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VERGIL 100.00%

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The famous Roman poet, born 15th October, 70 B.C. at Andes, a village near Mantua, on the Mincius, where his father possessed a small estate. After receiving his early education at Cremona and (after assuming in 55 B.C. the toga of manhood) at Milan, he proceeded in 53 to Rome, where he devoted himself to rhetorical, philosophical, and physical studies. Prevented by weakness of health and bashfulness of manner from looking forward to any success as a pleader or in the service of the State, he returned home, and in the quiet of the country devoted himself to the study of the Greek poets. His meeting with the refined and poetically gifted Asinius Pollio, who in 43 took command of Transpadane Gaul as lieutenant of Antony, appears to have given him his first impetus to poetic composition. His earliest publication, his ten Eclogues, which were written in the years 43-37, were afterwards collected under the title of Bucolica ("Pastoral Poems"). These are imitations of the idyls of Theocritus ; they are, however, less natural, the pictures of country and shepherd life being interspersed throughout with references to contemporary events, to his own fortunes, and to important persons such as Octavianus, Pollio, and Cornelius Gallus, to whom the poet wished either to commend himself or to show his gratitude by his complimentary allusions. He had on several occasions been compelled by the force of circumstances to appeal to the protection and help of influential men. For instance, at the distribution of land to the veterans in 41 B.C. his own estate was appropriated, and it was only the advocacy of Pollio and of Cornelius Gallus which enabled him to recover it. In the following year, when Pollio was obliged to give place to Alfenus Varus, his property was again threatened; but by the influence of Maecenas, to whom Pollio had recommended him, amends were made him by the presentation of another estate. His fame as a poet was established by the Eclogues. Henceforward, by the liberality of noble friends, especially Octavianus and Maecenas, whom he won not merely by his art, but, like all with whom he came into contact, by his modesty and good nature, he was enabled to devote himself to his studies without fear of interruption. He lived in turns in Rome (where he possessed a house), or on his estate at Nola, or in Naples, where he mainly resided, owing to his weak health. Here, in 30 B.C. he completed the didactic poem in four books begun seven years previously, entitled the Georgics (Georgica, on agriculture), which he dedicated to Maecenas. In this, the first Latin poem of this kind, we have a masterpiece of Latin poetry. The author treats of Roman husbandry under its four chief branches, tillage (book i), horticulture (ii), the breeding of cattle (iii), the keeping of bees (iv); and handles a prosaic theme with thorough knowledge and consummate art, together with a loving enthusiasm and a fine sympathy for nature. [The work was founded mainly on the poems of Hesiod and Aratus, but also gives evidence of familiarity with writers on agriculture, as well as of independent agricultural knowledge.] Immediately after finishing the Georgics he began the epic poem of the Aeneid, which he had already promised to Octavianus. Its appearance was looked forward to by all educated Rome with extraordinary anticipation. After eleven years of unremitting labour (for to him composition in general was a laborious task) he was ready with a rough draft of the whole, and determined on a journey to Greece and Asia, intending to spend three years there in polishing his work and afterwards to devote himself entirely to philosophy. At Athens he met Octavianus (who had received in B.C. 27 the title of Augustus). The latter induced him to return home with him. Vergil consented, but fell ill, apparently from a sunstroke, at Megara. On the sea voyage his condition grew worse, and soon after landing he died at Brundisium, 21st September, 19 B.C. His remains were buried at Naples. It was the poet's original intention that, in the event of his dying before his work was completed, the twelve books of the Aeneid should be consigned to the flames. In the end, however, he bequeathed it to his friends and companions in art Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca, on condition that they should not publish any part of it. But, by the command of Augustus, they gave it to the world, after submitting the work to a careful revision, and only removing what was superfluous, while refraining from all additions of their own. In spite of its incomplete form, the work was enthusiastically welcomed on its first appearance, which had excited the highest anticipations, as a national epic of equal worth with the poems of Homer. This approval was due to its national purpose, the poetic glorification of the origin of the Roman people in the adventures of Aeneas, the founder of the Romans through his descendant Romulus, and in particular the ancestor of the imperial house of the Julii through his son Ascanius, or Iulus. In view of its purpose, little notice was taken of the weak points in the poem, which can only in part