The writings of Horace have exerted strong and continuing influence on writers from his day to our own. Sophisticated and intellectual, witty and frank, he speaks to the cultivated and civilized world of today with the same astringent candor and sprightliness that appeared so fresh at the height of Rome's wealthy and glory.
In 23 B.C., when he published the first three books of his lyrics, Horace was 42 years old, secure in the favor of the emperor Augustus, and living in ease and comfort as a country gentleman on his Sabine farm. Serenity is reflected in these lyrics, certainly, but so are other experiences, for Horace had lived through three major political crises in a society that was the center of the world, that was sophisticated, refined—and beginning to decay. A worldly, high-spirited, cultivated man, Horace responds in his poetry to the myriad elements of Roman life he knew so well.
The Odes and Epodes of Horace collects the entirety of his lyric poetry, comprising all 103 odes, the Carmen Saeculare ("Festival Hymn"), and the earlier epodes. Joseph P. Clancy has achieved a mirroring of the originals that is worthy in its own right as English verse, and his introductions to each book of lyrics are both lively and informed.