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Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an
ancient Roman In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom ...
poet of the Augustan period. He composed three of the most famous poems in
Latin literature Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin language. The beginning of formal Latin literature dates to 240 BC, when the first stage play in Latin was performed in Rome. Latin literature ...
: the ''
Eclogues The ''Eclogues'' (; ), also called the ''Bucolics'', is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet Virgil. Background Taking as his generic model the Greek bucolic poetry of Theocritus, Virgil created a Roman version partly by of ...
'' (or ''Bucolics''), the ''
Georgics The ''Georgics'' ( ; ) is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BCE. As the name suggests (from the Greek language, Greek word , ''geōrgika'', i.e. "agricultural (things)") the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from b ...
'', and the epic ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
''. A number of minor poems, collected in the ''
Appendix Vergiliana The ''Appendix Vergiliana'' is a collection of poems traditionally ascribed as being the juvenilia (work written as a juvenile) of Virgil.Régine ChambertVergil's Epicureanism in his early poems in "Vergil, Philodemus, and the Augustans" 2003: "Ve ...
'', were attributed to him in ancient times, but modern scholars consider his authorship of these poems as dubious. Virgil's work has had wide and deep influence on
Western literature Western literature, also known as European literature, is the literature written in the context of Western culture in the languages of Europe, as well as several geographically or historically related languages such as Basque language, Basque an ...
, most notably
Dante Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...
's ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...
'', in which Virgil appears as the author's guide through
Hell In religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that ...
and
Purgatory Purgatory (, borrowed into English language, English via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christian denominations (mostly Catholic), an intermediate state after physical death ...
. Virgil has been traditionally ranked as one of Rome's greatest poets. His ''Aeneid'' is also considered a
national epic A national epic is an epic poetry, epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation—not necessarily a nation state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic ...
of
ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
, a title held since composition.


Life and works


Birth and biographical tradition

Virgil's biographical tradition is thought to depend on a lost biography by the Roman poet Varius. This biography was incorporated into an account by the historian
Suetonius Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (), commonly referred to as Suetonius ( ; c. AD 69 – after AD 122), was a Roman historian who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre ...
, as well as the later commentaries of Servius and Donatus (the two great commentators on Virgil's poetry). Although the commentaries record much factual information about Virgil, some of their evidence can be shown to rely on allegorizing and on inferences drawn from his poetry. For this reason, details regarding Virgil's life story are considered somewhat problematic.Fowler, Don. 1996. "Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro)." In '' The Oxford Classical Dictionary'' (3rd ed.). Oxford:
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world, and its printing history dates back to the 1480s. Having been officially granted the legal right to print books ...
.
According to these accounts, Publius Vergilius Maro was born in the village of
Andes The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains (; ) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western ...
, near
Mantua Mantua ( ; it, Mantova ; Lombard language, Lombard and la, Mantua) is a city and ''comune'' in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the Province of Mantua, province of the same name. In 2016, Mantua was designated as the Italian Capital of Culture ...
The
epitaph An epitaph (; ) is a short text honoring a deceased person. Strictly speaking, it refers to text that is inscribed on a tombstone or plaque, but it may also be used in a figurative sense. Some epitaphs are specified by the person themselves be ...
on his tomb in Posilipo near
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan, with a population of 909,048 within the city's adminis ...
read ' ("Mantua gave birth to me, the Calabrians took me, now Naples holds me; I sang of pastures he Eclogues country he Georgics and leaders he Aeneid).
in
Cisalpine Gaul Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy inhabited by Celts (Gauls) during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. After its conquest by the Roman Republic in the 200s BC it was con ...
(
northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. It consists of eight administrative Regions ...
, added to Italy proper during his lifetime). Analysis of his name has led some to believe that he descended from earlier Roman colonists. Modern speculation, however, ultimately is not supported by narrative evidence from either his own writings or his later biographers.
Macrobius Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, usually referred to as Macrobius (fl. AD 400), was a Roman provincial who lived during the early fifth century, during late antiquity, the period of time corresponding to the Later Roman Empire, and when Latin was ...
says that Virgil's father was of a humble background, though scholars generally believe that Virgil was from an equestrian landowning family who could afford to give him an education. He attended schools in
Cremona Cremona (, also ; ; lmo, label=Cremunés, Cremùna; egl, Carmona) is a city and ''comune'' in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po (river), Po river in the middle of the ''Pianura Padana'' (Po Valley). It is the capi ...
,
Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan now stands, was originally an Insubres, Insubrian city, but afterwards became an important Ancient Rome, Roman city in northern Italy (Roman Empire), Italy. The city was settled by the Insubres around 600 ...
, Rome, and
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan, with a population of 909,048 within the city's adminis ...
. After briefly considering a career in
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
and law, the young Virgil turned his talents to poetry. According to Robert Seymour Conway, the only ancient source which reports the actual distance between Andes and Mantua is a surviving fragment from the works of Marcus Valerius Probus. Probus flourished during the reign of
Nero Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus ( ; born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68), was the fifth Roman emperor and final emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, reigning from AD 54 unti ...
(AD 54–68). Conway, Robert Seymour. 1967.
Where Was Vergil's Farm
" ''Harvard Lectures on the Vergilian Age.'' Biblo & Tannen. . pp. 14–41. ''The article was originally sourced fro
Nupedia
and is open content.''
Probus reports that Andes was located 30 Roman miles from Mantua. Conway translated this to a distance of about . Relatively little is known about the family of Virgil. His father reportedly belonged to
gens In ancient Rome, a gens ( or , ; plural: ''gentes'' ) was a family consisting of individuals who shared the same Roman naming conventions#Nomen, nomen and who claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a ''stirps'' (p ...
Vergilia, and his mother belonged to gens Magia. According to Conway, gens Vergilia is poorly attested in inscriptions from the entire
Northern Italy Northern Italy ( it, Italia settentrionale, it, Nord Italia, label=none, it, Alta Italia, label=none or just it, Nord, label=none) is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. It consists of eight administrative Regions ...
, where Mantua is located. Among thousands of surviving ancient inscriptions from this region, there are only 8 or 9 mentions of individuals called "Vergilius" (masculine) or "Vergilia" (feminine). Out of these mentions, three appear in inscriptions from
Verona Verona ( , ; vec, Verona or ) is a city on the Adige River in Veneto, Northern Italy, Italy, with 258,031 inhabitants. It is one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the largest city Comune, municipality in the region and the ...
, and one in an inscription from Calvisano. Conway theorized that the inscription from Calvisano had to do with a kinswoman of Virgil. Calvisano is located 30 Roman miles from Mantua, and would fit with Probus's description of Andes. The inscription, in this case, is a
votive offering A votive offering or votive deposit is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally ...
to the Matronae (a group of deities) by a woman called Vergilia, asking the goddesses to deliver from danger another woman, called Munatia. Conway notes that the offering belongs to a common type for this era, where women made requests for deities to preserve the lives of female loved ones who were pregnant and were about to give birth. In most cases, the woman making the request was the mother of a woman who was pregnant or otherwise in danger. Though there is another inscription from Calvisano, where a woman asks the deities to preserve the life of her sister. Munatia, the woman whom Vergilia wished to protect, was likely a close relative of Vergilia, possibly her daughter. The name "Munatia" indicates that this woman was a member of gens Munatia, and makes it likely that Vergilia married into this family. Other studies claim that today's consideration for ancient ''Andes'' should be sought in the area of
Castel Goffredo Castel Goffredo (Emilian language#Dialects, Upper Mantovano: ) is a ''comune'' in the province of Mantua, in Lombardy, northern Italy, from Mantua and a few more from Brescia. It lies in a region of springs at the foot of the slopes that drain in ...
.


