October 15, 2015

The Poet Virgil Was Born 2,085 Years Ago Today

Virgil

Today is Virgil's birthday. He was born in 70 B.C., and died fifty-one years later. Virgil's poetics were revolutionary. Anyone who has studied Latin has read and translated his poetry. Virgil is ranked as Rome's greatest poet. His Aeneid is considered the national epic of ancient Rome. It tells the story of the eternal city's legendary founder and proclaims the Roman mission to civilize the world. Virgil's writing has greatly influenced Western literature (i.e., in Dante's Divine Comedy, Virgil is Dante's guide through hell and purgatory). Fortunately, his works are in the public domain.

The verse inscribed on Virgil's tomb was supposedly composed by the poet himself. It reads in part:

In Latin:
Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope. Cecini pascua, rura, duces 
In English: 
Mantua bore me, the Calabrians snatched me away, now Naples holds me. I sang of pastures, countrysides, leaders...
Want to learn Latin? Father Gary Coulter's site is excellent.

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