How did Horace begin his great project to develop a new Roman lyric poetry based on the Greek predecessors that he so admired?

Hear Horace’s first Ode performed in Latin and follow in English here.

See the illustrated blog post here.

Horace’s modesty, and the Muse who commands his unwarlike lyre, warn him not to risk damage to the reputations of the Emperor Augustus and Agrippa, his chief general, by trying to celebrate them by writing about themes that belong in epic verse – that is beyond his scope. Or so he says …

Hear Horace’s Latin and follow in English here.

When he wrote this poem, Horace believed he had completed the Odes, and felt fully entitled to claim pride and credit for them for himself and his muse: in fact he had another book to go. The picture of Melpomene, to whom the poem is dedicated, is by the Austrian painter Alexander Rothaug.

Hear the Latin and follow in English here.

Many of Horace’s Odes are performed and translated on Pantheon Poets, but the first poems in the first Book, published in 23 BCE have a particularly important function. The very first Ode makes two very important points at the outset: the debt and affection that Horace feels for his great patron and friend Maecenas, to whom he effectively dedicates the whole collection; and the tremendous ambition that Horace has to create a new and distinctively Roman form of poetry, based on the great Greek lyric models of the past.

In the illustration as in Horace’s poem,  a satyr dances in a typically Greek pastoral setting.

Hear Horace’s poetry performed in the original Latin and follow in a new English translation here.