Early works

According to the commentators, Virgil received his first education when he was five years old and later went to
Cremona Cremona (, also ; ; lmo, label=Cremunés, Cremùna; egl, Carmona) is a city and ''comune'' in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po (river), Po river in the middle of the ''Pianura Padana'' (Po Valley). It is the capi ...
,
Milan Milan ( , , Lombard language, Lombard: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4  ...
, and finally
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
to study
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
,
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
, and
astronomy Astronomy () is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and chronology of the Universe, evolution. Objects of interest ...
, which he would abandon for philosophy. From Virgil's admiring references to the
neoteric The Neoterikoi (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: ...
writers Pollio and Cinna, it has been inferred that he was, for a time, associated with
Catullus Gaius Valerius Catullus (; 84 - 54 BCE), often referred to simply as Catullus (, ), was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient R ...
's neoteric circle. According to Servius, schoolmates considered Virgil extremely shy and reserved, and he was nicknamed "Parthenias" ("virgin") because of his social aloofness. Virgil also seems to have suffered bad health throughout his life and in some ways lived the life of an invalid. According to the '' Catalepton'', he began to write poetry while in the
Epicurean Epicureanism is a system of philosophy founded around 307 BC based upon the teachings of the Hellenistic philosophy, ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism. Later its main opponent became Stoici ...
school of Siro in Naples. A group of small works attributed to the youthful Virgil by the commentators survive collected under the title ''
Appendix Vergiliana The ''Appendix Vergiliana'' is a collection of poems traditionally ascribed as being the juvenilia (work written as a juvenile) of Virgil.Régine ChambertVergil's Epicureanism in his early poems in "Vergil, Philodemus, and the Augustans" 2003: "Ve ...
'', but are largely considered spurious by scholars. One, the ''Catalepton'', consists of fourteen short poems, some of which may be Virgil's, and another, a short narrative poem titled the ''
Culex ''Culex'' is a genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. In the hierarchy of biologica ...
'' ("The Gnat"), was attributed to Virgil as early as the 1st century AD.


''Eclogues''

