If my character is flawed by a few minor faults, but is otherwise decent and moral, if you can point out only a few scattered blemishes on an otherwise immaculate surface, if no one can accuse me of greed, or of prurience, or of profligacy, if I live a virtuous life, free of defilement (pardon, for a moment, my self-praise), and if I am to my friends a good friend, my father deserves all the credit... As it is now, he deserves from me unstinting gratitude and praise. I could never be ashamed of such a father, nor do I feel any need, as many people do, to apologize for being a freedman's son. Satires 1.6.65–92
Petrarch is a key figure in the imitation of Horace in accentual meters. His verse letters in Latin were modelled on the Epistles and he wrote a letter to Horace in the form of an ode. However he also borrowed from Horace when composing his Italian sonnets. One modern scholar has speculated that authors who imitated Horace in accentual rhythms (including stressed Latin and vernacular languages) may have considered their work a natural sequel to Horace's metrical variety. In France, Horace and Pindar were the poetic Models for a group of vernacular authors called the Pléiade, including for Example Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. Montaigne made constant and inventive use of Horatian quotes. The vernacular languages were dominant in Spain and Portugal in the sixteenth century, where Horace's influence is notable in the works of such authors as Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Boscán Sá de Miranda, Antonio Ferreira and Fray Luis de León, the latter for Example writing odes on the Horatian theme beatus ille (happy the man). The sixteenth century in western Europe was also an age of translations (except in Germany, where Horace wasn't translated until well into the seventeenth century). The first English translator was Thomas Drant, who placed translations of Jeremiah and Horace side by side in Medicinable Morall, 1566. That was also the year that the Scot George Buchanan paraphrased the Psalms in a Horatian setting. Ben Jonson put Horace on the stage in 1601 in Poetaster, along with other classical Latin authors, giving them all their own verses to speak in translation. Horace's part evinces the independent spirit, moral earnestness and critical insight that many readers look for in his poems.
New editions of his works were published almost yearly. There were three new editions in 1612 (two in Leiden, one in Frankfurt) and again in 1699 (Utrecht, Barcelona, Cambridge). Cheap editions were plentiful and fine editions were also produced, including one whose entire text was engraved by John Pine in copperplate. The poet James Thomson owned five editions of Horace's work and the physician James Douglas had five hundred books with Horace-related titles. Horace was often commended in periodicals such as The Spectator, as a hallmark of good judgement, moderation and manliness, a focus for moralising. His verses offered a fund of mottoes, such as simplex munditiis, (elegance in simplicity) splendide mendax (nobly untruthful.), sapere aude, nunc est bibendum, carpe diem (the latter perhaps being the only one still in Common use today), quoted even in works as prosaic as Edmund Quincy's A treatise of hemp-husbandry (1765). The fictional hero Tom Jones recited his verses with feeling. His works were also used to justify commonplace themes, such as patriotic obedience, as in James Parry's English lines from an Oxford University collection in 1736:
Both W.H.Auden and Louis MacNeice began their careers as teachers of classics and both responded as poets to Horace's influence. Auden for Example evoked the fragile world of the 1930s in terms echoing Odes 2.11.1–4, where Horace advises a friend not to let worries about frontier wars interfere with current pleasures.
The American poet, Robert Frost, echoed Horace's Satires in the conversational and sententious idiom of some of his longer poems, such as The Lesson for Today (1941), and also in his gentle advocacy of life on the farm, as in Hyla Brook (1916), evoking Horace's fons Bandusiae in Ode 3.13. Now at the start of the third millennium, poets are still absorbing and re-configuring the Horatian influence, sometimes in translation (such as a 2002 English/American edition of the Odes by thirty-six poets) and sometimes as inspiration for their own work (such as a 2003 collection of odes by a New Zealand poet).
Horace maintained a central role in the education of English-speaking elites right up until the 1960s. A pedantic emphasis on the formal aspects of language-learning at the expense of literary appreciation may have made him unpopular in some quarters yet it also confirmed his influence—a tension in his reception that underlies Byron's famous lines from Childe Harold (Canto iv, 77):
Horace's Epodes have largely been ignored in the modern era, excepting those with political associations of historical significance. The obscene qualities of some of the poems have repulsed even scholars yet more recently a better understanding of the nature of Iambic poetry has led to a re-evaluation of the whole collection. A re-appraisal of the Epodes also appears in creative adaptations by recent poets (such as a 2004 collection of poems that relocates the ancient context to a 1950s industrial town).
Edward FitzGerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, though formally derived from the Persian ruba'i, nevertheless shows a strong Horatian influence, since, as one modern scholar has observed,"...the quatrains inevitably recall the stanzas of the 'Odes', as does the narrating first person of the world-weary, ageing Epicurean Omar himself, mixing sympotic exhortation and 'carpe diem' with splendid moralising and 'memento mori' nihilism." Matthew Arnold advised a friend in verse not to worry about politics, an echo of Odes 2.11, yet later became a critic of Horace's inadequacies relative to Greek poets, as role Models of Victorian virtues, observing: "If human life were complete without faith, without enthusiasm, without Energy, Horace...would be the perfect interpreter of human life." Christina Rossetti composed a sonnet depicting a woman willing her own death steadily, drawing on Horace's depiction of 'Glycera' in Odes 1.19.5–6 and Cleopatra in Odes 1.37. A. E. Housman considered Odes 4.7, in Archilochian couplets, the most beautiful poem of antiquity and yet he generally shared Horace's penchant for quatrains, being readily adapted to his own elegiac and melancholy strain. The most famous poem of Ernest Dowson took its title and its heroine's name from a line of Odes 4.1, Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae, as well as its motif of nostalgia for a former flame. Kipling wrote a famous parody of the Odes, satirising their stylistic idiosyncrasies and especially the extraordinary syntax, but he also used Horace's Roman patriotism as a focus for British imperialism, as in the story Regulus in the school collection Stalky & Co., which he based on Odes 3.5. Wilfred Owen's famous poem, quoted above, incorporated Horatian text to question patriotism while ignoring the rules of Latin scansion. However, there were few other echoes of Horace in the war period, possibly because war is not actually a major theme of Horace's work.
Classical texts almost ceased being copied in the period between the mid sixth century and the Middle Ages. Horace's work probably survived in just two or three books imported into northern Europe from Italy. These became the ancestors of six extant manuscripts dated to the ninth century. Two of those six manuscripts are French in origin, one was produced in Alsace, and the other three show Irish influence but were probably written in continental monasteries (Lombardy for example). By the last half of the ninth century, it was not uncommon for literate people to have direct experience of Horace's poetry. His influence on the Carolingian Renaissance can be found in the poems of Heiric of Auxerre and in some manuscripts marked with neumes, mysterious notations that may have been an aid to the memorization and discussion of his lyric meters. Ode 4.11 is neumed with the melody of a hymn to John the Baptist, Ut queant laxis, composed in Sapphic stanzas. This hymn later became the basis of the solfege system (Do, re, mi...)—an association with western music quite appropriate for a lyric poet like Horace, though the language of the hymn is mainly Prudentian. Lyons argues that the melody in question was linked with Horace's Ode well before Guido d'Arezzo fitted Ut queant laxis to it. However, the melody is unlikely to be a survivor from classical times, although Ovid testifies to Horace's use of the lyre while performing his Odes.