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Not the owner of many possessions will you be right to call happy: he more rightly deserves the name of happy who knows how to use the Gods' gifts wisely and to put up with rough poverty, and who fears dishonor more than death. -- Horace (65-8 BC) Roman Poet

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (December 8, 65 BC - November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading lyric poet in Latin, the son of a freedman, but himself born free. His father, though poor, spent considerable money on Horace's education, accompanying him first to Rome for his primary education, and then to Athens to study Greek and philosophy. Horace never took for granted his father's care and sacrifice, and his relationship with his father remains one of the most endearing personal episodes to survive from the classical period.

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Horace joined the army, serving under the generalship of Brutus. He was in the Battle of Philippi, and saved himself by fleeing. When an amnesty was declared for those who had fought against the victorious Augustus, he returned to Italy, only to find his father dead, and his estate confiscated. Horace was reduced to poverty. He was, however, able to purchase a clerkship in the quaestor's office, which allowed him to get by and practice his poetic art.

Horace was a member of a literary circle that included Virgil and Lucius Varius Rufus; they introduced him to Maecenas, friend and confidant of Augustus. Maecenas became his patron and close friend, and presented Horace with an estate near Tibur, contemporary Tivoli.

Perhaps the finest translator of Horace was John Dryden, who successfully adapted most of the Odes into English verse for readers of his own age. These translations are favored by many scholars despite some textual variations. Others favor unrhymed translations.

Horace's surviving work includes:

Four books of Odes (or Carmina), longer poems, usually on mythological subjects;

A book of Epodes, containing shorter poems;

Two books of Satires

Two books of Letters or Epistles, andThe Carmen Saeculare

One of the Epistles is often referred to as a separate work in itself, the Ars Poetica. In this work, Horace forwards a theory of poetry. His most important tenets are that poetry must be carefully and skillfully worked out on the semantic and formal, and that poetry should be wholesome as well as pleasant. This latter issue is often referred to as the dulce et utile, which is Latin for the sweet and useful. (This work was first translated into English by Queen Elizabeth I).
Horace is generally considered by classicists to be, along with Virgil, the greatest of the Latin poets. He wrote many Latin phrases that remain in use, in Latin or in translation, including carpe diem, "seize the day," and aurea mediocritas, the "golden mean." His works are highly derivative of Greek models, and written exclusively in Greek metres, from the hexameter, which was relatively easy to adapt to Latin, to the more complex measures used in the Odes, like alcaics and sapphics, which were sometimes a difficult fit for Latin structure and syntax. No Latin writer handles these metres with such grace, precision and lightness of touch, although Catullus comes close. The Satires and Epistles are his most personal works, and perhaps the most accessible to contemporary readers unable to appreciate the verbal magic of the Odes.


It is a good thing to be rich, it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends. -- Euripides (480-406 BC) Greek Playwright

Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles.

He is believed to have written over 90 plays, 18 of which are extant (it is now widely believed that a nineteenth, Rhesus, was written by someone else). Fragments of most of the other plays survive, some of them substantial.

More of his plays have survived than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because of the chance preservation of a manuscript that was probably part of a complete collection of his works.

Euripides is known primarily for having reshaped the formal structure of traditional Attic tragedy by showing strong women characters and smart slaves, and by satirizing many heroes of Greek mythology.

Private life

His mother's name was Cleito, and his father's either Mnesarchus or Mnesarchides. Evidence suggests that Euripides' family was comfortable financially. He had a wife named Melito, and together they had three sons. It is rumored that he also had a daughter, but she was killed after a rabid dog attacked her. Some call this rumor a joke that Aristophanes, a comic writer who often poked fun at Euripides, wrote about him. However, many historians fail to see the humor in this and believe it is indeed true.

Public life

The record of Euripides' public life, other than his involvement in dramatic competitions, is almost non-existent. There is no reason or historical evidence to believe that he travelled to Syracuse, Sicily or engaged himself in any other public or political activities during his lifetime, or left Athens at the invitation of king Archelaus II and stayed with him in Macedonia after 408 BC.

His Plays

Euripides first competed in the famous Athenian dramatic festival (the Dionysia) in 455 BC, one year after the death of Aeschylus. He came in third. It was not until 441 BC that he won first place, and over the course of his lifetime, Euripides claimed a mere four victories.

He was a frequent target of Aristophanes' humor. He appears as a character in The Acharnians, Thesmophoriazousae, and most memorably in The Frogs, where Dionysus travels to Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead. After a competition of poetry, Dionysus opts to bring Aeschylus instead.

Euripides' final competition in Athens was in 408 BC. Although there is a story that he left Athens embittered because of his defeats, there is no real evidence to support it. He died in 406 BC, probably in Athens or nearby, and not in Macedon, as some biographers repeatedly state. The Bacchae was performed after his death in 405 BC.

When compared with Aeschylus, who won thirteen times, and Sophocles, with eighteen victories, Euripides was the least honored, though not necessarily the least popular, of the three - at least in his lifetime.

Later, in the 4th century BC, the dramas of Euripides became more popular than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles. His works influenced New Comedy and Roman drama, and were later idolized by the French classicists; his influence on drama reaches modern times.

Euripides' greatest works are considered to be Alcestis, Medea, Electra and The Bacchae.

Classicists at Oxford University are, as of June 2005, employing infrared technology - previously used for satellite imaging - to detect previously unknown material by Euripides in fragments of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, a collection of ancient manuscripts held by the university.

List of Plays

Alcestis - written 438 B.C.E

Andromache - written 428-24

The Bacchantes - written 410 B.C.E

The Cyclops - written ca. 408 B.C.E

Electra - written 420-410 B.C.E

Hecuba - written 424 B.C.E

Helen - written 412 B.C.E

Heracleidae - written ca. 429 B.C.E

Heracles - written 421-416 B.C.E

Hippolytus - written 428 B.C.E

Ion - written 414-412 B.C.E

Iphigenia At Aulis - written 410 B.C.E

Iphegenia in Tauris - written 414-412 B.C.E

Medea - written 431 B.C.E

Orestes - written 408 B.C.E

The Phoenissae - written 411-409 B.C.E

Rhesus - written 450 B.C.E

The Suppliants - written 422 B.C.E

The Trojan Women - written 415 B.C.E


Slight not what is near though aiming at what is far.-- Euripides (480-406 BC) Greek Playwright


The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper. – Aristotle