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(Publius Vergilius Maro) (both: vûr`jil), 70 B.C.–19 B.C., Roman poet, b. Andes dist., near Mantua, in Cisalpine Gaul; the spelling Virgil is not found earlier than the 5th cent. A.D. Vergil's father, a farmer, took his son to Cremona for his education. Thereafter Vergil continued his studies in Milan, Naples, and Rome. The poet's boyhood experience of life on the farm was an essential part of his education. After his studies in Rome, Vergil is believed to have lived with his father for about 10 years, engaged in farm work, study, and writing poetry. In 41 B.C. the farm was confiscated to provide land for soldiers. Vergil went to Rome, where he became a part of the literary circle patronized by MaecenasMaecenas
(Caius Maecenas) , d. 8 B.C., Roman statesman and patron of letters. He was born (between 74 B.C. and 64 B.C.) into a wealthy family and was a trusted adviser of Octavian (Augustus), who employed Maecenas as his personal representative for various political missions.
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 and AugustusAugustus
, 63 B.C.–A.D. 14, first Roman emperor, a grandson of the sister of Julius Caesar. Named at first Caius Octavius, he became on adoption by the Julian gens (44 B.C.) Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian); Augustus was a title of honor granted (27 B.C.
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 and where his Eclogues, or Bucolics, were completed in 37 B.C. In these poems he idealizes rural life in the manner of his Greek predecessor TheocritusTheocritus
, fl. c.270 B.C., Hellenistic Greek poet, b. Syracuse. The history of the pastoral begins with him, and in him the form seems to have reached its height. His poetic style is finished and at times artificial, but the bucolic characters in his idyls seem alive.
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. From the Eclogues, Vergil turned to rural poetry of a contrasting kind, realistic and didactic. In his Georgics, completed in 30 B.C., he seeks, as had the Greek HesiodHesiod
, fl. 8th cent.? B.C., Greek poet. He is thought to have lived later than Homer, but there is no absolute certainty about the dates of his life. Hesiod portrays himself as a Boeotian farmer.
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 before him, to interpret the charm of real life and work on the farm. His perfect poetic expression gives him the first place among pastoral poets.

For the rest of his life Vergil worked on the Aeneid, a national epic honoring Rome and foretelling prosperity to come. The adventures of AeneasAeneas
, in Greek mythology, a Trojan, son of Anchises and Aphrodite. After the fall of Troy he escaped, bearing his aged father on his back. He stayed at Carthage with Queen Dido, then went to Italy, where his descendants founded Rome.
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 are unquestionably one of the greatest long poems in world literature. Vergil made Aeneas the paragon of the most revered Roman virtues—devotion to family, loyalty to the state, and piety. In 12 books, Vergil tells how the Trojan prince Aeneas, son of VenusVenus,
in Roman religion and mythology, goddess of vegetation. Later, she became identified (3d cent. B.C.) with the Greek Aphrodite. In imperial times she was worshiped as Venus Genetrix, mother of Aeneas; Venus Felix, the bringer of good fortune; Venus Victrix, bringer of
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, escaped from Troy to Carthage with his father, son, and a band of followers, where he became DidoDido
, in Roman mythology, queen of Carthage, also called Elissa. She was the daughter of a king of Tyre. After her brother Pygmalion murdered her husband, she fled to Libya, where she founded and ruled Carthage.
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's lover and related his adventures to her. At Jupiter's command, he left Carthage (to Dido's suicidal distress), went to Sicily, visited his father's shade in Hades, and landed in Italy. In Italy Aeneas established the beginnings of the Roman state and waged successful war against the natives. The work ends with the death of TurnusTurnus
, in Roman legend, king of the Rutulians. In the Aeneid he is a spirited warrior. When his betrothed, Lavinia, daughter of King Latinus, was given to the Trojan Aeneas by her father, Turnus led a combined force of Latins and Rutulians against the Trojans.
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 at the hands of Aeneas. The verse, in dactylic hexameters, is strikingly regular, though Vergil's death left the epic incomplete and some of the lines unfinished. The sonority of the words and the nobility of purpose make the Aeneid a masterpiece.

Vergil is the dominant figure in all Latin literature, and was considered as such even during his own lifetime. His influence was unabated through the Middle Ages, when he was thought of not only as a great poet but as a kind of wizard as well. Many poets since DanteDante Alighieri
, 1265–1321, Italian poet, b. Florence. Dante was the author of the Divine Comedy, one of the greatest of literary classics. Life
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 have acknowledged their great debt to him, and his cultural influence has lasted into the modern era. The conflict embodied in the story of Dido and Aeneas, between private desire and public necessity, became one of the great themes of European drama and literature. Minor poems ascribed to Vergil are of doubtful authorship. For translations of the Aeneid see A. Mandelbaum (1981), R. Fitzgerald (1983, 1985), R. Fagles (2006), and S. HeaneyHeaney, Seamus
(Seamus Justin Heaney) , 1939–2013, Irish poet, one of the finest contemporary English poets, b. Londonderry (now Derry), Northern Ireland, grad. Queen's Univ., Belfast (B.A., 1961).
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 (Book VI, 2016).


See biographies by F. J. H. Letters (1946), T. Frank (1922, repr. 1965), and B. Otis (1966); W. F. J. Knight, Vergil, Epic and Anthropology (1967); F. Cairns, Virgil's Augustan Epic (1989); K. W. Grandsen, Virgil (1990).



(full name, Publius Vergilius Maro; in Late Latin incorrectly written as Virgilius). Born 70 B.C.; died 19 B.C. Roman poet.

An eyewitness to the downfall of the Roman Republic, Vergil, in his collection Bucolics (Pastoral Songs, 42-38 B.C.), attempted to escape from political storms into the idyllic world of pastoral life. In his didactic narrative poem the Georgics (A Poem About Farming, 36-29 B.C.), Vergil sought a “serenely placid life” in the toil of a village farmer.

With the intention of creating a Roman parallel to the Iliad and the Odyssey, Vergil in his epic poem the Aeneid (completed only in rough draft) developed the legends about the wanderings and wars of the Trojan Aeneas, who appears in this epic poem as the ancestor of the Emperor Augustus. Moreover, Vergil provides an idealized picture of Italian antiquity, closely linking it with Rome’s contemporary political problems.

The creative art of Vergil became a model for rhetorical and epic poetry during the period of classicism.


Opera, vols. 1-4. Edited by O. Ribbeek. Leipzig, 1894-95.
Aeneis. … Published in collaboration with K. Bayer by J. Götte. [Munich], 1958. (Text in Latin and German.)
In Russian translation:
Sel’skie poemy. Bukoliki. Georgiki. Moscow-Leningrad [1933].
Eneida. Translated by V. Briusov and S. Solov’ev. Moscow-Leningrad [1933].


Istoriia rimskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Pöschl, V. Die Dichtkunst Virgils. Wiesbaden, 1950.
Perret, J. Virgile, l’homme et l’oeuvre. Paris, 1952.
Büchner, K. Vergilius Maro, der Dichter der Römer. Stuttgart, 1960.
Peeters, F. A Bibliography of Virgil. New York, 1933.



Dante’s guide in Hell and Purgatory. [Ital. Lit.: Divine Comedy, Magill I 211–213]
See: Guide


, Vergil
Latin name Publius Vergilius Maro. 70--19 bc, Roman poet, patronized by Maecenas. The Eclogues (42--37), ten pastoral poems, and the Georgics (37--30), four books on the art of farming, established Virgil as the foremost poet of his age. His masterpiece is the Aeneid (30--19)
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