The biographical tradition asserts that Virgil began the hexameter ''
Eclogues The ''Eclogues'' (; ), also called the ''Bucolics'', is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet Virgil. Background Taking as his generic model the Greek bucolic poetry of Theocritus, Virgil created a Roman version partly by of ...
'' (or ''Bucolics'') in 42 BC and it is thought that the collection was published around 39–38 BC, although this is controversial. The ''Eclogues'' (from the Greek for "selections") are a group of ten poems roughly modeled on the bucolic (that is, "pastoral" or "rural") poetry of the Hellenistic poet
Theocritus Theocritus (; grc-gre, Θεόκριτος, ''Theokritos''; born c. 300 BC, died after 260 BC) was a Greeks, Greek poet from Sicily and the creator of Ancient Greek pastoral poetry. Life Little is known of Theocritus beyond what can be inferred ...
, which were written in
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as heroic hexameter and the meter of epic) is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme frequently used in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The scheme of the hexameter is usually as follows (writing – for ...
. After defeating the army led by the assassins of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; ; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in Caes ...
in the
Battle of Philippi The Battle of Philippi was the final battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman pol ...
(42 BC),
Octavian Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Principate ...
tried to pay off his veterans with land expropriated from towns in northern Italy, which—according to tradition—included an estate near Mantua belonging to Virgil. The loss of Virgil's family farm and the attempt through poetic petitions to regain his property have traditionally been seen as his motives in the composition of the ''Eclogues''. This is now thought to be an unsupported inference from interpretations of the ''Eclogues''. In ''Eclogues'' 1 and 9, Virgil indeed dramatizes the contrasting feelings caused by the brutality of the land expropriations through pastoral idiom but offers no indisputable evidence of the supposed biographic incident. While some readers have identified the poet himself with various characters and their vicissitudes, whether gratitude by an old rustic to a new god (''Ecl''. 1), frustrated love by a rustic singer for a distant boy (his master's pet, ''Ecl''. 2), or a master singer's claim to have composed several eclogues (''Ecl''. 5), modern scholars largely reject such efforts to garner biographical details from works of fiction, preferring to interpret an author's characters and themes as illustrations of contemporary life and thought. The ten ''Eclogues'' present traditional pastoral themes with a fresh perspective. Eclogues 1 and 9 address the land confiscations and their effects on the Italian countryside. 2 and 3 are pastoral and erotic, discussing both homosexual love (''Ecl''. 2) and attraction toward people of any gender (''Ecl''. 3). ''Eclogue'' 4, addressed to Asinius Pollio, the so-called "Messianic Eclogue", uses the imagery of the golden age in connection with the birth of a child (who the child was meant to be has been subject to debate). 5 and 8 describe the myth of
Daphnis In Greek mythology, Daphnis (; grc, Δάφνις, from , ''daphne'', "Bay Laurel") was a Sicily, Sicilian shepherd who was said to be the inventor of Pastoral#Pastoral poetry, pastoral poetry. Family According to tradition, he was the son of ...
in a song contest, 6, the cosmic and mythological song of
Silenus In Greek mythology, Silenus (; grc, Σειληνός, Seilēnós, ) was a companion and tutor to the wine Greek god, god Dionysus. He is typically older than the satyrs of the Dionysian retinue (''thiasos''), and sometimes considerably older, ...
; 7, a heated poetic contest, and 10 the sufferings of the contemporary elegiac poet Cornelius Gallus. Virgil is credited in the ''Eclogues'' with establishing Arcadia as a poetic ideal that still resonates in Western literature and visual arts, and setting the stage for the development of Latin pastoral by Calpurnius Siculus,
Nemesianus Marcus Aurelius Olympius Nemesianus was a Roman poet thought to have been a native of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = ...
and later writers.


''Georgics''

Sometime after the publication of the ''Eclogues'' (probably before 37 BC), Virgil became part of the circle of
Maecenas Gaius Cilnius Maecenas ( – 8 BC) was a friend and political advisor to Octavian Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27  ...
, Octavian's capable ''agent d'affaires'' who sought to counter sympathy for Antony among the leading families by rallying Roman literary figures to Octavian's side. Virgil came to know many of the other leading literary figures of the time, including
Horace Quintus Horatius Flaccus (; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman Empire, Roman Lyric poetry, lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetoricia ...
, in whose poetry he is often mentioned, and Varius Rufus, who later helped finish the ''Aeneid''. At Maecenas's insistence (according to the tradition) Virgil spent the ensuing years (perhaps 37–29 BC) on the long
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as heroic hexameter and the meter of epic) is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme frequently used in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The scheme of the hexameter is usually as follows (writing – for ...
poem called the ''
Georgics The ''Georgics'' ( ; ) is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BCE. As the name suggests (from the Greek language, Greek word , ''geōrgika'', i.e. "agricultural (things)") the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from b ...
'' (from Greek, "On Working the Earth"), which he dedicated to Maecenas. The ostensible theme of the ''Georgics'' is instruction in the methods of running a farm. In handling this theme, Virgil follows in the
didactic Didacticism is a philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature, art, and design. In art, design, architecture, and landscape, didacticism is an emerging conceptual approach that is driven by the urgent need to ...
("how to") tradition of the Greek poet
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded by western authors as 'the first written poet i ...
's ''
Works and Days ''Works and Days'' ( grc, Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι, Érga kaì Hēmérai)The ''Works and Days'' is sometimes called by the Latin translation of the title, ''Opera et Dies''. Common abbreviations are ''WD'' and ''Op''. for ''Opera''. is a ...
'' and several works of the later Hellenistic poets. The four books of the ''Georgics'' focus respectively on: # raising crops; # raising trees; # livestock and horses; # beekeeping and the qualities of bees. Well-known passages include the beloved ''Laus Italiae'' of Book 2, the prologue description of the temple in Book 3, and the description of the plague at the end of Book 3. Book 4 concludes with a long mythological narrative, in the form of an ''
epyllion A sleeping Ariadne's abandonment by Theseus is the topic of an elaborate ecphrasis">Theseus.html" ;"title="Ariadne's abandonment by Theseus">Ariadne's abandonment by Theseus is the topic of an elaborate ecphrasis in Catullus 64, the most famous e ...
'' which describes vividly the discovery of beekeeping by
Aristaeus A minor god in Greek mythology, attested mainly by Athenian writers, Aristaeus (; ''Aristaios'' (Aristaîos); lit. “Most Excellent, Most Useful”), was the culture hero credited with the discovery of many useful arts, including bee-keeping; ...
and the story of
Orpheus Orpheus (; Ancient Greek: Ὀρφεύς, classical pronunciation: ; french: Orphée) is a Thracians, Thracian bard, legendary musician and prophet in ancient Greek religion. He was also a renowned Ancient Greek poetry, poet and, according to ...
' journey to the underworld. Ancient scholars, such as Servius, conjectured that the Aristaeus episode replaced, at the emperor's request, a long section in praise of Virgil's friend, the poet Gallus, who was disgraced by
Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pri ...
, and who committed suicide in 26 BC. The tone of the ''Georgics'' tone wavers between optimism and pessimism, sparking critical debate on the poet's intentions, but the work lays the foundations for later didactic poetry. Virgil and Maecenas are said to have taken turns reading the ''Georgics'' to Octavian upon his return from defeating Antony and
Cleopatra Cleopatra VII Philopator ( grc-gre, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ}, "Cleopatra the father-beloved"; 69 BC10 August 30 BC) was Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, and its last active ruler. ...
at the
Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium was a naval battle fought between a maritime fleet of Octavian led by Marcus Agrippa and the combined fleets of both Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Ant ...
in 31 BC.


