Free LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice Test
Directions: Each of the questions in this section is based on the following passage. The questions are to be answered on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage. For some, more than one of the choices could conceivably answer the question. However, you are to choose the best answer; that is, the response that most accurately and completely answers the question.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the “old popular Horace” of Tennyson, petted and loved, by Frenchmen and Englishmen especially, above all the poets of antiquity, was born on the 8th of December, B.C. 65. He calls himself in his poems by the three names indifferently, but to us he is known only by the affectionate diminutive of his second name, borne by his father, according to the fashion of the time, as slave to some member of the noble Horatian family. A slave the father unquestionably had been: meanness of origin was a taunt often leveled against his son, and encountered by him with magnanimous indifference; but long before Horace’s birth the older Horatius had obtained his freedom, had gained sufficient money to retire from business, and to become owner of the small estate at Venusia on the borders of Apulia, where the poet was born and spent his childhood. He repeatedly alludes to this loved early home, speaks affectionately of its surrounding scenery, of the dashing river Aufidus, now Ofanto, of the neighbouring towns, Acherontia, Bantia, Forentum, discoverable in modern maps as Acerenza, Vanzi, Forenza, of the crystal Bandusian spring, at whose identity we can only guess. Here he tells us how, wandering in the forest when a child and falling asleep under the trees, he woke to find himself covered up by woodpigeons with leaves, and alludes to a prevailing rural belief that he was specially favored by the gods. Long afterwards, too, when travelling across Italy with Maecenas, he records with delight his passing glimpse of the familiar wind-swept Apulian hills.
Of his father he speaks ever with deep respect. “Ashamed of him?” he says, “because he was a freedman? Whatever moral virtue, whatever charm of character, is mine, that I owe to him. Poor man though he was, he would not send me to the village school frequented by peasant children, but carried me to Rome, that I might be educated with sons of knights and senators. He pinched himself to dress me well, himself attended me to all my lecture-rooms, preserved me pure and modest, fenced me from evil knowledge and from dangerous contact. Of such a sire how should I be ashamed? how say, as I have heard some say, that the fault of a man’s low birth is Nature’s, not his own? Why, were I to begin my life again, with permission from the gods to select my parents from the greatest of mankind, I would be content, and more than content, with those I had.” The whole self-respect and nobleness of the man shines out in these generous lines.
Twice in his old age Horace alludes rather disparagingly to his schooldays in Rome: he was taught, he says, out of a translation from Homer by an inferior Latin writer, and his master, a retired soldier, one Orbilius, was “fond of the rod.” I observe that the sympathies of Horatian editors and commentators, themselves mostly schoolmasters, are with Orbilius as a much enduring pedagogue rather than with his exasperated pupil. We know from other sources that the teacher was a good scholar and a noted teacher, and that, dying in his hundredth year, he was honored by a marble statue in his native town of Beneventum; but like our English Orbilius, Dr. Busby, he is known to most men only through Horace’s resentful epithet;–“a great man,” said Sir Roger de Coverley, “a great man; he whipped my grandfather, a very great man!”
The young Englishman on leaving school goes to Oxford or to Cambridge: the young Roman went to Athens. There we find Horace at about nineteen years of age, learning Greek, and attending the schools of the philosophers; those same Stoics and Epicureans whom a few years later the first great Christian Sophist was to harangue on Mars’ Hill. These taught from their several points of view the basis of happiness and the aim of life. Each in turn impressed him: for a time he agreed with Stoic Zeno that active duty is the highest good; then lapsed into the easy doctrine of Epicurean Aristippus that subjective pleasure is the only happiness. His philosophy was never very strenuous, always more practical than speculative; he played with his teachers’ systems, mocked at their fallacies, assimilated their serious lessons.
1. What is the primary purpose of this passage?
A. To express sympathy with Horace’s schoolmaster
B. To describe the lineage and education of Horace
C. To argue against slavery
D. To describe the typical course of education for a Roman boy
E. To compare Roman and English education
2. Which of the following statements can be properly inferred from the passage?
A. Roman “slavery” was similar to indentured servitude.
B. Orbilius came to love the poetry of Horace.
C. Horace’s mother died young.
D. Horace could compose poetry in both Latin and Greek.
E. Horace had a melancholy childhood.
3. The author of the passage would probably agree that:
A. slavery was a necessary evil of the classical world.
B. Orbilius and Horace had a great deal in common.
C. Horace’s temperament was formed by his military service.
D. Aristippus contributed to the rise of the Roman Empire.
E. Horace did not have a systematic personal philosophy.
4. What is the best definition for “pedagogue” as it is used in the third paragraph?
5. To what does the author attribute Orbilius’ good reputation?
A. the fact that subsequent commentaries have been written by schoolteachers
B. the mellowing effects of time
C. Horace’s compliments in his later poems
D. the comments of Horace’s father
E. his cheerful disposition
1. B. The passage describes Horace’s father and his schooling; some of the other answer choices can be found in the passage, but do not constitute the primary purpose.
2. A. The fact that Horace’s father was able to buy his own freedom indicates that slaves could earn credit through their labor.
3. E. In the final paragraph, the author seems to suggest that Horace flirted with various popular philosophies without ever subscribing to one in particular.
4. D. The word is used to refer to Horace’s teacher, Orbilius.
5. A. The author insinuates that Orbilius has been given the benefit of the doubt by his colleagues in the future.
For additional information, we recommend you check out these free LSAT test resources: