Tuesday, October 15, 2013
October 15 - Virgil
“Audentes fortuna iuvat.” (“Fortune favors the bold.”) … Ancient Roman poet Virgil was born Publius Vergilius Maro on October 15, 70 BCE, in what is now Mantua in Northern Italy. He apparently suffered ill health and lived as an invalid. In the last eleven years of his life, from 29 to 19 BCE, he wrote his sprawling Latin epic poem, the Aeneid, commissioned by Emperor Augustus. The poem tells the story of Rome’s mythical founder, Aeneas, an exiled warrior who fled the Greeks’ sacking of Troy, arrived on Italy’s shores, fought the native Latin tribe and fulfilled his destiny by proclaiming Rome’s mission of civilizing the known world under divine guidance. Composed of nearly 9,900 lines of dactylic hexameter verse, the poem’s first six books are partly based on Homer’s Odyssey and the second six on the Iliad. Aeneas’ devotion to duty (“pietas”) is a key feature of Virgil’s implicit commentary on Rome’s new era of vast, powerful empire that followed its civil wars. As a national epic, it associated Rome with Troy’s greatness and legitimized the rulers of the new Augustan Age.