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  Publius Vergilius Maro was born in the village of Andes, near Mantua, in 70 B.C.E. It is said that Vergil's father was a yeoman farmer who married his employer's daughter. He was probably also a manufacturer of pottery and was or became a prosperous owner of land. Little is known of his boyhood, but he probably worked on his father's farm.
  When he was about ten years old, he went to school at Cremona, continuing his studies a few years later at Milan before going to Rome when he was seventeen. At Rome, Vergil continued his studies, concentrating on rhetoric and philosophy, as well as law. He spoke in the courts only once, and did so very poorly.
  Meanwhile, great events were shaking up the Roman world, though Vergil was largely unaffected by them. In 49 B.C.E., Julius Caesar crossed the River Rubicon and occupied Rome. Vergil might have been conscripted to serve in Caesar's army for a year, but it is just as likely that his poor health prevented him from serving at all.
  Soon, Vergil left Rome and settled in Campania at the philosophical school known as "The Garden", a school founded by Phaedrus, and continued by Philodemus and Siro, a couple of Greek sages who had a profound effect upon Vergil's mind and writing.
  Vergil led a quiet life at Campania while civil war was raging in the Roman Empire, piqued by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.E. by Brutus and Cassius. In 42 B.C.E, Octavian, Julius Caesar's great-nephew and adopted son, began seizing land and farms in Italy, among them Vergil's estate, to resettle war veterans. Unlike most of the dispossessed farmers, however, Vergil was able to get his land back, probably with the help of influential friends, such as Alfenus Varus, Pollio, and Cornelius Gallus.
  Around this time, Vergil wrote the Eclogues-ten selections of poetry, on cowherding of all things. The Eclogues propelled Vergil to great fame, and were even performed in the public theater at Rome. He gained favor with Octavian, who had taken control of the Roman world after 31 B.C.E., and Maecenas, a wealthy Roman knight and literary patron. In 30 B.C.E., after seven years of work, Vergil completed the Georgics, a masterpiece on agriculture, written at the command of and dedicated to Maecenas.
  Immediately after he completed the Georgics, Vergil began work on the Aeneid, an epic poem for Octavian. Vergil worked on the Aeneidfor eleven years, completing the work but not editing it, when he took a trip to Greece to see the places he was writing about in his work. He went as far as Megara, and there he met Octavian, now called Augustus (the Roman Senate had granted him this title in 27 B.C.E.) However, he soon fell deathly ill, returned to Italy, died at Brundisium in 19 B.C.E., and was buried in Naples, having left the Aeneid incomplete.
  Vergil had ordered that the Aeneid be burned upon his death, but Augustus intervened and saved the work, leaving it to Varius and Tucca, old friends of Vergil, to edit the text, removing spurious passages, but adding nothing themselves, until the Aeneid was finally published to national acclaim.
Aeneas carries Anchises and leads his wife and son


Vergil Timeline

The Timeline:

70 BC-Publius Vergilius Maro is born in Andes, a town in the Roman province of Gallia Cisalpina (northern Italy), to a wealthy farming family.

approx. 60-Vergil starts his studies at Cremona.

approx. 58 or 57-Vergil moves to Milan to study there.

approx. 53-Vergil moves to Rome to continue his studies in rhetoric, philosophy, and law.

49-Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon, invading Italy.  He seizes control of Rome.  Soon after, Vergil moves to Naples and studies with Greek (perhaps Epicurean) scholars there.

45-Vergil begins work on the Eclogues (ah, the joys of cowherding!).

44-Julius Caesar killed on March 15 (Beware the Ides of March!!), civil war breaks out as various factions try to fill the power void.  Octavian eventually emerges as the big cheese.

42-Octavian begins seizing farmland throughout Italy so he can reward the men who had fought on his side in the civil war.  Vergil reportedly loses his family's farm, but regains it with the help of some powerful friends.

37-Vergil completes the Eclogues and publishes them.

approx. 36-Vergil begins work on the Georgics at the behest of Maecenas, a powerful and wealthy man who also happens to be the literary patron to many of Rome's most famous poets.

29-having completed the Georgics (ah, the joys of farming!), Vergil reads them aloud to Octavian, who also happens to be one of Maecenas' closest friends.

29-Vergil begins work on the Aeneid at Octavian's behest.  As he works on it for the next 11 years, he reads portions to Octavian (soon to be known as 'Augustus' from 27 BC on).

19 BC-Vergil dies at Brundisium on September 21 as he makes his way back from Greece.  Despite Vergil's deathbed request that his complete, yet unpolished Aeneid be burned, Augustus has Vergil's friends Varius and Tucca emend the text and publish it.

19 BC-now-generations of students learn from and about Vergil's Aeneid, as it fundamentally changes how the Romans (and therefore their cultural successors) think about poetry.

  Knight, W. F. Jackson. Roman Vergil. Barnes & Noble, Inc. 1966.
  Levi, Peter. Virgil: His Life and Times. St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Timeline of Relevant Events
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