|Publicus Vergilius Maro is buried in Virgil's Tomb in
Piedigrotta, Naples, Italy, Europe.
Entrance to Virgil's Tomb
Inscription at Virgil's
|Information about Virgil's life is sparse as it relies
upon a lost biography by Varius. Virgil may have been born at
Andes near Mantua and he probably came from a wealthy family
who enabled him to attend school and receive an education. He may have
considered a career in law before turning his attention to poetry.
Virgil was the greatest of the Roman writers and was the author
of three classic Latin texts namely: the Eclogues,
the Georgics and the Aeneid.
Eclogues were ten short pastoral poems - set in
Arcadia - which
imitated the Idylls of the Greek poet Theocritus. The Georgics was
a long didactic poem (based on Hesiod and Aratus) which
concerned itself with methods of farming and was written
between 37-29 BC. The Aeneid, which was an
epic poem, based upon the
Iliad by Homer and written in ten books,
recorded the adventures of Aeneas on his way back from
the Trojan Wars. Like the Odyssey - it was written
in dactylic hexameter. Virgil spent the last 11 years of his
life writing it from 29-19 BC .
Virgil had a profound influence on generations of English
poets from Spenser to Shakespeare and from Milton to Tennyson.
He was widely read in England by those who knew Latin -
which would have been most educated people. His work
provided the model for much of the epic poetry written
during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He was also
translated widely - with Dryden's
1697 version being particularly significant. More recently
C. Day-Lewis translated both the
Georgics and the Aeneid.
also famously appeared as Dante's guide in the Divine
Comedy leading him through the
various layers of hell. (Dante was greatly influenced by
Virgil died at Brindisi in 19 BC but he had
requested that his ashes be brought back to his villa in
Naples where his tomb was created. His tomb has been a place
of literary pilgrimage ever since. Some of the earlier
visitors were Petrarch and
O Meliboeus, 'twas a god vouchsafed
This ease to us, for him a god will I
Deem ever, and from my folds a tender lamb
Oft with its life-blood shall his altar
His gift it is that, as your
eyes may see,
My kine may roam at
large, and I myself
Play on my
shepherd's pipe what songs I will.