''Aeneid''

The ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
'' is widely considered Virgil's finest work, and is regarded as one of the most important poems in the history of Western literature ( T. S. Eliot referred to it as 'the classic of all Europe'). The work (modelled after
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
's ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek Epic poem, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with t ...
'' and ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major Ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek Epic poetry, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by moder ...
'') chronicles a refugee of the
Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of th ...
, named
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from ) was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both ...
, as he struggles to fulfill his destiny. His intentions are to reach Italy, where his descendants
Romulus and Remus In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus (, ) are twins in mythology, twin brothers whose story tells of the events that led to the Founding of Rome, founding of the History of Rome, city of Rome and the Roman Kingdom by Romulus, following his fra ...
are to found the city of Rome. Virgil worked on the ''Aeneid'' during the last eleven years of his life (29–19 BC), commissioned, according to
Propertius Sextus Propertius was a Latin elegy, elegiac poet of the Augustan age. He was born around 50–45 BC in Assisium and died shortly after 15 BC. Propertius' surviving work comprises four books of ''elegy#History, Elegies'' ('). He was a friend ...
, by
Augustus Caesar Augustus (born Gaius Octavius; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14), also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor; he reigned from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He is known for being the founder of the Roman Pri ...
. The epic poem consists of 12 books in
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as heroic hexameter and the meter of epic) is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme frequently used in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The scheme of the hexameter is usually as follows (writing – for ...
verse which describe the journey of
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from ) was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the Greek goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both ...
, a warrior fleeing the sack of Troy, to Italy, his battle with the Italian prince Turnus, and the foundation of a city from which Rome would emerge. The ''Aeneid'''s first six books describe the journey of Aeneas from Troy to Rome. Virgil made use of several models in the composition of his epic; Homer, the pre-eminent author of classical epic, is everywhere present, but Virgil also makes special use of the Latin poet
Ennius Quintus Ennius (; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer and poet who lived during the Roman Republic. He is often considered the father of Roman poetry. He was born in the small town of Rudiae, located near modern Lecce, Apulia, (Ancient Calabria#Et ...
and the Hellenistic poet
Apollonius of Rhodes Apollonius of Rhodes ( grc, Ἀπολλώνιος Ῥόδιος ''Apollṓnios Rhódios''; la, Apollonius Rhodius; fl. first half of 3rd century BC) was an ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek author, best known for the ''Argonautica'', an ep ...
among the various other writers to which he alludes. Although the ''Aeneid'' casts itself firmly into the epic mode, it often seeks to expand the genre by including elements of other genres such as tragedy and aetiological poetry. Ancient commentators noted that Virgil seems to divide the ''Aeneid'' into two sections based on the poetry of Homer; the first six books were viewed as employing the ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major Ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek Epic poetry, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by moder ...
'' as a model while the last six were connected to the ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek Epic poem, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with t ...
''. Book 1For a succinct summary, se
Globalnet.co.uk
(at the head of the Odyssean section) opens with a storm which Juno, Aeneas's enemy throughout the poem, stirs up against the fleet. The storm drives the hero to the coast of
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of Ancient Carthage, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in ...
, which historically was Rome's deadliest foe. The queen,
Dido Dido ( ; , ), also known as Elissa ( , ), was the legendary founder and first queen of the Phoenician city-state of Ancient Carthage, Carthage (located in modern Tunisia), in 814 BC. In most accounts, she was the queen of the Phoenician city ...
, welcomes the ancestor of the Romans, and under the influence of the gods falls deeply in love with him. At a banquet in Book 2, Aeneas tells the story of the sack of
Troy Troy ( el, Τροία and Latin: Troia, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒋫𒊒𒄿𒊭 ''Truwiša'') or Ilion ( el, Ίλιον and Latin: Ilium, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒃾𒇻𒊭 ''Wiluša'') was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in prese ...
, the death of his wife, and his escape, to the enthralled Carthaginians, while in Book 3 he recounts to them his wanderings over the Mediterranean in search of a suitable new home.
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
in Book 4 recalls the lingering Aeneas to his duty to found a new city, and he slips away from Carthage, leaving Dido to commit suicide, cursing Aeneas and calling down revenge in symbolic anticipation of the fierce wars between Carthage and Rome. In Book 5, funeral games are celebrated for Aeneas's father
Anchises Anchises (; grc-gre, Ἀγχίσης, Ankhísēs) was a member of the royal family of Troy in Greek mythology, Greek and Roman mythology, Roman legend. He was said to have been the son of King Capys of Dardania and Themiste, daughter of Ilus, wh ...
, who had died a year before. On reaching
Cumae Cumae ( grc, Κύμη, (Kumē) or or ; it, Cuma) was the first ancient Greek colony on the mainland of Italy, founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC and soon becoming one of the strongest colonies. It later became a rich Ro ...
, in Italy in Book 6, Aeneas consults the
Cumaean Sibyl The Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy. The word ''Sibyl (oracle), sibyl'' comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word ''sibylla'', meaning prophetess. There ...
, who conducts him through the
Underworld The underworld, also known as the netherworld or hell, is the supernatural world of the dead in various religious traditions and myths, located below the world of the living. Chthonic is the technical adjective for things of the underworld. ...
where Aeneas meets the dead Anchises who reveals Rome's destiny to his son. Book 7 (beginning the Iliadic half) opens with an address to the muse and recounts Aeneas's arrival in Italy and betrothal to
Lavinia In Roman mythology, Lavinia ( ; ) is the daughter of Latinus and Amata, and the last wife of Aeneas. Creation It has been proposed that the character was in part intended to represent Servilia Isaurica, Emperor Augustus's first fiancée. Story ...
, daughter of King
Latinus Latinus ( la, Latinus; Ancient Greek: Λατῖνος, ''Latînos'', or Λατεῖνος, ''Lateînos'') was a figure in both Greek mythology, Greek and Roman mythology. He is often associated with the heroes of the Trojan War, namely Odysseus ...
. Lavinia had already been promised to
Turnus Turnus ( grc, Τυρρηνός, Tyrrhênós) was the legendary King of the Rutuli The Rutuli or Rutulians were an ancient people in Italy. The Rutuli were located in a territory whose capital was the ancient town of Ardea, Lazio, Ardea, loca ...
, the king of the
Rutuli The Rutuli or Rutulians were an ancient people in Italy. The Rutuli were located in a territory whose capital was the ancient town of Ardea, Lazio, Ardea, located about 35 km southeast of Rome. Thought to have been descended from the Umbri ...
ans, who is roused to war by the Fury Allecto and Amata, Lavinia's mother. In Book 8, Aeneas allies with King Evander, who occupies the future site of Rome, and is given new armor and a shield depicting Roman history. Book 9 records an assault by
Nisus and Euryalus In Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last com ...
on the Rutulians; Book 10, the death of Evander's young son Pallas; and 11 the death of the Volscian warrior princess Camilla and the decision to settle the war with a duel between Aeneas and Turnus. The ''Aeneid'' ends in Book 12 with the taking of Latinus's city, the death of Amata, and Aeneas's defeat and killing of Turnus, whose pleas for mercy are spurned. The final book ends with the image of Turnus's soul lamenting as it flees to the underworld.


