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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Horace, one of the greatest poets of his age, the origin of phrases such as carpe diem, nil desperandum and dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Horace (65-8BC), who flourished under the Emperor Augustus. He was one of the greatest poets of his age and is one of the most quoted of any age. Carpe diem, nil desperandum, nunc est bibendum – that’s Horace. He was the son of a freedman from southern Italy and, thanks to his talent, achieved high status in Rome despite fighting on the losing side in the civil wars. His Odes are widely thought his most enduring works, yet he also wrote his scurrilous Epodes, some philosophical Epistles and broad Satires. He’s influenced poets ever since, including those such as Wilfred Owen who rejected his line: ‘dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’.


Emily Gowers
Professor of Latin Literature at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of St John’s College

William Fitzgerald
Professor of Latin Language and Literature at King’s College London


Ellen O’Gorman
Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Bristol

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 15 Nov 2018 21:30


Emily Gowers at the University of Cambridge

William Fitzgerald at King's College London

Ellen O'Gorman at the University of Bristol

Horace - Wikipedia



Paul Allen Miller, Horace: Understanding Classics (IB Tauris, 2018)

D. Carne-Ross and K. Haynes (eds.), Horace in English (Penguin, 2001)

Anna De Pretis, Epistolarity in the First Book of Horace’s Epistles (Gorgias Press, 2004)

William Fitzgerald How to Read a Latin Poem: If You Can’t Read Latin Yet (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Stephen Harrison (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Horace (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Luke Houghton and Maria Wyke (eds.), Perceptions of Horace: A Roman Poet and His Readers (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Llewelyn Morgan, Musa Pedestris: Metre and Meaning in Roman Verse (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Henry Steele Commager, The Odes of Horace: A Critical Study (University of Oklahoma Press, 1962)



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