he wrote out other three books of the same kind. He wrote on a variety of themes—on love, friendship, patriotism, the countryside, gods, death, on poet and poetry.

After writing the books of odes, he took to writing satire in the form of an epistle. His satires are comic in character. Through his satires, he portrayed the follies and vices of his time. He expressed them with a genial mood with a view to arise laughter and thus he made the general mass to become conscious of their follies and vices.

At his last age, he wrote the fourth book of odes and some lyrics modeled on Greek poets. Then the Emperor of Rome was Augustus. Horace had a good friendship with him. Augustus gave him patronage and being inspired by him Horace wrote Carmen Saculare.

He wrote some Epodes (additional songs) in which he expressed his political views and patriotism. The epodes have not the terseness, polishes, and vigour of expression which mark his odes and epistles.

At last, he wrote a book of theory on poetry and drama. The title of the book was Arts Poetica (The Art of Poetry) in which he discussed poetry—its arts and style and little about the drama of his day. It is a critical book on poetry. His criticism was based on realism.

Horace as a man was a moralist as well as an idealist. He had a jovial temperament. He paid homage to simplicity, morality, courage, and kindness. 

His life on earth was a fortunate one. He had a good affectionate father, liberal education, friends like epic-poet Virgil and patronage like Emperor Augustus, popularity, independence, honour, and a good environment to express his genius. Once, Emperor Augustus offered him the post of the private secretary of the emperor, but Horace refused that post with modesty as he did not like to lead a life of dependence. Living a happy and honorable life he died at the age of 57 in 8 B.C.

Centuries after centuries have passed since his death, but still, he is a source of inspiration for many poets, especially the poets who write odes and satires have been deriving inspiration from his model of writing. Though Horace wrote poetry in which imagination was the main ingredient, yet his thoughts were based on realism for which many lines of his writings are read as proverbs. Time will pass, the century will follow one after another and the world may lose his poetry, but still, then his name would be pronounced with great respect as one of the most influential poets of the world. 0 0 0

N.B.  The article ‘Quintus Horatius Flaccus | Horace’ originally belongs to the book ‘The World Writers-Brief Biographies‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
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  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
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  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:

  1. The Fugitive Father and Other Stories
  2. The Prostitute and Other Stories
  3. Neha’s Confession

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