Reception of the ''Aeneid''

Critics of the ''Aeneid'' focus on a variety of issues.For a bibliography and summary see Fowler, pp. 1605–1606 The tone of the poem as a whole is a particular matter of debate; some see the poem as ultimately pessimistic and politically subversive to the Augustan regime, while others view it as a celebration of the new imperial dynasty. Virgil makes use of the symbolism of the Augustan regime, and some scholars see strong associations between Augustus and Aeneas, the one as founder and the other as re-founder of Rome. A strong
teleology Teleology (from and )Partridge, Eric. 1977''Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' London: Routledge, p. 4187. or finalityDubray, Charles. 2020 912Teleology" In ''The Catholic Encyclopedia'' 14. New York: Robert Applet ...
, or drive towards a climax, has been detected in the poem. The ''Aeneid'' is full of prophecies about the future of Rome, the deeds of Augustus, his ancestors, and famous Romans, and the Carthaginian Wars; the shield of Aeneas even depicts Augustus's victory at
Actium Actium or Aktion ( grc, Ἄκτιον) was a town on a promontory in ancient Acarnania at the entrance of the Ambraciot Gulf, off which Augustus, Octavian gained his celebrated victory, the Battle of Actium, over Mark Antony, Antony and Cleopatra ...
against
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
and
Cleopatra VII Cleopatra VII Philopator ( grc-gre, Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ}, "Cleopatra the father-beloved"; 69 BC10 August 30 BC) was Queen of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, Egypt from 51 to 30 BC, and its last active ruler. ...
in 31 BC. A further focus of study is the character of Aeneas. As the protagonist of the poem, Aeneas seems to waver constantly between his emotions and commitment to his prophetic duty to found Rome; critics note the breakdown of Aeneas's emotional control in the last sections of the poem where the "pious" and "righteous" Aeneas mercilessly slaughters Turnus. The ''Aeneid'' appears to have been a great success. Virgil is said to have recited Books 2, 4, and 6 to Augustus; and Book 6 apparently caused the emperor's sister Octavia to faint. Although the truth of this claim is subject to scholarly skepticism, it has served as a basis for later art, such as Jean-Baptiste Wicar's ''Virgil Reading the Aeneid''. Unfortunately, some lines of the poem were left unfinished, and the whole was unedited, at Virgil's death in 19 BC.


Virgil's death and editing of the ''Aeneid''

According to the tradition, Virgil traveled to the senatorial province of
Achaea Achaea () or Achaia (), sometimes transliterated from Greek language, Greek as Akhaia (, ''Akhaïa'' ), is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the modern regions of Greece, region of Western Greece and is situated in the northweste ...
in Greece in about 19 BC to revise the ''Aeneid''. After meeting Augustus in Athens and deciding to return home, Virgil caught a fever while visiting a town near
Megara Megara (; el, Μέγαρα, ) is a historic town and a municipality in West Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis Island, Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, befo ...
. After crossing to Italy by ship, weakened with disease, Virgil died in
Brundisium Brindisi ( , ) ; la, Brundisium; grc, Βρεντέσιον, translit=Brentésion; cms, Brunda), group=pron is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Histor ...
harbor on 21 September 19 BC. Augustus ordered Virgil's literary executors,
Lucius Varius Rufus Lucius Varius Rufus (; 14 BC) was a Roman poet of the early Augustus, Augustan age. He was a friend of Virgil, after whose death he and Plotius Tucca prepared the ''Aeneid'' for publication, and of Horace, for whom he and Virgil obtained an intro ...
and Plotius Tucca, to disregard Virgil's own wish that the poem be burned, instead ordering it to be published with as few editorial changes as possible. As a result, the text of the ''Aeneid'' that exists may contain faults which Virgil was planning to correct before publication. However, the only obvious imperfections are a few lines of verse that are metrically unfinished (i.e. not a complete line of
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as heroic hexameter and the meter of epic) is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme frequently used in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The scheme of the hexameter is usually as follows (writing – for ...
). Some scholars have argued that Virgil deliberately left these metrically incomplete lines for dramatic effect. Other alleged imperfections are subject to scholarly debate.


