Non Omnis Moriar – The Origin of “Non Omnis Moriar”

by Sir Jose Sison Luzadas, KCR – The Order of the Knights of Rizal borrowed the Latin phrase “Non Omnis Moriar” from Quintus Horatius Flaccus or Horace in the English speaking world. Before becoming the most celebrated Roman poet after Virgil; Horace was active in Roman politics. Soon after the assassination of Julius Caesar, he looked upon Brutus as the man the fate of the Roman Republic depended upon. On the verge of civil war, he joined the republican cause and enlisted in the military as a tribune against the forces of Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Marc Antony. The army he commanded was heavily defeated and in one skirmish, Horace was seen running away after he dropped his shield and sword. It was a humiliation known to his friends and enemies alike.

Despite his disastrous military career, Horace resolved to forget the incident by his determined effort to pursue his talent for poetry. Horace’s friendship with Virgil and the proclamation of general amnesty by Emperor Augustus brought him back to Rome . He and other selected few received financial support from Gaius Maecenas, a rich patron of the arts and an adviser of Octavian. When the latter emerged as the most powerful man in Rome after the civil war, Maecenas introduced Horace to the young emperor and everything was forgiven: Even in ancient times, as in today, politics make strange bedfellows out of strangers.

Like Virgil, Horace looked at fame as the crowning glory. With his undiminished optimism, he strongly believed that his early failures in life can be more compensated by his special gift in poetry. He called his talent, a one-way ticket to fame where his name will always be remembered in the lips of men and beyond his grave. In 23 BC, Horace composed the lyrics below which is one of the collection of poems in his Odes:

“I have built a monument more lasting than bronze
and mightier than the royal palace of the pyramids.
Non Omnis Moriar (I will not altogether die) and
a great part m me will live beyond death;

l will keep growing, fresh with praise of posterity.?

Reprinted from Bagumbayan International Edition, Vol XXVIII No. 33, 4th Qtr 2001






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