Literature Study GuidesThe Odes Of Horace

The Odes of Horace | Study Guide


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Course Hero. "The Odes of Horace Study Guide." April 26, 2019. Accessed August 3, 2020.


Course Hero, "The Odes of Horace Study Guide," April 26, 2019, accessed August 3, 2020,




Years Published

23 BCE (Books 1–3); 13 BCE (Book 4)




Autobiography, History, Philosophy

At a Glance

In his lifetime, Horace was considered one of the greatest Latin poets—a reputation he maintains even today. Horace was a prolific and inventive writer who worked in many styles, but his odes may speak best to today's readers. What constitutes real virtue? How can people create a lasting reputation? Given everyone must die, how should we prepare for death? These are some of the questions Horace discusses with wit, ingenuity, and a casual, intimate tone that still speaks to readers.

Horace published the first three books of Odes in 23 BCE. A decade later, at the request of Emperor Augustus, he brought out a fourth collection. There are 103 odes in all. Though they cover a wide range of subjects, certain themes recur, from the pleasure of drinking wine to the inevitability of death. The odes give the impression of being autobiographical (though this is not always the case), and their candid, intimate tone makes readers feel they know Horace personally. He gradually reveals himself as a wise, good-tempered, and down-to-earth man—eager to instruct, entertain, and leave a lasting legacy.

This study guide offers an overview of his four books of odes and a selection of 12 of the most frequently studied works.

About the Title

An ode is a short lyric poem. Horace is unique among classical Roman poets in writing Latin odes based on the meters used by the most celebrated Greek lyric poets. Horace wrote odes characterized by informal language; an intimate, personal, and sometimes humorous tone; and down-to-earth subjects rather than grand ones.


This study guide for Horace's The Odes of Horace offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.


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