Horace (65-8 bc) was one of the greatest poets of the Golden or Augustan age of Latin literature, a master of precision and irony who brilliantly transformed early Greek iambic and lyric poetry into sophisticated Latin verse of outstanding beauty. Offering allusive and exquisitely crafted insights into the brief joys of the present and the uncertain nature of the future, his Odes and Epodes explore such diverse themes as the virtues of pastoral life, the joys of wine, friendship and love, and the poet's personal anguish following Brutus' defeat at the battle of Phillipi. Ranging from subtle and tender hymns to the gods to bawdy celebrations of human passions, they remain among the most influential of all poems, inspiring poets from the Roman era to the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment and beyond.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus was born in 6 B.C. at Venusia in Apulia. His father, though once a slave, had made enough money as an auctioneer to send his son to a well-known school in Rome and subsequently to university in Athens. There Horace joined Brutus' army and served on his staff until the defeat at Philippi in 42 BC. On returning to Rome, he found that his father was dead and his property had been confiscated, but he succeeded in obtaining a secretarial post in the treasury, which gave him enough to live on. The poetry he wrote in the next few years impressed Virgil, who introduced him to the great patron Maecenas in 38 BC. This event marked the beginning of a life-long friendship. From now on Horace had no financial worries; he moved freely among the leading poets and statesmen of Rome; his work was admired by Augustus, and indeed after Virgil's death in 19 BC he was virtually Poet Laureate. Horace died in 8 BC, only a few months after Maecenas. Betty Radice read classics at Oxford, then married and, in the intervals of bringing up a family, tutored in classics, philosophy and English. She became joint editor of the Penguin Classics in 1964. As well as editing the translation of Livy's The War with Hannibal she translated Livy's Rome and Italy, Pliny's Letters, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise and Erasmus's Praise of Folly, and also wrote the introduction to Horace's Complete Odes and Epodes, all for the Penguin Classics. She also edited Edward Gibbon's Memoirs of My Life for the Penguin English Library, and edited and annotated her translation of the younger Pliny's works for the Loeb Library of Classics and translated from Renaissance Latin, Greek and Italian for the Officina Bodoni of Verona. She collaborated as a translator in the Collected Works of Erasmus, and was the author of the Penguin Reference Book Who's Who in the Ancient World. Betty Radice was an honorary fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, and a vice-president of the Classical Association. Betty Radice died in 1985.