Legacy and reception


Antiquity

The works of Virgil almost from the moment of their publication revolutionized
Latin poetry The history of Latin poetry can be understood as the adaptation of Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-Europea ...
. The ''Eclogues'', ''Georgics'', and above all the ''Aeneid'' became standard texts in school curricula with which all educated Romans were familiar. Poets following Virgil often refer intertextually to his works to generate meaning in their own poetry. The Augustan poet
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the ...
parodies the opening lines of the ''Aeneid'' in '' Amores'' 1.1.1–2, and his summary of the Aeneas story in Book 14 of the ''
Metamorphoses The ''Metamorphoses'' ( la, Metamorphōsēs, from grc, μεταμορφώσεις: "Transformations") is a Latin Narrative poetry, narrative poem from 8 Common Era, CE by the Ancient Rome, Roman poet Ovid. It is considered his ''Masterpiece, ...
'', the so-called "mini-Aeneid", has been viewed as a particularly important example of post-Virgilian response to the epic genre.
Lucan Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (3 November 39 AD – 30 April 65 AD), better known in English language, English as Lucan (), was a Roman Empire, Roman poet, born in Corduba (modern-day Córdoba, Spain, Córdoba), in Hispania Baetica. He is regarded as ...
's epic, the '' Bellum Civile'', has been considered an anti-Virgilian epic, disposing of the divine mechanism, treating historical events, and diverging drastically from Virgilian epic practice. The Flavian poet
Statius Publius Papinius Statius (Greek language, Greek: Πόπλιος Παπίνιος Στάτιος; ; ) was a Greco-Roman world, Greco-Roman poet of the 1st century CE. His surviving Latin poetry includes an epic in twelve books, the ''Thebaid (La ...
in his 12-book epic ''Thebaid'' engages closely with the poetry of Virgil; in his epilogue he advises his poem not to "rival the divine ''Aeneid'', but follow afar and ever venerate its footsteps." In
Silius Italicus Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus (, c. 26 – c. 101 AD) was a Roman senator, orator and Epic poetry, epic poet of the Silver Age of Latin literature. His only surviving work is the 17-book ''Punica (poem), Punica'', an epic poem about th ...
, Virgil finds one of his most ardent admirers. With almost every line of his epic ''
Punica ''Punica'' is a small genus of fruit-bearing deciduous shrubs or small trees in the flowering plant family Lythraceae. The better known species is the pomegranate (''Punica granatum''). The other species, the Socotra pomegranate (''Punica proto ...
'', Silius references Virgil. Indeed, Silius is known to have bought Virgil's tomb and worshipped the poet. Partially as a result of his so-called "Messianic" Fourth Ecloguewidely interpreted later to have predicted the birth of Jesus ChristVirgil was in later antiquity imputed to have the magical abilities of a seer; the '' Sortes Vergilianae'', the process of using Virgil's poetry as a tool of divination, is found in the time of
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Trâiānus Hadriānus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born in Italica (close to modern Santiponce in Spain), a Roman ''municipium'' founded by Italic peoples, Italic settlers ...
, and continued into the Middle Ages. In a similar vein Macrobius in the ''
Saturnalia Saturnalia is an Roman festivals, ancient Roman festival and holiday in honour of the List of Roman deities, god Saturn (mythology), Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. ...
'' credits the work of Virgil as the embodiment of human knowledge and experience, mirroring the Greek conception of Homer. Virgil also found commentators in antiquity. Servius, a commentator of the 4th century AD, based his work on the commentary of Donatus. Servius's commentary provides us with a great deal of information about Virgil's life, sources, and references; however, many modern scholars find the variable quality of his work and the often simplistic interpretations frustrating.


Late antiquity

) Even as the Western Roman Empire collapsed, literate men acknowledged that Virgil was a master poet – Augustine of Hippo, Saint Augustine, for example, confessing how he had wept at reading the death of Dido. The best-known surviving manuscripts of Virgil's works include manuscripts from late antiquity such as the '' Vergilius Augusteus'', the '' Vergilius Vaticanus'' and the '' Vergilius Romanus''.


Middle Ages

Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman History, historian and Bishops of Tours, Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He ...
read Virgil, whom he quotes in several places, along with some other Latin poets, though he cautions that "we ought not to relate their lying fables, lest we fall under sentence of eternal death". In the
Renaissance of the 12th century The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
, Alexander Neckham placed the "divine" ''Aeneid'' on his standard arts curriculum, and Dido became the romantic heroine of the age. Monks like Maiolus of Cluny might repudiate what they called "the luxurious eloquence of Virgil", but they could not deny the power of his appeal.


Dante's ''Divine Comedy''

Dante Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...
presents Virgil as his guide through
Hell In religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that ...
and the greater part of
Purgatory Purgatory (, borrowed into English language, English via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christian denominations (mostly Catholic), an intermediate state after physical death ...
in the ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poetry, narrative poem by Dante Alighieri, begun 1308 and completed in around 1321, shortly before the author's death. It is widely considered the pre-eminent work in Ital ...
''. Dante also mentions Virgil in ''
De vulgari eloquentia ''De vulgari eloquentia'' (; "On eloquence in the vernacular") is the title of a Latin essay by Dante Alighieri. Although meant to consist of four books, it abruptly terminates in the middle of the second book. It was probably composed shortly aft ...
'', as one of the four ''regulati poetae'' along with
Ovid Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( ), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the ...
,
Lucan Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (3 November 39 AD – 30 April 65 AD), better known in English language, English as Lucan (), was a Roman Empire, Roman poet, born in Corduba (modern-day Córdoba, Spain, Córdoba), in Hispania Baetica. He is regarded as ...
and
Statius Publius Papinius Statius (Greek language, Greek: Πόπλιος Παπίνιος Στάτιος; ; ) was a Greco-Roman world, Greco-Roman poet of the 1st century CE. His surviving Latin poetry includes an epic in twelve books, the ''Thebaid (La ...
(ii, vi, 7).


