The Ancient Library

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He appears to have cherished an attachment to the romantic scenes of his infancy ; he alludes more than once to the shores of the sounding Aufidus, near which river he was born (Carm. iii. 30. 10, iv. 9. 2), and in a sweet description of an adven­ture in his childhood (Carm. iii. 4. 9, 20), he introduces a very distinct and graphic view of the whole region, now part of the Basilicata. (Comp. A. Lombardi, Monumente della Basilicata^ in Bullet, della Instit. ArchaeoL di Roma, vol. i. Dec. 19, 1829.)

The father of Horace was a libertinus: he had received his manumission before the birth of the poet, who was of ingenuous birth, bufr-did not alto­gether escape the taunt, which adhered to persons even of remote servile origin. (Sat. i. 6. 46.) Of his mother nothing is known: from the silence of the poet, it is probable that she died during his early youth. It has been the natural and received opinion that the father derived his name from some one of the great family of the Horatii, which, however, does not appear to have maintained its distinction in the later days of the republic. But there seems fair ground for the recent opinion, that he may have been a freedman of the colony of Venusia, which was inscribed in the Horatian tribe. (G. F. Grotefend, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopadie, and E. L. Grotefend, in the Literary Transactions of Darmstadt.) We know no reason for his having the praenomen Quintus, or the more remarkable agnomen Flaccus: this name is not known to have been borne by any of the Horatian family.

His father's occupation was that of collector (coactor], either of the indirect taxes farmed by the publicans, or at sales by auction (exactioimm or exauetionum); the latter no doubt a profitable office, in the great and frequent changes and con­fiscations in property during the civil wars. With the profits of his office he had purchased a small farm in the neighbourhood of Venusia, where the poet was born. The father, either in his parental fondness for his only son, or discerning some hope­ful promise in the boy (who, if much of the ro­mantic adventure alluded to above be not mere poetry, had likewise attracted some attention in the neighbourhood "as not unfavoured by the gods "), determined to devote his whole time and fortune to the education of the future poet. Though by no means rich, and with an unproductive farm, he declined to send the young Horace to the common school, kept in Venusia by one Flavius, to which the children of the rural aristocracy, chiefly retired military officers (the consequential sons of consequential centurions), resorted, with their satchels and tablets, and their monthly pay­ments. (Sat. i. 71. 5.) Probably about his twelfth year, the father carried the young Horace to Rome, to receive the usual education of a knight's or senator's son. He took care that the youth should not be depressed with the feeling of inferiority, and provided him with dress and with the attendance of slaves, befitting the higher class with which he mingled. The honest parent judged that even if his son should be compelled to follow his own humble calling, he would derive great advantages from a good education* But he did not expose the boy unguarded to the dangers and temptations of a dissolute capital: the father accompanied him to the different schools of instruction, watched over his morals with gentle severity, and, as the poet



assures us, not only kept him free from vice, but even the suspicion of it. Of his father Horace always writes with becoming gratitude, bordering on reverence. {Sat. i. 4. 105.) One of these schools was kept by Orbilius, a retired military man, whose flogging propensities have been immor­talised by his pupil. (Epist. xi. 1. 71.) He was instructed in the Greek and Latin languages: the poets were the usual school books — Homer in the Greek, the old tragic writer, Livius Andronicus (who had likewise translated the Odyssey into Saturnian verse), in the Latin.

But at this time a good Roman education was not complete without a residence at Athens, the great school of philosophy, perhaps of theoretic oratory. The father of Horace was probably dead before his son set out for Athens ; if alive, he did not hesitate to incur this further expense. In his 18th year the young Horace proceeded to that seat of learning. Theomnestus the Academic, Cratippus the Peripa­tetic, and Philodemus the Epicurean, were then at the head of the different schools of philosophy. Horace seems chiefly to have attached himself to the opinions which he heard in the groves of Aca-demus, though later in life he.inclined to those of Epicurus. {Epist. ii. 2. 45.) Of his companions we know nothing certain; but Quintus Cicero the younger was among the youth then studying at what we may call this university of antiquity. The civil wars which followed the death of Julius Caesar interrupted the young Horace in his peace­ful and studious retirement. Brutus came to Athens ; and in that city it would have been wonderful if most of the Roman youth had not thrown themselves with headlong ardour into the ranks of republican liberty. Brutus, it is probable, must have found great difficulty in providing Ro­man officers for his new-raised troops. Either from his personal character, or from the strong recommendation of his friends, Horace, though by no means of robust constitution, and altogether inexperienced in war, was advanced at once to the rank of a military tribune, and the command of a legion: his promotion, as he was of ignoble birth, made him an object of some jealousy. It is pro­bable that he followed Brutus into Asia; some of his allusions to the cities in Asia Minor appear too distinct for borrowed or conventional description ; and the somewhat coarse and dull fun of the story which forms the subject of the seventh satire seems to imply that Horace was present when the adven­ture occurred in Clazomenae. If indeed he has not poetically heightened his hard service in these wars, he was more than once in situations of diffi­culty and danger. (Carm. ii. 7.1.) But the battle of Philippi put an end to the military career of Horace ; and though he cannot be charged with a cowardly abandonment of his republican principles, he seems, happily for mankind, to have felt that his calling was to more peaceful pursuits. The playful allusion of the poet to his flight, his throwing away his shield, and his acknowledgment of his fears (Carm. ii. 7. 9, Epist. ii. 2. 46, &c.) have given rise to much grave censure and as grave defence. (Lessing, Rettungen des Horaz. Werke, vol. iv. p. 5, ed. 1838 ; Wieland, Notes on Epist. ii. 2.) It could be no impeachment of his courage that he fled with the rest, after the total discomfiture of the army; and that he withdrew at once from what his sagacity perceived to be a desperate cause. His poetical piety attributes his escape to Mercury, the

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