The Aeneid

The Aeneid

The Aeneid

The Aeneid

Excerpt

In approaching Virgil, we must realize not only that he was a supreme artist, but that he stands in a very special relation to the whole import of an age which was one of the main turning-points in history. It was then that the political and civil organization was created under which the European world lived for more than a thousand years, and on which its subsequent developments have been mainly founded. It was then that the problems of a world-empire based on law, preserving liberty, and securing peace were for the first time faced, and a provisional solution found for them. It was then also that the genius of the Latin race culminated in the works of the greatest Roman historians, orators, and poets; and that the Latin language was moulded into forms which have ever since been a common heritage and a permanent model for mankind.

Virgil is the foremost name in Latin poetry. But he also combines in himself, in a unique way and to a unique extent, the racial and cultural elements out of which the Latin civilization was compounded. He looked, as few have done, before and after. Standing at the point of junction between two worlds, he is the interpreter, we may even call him the creator, of a great national ideal. That ideal was at once political, social, and religious. The supremacy of Rome assumed in his hands the aspect of an ordinance of Providence, towards which all previous history had been leading up under divine guidance. It meant the establishment of an empire to which no limit of time or space was set, and in which the human race should find ordered . . .

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