University of Chicago’s Professor of Comparative Literature W. R. Johnson writes in his foreword to The Essential Horace, a translation by Burton Raffel

Ovid succeeded in writing the greatest poem in the Latin language. … Propertius wrote the most original and artistic poetry in Latin. … Lucretius wrote the most intelligent and most ingenious poem in Latin. Virgil wrote the most imaginative, the most passionate, the most haunting, and the most spiritual poem in ancient literature. Where does that leave Horace? Is he not, after all, the genial, plump don with a flair for sherry and an infinite capacity for platitudes, and common sense, and taking pains? No, I compare him with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe. My criteria are: breadth of vision and sympathies; maddening facility with language and verification; sheer guts; irony that has outgrown egotism; capacity for change; willingness to confront the tragedies of history without casting oneself (or anybody) in a permanent tragic role; not looking backward too much and not pretending to be able to look forward very far; courage to be free; finally, a deep charity for what sustains what is, for other beings, for oneself

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