= ''Purgatorio''

= In ''
Purgatorio ''Purgatorio'' (; Italian for "Purgatory") is the second part of Dante's ''Divine Comedy'', following the ''Inferno (Dante), Inferno'' and preceding the ''Paradiso (Dante), Paradiso''. The poem was written in the early 14th century. It is an a ...
'' 21, the pilgrim and Virgil encounter the shade of Statius, the author of the Thebaid (Latin poem), ''Thebaid''. Statius claims that Virgil was his "mama ... and nurse in writing poetry", as well as wishing that he could have "lived back there while Virgil was alive". Virgil does not wish for Statius to know his true identity, and he turns to
Dante Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...
with "a look that silently said: 'Be Silent". However, Dante smiles "like one who gives a hint", at the irony of the situation. Statius misinterprets Dante's laughter for disdain, and Virgil comes forth to reveal himself. Upon learning his identity, Statius moves to embrace Virgil as a fellow poet; but Virgil says, "Brother, do not, for you are a shade, and a shade is what you see", since Statius is a Christian who "exceeds him in the order of grace". In ''Purgatorio'' 22, Statius claims that not only was Virgil his poetic inspiration but also that "through you [I became] a Christian", Statius having read Virgil's words in ''Eclogue'' 4 as a prophecy of Christ: "The age begins anew; justice / returns and the first human time, and a new / offspring comes down from Heaven."


Renaissance and early modernity

The Renaissance saw a number of authors inspired to write epic in Virgil's wake: Edmund Spenser called himself the English Virgil; ''Paradise Lost'' was influenced by the example of the ''Aeneid''; and later artists influenced by Virgil include Hector Berlioz, Berlioz and Hermann Broch.


Legends

The legend of "Virgil in his basket" arose in the Middle Ages, and is often seen in art and mentioned in literature as part of the Power of Women literary topos, demonstrating the disruptive force of female attractiveness on men. In this story Virgil became enamored of a beautiful woman, sometimes described as the emperor's daughter or mistress and called Lucretia. She played him along and agreed to an assignation at her house, which he was to sneak into at night by climbing into a large basket let down from a window. When he did so he was hoisted only halfway up the wall and then left trapped there into the next day, exposed to public ridicule. The story paralleled that of Tale of Phyllis and Aristotle, Phyllis riding Aristotle. Among other artists depicting the scene, Lucas van Leyden made a woodcut and later an engraving. In the Middle Ages, Virgil's reputation was such that it inspired legends associating him with magic and prophecy. From at least the 3rd century, Christian thinkers interpreted ''Eclogue'' 4, which describes the birth of a boy ushering in a golden age, as a prediction of Nativity of Jesus, Jesus's birth. In consequence, Virgil came to be seen on a similar level to the Bible prophecy, Hebrew prophets of the Bible as one who had heralded Christianity. Relatedly, ''The Jewish Encyclopedia'' argues that medieval legends about the golem may have been inspired by Virgilian legends about the poet's apocryphal power to bring inanimate objects to life. Possibly as early as the second century AD, Virgil's works were seen as having magical properties and were used for divination. In what became known as the '' Sortes Vergilianae'' ("Virgilian Lots"), passages would be selected at random and interpreted to answer questions. In the 12th century, starting around
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan, with a population of 909,048 within the city's adminis ...
but eventually spreading widely throughout Europe, a tradition developed in which Virgil was regarded as a great Magician (paranormal), magician. Legends about Virgil and his magical powers remained popular for over two hundred years, arguably becoming as prominent as his writings themselves. Virgil's legacy in medieval Wales was such that the Welsh version of his name, ''Fferyllt'' or ''Pheryllt'', became a generic term for magic-worker, and survives in the modern Welsh word for pharmacist, ''fferyllydd''.


Virgil's tomb

The structure known as "Virgil's tomb" is found at the entrance of an ancient Roman tunnel (aka ) in Piedigrotta, a district from the centre of
Naples Naples (; it, Napoli ; nap, Napule ), from grc, Νεάπολις, Neápolis, lit=new city. is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan, with a population of 909,048 within the city's adminis ...
, near the Mergellina harbor, on the road heading north along the coast to Pozzuoli. While Virgil was already the object of literary admiration and veneration before his death, in the Middle Ages his name became associated with miraculous powers, and for a couple of centuries his tomb was the destination of pilgrimages and veneration.


Spelling of name

By the fourth or fifth century AD the original spelling ''Vergilius'' had been changed to ''Virgilius'', and then the latter spelling spread to the modern European languages. This latter spelling persisted even though, as early as the 15th century, the classical scholar Poliziano had shown ''Vergilius'' to be the original spelling. Today, the anglicisations ''Vergil'' and ''Virgil'' are both considered acceptable. There is some speculation that the spelling ''Virgilius'' might have arisen due to a pun, since ''virg-'' carries an echo of the Latin word for 'wand' (''uirga''), Vergil being particularly associated with magic in the Middle Ages. There is also a possibility that ''virg-'' is meant to evoke the Latin ''virgo'' ('virgin'); this would be a reference to the Eclogue 4, fourth ''Eclogue'', which has a history of Christian, and specifically Messianism, Messianic, Christian interpretations of Virgil's Eclogue 4, interpretations.For more discussion on the spelling of Virgil's name, see Flickinger, R. C. 1930. "Vergil or Virgil?." ''The Classical Journal'' 25(9):658–60.


