BEHIND THE POETIC MASK
Horace - biographical sources
Apart from odd phrases in his poetry, which may or may not have any historical relevance, there are two main sources. The first is Satires book 1, number 6. The second is the vita horati, a short life believed to originate from Suetonius.

The events depicted in the satire have frequently been taken as gospel, or at best in a 'pick and mix' fashion, but it should be borne in mind that we do not know the circumstances in which this satire came to be written, whether it should be taken seriously, or whether it contains 'in' jokes that only Maecenas and others in his group would appreciate. Rather than replough this tired old ground, it would seems more appropriate to discuss matters as they arise.

Most of the vita horati so closely follows the satire that the vita may well be derived from the satire, and therefore cannot be used as corroboration. However the two letters included in the vita, which purport to have been written by Caesar Augustus (Octavian), are of greater interest. They are discussed in the article The letters from Augustus to Maecenas.


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