Horace has long been revered as the supreme lyric poet of the Augustan Age. In his perceptive introduction to this translation of Horace’s Odes and Satires, Sidney Alexander engagingly spells out how the poet expresses values and traditions that remain unchanged in the deepest strata of Italian character two thousand years later. Horace shares with Italians of today a distinctive delight in the senses, a fundamental irony, a passion for seizing the moment, and a view of religion as aesthetic experience rather than mystical exaltation — in many ways, as Alexander puts it, Horace is the quintessential Italian. The voice we hear in this graceful and carefully annotated translation is thus one that emerges with clarity and dignity from the heart of an unchanging Latin culture.
Alexander is an accomplished poet, novelist, biographer, and translator who has lived in Italy for more than thirty years. Translating a poet of such variety and vitality as Horace calls on all his literary abilities. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 bce), was born the son of a freed slave in southern rural Italy and rose to become one of the most celebrated poets in Rome and a confidante of the most powerful figures of the age, including Augustus Caesar. His poetry ranges over politics, the arts, religion, nature, philosophy, and love, reflecting both his intimacy with the high affairs of the Roman Empire and his love of a simple life in the Italian countryside. Alexander translates the diverse poems of the youthful Satires and the more mature Odes with freshness, accuracy, and charm, avoiding affectations of archaism or modernism. He responds to the challenge of rendering the complexities of Latin verse in English with literary sensitivity and a fine ear for the subtleties of poetic rhythm in both languages. This is a major translation of one of the greatest of classical poets by an acknowledged master of his craft.