Biography of Quinto Horacio Flaco (65-8 a.C)

Latin poet born in Venusia (current Venosa), in the region of Apulia, on 8 December 65 a. C.; He/She died on 27 November 8 BC. Many of the biographical data that you have are due to his own comments, while others come from vita composed by Suetonius. Came into the world in family accommodated in which the father was from origin freed (although the comments about their ancestors diverge in different passages), who sent him to Rome to study with famed teacher Orbilio; He/She studied there, Homer and Livio Andrónico, among others.

Horacio Quintus Flaccus.

Later, he/she went to Athens to continue his training; There, he/she had as a companion to Cicero and met Casio and gross, who worked as tribunus militum between 43 and 42 BC. Back to Italy after the failure of the battle of Philippi, where died Casio and gross, it was in a situation of absolute poverty, according to their testimony; However, it wasn't done with the sum necessary to achieve a position of scriba quaestoris or clerk of a Quaestor, at the time given to poetic writing enthusiastically.

He soon caught the attention of patrons, who gave him his friendship and protection, just as he/she had done with Virgil, who became the times of intermediary in this relationship; Thus, the circle of relations of Horacio expanded considerably, and with happy consequences, among the 39 years and 37 BC From the Group of eminent artists close to patrons, it was inevitable Horacio to enter in relation to the own Octavio Augusto, who protected it and showered gifts.

The situation of the poet was already full bonanza when, to 32 b.c., acquired his magnificent estate of Sabina (also thought that it might be a generous gift by part of patron or Emperor), along with other properties. Around 20 a. C., Horacio began to interact directly with Augusto, without the intermediation of patrons, as we see in the writings he/she referred you. As indicated, he/she died on 27 November 8 b.c. of a sudden illness and fulminant, just 59 days after patrons had died, his friend and protector. He/She bequeathed all his possessions to the emperor. After his death, he/she was buried next to patrons.


Horacio we owe not only the perfect adaptation to the latin of the themes and the lyric poetry and yambica meters Greek but also a conscious reflection on poetic creation.

Epodos or Yambos

His activity as a poet began with an imitation of the Greek poet Archilochus, master of the yambo and, therefore, a scathing, critical and acid poetry. In these early poems, known as Epodos and cover a chronology that ranges from 40 to 31 b.c. (publication took place in 30 BC), Horacio gave place to their feelings of disappointment and indignation by certain facts born during the civil wars. The number of these pieces is 17, of which 11 are compounds in yambos and 6 in a combination of yambos and dactyls. Along with insults (3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 17, Horacio cultivated other content, as politicians (1, 7, 9 and 16) and the loving (11, 15 and, somehow, 14), vein that will explode properly in his Odes. Epodos, Horacio did not but follow the trail marked by neoteric poets and, in this sense, was tax some of their budgets, as formal perfection not only every piece, but the set of poems that make up the work.

Well, given his enormous talent, Horacio got now go further in its mix of tones and meters; Thus, front of Catullus, you put aside the elegiac couplet and preferred to adopt other stanzas of two verses; Similarly, are not perceived in his book glimpses of passionate love or bitter hatred; as well as his sermons, the steely criticisms are not directed against specific characters but against stereotypes (just an allusion to patrons at n. 3 by giving garlic). Thus, Horacio boasted of having introduced in Rome the poetry of Archilochus, a new model that was now also sieved by the influence of the neoteric poetry; with such an innovation, Horacio managed to create a new expressive runway on the subjectivity of the poet, for his I-literary, which accommodate both the patriotic themes (usually marked by a certain pessimism) to staffs, which are treated with a certain spirit and crafty, very well molded to the characteristics of the yambico underground.


These first creative impulses and tremendously Horacio original had its continuation in other two works that certainly helped to elevate him as poet: the Odes and Epistles. Both are works of maturity, that reflects, like Virgil, a certain resurgence of optimism with the settlement of the power of Augusto. At that time, not only there place to despair, as also new possibilities opened up to believe in a brighter future, feeling that many people had experience at that time.

In the 88 odes in three books, he/she began to write around 30 b.c. and probably published in 23 BC, Horacio wanted to show its enormous ability to adapt Greek lyric poetry, through a wide variety of topics and motives. Certainly many of the themes of this book of poems had already been treated in the Epodos, but now it always them with new intent and tone. For the occasion, also, there were new models: firstly, Alcaeus, who joined Sappho; alongside them, greatly weighed the Alexandrian poets. With those patterns as a starting point, Horacio started his poetic business, which was intended to open the Latin Lyric to a myriad of issues supported by a variety of metric.

