Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) 70–19 B.C.
Greatest of Roman poets. The well-educated son of a prosperous provincial farmer, Virgil led a quiet life, though he eventually became a member of the circle around Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) and was patronized by Maecenas. His first major work, the 10 pastoral Eclogues (42–37), may be read as a prophecy of tranquility, and one has even been read as a prophecy of Christianity. The Georgics (37–30) point toward a Golden Age in the form of practical goals: the repopulation of rural lands and the rehabilitation of agriculture. His great epic, the Aeneid (begun c. 29, but unfinished at his death), is one of the masterpieces of world literature. A celebration of the founding of Rome by the legendary Aeneas at the request of Augustus, whose consolidation of power in 31–30 unified the Roman world, it also explores the themes of war and the pathos of unrequited love. In later centuries his works were regarded in the Roman Empire as virtually sacred. He was taken up reverently by Christians as well, including Dante, who, in his poem The Divine Comedy, made Virgil his guide through hell and purgatory.1
1. Taken from The Online Encyclopaedia Brittanica at http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9382055
“I see wars, horrible wars, and the Tiber foaming with much blood.” (Part of the Sibyl' if Cumae’s prophecy to Aeneas, foretelling his difficulties in winning a home in Italy, Aeneid, Bk. VI, 19 BC)
“But yours, my Roman, is the gift of government, That is your bent - to impose upon the nations the code of peace; to be clement to the conquered, But to utterly crush the intransigent.” (Virgil, The Aeneid, 1st Century B.C.)
“The great cycle of the ages is renewed. Now Justice returns, returns the Golden Age; a new generation now descends from on high.” (Virgil’s 4th Ecologue)