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Biography of Virgil


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PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS MARO, after Homer the greatest epic poet of antiquity, was born on the 15th of October, 70 B.C., at Andes, a village not far from Mantua. Virgil was liberally educated. Greek he learned at Neapolis, (Naples,) from the grammarian Parthenius. He first visited Rome 41 B.C., in his 30th year. Here he was introduced to Octavianus, and further formed the acquaintance of his great protector, Maecenas. At the instance of Maecenas, he commenced his Georgics, in his 34th year, and spent seven years in the composition of the work, which was carried on principally at Naples. The Aeneid was his last performance, and must have occupied many of the latter years of his life. He went to Greece, where he meant to subject his great poem to a thorough process of revision and refinement. At Athens, Virgil met Augustus on his triumphal return from the east, and the poet was induced to go back to Rome in his company. He only got as far as Megara, however, when he was seized with illness, which became worse on his voyage to Italy. On landing at Brundusium, or according to another account at Tarentum, he was unequal to the fatigue of travelling; and after lingering a few days, he died, in the 52nd year of his age, 19 B.C. In compliance with his dying wish, his body was removed to Naples, and buried at the second mile-stone from that city, on the Puteolan Way. His most finished poem is the Georgics, in which the various departments of agricultural concern are described with great clearness, and illustrated with episodes of the finest poetry. His Aeneid, unfinished as it is, has always secured for him a place in the front rank of epic writers; while, more than any similar work of antiquity, it has furnished a model to epic and narrative poets of modern Italy. He has been edited and translated by scholars of nearly every country and period.