Virgil lived through the fall of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Empire. In his poems we see a series of attempts, increasingly ambitious in scale and conception, to combine technical brilliance and beauty with profound meditation on the nature of imperialism and the relation of the individual to the State. From short pastoral poems on love and song he progressed to the heroic myth of the founding of Rome. "The Aeneid", immediately recognised as the greatest masterpiece of Latin literature, has had incalculable influence on European literature in the two thousand years since it was first published.
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So it is part of the cruelty of Aeneas ' destiny that he must sacrifice everything to the god - given task of founding Rome and yet that he will not be allowed to do it . He must take it all on trust up to the end .
( A 8.729-31 ) He gazed in wonder at all this , the work of Vulcan , the gift of his mother : ignorant of the stories , he took pleasure in their representation , and lifted on his shoulder the glory and the destiny of his descendants .
To have been singled out for that destiny has meant that the people of Rome have had to renounce the enticing delights of art , of beauty , even of love . They have had to become the agents of a providence which is little interested in ...
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Rome and Arcadia
the Muse in hobnails
The Aeneid and the myth of Rome
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