See also

*Quintus Caecilius Epirota * ''The Barque of Dante, Dante and Virgil in Hell'' (1822 painting) * ''Dante in Hell, Dante, led by Virgil, Consoles the Souls of the Envious'' (1835 painting) * ''Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appraised by Dante and Virgil'' (1835 painting) * ''Dante and Virgil'' (1850 painting) * ''The Barque of Dante (Manet), The Barque of Dante'' (1858 painting)


References


Notes


Citations


Further reading

* Anderson, W. S., and L. N. Quartarone. 2002. ''Approaches to Teaching Vergil's Aeneid''. New York: Modern Language Association. * Buckham, Philip Wentworth, Joseph Spence, Edward Holdsworth, William Warburton, and John Jortin. 1825
''Miscellanea Virgiliana: In Scriptis Maxime Eruditorum Virorum Varie Dispersa, in Unum Fasciculum Collecta''
Cambridge: Printed for W. P. Grant. *Conway, R. S. [1914] 1915.
The Youth of Vergil
" ''Bulletin of the John Rylands Library'' July 1915. *Farrell, J. 1991. ''Vergil's Georgics and the Traditions of Ancient Epic: The Art of Allusion in Literary History''. New York:
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world, and its printing history dates back to the 1480s. Having been officially granted the legal right to print books ...
. *—2001. "The Vergilian Century." ''Vergilius (1959–)'' 47:11–28. . *Farrell, J., and Michael C. J. Putnam, eds. 2010. ''A Companion to Vergil's Aeneid and Its Tradition'', (''Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World''). Chichester, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. * Fletcher, K. F. B. 2014. ''Finding Italy: Travel, Nation and Colonization in Vergil's 'Aeneid. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. * Hardie, Philip R., ed. 1999. ''Virgil: Critical Assessments of Ancient Authors'' 1–4. New York: Routledge. * Henkel, John. 2014. "Vergil Talks Technique: Metapoetic Arboriculture in 'Georgics' 2." ''Vergilius (1959–)'' 60:33–66. . * Horsfall, N. 2016. ''The Epic Distilled: Studies in the Composition of the Aeneid''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. * Mack, S. 1978. ''Patterns of Time in Vergil''. Hamden: Archon Books. * Panoussi, V. 2009. ''Greek Tragedy in Vergil's "Aeneid": Ritual, Empire, and Intertext''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Quinn, S., ed. 2000. ''Why Vergil? A Collection of Interpretations''. Wauconda: Bolchazy-Carducci. * Rossi, A. 2004. ''Contexts of War: Manipulation of Genre in Virgilian Battle Narrative''. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. * Sondrup, Steven P. 2009. "Virgil: From Farms to Empire: Kierkegaard's Understanding of a Roman Poet." In ''Kierkegaard and the Roman World'', edited by J. B. Stewart. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ashgate. * Syed, Y. 2005. ''Vergil's Aeneid and the Roman Self: Subject and Nation in Literary Discourse''. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. * Antonia Syson, Syson, A. 2013. ''Fama and Fiction in Vergil's 'Aeneid. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.


External links

Collected works * * * *
Works of Virgil
at the Perseus Digital Library—Latin texts, translations, and commentaries **''Aeneid'', ''
Eclogues The ''Eclogues'' (; ), also called the ''Bucolics'', is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet Virgil. Background Taking as his generic model the Greek bucolic poetry of Theocritus, Virgil created a Roman version partly by of ...
'', and ''
Georgics The ''Georgics'' ( ; ) is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BCE. As the name suggests (from the Greek language, Greek word , ''geōrgika'', i.e. "agricultural (things)") the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from b ...
'' translated by J. C. Greenough, 1900 **''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is or ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area ...
'', translated by T. C. Williams, 1910 **''—'' translated by John Dryden, 1697
Works of Virgil
at Theoi Project **''Aeneid'', ''Eclogues'' and'' Georgics'', translated by H. R. Fairclough, 1916
Works of Virgil
at Internet Sacred Text Archive, Internet Sacred Texts Archive **''Aeneid'', translated by John Dryden, 1697 **''Eclogues'' and ''Georgics'', translated by John William Mackail, J. W. MacKail, 1934
P. Vergilius Maro
at The Latin Library
Virgil's works
text, concordances, and frequency list.

contemporary, line-by-line English translations of ''Eclogues'', ''Georgics'', and ''Aeneid''.
Virgil
in the collection of Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria a
Somni

''Publii Vergilii Maronis Opera''
Naples and Milan, 1450. *
''Publii Vergilii Maronis Opera''
Italy, 14701499. *
''Publii Vergilii Maronis Opera''
Milan, 1465.

Biography

an English translation.

[''The'' ''Life of Virgil''] by Aelius Donatus (in original Latin). * Aelius Donatus'
''Life of Virgil''
translated by David Wilson-Okamura
''Vergil – A Biography''
(Project Gutenberg ed.), by Tenney Frank.
Vergilian Chronology
(in German). Commentary
The Vergil Project
*

"—A review of Robert Fagles's new translation of the ''Aeneid'' in th
TLS
9 February 2007.
Virgilmurder
Jean-Yves Maleuvre's website setting forth his theory that Virgil was murdered by Augustus.
The Secret History of Virgil
contains selection on the magical legends and tall tales that circulated about Virgil in the Middle Ages.
Interview
with Virgil scholar Richard Thomas and poet David Ferry, who recently translated the ''
Georgics The ''Georgics'' ( ; ) is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BCE. As the name suggests (from the Greek language, Greek word , ''geōrgika'', i.e. "agricultural (things)") the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from b ...
''—via ''ThoughtCast''
SORGLL: ''Aeneid'', Bk I, 1–49
, read by Robert Sonkowsky
SORGLL: ''Aeneid'', Bk IV, 296–396
, read by Stephen Daitz Bibliographies

* [https://sites.google.com/site/hellenisticbibliography/latin-authors/vergil Bibliography of works relating Vergil to the literature of the Hellenistic age]
A selective Bibliographical Guide to Vergil's ''Aeneid''

Virgil in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance: an Online Bibliography
{{Authority control Virgil, Writers from the Province of Mantua Golden Age Latin writers Ancient Roman writers Roman-era poets 1st-century BC writers 1st-century BC Romans 1st-century BC Roman poets Bucolic poets Epic poets Didactic poets 70 BC births 19 BC deaths