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MORLEY'S UNIVERSAL LIBRARY.
VOLUMES ALREADY PUBLISHED.
DEEDS OF PANTAGRUEL.
“ PATRIARCHA." SCOTT'S DEMONOLOGY and WITCHCRAFT. DRYDEN'S VIRGIL.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HENRY MORLEY
LL.D., PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE AT
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
In the year 70 B.C., nearly two thousand years ago, Virgil, chiet artist among Roman poets, was born in the village of Andes, perhaps that which is now called Pietole, two or three miles south-east of Mantua, where his father had a small estate. He was not Roman born, but when he was twenty-one years old, the rights of citizenship were extended to men of the region that included Mantua. His full name was Publius Vergilius Maro. Vergilius is now written with an because modern textual criticism, having observed that it is so given by three important manuscripts, in the line where the poet names himself at the end of the “Georgics” —
“Illo Vergilium me tempore dulcis alebat
Parthenope" infers that this must be the older form. For the present, therefore, Virgil has been deprived of an “i” by the classical scholars; but the world at large holds by the old form of a name that has been a household word during the whole life of modern literature.
After education in Cremona and Milan, Virgil continued his studies at Naples, and probably at Rome also ; learning Greek under Parthenius, a native of Bithynia, and philosophy under Syron, an Epicurean. He was twenty-eight years old when Antony and young Octavius met Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, and the wounds of Cæsar were avenged. Rewards of land had been promised to the victorious soldiers, and the home of Virgil was within one of the regions in which men were turned out of their holdings and compelled to yield them to the followers of Antony and Octavius. Octavius, Cæsar's grandnephew and heir, then twenty-one years old, had yet to triumph over Antony before he could be master of the Roman world; and this was not until after another eleven years, by the defeat at sea of Antony and Cleopatra in the fight off Actium. Octavius could then take to himself all chief offices in the Republic. At last, in the year B.C. 27, he was able to put the Republic aside altogether, and at the age of thirty-six establish himself as Augustus Cæsar, the first Emperor of Rome.
Virgil first became known to Octavius when he went to Rome as an applicant for the restoration of his farm at Andes, in or soon after the year B.C. 42. The soldier, Clodius, who had been put into possession, did not restore the land until there had been a second appeal made by the poet. Virgil's first Eclogue expresses content at its recovery, although it was all covered with stones, and full of pools and rusles.