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INTRODUCTION Virgil 70-19 BC Roman poet author of the masterpiece the Aeneid and the most influential work of literature produced in ancient Rome Life 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 Virgils 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 Augustuss order the poem was edited and published after Virgils death by Roman poets Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca The Aeneid 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
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