Born to a prosperous farmer, Virgil became one of the most famous of poets in Italy. He wrote the highly acclaimed Aeneid, an epic poem that touched upon topics, such as the birth of Rome. In this article, you will learn what request Virgil had in his last will that was ignored by the executors of his will, as well as the ruler of Rome.
Virgil (great Roman poet)
At the time of Virgil’s death, he had only finished 12 books of the Aeneid, which described the birth of Rome as told using humans and deities. After naming his friends Varius and Tucca as executors of his estate, his most significant last wish was that they burn his greatest (and unfinished) work , the Aeneid.
Virgil was never strong enough to join the army and instead earned a reputation as a poet of the Roman countryside. Because of his writing, he gained the friendship of influential citizens of Rome. When Virgil was 38 years old, Emperor Caesar was victorious against the forces of Antony and Cleopatra. With his historic event, Virgil was inspired to start writing an epic poem. He spoke of the rebirth of Rome and expressed his admiration of Augustus.
Because of this poem, Virgil had unintentionally set in motion circumstances that would lead to his own death. His poem took up his life for about 11 years and in 19 BC, Vrigil was 52 years old when he decided to take a sea tour of Greece. He planned to spend an additional three years revising and adding to his epic. His trip about Greece was meant to gain inspiration for his poem.
However, the weather was brutal and he was soaked during his journey. He caught a chill and was forced to return home. He died as a consequence. The executors of Virgil’s will tried to persuade the poet that torching the Aeneid was not the answer. It is also said that Augustus himself heard of the poet’s intentions and supposedly issued an edict that none of his writings should be destroyed, especially the Aeneid.
Ancient Works by Virgil
While Virgil penned several minor poems and created the great Aeneid epic, he also wrote two other major works , the Eclogues and the Georgics.
The Eclogues are the first of the three major works that Virgil wrote. Inspired by the Greek “Bucolica” written by Theocritus, Virgil penned a Roman version that delivered a dramatic and mythic interpretation of revolutionary change at Rome that took place during a volatile time period between 44 and 38 BC. Theocritus didn’t incorporate politics in his poems, which is something that Virgil aimed to do. There were ten pieces contained in Virgil’s book and called each one an eclogue. His work was performed on a Roman stage , a mixture of politics and eroticism.
The Georgics was a poem that stretched across four books and most likely published in 29 BC. This poem marked the second major work of Virgil , right before the Aeneid. The subject of the poem was agriculture. Instead of displaying the rural poetry as being peaceful, it highlighted the tensions that showed through in theme and purpose.