Virgil - the Roman poet
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Virgil

Virgil was a poet who lived during the civil wars in Rome and then in the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus, just before the birth of Jesus Christ. Virgil (VER-jill) was a friend of Maecenas (my-SEEN-ass), who was a friend of Augustus, and Virgil wrote poetry in order to support Augustus' government. Virgil wrote a bunch of poems, called the Georgics, which are about how wonderful Italy is, and how nice it is to have peace (thanks to Augustus), and how good it is to live a simple, traditional life.

But the work Virgil is most remembered for is the epic poem called the Aeneid. This is a long poem in twelve books, like the Iliad or the Odyssey. The hero is Aeneas (i-KNEE-ass), who was a Trojan who was supposed to have escaped from Troy when the Greeks captured it during the Trojan War. It is the story of how Aeneas and his men (like Odysseus and his men) travelled from Troy to Italy to found the city of Rome. This makes the Trojans the ancestors of the Romans.

Virgil was not happy with the Aeneid. It was not published while he was alive, and when he died in 19 BC he left instructions that it should be destroyed. But his heirs published it anyway.


Click here to read Virgil on the web

Bibliography and further reading about Virgil:

Approaches to Teaching Vergil's Aeneid (Approaches to Teaching World Literature, No 74)
by William S. Anderson

Livy
More Roman literature
Ancient Rome
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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