chapter
Introduction
ByDiane J. Rayor, William W. Batstone

This chapter represents the sudden flowering of lyric poetry in Rome at the end of the Republic and in the first decades of the Augustan principate. Lyric poetry has its own personal subjects, which openly reject or quietly ignore traditional public themes. It also has its own style and form. Horace's hesitation to commit himself unreservedly to any single goal or moral system, his insistence on minimizing his enthusiasms and claims of achievement, his note of self-irony and gentle laughter at others' ardors—those are his characteristic lyric qualities. Roman poets adapted Greek tragedies and comedies for the festivals in Rome that collected the Roman populace in the Roman Forum and later in stone theaters to enjoy Roman prosperity. During the late third and much of the second century, the early poets who now appeared in Italy and found patronage in Rome experimented with the major genres of epic and drama.