Reader's Encyclopedia

Vergil (full Latin name Publius Vergilius Maro, 70-19 bc)

Roman poet. He was born in Andes, a small village near Mantua. After a preliminary education at Cremona, his father, a fairly prosperous farmer, sent him to Rome to study rhetoric and the physical sciences. The seventeen - year - old farm boy was, however, too shy and frail to stand up well in the competitive city. After several years, he gave up the ambition of becoming an advocate and, retiring to his father 's farm, spent his time studying Greek philosophy and poetry.

Vergil was twenty - five in 44 bc when Julius Caesar was assassinated. All of the Roman world, even the small village of Andes in quiet, rustic Transpadane Gaul, was plunged into political chaos. Like all periods of political revolution in Roman Italy, the period from 44 to 40 bc was marked by large - scale confiscations and bloody reprisals -- what the Romans termed proscriptions. In one of these mass confiscations (41 bc ), all the land in the neighborhood of Mantua and Cremona was confiscated, the owners were given notice to vacate, and their farms were resettled by veterans of Antony's army. Fortunately, however, through the influence of the gifted administrator and man of letters Asinius Pollio, Vergil was not dispossessed. Instead, his poetry was taken by Pollio to Maecenas, who was already what would be known today as the minister of culture. Maecenas was enthusiastic over these short pastoral compositions, then known generically as eclogae (see eclogue ), and urged the poet to organize them into publishable form. After several years of painstaking polishing, during which Vergil added two or three more poems and fitted them into the arrangement of ten idyls, he published the work under the title Bucolica (37). The Bucolics, apparently only artful variations on a theme by Theocritus, are, however, imbued with the spirit of postrepublican Rome, a spirit which looked back longingly to simpler times and forward with desperate hope to a new era of peace.

His fame now well established by the Bucolics, Vergil accepted the invitation of Maecenas to come and live on his estate in Naples and there begin work on a much more ambitious project, which Vergil had already outlined. The poet worked for seven years (37 - 30) on what was to be the great didactic poem of Rome: the Georgica, or "poems of farm life," also known as the Georgics. While Octavius Caesar (see Augustus) was busy with the reconstruction of Rome 's moral and political life, Vergil was occupied with the portrait of that archetypal builder and civilizer, the farmer. Like his Bucolics, Vergil's Georgics are superficially based on a Greek classic, Hesiod's Works and Days, but, again like his first work, they are filled with an intense historical sense of the past and present and with the hope that Rome, under Octavius, would enter an era of peace.

After finishing the Georgics, Vergil immediately began work in the most exalted genre of classical literature, the epic. He gave consideration to several possible legends before he finally decided on the story of Aeneas, the Trojan prince whose descendants were supposed to have founded Rome and whom the Julian family, of which Octavius was a member, claimed as their great ancestor. Again he made use of an ancient model, this time the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, and again created a work that was, in every sense, Roman. In this great twelve - book myth, his countrymen were to see not only a symbolic summation of their history but a statement of their noblest aspirations for the future. The epic was never wholly completed. The poet died on September 21, 19 bc, after returning from a voyage to Athens. His unfinished Aeneid was not destroyed, as he had wished, but was edited by his friends Varius and Tucca and, at last, published. Despite its minor imperfections -- several obscure passages, a number of unfinished lines, and two or three inconsistencies in narrative -- the Aeneid was at once accepted as the supreme epic of the Roman world.

Vergil was popular during the Middle Ages, partly because of his acceptance by the early Christians as an inspired poet and partly because of the medieval habit of making magicians out of the poets and sages of antiquity. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, has Vergil lead him through the infernal and purgatorial regions, considering him the wisest and most closely Christian of the ancient pagan poets

0111011000100101001010011010010011101011010011011110101100000000011110010000101110001110001010011000111000011111101101101111111000
0110010101001011110010011110110011101100111111111001000100010000000010011000101101111001000100101010101101100011010101000111100111
1111100101011010101000010000100011010011010110100111011110011011111001101011000010100010111111011100001001010010101011011101010011
1000011111010100010011110001111010101110110000000010100110001011000101100010100110111001111101011101110000101111000001101101000000
0011000100101101111000001010011101001110010100010011100011111010110101100100111001111100000111011001011001001101101111011001000001
0101110010011100011000100010110111110000111101011000101101110000001110101001101010111100010101111000001000010101100010110001011111
1100110010100010001100110111011101110101111101010001001100100011111111000100100001101011000101000110100011011101100000000101011001
0110011110100111010100011001001011001111100101100111101000010000111000110110000010100000001011000110001110100110011010111010001001
1000100001100001011011100000010001111100100001011110100000111010000111001010010000100000000100110010011000010111011010001011010010
0100101000000010100011110000111011101110111010100111110111001111011101101001110110111111110111001000100110100111000110101000001111
0101010011010001001101001111001101010000001001111001111100000111101011100110011111110111110101101000001001001100100101101001100110
0011111100111011100100011101001100110011100011101001010111001001101110010111110010100101000101010110011110000001010011100111001010
0110100111100000110100101101110101010110100101011000011101111110110101010011101110000110101101110110000011010000110101011111111110
0111001010100010011110000011111001010011001110011000110110101111001100010010101100111111000000111100011001100010011110100000000110