Virgil (70-19 BC), Roman poet, author of the masterpiece the Aeneid, and the most influential work of literature produced in ancient Rome.
Virgil was born Publius Vergilius Maro in Andes, a village in northern Italy near Mantua. His father was a farmer. Virgil was thoroughly educated in Greek and Roman literature, rhetoric, and philosophy in the Italian cities of Cremona, Milan, Rome, and Naples. The patronage of Roman statesman Gaius Maecenas relieved him of financial cares and allowed him to devote himself wholly to literary pursuits and to study. He spent the greater part of his life at or near Naples and Nola, numbering among his intimate friends his patron Maecenas; Octavian, who became Emperor Augustus during Virgil’s lifetime; and many prominent poets, among them Gaius Cornelius Gallus, Horace, and Lucius Varius Rufus. In 19 BC Virgil set out on a trip to Greece and Asia with the intention of revising his masterpiece, the Aeneid, already substantially completed, and then of devoting the remainder of his life to philosophical study. He met Augustus in Athens, Greece, and returned with him to Italy. Virgil w!
as taken ill before leaving Athens and died shortly after his arrival at Brundisium (now Brindisi, Italy). On his deathbed Virgil gave instructions that the Aeneid should be destroyed but, by Augustus’s order, the poem was edited and published after Virgil’s death by Roman poets Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca.
Virgil devoted his last ten years to the composition of the Aeneid, a mythological epic in 12 books describing the seven-year wanderings of the hero Aeneas from the fall of Troy to his military victory in Italy. Aeneas escaped from Troy carrying his aged father on his shoulders and leading his young son Ascanius by the hand. He assembled a fleet and sailed the eastern Mediterranean Sea with the surviving Trojans to Thrace, Crete, Epirus, and Sicily before being shipwrecked on the coast of Africa. Here Dido, quee…