Horace, recognized as the greatest of Roman lyric poets of the Augustan Age is perhaps best remembered for his Odes, which constitute the height of his literary achievement. However, the Satires and Epistles, which span his life as a poet, are not to be neglected.
Horace began his literary career as a writer of satires, which fitted his personality as an acute observer of men. Restriction to the traditional form of satire established by Lucilius did not stifle Horace’s originality. He adapted the heroic measure, very harsh and rude in Lucilius, to fit this theme, thus creating a new art form, the sermo.
The Epistles provided a quiet ending to Horace’s poetic career. Their grace, polish, and wit reveal a man who has mellowed.
The editor has provided introductions to the Satires and Epistles, tracing the history of both art forms. The emphasis is on the thought and artistry of Horace rather than the structure of the language. The carefully edited text and well-chosen notes tastefully preserve the full flavor of Horace’s pungent social criticism in the Satires and his gentler but more serious reflection in the Epistles.