be excused by the fact that it lacks the author's finishing touches. We may, indeed, admire the art which the poet has shown in moulding together the vast mass of material collected with so much effort from the poetic and prose writings of Greeks and Romans, the excellences of the language and of the metrical form, and the beauty of many individual portions; but it cannot be denied that in artistic completeness and originality the Aeneid falls far below the Georgics. In particular, the endeavour to pourtray a real hero was beyond the capacity of the gentle, almost womanly, character of the poet; Aeneas is a true hero neither in endurance nor in action. Further, the endeavour to rival Homer is mainly limited to imitation. This is apparent not only in countless single instances, but also in the plot of the whole poem. Vergil obviously wished to unite the excellences of the Odyssey and Iliad in one work by describing in the first six books the wanderings of Aeneas, and in the last six his conflicts for the throne of Latium. In spite of many faults, which were noticed even in ancient times, Vergil has remained the most widely read, the most admired, and the most popular poet of his nation, and no other writer has exercised such an influence on the subsequent development of the Roman literature and language. This remark applies to prose as well as poetry. As was the case with the poems of Homer among the Greeks, Vergil's works, and especially the Aeneid as a national epic, were used down to the latest times for school teaching and as a basis of school grammar. They were imitated by authors, particularly by epic and didactic poets. In later times single verses and parts of verses (see CENTO) were used to compose new poems of the most varying contents; and finally the most famous scholars made them the object of their studies both in verbal and in general interpretation. Some relics of their labours are preserved in the different collections of scholia, especially in that comprehensive commentary on his collected poems which bears the name of Servius Honoratus. Of smaller value are the commentaries of the pseudo-Probus on the Bucolics and Georgics, and of Tiberius Donatus on the Aeneid. The name of Vergil was also borne in ancient times by a number of poems, which passed as the works of his youth, but can hardly any of them have been his compositions: (1) the Catalecta [or more correctly Catalepton], fourteen small poems in ambic and elegiac metre. (2) Culex ("the midge"), supposed to have been written by Vergil in his sixteenth year, a most insipid poem. (3) The Ciris, the story of the transformation of Scylla, the daughter of the Megarian king, into the bird Ciris (see NISUS), obviously composed by an imitator of Vergil and Catullus. (4) The Diroe, two bucolic poems; (a) the Diroe properly so called, imprecations on account of the loss of an estate consequent on the proscription of A.D. 41; and (b) the Lydia, lament for a lost love, both of which have as little claim to be the writings of Vergil as of the grammarian Valerius Cato, to whom also they have been ascribed. (5) The Moretum, so called from the salad which the peasant Simylus prepares in the early morning for the day's repast, a character sketch as diverting and lifelike as (6) a poem deriving its title from the Copa, or hostess, who dances and sings before her inn, inviting the passers by to enter. This last poem is in elegiac metre. [Vergil's life was written by Suetonius from earlier memoirs and memoranda. See Prof. Nettleship's Ancient Lives of Vergil, Clarendon Press, 1879.]

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The title of a collection of short poems attributed in antiquity to Vergil. (See VERGIL.)
DONATUS 36.10%
A commentator on the Aeneid of Vergil, who probably lived in the 4th or early 5th century A.D. His work, which is mostly a prose paraphrase, survives in great part, but is of little value.-H.N.]
PROBUS 29.52%
A famous Roman scholar and critic, born at Berytus in Syria. He flourished in the second half of the 1st century A.D. He devoted almost all attention to the archaic and classical literature of Rome, which had been previously neglected, and to the critical revision of the most important Roman poets, as Lucretius, Vergil, and Horace, after the manner of the Alexandrine scholars. Some of his criticisms on Vergil may possibly be preserved to us in a commentary to the Eclogues and Georgics, which bears his name. From a commentary, or criticism, on Persius we have his biography of that poet; and from his work De Notis we have an extract containing the abbreviations used for legal terms. Other grammatical writings bearing his name are the work of a grammarian of the 4th century.
A Latin grammarian who lived about 395 A.D., and made an alphabetical collection, for school use, of words that admit of various constructions, with examples from Vergil, Sallust, Terence and Cicero, under the title Exempla Elocutionum.
FLORUS 26.92%
A Roman poet, who was on familiar terms with Hadrian, and who has left a few pieces. He is probably to be identified with the African rhetorician and poet Publius Annius Florus, the author of a dialogue, which still survives, on the question whether Vergil is an orator or a poet.
