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In the present edition of Smart's Horace, the translation has been revised wherever it seemed capable of being rendered closer and more accurate. Orelli's text has been generally followed, and a considerable number of useful annotations, selected from the best commentaries, ancient and modern, have been added. Several quotations from Hurd on the "Ars Poetica," though somewhat lengthy, have been introduced, as their admirable taste cannot but render them acceptable to readers of every class.
THEODORE ALOIS BUCKLEY,
QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS was born on the 8th of December, in the year 65, B. C., at Venusium, a town situated between Apulia and Lucania. Although a freedman, his father possessed competent means, and left him a comfortable patrimony on the banks of the Aufidus.
To the education of our poet the greatest attention was paid, and no means were spared to endow him with the highest gifts of mental culture. The severe Orbilius was his guide through the realms of Roman literature, for the poets of which he seems to have conceived an early distaste, preferring the more finished and less rugged beauties of the Greek originals, from whose sources he was himself destined hereafter to draw so largely, and with such distinguished success.
The life of Horace, although spent in the society of those who were most actively mixed up with public affairs, is rather a detail of every-day transactions with the ordinary world, a table-talk of private acts and feelings, than a succession of stirring political relations, exploits, and embarrassments.
Whilst engaged in the study of philosophy at Athens, a study which was hereafter to form the ground-work of his literary fame, the assassination of Julius Cæsar brought on the crisis between the contending interests of Rome. Horace joined the republican party, and attained the rank of a military tribune under Brutus. In whatever light we regard his flight at the subsequent battle of Philippi, it is certain that
the disgrace was shared but by too many upon that day, in which the Romans lost their last hopes of freedom, and exchanged public virtue for private luxury and refinement.
With the probability that his small possessions, like those of Virgil, were confiscated to remunerate a soldiery who had fought against their own countrymen, we may fairly suppose that this misfortune first tended to develope the poetical genius of Horace, and that his necessities became a powerful motive for the exertion of talents which had been chastened and ripened by every advantage afforded by the times. Gradually his powers of wit and repartee, aided perhaps by the propitiatory oblation of little poems "upon occasion," increased his friendships with the great, and introduced him to the intimacy of Mæcenas. A friendship of the firmest kind sprang up from what was at first but a distant and patronizing courtesy, and Horace, like Virgil, henceforth became the constant friend and associate of Mæcenas, whom he accompanied upon the most confidential missions. About the year 37 B. C., (for the date is very uncertain,1) Horace followed his patron to Brundusium, where, in company with Cocceius Nerva and Capito, he was engaged in negotiating a reconciliation between Antony and Augustus. A most amusing description of "travellers' miseries," in the fifth Satire of the first Book, commemorates this event, and gives an entertaining picture of the domestic habits of the wealthier classes at Rome during the Augustan age. In accompanying Maecenas in the war against Sextus Pompey, a storm arose, and our poet narrowly escaped being drowned in the Gulf of Velia. Nevertheless, he volunteered himself as his companion in the expedition that ended with the decisive battle of Actium, an offer which Mæcenas, probably out of tenderness to the health of his friend, declined to accept.
Mæcenas was not a mere complimentary friend, but one of tried liberality. To his kindness our poet was indebted for
1 See Dunlop, Lit. Rom. vol. iii. p. 201, note.