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PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MARO was born on the 15th of October, B.C. 70 [the first consulship of Pompey and Crassus] at Andes, which tradition asserts to have been on the site of the modern Pietola, three miles lower down the Mincio than Mantua. Andes, however, is generally described as a pagus 'a district' [not vicus a village,'] and there seems to be no certain means of fixing on any particular village as the birth-place of our poet. He was educated at Cremona from his twelfth year till about his sixteenth, when he assumed the toga virilis and shortly afterwards went to Milan, where he studied until his removal to Rome in B.C. 53. At Rome he studied Rhetoric under Epidius, having possibly as a fellowpupil, young Octavius, the future Emperor Augustus. When he came to Rome the poem of Lucretius had been recently published; and the poems of Catullus were collected and published soon after his arrival. Few Romans of education in his time failed to attend with more or less of conviction


to the doctrines of either the Stoics or the EpicuOur poet appears to have been attracted by the latter rather than the former, and to have studied philosophy under the Epicurean Siro. The influence of this philosophy is manifest in many parts of his writings [see especially extract xiii. of this collection]; but he seems early to have recognised that his bent lay in the direction of poetry rather than philosophy; and to the Muse accordingly his best energies throughout his life were directed.

From the time of his coming to Rome B.C. 53 to the Battle of Philippi B.C. 42 the political world was in a state of trouble and fermentation which culminated in the Civil War of в.c. 50-46, the brief supremacy of Julius Caesar, his murder, and the appearance of Octavian as his successor and avenger. In all these events Vergil took no part; nor did he come forward in the way open to every Roman who wished to distinguish himself, that, namely, of forensic speaking. Once only is he said to have appeared in court. We do not know how these years were passed, but probably some portion of them was spent away from Rome, perhaps on his paternal property. The poems of his which we possess were not written until after the close of this period. The Eclogues are said to have occupied him from B.C. 42 to B.C. 36. The Georgics between the year B.C. 40,-in which he was first introduced to Maecenas, and B.C. 30. The Aeneid occupied the last eleven years of his life, from B.C. 30 to B.c. 19.

The circumstance referred to in the first extract of this book produced a decisive change in his life. Among the lands confiscated by the Triumvirs wherewith to reward their soldiery after the battle of

Philippi (B.c. 42) was the farm of Vergil's father. By the advice of the commissioners appointed to carry out the confiscation our Poet went to Rome to make personal application to Octavian. His success made him a devoted friend and panegyrist of the Emperor. About the same time (B.c. 40) he became acquainted with Maecenas, and thenceforward enjoyed his protection, and became a member of the brilliant literary coterie of which Maecenas was the centre. By his means, or by the liberality of other friends and admirers he became possessed of considerable property. He had a house on the Esquiline, a villa near Naples, and another near Nola in Campania. It was at Naples that he composed his Georgics or part of them (see G. iv. 559), on the suggestion, it is said of Maecenas,' who wished to make the country life and agricultural pursuits of the ancient Romans once more fashionable: though Vergil's own tastes and the study of Hesiod are enough to account for them. While composing the Aeneid he appears to have visited Greece, if the third ode of Horace's first book refers to him, and was published some years previous to his death.2 The object of the voyage may have been to acquire a knowledge of the localities which he has to mention in his poem. In the year B.C. 19 he set out again to visit Greece and Asia. But he met Augustus at Athens and was induced to accompany him back to Italy. He seems to have contracted an illness while visiting Megara, and pressing on his

1 G. 3, 4, tua Maccenas haud mollia jussu.

2 Orelli, however, refers this ode to the voyage made by Vergil on the return from which he died. The difficulty as to the date has led some to suppose that our Vergilius is not the person referred to at all.

homeward voyage he died on the 21st September soon after landing at Brundusium, and was buried at Naples, where his tomb is still shown. The veneration long shown to it gave rise to the curious belief long entertained in the Middle Ages that he was a magician.

The allusions to him in Horace indicate that he was of an amiable character, and had secured the strong affection of his friends; though it is said that he was rustic in appearance, and somewhat melancholy in temperament. His anxious and fastidious taste in regard to his writings was shown by his desire to destroy the Aeneid when he felt himself to be dying, because he had not been able to revise and polish it. He directed in his will that nothing should be published by his executors except what he had revised. But this direction was by the order of Augustus disobeyed, and we thus have the Aeneid almost in spite of its author.


These extracts are taken from three distinct works of Vergil.

1. The Eclogues B.C. 42-37.

The word Eclogae means 'Selections,' and it may be that what we possess is a selection from a larger number. The more correct title of these poems is Bucolica. They are short Pastorals or Idyls. The salient feature in a Pastoral is that it presents primarily a scene in the life of shepherds or countrymen. Whatever story or theme is to be

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