Carmen Saeculare

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The Carmen Saeculare (Latin for "Secular Hymn" or "Song of the Ages") is a hymn in Sapphic meter written by the Roman poet Horace. It was commissioned by the Roman emperor Augustus in 17 BC. The hymn was sung by a chorus of twenty-seven maidens and the same number of youths on the occasion of the Ludi Saeculares (Secular Games), which celebrated the end of one saeculum (typically 110 years in length) and the beginning of another. The mythological and religious song is in the form of a prayer addressed to Phoebus (Apollo) and Diana; it especially brings to prominence Apollo, functioning as a surrogate for and patron of the princeps (Augustus), for whom a new temple on the Palatine had recently been consecrated. A marble inscription recording the ceremony and the part played by Horace still survives.

The Carmen Saeculare is the earliest lyric poem for which we have definite information about the circumstances of its performance,[dubious ] and is the only one of Horace's known for certain to have been performed orally.[1]

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