Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) - greatest of all Roman poets

Virgil was a master of the finest Roman poetical forms, including the pastoral, didactic, and epic. He was born in Andes, a small town near Mantua, on October 15, 70 B.C.E. to a family of moderate means that nevertheless provided him with the finest possible education, in Cremona (58), in Milan (55) and then in Rome (after 53).

At first he probably studied oratory but moved on to philosophy, learning from the noted Epicurean Siro; also in his field of scholarship were mathematics and medicine. When he returned home is unclear, but in the years 41–40, he was included in the confiscations of land in Italy, begun at that time by the government.

Virgil’s family estate was seized, but, because of friends such as Asinius Pollio and Cornelius Gallus, Octavian (Augustus) was apparently convinced to intercede on his behalf. At the end of the Perusi War, however, Virgil was nearly killed when his home was again taken. With his father, he took up residence in an old house belonging to Siro.

His friends recommended that he go to Rome, where, through the popularity of his Bucolics, he came under the patronage of the powerful Maecenas. Not only were his possessions eventually returned, but he was also admitted to the literary circle of Maecenas (along with Horace) .

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