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Horatus Flaccus, known by his English name of Horace. He was the son of a

freedman; born at Venusia in B. C. 65; educated at Rome. He participated as a

republican in the battle of Philippi, and for this partisanship was deprived of

his patrimony. He received a pardon, however, and took up his residence at Rome,

where he soon rose to a high rank as a poet. Having gained the friendship of

Vergil, he was introduced by him to Maecenas, and by him to Augustus. The

sovereign offered to make him secretary of the Empire, but the honor was

declined; nor would the poet accept from Maecenas other gift than a Sabine farm,

which he received in lieu of the one which he had lost in the war. His conduct in

this regard presents a manly contrast to that of most of the literary men of the


Horace was the most Roman of all the Roman bards. The type is that of a satirical

philosopher combined with a witty farmer and worldly-wise man of society. He is

essentially Epicurean, believing in enjoyment for its own sake and pleasure as an

end. He begins and ends with laughing at the follies of mankind. It is the

laughter of a sage. In this spirit are conceived the Satires, in which, in a

mocking, semi-philosophic tone, he ridicules the absurdity of life. With current

manners and customs he makes sad havoc, though the bitterness of his invective is

not as great as the wit is pungent. The Epistles, which are mostly effusions

addressed to his friends, are conceived in the same spirit. In these there is

combined the vast experience of a man of the world, matured by discipline and

observation, with such an abundance of playful humor and caustic satire as can

hardly be paralleled in literature. In his Odes he touches lighter themes in a

more friendly spirit. Now he sings the praises of his friends-the honor of

Maecenas, the greatness of Augustus, his own anticipation of fame. Considered as

literary productions-that is, poems-they are the truest and most perfect in the

whole circle of Roman letters.

Of another sort is the illustrious Vergil. He it was who was destined to create

the Roman epic. He was born near Mantua, in the year B. C. 70, and died at

Brundusium, on his way home from a voyage to Greece, in the year 19. He was more

a provincial than any of his great contemporaries; but his genial spirit and

brilliant talents won for him the esteem of the Imperial City, and made him the

most popular of all the Roman poets. Nor did his delicate health and tender

constitution lessen the disposition of the people to make him their favorite


Vergil began his poetical work in the style of Theocritus. His first great

production was the Eclogues, in which he introduced to his countrymen a style of

composition which had for them all the charms of novelty. The new style was that

of the idyll or pastoral poem, in which the surroundings, manners, and sentiments

of the country folk are sung in a tone of simple gayety. Then followed the four

books of Georgics, full of the hum of agriculture, the growing of trees, the

bleating of lambkins, the lowing of cattle, and the buzzing of bees. These poems

are essentially didactic, intended to enlighten and instruct the understanding of

the Romans as well as to improve their sentiments.

By the composition and publication of these works Vergil achieved an enviable

fame; but his genius, not content with present achievement, soared still higher

and sought in the creation of a great epic to find food for its hunger. The poet

selected for his theme the prehistoric story of Rome. The flight of AEneas from

the flames of Troy, bearing with him the Penates of the ruined city, and seeking,

under the guidance of prophecy, the distant shore whereon he should build the

city and restore the institutions of his race-furnished the heroic subject of his

song-the AEneis, justly reckoned the greatest monument of the genius of Rome. In

the conduct of his theme Vergil showed consummate skill. The intrinsic interest

of the ancient story is maintained, and at the same time the episodes and

allusions are so managed as to become a tribute to the existing order of Roman

society. The descent of the Julian line is traced to AEneas. The whole tendency

of the poem is such as to flatter the vanity and inspire the patriotism of the

Latin race. Gods and men alike are made to bend to the interests and hopes of the