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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promises to worship like a god , who says : " Pasture your cattle as before , boys . ' ( 1.45 ) . This suggests a freeholder rather than a slave ; for slaves could not hold land . He has secured possession of his land without change ...
Dido called this , says Virgil , a wedding - and clearly not without some grounds . Yet when Aeneas is challenged by her , he can say with truth that he never went through a proper marriage ceremony ( 4.338-9 ) .
That is not to say that the poem is anti - imperialist . There are resounding statements of the universal claims of Rome and they are not to be played down . ' Empire without limit I have given them ' , says Jupiter in the First book .
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Rome and Arcadia
the Muse in hobnails
The Aeneid and the myth of Rome
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