Archives for Roman lyric poet category

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Horace Love Quotes and Sayings


1. In love there are two evils: war and peace.

2. Without love and laughter there is no joy; live amid love and laughter.

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Image of Horace, imagined by Anton von Werner, from WikipediaExcerpt from Wikipedia: Quintus Horatius Flaccus (8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. The rhetorician Quintillian 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 (Sermones and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry (Epodes). 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”. Some of his iambic poetry has seemed repulsive to modern audiences.

His career coincided with Rome’s momentous change from Republic to Empire. An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian’s right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenas, and became a spokesman for the new regime. For some commentators, his association with the regime was a delicate balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence (he was “a master of the graceful sidestep”) but for others he was, in John Dryden’s phrase, “a well-mannered court slave”.

His poetry became “the common currency of civilization”, and he still retains a devoted following, despite some loss of popularity after World War I (perhaps due to mistrust of old-fashioned patriotism and imperial glory, with which he had become associated). Horatian studies have become so diverse and intensive in recent years that it is probably no longer possible for any one scholar to command the whole range of arguments and issues.

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Sayings by Horace

1. A picture is a poem without words.

2. Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.

3. No man ever reached to excellence in any one art or profession without having passed through the slow and painful process of study and preparation.

4. We are but dust and shadow.

5. “Pactum serva” – “Keep the faith.”

6. Happy the man, and happy he alone,
he who can call today his own:
he who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair or foul, or rain or shine
the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power,
but what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

7. Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.

8. Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.

9. He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.

10. Cease to inquire what the future has in store, and take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.

11. Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans; it’s lovely to be silly at the right moment.

12. Rule your mind or it will rule you.

13. Choose a subject equal to your abilities; think carefully what your shoulders may refuse, and what they are capable of bearing.

14. Life is largely a matter of expectation.

15. Avoid inquisitive persons, for they are sure to be gossips, their ears are open to hear, but they will not keep what is entrusted to them.

16. You may drive out nature with a pitchfork, yet she’ll be constantly running back.

17. Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.

18. He who is greedy is always in want.

19. The one who cannot restrain their anger will wish undone, what their temper and irritation prompted them to do.

20. Don’t think, just do.

21. The foolish are like ripples on water, For whatsoever they do is quickly effaced; But the righteous are like carvings upon stone, For their smallest act is durable.

22. Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth, and set down as gain each day that fortune grants.

23. He who feared that he would not succeed sat still.

24. Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, which is the parent of instruction and the schoolmaster of life.

25. Your own safety is at stake when your neighbor’s house is ablaze.

26. Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero – Seize the day, putting as little trust as possible in the next (day).

27. Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.

28. Often the truth spoken with a smile will penetrate the mind and reach the heart; the lesson strikes home without wounding because of the wit in the saying.

29. If a man’s fortune does not fit him, it is like the shoe in the story; if too large it trips him up, if too small it pinches him.

30. The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.