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Lives of Illustrious Men

Vita horati

Q. Horatius Flaccus, Venusinus, patre ut ipse tradit libertino et exactionum coactore (ut vero45 creditum est salsamentario, cum illi quidam in altercatione exprobrasset46: “Quotiens ego vidi patrem tuum brachio se emungentem!”) bello Philippensi excitus a Marco Bruto imperatore, tribunus militum meruit; victisque partibus venia impetrata scriptum quaestorium comparavit. Ac primo Maecenati, mox Augusto insinuatus non mediocrem in amborum amicitia locum tenuit. Maecenas quantopere eum dilexerit47 satis testatur48 illo epigrammate:

Ni te visceribus meis, Horati, Plus iam diligo, tu tuum sodalem Ninnio49 videas strigosiorem;

sed multo magis extremis iudiciis tali ad Augustum elogio: “Horati Flacci ut mei esto memor.” Augustus50 epistularum quoque ei officium optulit, ut51 hoc ad Maecenatem scripto significat: “Ante ipse sufficiebam scribendis epistulis amicorum, nunc occupatissimus et infirmus Horatium nostrum a52 te cupio abducere. Veniet ergo ab ista parasitica

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Horace

The Life of Horace

Quintus Horatius Flaccus of Venusia had for a father, as he himself writes, a freedman who was a collector of money at auctions; but it is believed that he was a dealer in salted provisions, for a certain man in a quarrel thus taunted Horace: “How often have I seen your father wiping his nose with his arm!” Horace served as tribune of the soldiers in the war of Philippi, at the instance of Marcus Brutus, one of the leaders in that war. When his party was vanquished, he was pardoned and purchased the position of a quaestor’s clerk. Then contriving to win the favour, first of Maecenas and later of Augustus, he held a prominent place among the friends of both. How fond Maecenas was of him is evident enough from the well known epigram:

If that I do not love you, my own Horace, more than life itself, behold your comrade scraggier than a rag doll.32

But he expressed himself much more strongly in his last will and testament in this brief remark to Augustus: “Be as mindful of Horatius Flaccus as of myself.” Augustus offered him the post of secretary, as appears in this letter of his to Maecenas: “Before this I was able to write my letters to my friends with my own hand; now overwhelmed with work and in poor health, I desire to take our friend Horace from you. He will come then from that parasitic table of

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.suetonius-lives_illustrious_men_poets_horace.1914