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Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet by Harry Eyres review

Drawn to Horace by a mutual love of wine and poetry, Eyres celebrates the importance of poetry in an age that, like Horace's own, values money above all else

As a schoolboy at Eton, Harry Eyres didn't warm to the Roman poet Horace. He was "too suave, too close to power". But as an adult and as a poet himself, Eyres now rejects the image of Horace as "one of the smuggest writers who ever lived" and instead hails him as "one of the clearest poetic intelligences and one of the west's lost prophets".

Perhaps surprisingly it was his love of wine that first drew Eyres to Horace. Indeed he translates Horace's most famous injunction, "Carpe diem", as "taste the day!" For Horace, wine was a great consoler: it restored "to a desperate mind the balm of hope". And it inspired humanity: "Full of you I will speak grand things." Eyres's modern translations are accompanied by wonderfully insightful readings of Horace's poetry. But his book is much more than this: looking back across his own life as a writer, Eyres celebrates the enduring importance of poetry in an age that, like Horace's own, often seems to value money above all else. Horace's way, he concludes, "is the way of worshipping small things and small gods".

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