A Literary History of Rome: Duff

The Augustan Period:

1. The Political changes from the Ciceronian Period to the Augustan Age were also reflected in literature.

In the Republic no human being could have been praised in terms of deification applied by Augustan poets to the new ruler.

This was facilitated by the complete passing within a very few years of the previous generation of writers.

2. "Augustan Period"

a. Might be applied to: the period from the defeat of Antony at Actium in 31 BC to the death of Augustus in AD 14.

b. More appropriately: to the death of Ovid in AD 17 or 18.

c. The Augustan Period may also be said to have begun with the death of Cicero in 43 BC

3. The new era presents an entirely new group of poets: i.e. Vergil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.

a. All were born and some were grown men, before Philippi sealed the doom of the Republic in 42 BC

b. All of them, including Horace who had served in the army of the Republic, are imperial in sympathy.

c. Octavian was the man who had come to establish order and realized the advantage to be drawn from the support of literature.

The choice was between Octavianís business-like capacity and Antonyís Orientalism.

d. Octavian as Augustus brought a new and unique condition to the leadership of Rome.

"He was the arbiter of Romeís destiny, the head of the state, combining supreme military, civil, and religious powers, the giver of peace, the consolidator of empire, the lawgiver in the cause of justice and morals, the restorer of ancient temples and ceremonial, the beautifier of the capital, and the head of a family which claimed divine descent."

4. Imperial Patronage: had far reaching effects.

a. It left writers less free in the choice of theme and words.

b. There was a lack of outspokenness and a restraint of style.

* Imperial Patronage did not encourage daring.

c. Compensations: it guaranteed poets social security and an affluent life.

5. The emperor himself proposed the idea of an epic which Vergil shaped into the Aeneid.

Publius Vergilius Maro: (70-19 BC)

1. Vergil was born on October 15, 70 BC, at Andes, near Mantua.

2. His father: was either a potter or a day laborer belonging to the peasantry.

* He married his employerís daughter, Magia Pollia.

3. Vergil was a boy of eleven when Julius Caesar came to govern Gallia Cisalpina.

* It was Caesar that the natives of his province were to owe Roman Citizenship.

4. Vergilís Education:

a. His early education was received at Cremona and Mediolanu (Milan).

b. For more advanced training -- Vergil went to Rome.

* Studying philosophy, rhetoric, medicine, and mathematics.

c. From Epidius Vergil learned to appreciate Alexandrine Greek.

(The Epicurean) Siro (in Naples): he studied Philosophy.

d. His early manhood (as a young man) was spent in study on his northern farm, until it was confiscated in 41 BC

* He appealed to Octavian and his estate was restored.

* First Eclogue: Pascite ut ante boves, pueri, submittite tauros.

5. Years of Civil War:

a. His life may have been endangered? His father and himself sought refuge in the villa of Siro.

b. Vergil lived chiefly in the South, sometimes in Rome; but mostly in Naples.

Here he composed the Georgics: Four Books, it took seven years to complete.

6. Vergil had entered Octavianís circle on the introduction of Maecenas.

* Octavianís patronage had provided Vergil with a home in Naples.

* In 38 BC, Vergil introduced Horace to Maecenas.

7. After the completion of the Georgics in 30 BC, Vergil devoted the rest of his life to his epic on Aeneas.

a. After a decade of work, he intended to devote three more years to revisions.

b. First, he planed a tour of the East to visit some of the scenes in his epic poem.

* Vergil became ill.

c. In Athens: Vergil was persuaded by Augustus to return to Rome with him.

d. He died of a fever in Brundisium (19 BC) just after arriving in Italy.

He was buried in Naples.

Vergilís Tomb: Matua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenopei cecini pascua, rura, cuces.

8. The unfinished lines and inconsistencies left in the Aeneid so troubled Vergil that his dying wish was for the destruction f the unpublished work.

a. The emperorís intervention saved Vergilís Epic.

b. Varius and Tucca, Vergilís friends and literary executors were asked to edit the Aeneid.

Corrections were slight and nothing was added. The Aeneid was published ca. 17 BC

The Aeneid:

1. An epic poem modeled on the Odyssey and the Iliad of Homer written in 12 books.

2. It follows the wondering of Aeneas and his followers from Troy to Latium in Italy.

3. It shows and emphasizes the independence of the Roman Spirit from the Hellenistic Spirit especially the individual character of Roman achievement.

4. Religious Significance: Vergil emphasized the connection of Agustus to Venus.

* Divine sanction to rule.

5. The first six books are borrowed heavily from the Odyssey -- as they (the Trojans) sought for seven years the land promised by Jupiter.

6. The last six books Vergil used the Iliad as his model. War to establish Trojan power in Italy.

7. Aeneas had long been connected with Rome.

* Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) had used Aeneas in his Annals.

8. The Purpose of the Epic:

a. Political and Social Propaganda: moral and philosophical.

b. Written to exalt the national ideals of Rome.

c. Dedicated to Rome and Augustus; also to demonstrate Romeís divinely ordained mission as ruler of the world.

d. Aeneas is portrayed as the ideal Roman.

Vergilís Epic:

1. Vergil lived in an era that knew only written or literary composition.

* The oral tradition and the Age of Heroes had long since ended.

2. Vergilís contemporaries avoided the Epic as being devoid of "vitality".

* They Preferred: elegy, lyric, drama, and satire.

* Vergil still used it and endowed it with a new vitality.

3. The first conventional element of an epic is the Prologue.

* In the Aeneid it consists of the first 33 lines.

4. It is also convention that an epic is impersonal.

Attention in not drawn to the author, but he invokes the Muse (Calliope), the Muse of Epic Poetry. Vergil seeks inspiration from her (the daughter of Memory).

5. In Epic Poetry, narrative is shaped in such a way that the audience (the reader) experiences and judges the events for himself.

Aeneas suffers at Troy; does cruel things to Dido and Turnus. Vergil offers no verdict, but leaves it to the reader to decide.

6. Vergil: Arma virumque cano. "I sing of Arms and the Man."

Homer: The Iliad: "Anger, sing, goddess, the anger which possessed Peleusí son Achilles."

The Odyssey: "The man described to me, Muse, the versatile person who wondered far."

a. The Iliad: Homer focused attention on the anger of Achilles, not on Achillesthe total hero.

b. The Odyssey: Homer presented the man, Odysseus, in all his versatility.

* Homer: avoided the personal and appealed to the Muse.

Vergil alters Homeric pattern in two ways.

1. Double noun construction to account for his theme. He dismisses the appeal to the Muse until the 8th line.

2. Vergil emphasizes his personal achievement as the poet.

i.e. Cano: I sing.

7. The Iliad: concentrates on warfare.

The Odyssey: concentrates on the man.

Vergil (the Aeneid): writes for Rome an Epic that summarizes the genius of the nation and its modern spirit.

a. First half of the Aeneid, takes Aeneas through a series of wonderings and temptations which parallel many of Odysseusí experiences.

b. The Second Half: Aeneas goes through war which Vergil deliberately compares with the Trojan War.