VIRGIL (Alternate spelling: Vergil)

Born: October 15, 70 B.C., in Andes, near Mantua, Italy

Died: September 21, 19 B.C., in Brundisium

Virgil, best known for his work Aeneid, is considered possibly the greatest Roman poet. He heavily influenced European writers with his Latin pastorals, didactic poems and epics. His Latin name is Publius Vergilius Maro.

He was the son of a successful farmer. Many of his works describe the beauty of Italy and its simple traditions in contrast to the urbanization of Rome. He was well educated at Cremona, Milan and Rome. During his childhood, the civil war was being fought until Augustus came to power.

He was well-liked by important Romans including the poet Horace and the Emperor Augustus. The patronage of the wealthy and powerful allowed him time to write Aeneid, Eclogues, and Georgics.

His most famous work, Aeneid, was patriotic in nature. Written at the request of the emperor, the twelve books that comprise Aeneid recount the development of Rome to the rise in power of Augustus Caesar. The epic Latin poem is celebration of the glory and heroism of the Roman race.

Virgil had intended to revise and add to the poem. He set out for Greece to gather material but died from a fever shortly after his return. It is not clear how much the work would have been revised. Virgil had stated he intended to spend another three years on the work. His last request was for the poem to be burned, an order Augustus overturned.

After the fall of Rome, Aeneid survived to become the most influential book that Rome contributed to the Western Culture. It is known to have influenced Dante, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and many other authors throughout the centuries. The poem is still studied today.