And now ’tis done: more durable than brass
My monument shall be, and raise its head
O’er royal pyramids: it shall not dread
Corroding rain or angry Boreas,
Nor the long lapse of immemorial time.
(Horace, Odes, III.xxx)
With what other words could one possibly begin a paper on philanthropy? Here we have the Roman poet Horace in full celebratory mode: his memorial will outlast even hard metal. What’s more, it comes at the end of the third book of Horace’s Odes, so many of which are dedicated to that legendary philanthropist Maecenas, who has given his very name to the arts of philanthropy, and who was the patron not just of Horace but also of Virgil and Propertius. Of course, then as now, Maecenas’s philanthropy was not altogether innocent, as even these poets suggest. Ultimately, the exquisite poetry of this Golden Age was in honour of the one and only emperor, Augustus, lauding his beneficence and the prosperity of his reign.