ECLOGUE 26.52%
A selected piece of writing. Properly a poem taken out of a larger collection, and so applied, under the Roman Empire, to a short poem, as an idyll or satire. The term was specially applied to the pastoral poems of Vergil and Calpurnius Siculus.
The ancient writers on agriculture: for instance (among the Greeks), the philosopher Democritus, and in later times, Xenophon, in his OEconomicus. No other Greek works of the kind have come down to us, except the collection called Geoponica. This consists of twenty books, and contains extracts from writers of the most widely distant periods. The compiler was a Bithynian, Cassianus Bassus, who lived about the middle of the 10th century A.D., and undertook the work at the suggestion of the Emperor Constantine VII. He based it upon a collection of extracts made by a certain Vindanios Anatolios. Agriculture was hold in high esteem by the Romans, and the subject was in consequence a favourite one with their men of letters. A number of their works on it have come down to us: the Res Rustica of the elder Cato, a similar work by the encyclopaedic scholar, Marcus Terentius Varro, the Georgics of Vergil, and after Christ the writings of Columella, Gargillus Martialis, and Palladius. The Georgics of Vergil are a poem: and one book of Columella is in verse.
Gaius Cornelius Grallus. A Latin poet, born 69 B.C. in the Gaulish town of Forum Iulii. Though of low birth, he was promoted by Octavian to the ordo equester in the year 30 B.C., and made governor (proefectus of the new province of Egypt, in consideration of his great services in the war against Antonius. Through his cruelty and presumption he drew upon himself the displeasure of his former patron; in consequence of which he committed suicide in 26 B.C. He was one of the oldest friends of Vergil, who dedicated to him his tenth Eclogue, as well as an episode at the end of the fourth Georgic, which he, after Gallus' fall, suppressed at the wish of Augustus. The Romans regarded him as the founder of the Latin elegy. He wrote four books of elegies to his mistress, the actress Cytheris (or Lycoris, as he called her). They are in the obscure and learned style of the Alexandrian poet Euphorion. His poems are lost, but a collection of erotic myths made for his use by the Greek Parthenios has survived. [A few lines in Vergil's tenth Eclogue were borrowed from Gallus.]
A Roman grammarian, who lived towards the end of the 4th century A.D. He taught grammar and rhetoric at Rome, and composed (besides a commentary on the grammar of Donatus, and some short treatises on grammar) a commentary on Vergil remarkable for its copious historical, mythological, and antiquarian notes [most of which are probably derived from the writings of much earlier scholars]. It has not, however, reached us in its original form.
Quintus Terentius Scaurus. The most renowned Latin scholar and critic of the time of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), commentator on Plautus and Vergil, and author of treatises on Latin grammar and poetry. A small work, De Orthographia, of some value for the history of the Latin language, bears his name [but is probably not written by this Scaurus].
Lucilius Iunior, friend of the philosopher Seneca, is supposed by a common but not improbable assumption to be the author of Aetna, a didactic poem in 646 hexameters. Suetonius, in his life of Vergil, says of that poet, Scripsit etiam de qua ambigitur Aetnam. It treats of Etna and its wonders, and was composed before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Son of Capys, of the royal house of Troy by both parents, ruler of Dardanus on Mount Ida. Aphrodite loved him for his beauty, and bore him a son, Aeneas. But having, in spite of her warnings, boasted of her favour, he is (according to various versions of the story) paralysed, killed; or struck blind by the lightning of Zeus. Vergil represents the disabled chief as borne out of burning Troy on his son's shoulders, and as sharing his wanderings over the sea, and aiding him with his counsel, till they reach Drepanum in Sicily, where he dies, and is buried on Mount Eryx.
An African scholar, who in the second half of the 6th century A.D. composed two historical epics, one in seven books, in celebration of the Libyan war of Johannes Patricius (Iohannis, sive de bellis Labyeis), and the other on the exploits of Justinus (565-578), in four books (De Laudibus Iustini). The last is in the worst manner of Byzantine flattery, bat is written in a flowing style and in imitation of good models, such as Vergil and Claudian.