Anyway, the novelty was so great that Horacio wasn't successful, something that in some way already expected tenor of his contempt for the common people, unable to understand the difficulty of his poetry (this difficulty not only settled in the diversity of meters and themes but also in its ability to vary the speech, create new termsintroduce unexpected comparisons and serve ultimately resources might surprise with the audacity of his creations). However, his poems Yes liked to Augustus, who entrusted him with the composition of a solemn hymn to the Ludi Tarentini from year 17 BC

Horacio composed for the occasion his Carmen saeculare, a real song of Thanksgiving to the Princeps, written in verses saficos and willing to be sung by a chorus of 27 boys and 27 girls in the Oblates of 17 a. C. ludi (specifically, June 3). Thanks to this composition, in which Horacio goes to Apollo, Diana, and the gods of the Capitol, the poet earned applause from their peers. Of that time remains the memory of an inscription in marble, with the full name of Horacio (Quintus Horatius Flaccus carmen gregorius), which was discovered in 1890. From this success, Horacio decided to compose other 15 Odes more are forming the fourth and last of his collection, book dedicated to Paulo Fabio maximum, friend and family of Augustus. In this set, clearly predominates a shade optimistic and surrendered completely to politics and the person of the emperor.

Satires or sermons

Next to epodica poetry and Odes, Horacio also shows his great poetic skills in two collections of verses, this time in hexametros: satires (baptized by the poet himself, in his iter Brundisinum as sermons), consisting of two books, and the Epistles, with two other books (precisely in the second included his famous Epistle ad Pisones or Ars poetica). The first belong to the same era as the Epodos and are, therefore, an early work (only safe dates we set us back to the 1930s); the latter, on the other hand, belong to the stage of maturity of the poet.

Both, however, share many common features: next to the metro, the poet is also served in these two collections of the first person narrative to comment on certain aspects of the daily life of the city, his own life or its literature in a shade of lies and season them and illustrated with anecdotes and examples; result, builds tasty conversations which, in the case of the satires, do not have a recipient concrete, something unthinkable in the Epistles (which saved in many cases this fiction, because the real target is multiple and not concrete: ultimately, the horacianas Epistles are directed to the reading public).

The first book of satires, with a total of 10 pieces, bet the first person and is very personal in its contents; the second, on the other hand, has 8 and is served in a dialogistico pattern. Altogether, the model that part Horacio is perceived the provided by Lucilio; in fact, this author takes a myriad of reasons and, above all, the autobiographical form that is served. In this work, Horacio eludes the biting satire in the manner of Juvenal or Lucilius. The style is very careful though presents oscillations from the altisonancia of the epic to the tone of the dialogue; Similarly, the metric is clearly indebted to the epic hexametro.


Although the tone of both poems is very similar, there are certainly differences that arise from the different generic assignment of these two works: while sermons represent a clever update of Latin satire created by Lucilius, the Epistles represent the birth of a new genre, in which poet leaves aside the scathing and sarcastic criticism to present their own viewsthey contain certain didactic pretensions and a whole philosophical search and response. The whole of this mature work is composed by 20 letters of the first book and the second 3; of these, the last is the Epistula ad Pisones.

The set oozes that which is has been called philosophy or thinking horaciano, with a firm commitment to a smart Epicureanism, based on containment of the mood, in the liberation of the vices and low desires, in life in contact with nature after fleeing from the noises of the city or in the exaltation of the ideal of the aurea mediocritas. Altogether, it has special interest, due to its peculiar content, the epistle XX of book I, in that it makes a kind of compilation, augurs well for the future of this new book and provides a comic portrait of his person; Similarly, the epistle I of book II is an interesting panorama of Latin literature and the location of the letters in his own time.

On the whole, shines with its own light the epistle rammers or poetic art, booklet dedicated to consul Lucio Calpurnio Pisón, which barely nothing sure is known, and their two children. This famous mandatory, composed in 476 hexametros, Horacio deals with several seminal issues in literary creation: in the first part, deals with the general precepts of poetry; in the second, he/she exhibits some precepts relating to different genres, with particular attention to the epic and dramatic arts; Finally, in the third, Horacio pours a series of personal advice. We know that, in writing this booklet, Horacio had present the poetry of Neoptolemus, a work of which only several fragments that have been passed down through Filodemoare known.


Horacio did not have simulators of merit; In addition, its trace is lost from the 7th century until the 9th century. In the middle ages were read the satires and Epistles on the moral spirit. From the 15th century, Horacio was a rising value, with a literary quote that was rising up to the century of the enlightenment; over these centuries, clearly won the artist and, above all, the theorist of the poetic art. However, romanticism, given the profound change in their tastes and their aesthetic ideals, left in the background to the theoretical, in spite of continued reading to an author who soon would be vindicated with special enthusiasm by European scholars of the second half of the 19th century.

In Spain, Horacio was a great unknown for the common reader in the medieval centuries, despite certain echoes that, most of the time, they show an indirect knowledge of his work; in fact, only be romanceó to the odes in the 16th century, with landmarks such as the translation of the great Spanish horaciano poet, Fray Luis de Leónand Juan de Biedma version, titled Horacio Flaco, Latin lyric poet. His works with the masterful statement in Spanish (1599). In the 18th century, nothing less than Iriarte was given to the translation of Horacio; a century later, the company corresponded you Martínez de laRosa. The rest of the roster is remarkable extension, as shown by a simple query to the bibliography of Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo classic hispanolatina.

T. Jiménez Calvente

Links on the Internet; Annotated bibliography of Horacio.