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One of the works he probably studied in school was the Odyssia of Livius Andronicus, crammed into Italian boys with threats and floggings by teachers like the 'Orbilius' mentioned in one of his poems.

Italians in modern and ancient times have always been devoted to their home towns, even after success in the wider world, and Horace was no different.

The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings".

His career coincided with Rome's momentous change from a republic to an empire.

An educated young Roman could begin military service high in the ranks and Horace was made tribunus militum (one of six senior officers of a typical legion), a post usually reserved for men of senatorial or equestrian rank and which seems to have inspired jealousy among his well-born confederates.

It was there in 42 BC that Octavian (later Augustus) and his associate Mark Antony crushed the republican forces at the Battle of Philippi.

On returning to Italy, he was confronted with yet another loss: his father's estate in Venusia was one of many throughout Italy to be confiscated for the settlement of veterans (Virgil lost his estate in the north about the same time).

Horace later claimed that he was reduced to poverty and this led him to try his hand at poetry.

Horace's father was probably a Venutian taken captive by Romans in the Social War, or possibly he was descended from a Sabine captured in the Samnite Wars.

), was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian).

The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words." Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses (Satires and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry (Epodes).

an auctioneer with some of the functions of a banker, paying the seller out of his own funds and later recovering the sum with interest from the buyer.

If my character is flawed by a few minor faults, but is otherwise decent and moral, if you can point out only a few scattered blemishes on an otherwise immaculate surface, if no one can accuse me of greed, or of prurience, or of profligacy, if I live a virtuous life, free of defilement (pardon, for a moment, my self-praise), and if I am to my friends a good friend, my father deserves all the credit...


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