DONATUS 15.72%
A Roman scholar and rhetorician of about the middle of the 4th century [smallCaps>A.D., and tutor of Jerome. He was the author of a Latin grammar (Ars Grammatica) in three books. This was much commented on by Servius, Pompeius, and others. His Ars Minor,, or short catechism on the eight parts of speech, survived long after the Middle Ages as the chief manual for elementary instruction. These works survive in their original form. He also wrote a valuable commentary on Terence, which we possess in an imperfect shape, the notes on the Heauton Timorumenos being lost, and not in its original form. [He was also the author of a lost commentary on Vergil, which is often alluded to contemptuously by Servius.]
BUCOLIC 15.14%

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<b>Poetry.</b> From very ancient times it was the habit of the Dorian shepherds in Sicily to practise a national style of song, the inventor of which was supposed to be Daphnis, the hero of shepherds (see DAPHNIS). The subject of their song was partly the fate of this hero, partly the simple experiences of shepherds' life, especially their loves. There was a good deal of the mimic element in these poems, the shepherds contending with each other in alternate verses, particularly at the town and country festivals held in honour of Artemis. Pastoral poems , relating the story of Daphnis' love and of his tragic end, had been written by the Sicilian poet Stesichorus (about 600 B.C.). But it was Theocritus of Syracuse (about 270 B.C.) who developed pastoral poetry into something like an epic style, often with a strong dramatic tinge. This was in the Alexandrian period, when, as in all over-civilized ages, men found pleasure and relief in the contrasts afforded by the simple ways of country life. Theocritus' sketches of rural life, and indeed of the ways of the lower orders in general, are true to nature and exquisitely finished. He called them eidyllia or little pictures. Theocritus was unsurpassed in his own style, which was cultivated after him by Bion and Moschus. The pastoral style was introduced into Latin poetry by Vergil, who, while closely imitating Theocritus, had the tact to perceive that the simple sketches of ancient rural life in Sicily given by his master would not be sufficient to satisfy the taste of his countrymen. Under the mask of shepherds, therefore, he introduced contemporary characters, thus winning attention by the expression of his personal feelings, and by covert allusions to events of the day. Two poems falsely attributed to him, the Moretum ("Salad") and Copa (" Hostess"), are real idylls; true and natural studies from low life. Vergil's allegorical style was revived in later times by Calpurnius in the age of Nero, and Nemesianus at the end of the 3rd century A.D.
Son of Polynices and Argeia, husband of Demonassa the daughter of Amphiaraus, and king of Thebes after the taking of that city by the Epigoni (q.v.). According to post-Homeric traditions he took part in the expedition against Troy, but was killed on first landing by Telephus. In Vergil ["Thessandrus," Aen. ii 261], on the other hand, he is one of the heroes of the wooden horse. His son and successor was Tisamenus. His grandson, Autesion, at the bidding of the oracle, went over to the Dorians who had settled in Lacedaemon ; and his greatgrandson Theras founded a colony in the island of Calliste, which from that time was called Thera. It was from him that Theron, the tyrant of Agrigentum in Sicily, traced his descent.
A Greek grammarian and poet, of Nicaea in Bithynia, who was brought captive to Rome during the war with Mithridates. After his release, he lived there till the time of Tiberius, esteemed as a scholar and poet, especially as a writer of elegiac poems. He was acquainted with Vergil, whom he taught Greek, and one of his poems is said to have been the model for the Moretum; but he was more closely connected with the elegiac poet, Cornelius Gallus. For Gallus he composed the only work of his which has survived, under the title, Of the Sorrows of Love. This is a collection of thirty-six prose stories of unhappy lovers, compiled from ancient poets, especially from those of the Alexandrine school. Apart from the light it throws on the Alexandrine poets, of whose works it contains fragments, it has a special interest as a precursor of the Greek novel.
FLORUS 14.55%
A Roman historian of the time of Hadrian, 117-138 A.D. He wrote, in two books, a history of the wars of Rome, from the time of the kings to the closing of the temple of Janus under Augustus (25 B.C.). In the title, as we have it, the book is called an excerpt from Livy (Epitome de Titi Livii bellorum omnium annorum DCC). But this is not an adequate description of it. Florus, it is true, has used Livy a great deal, though not exclusively, and the work is really a panegyric on the greatness of Rome. It is the production of a rhetorician, as is shown by the tasteless and inflated language, with its poetical echoes of Vergil and Horace, and its tendency to exaggeration. Numerous gross errors testify to the insufficiency of the writer's knowledge. Worthless as it is, the book was much read and quoted in the Middle Ages.
Type: Standard
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