WHILE in true poetic inspiration Virgil does not rank with Lucretius or Catullus, yet in his larger conception of the poet's function, in his more artistic handling of his themes, and in his mastery of technique he is far superior to them. He is a product of the Augustan age, with its more settled political and social atmosphere, its wider culture, and its higher ideals of literary art. We miss, it is true, the individual note that marks the work of some of the earlier poets, but in its place is something of fuller volume, an essentially national tone, emanating from one who was possessed with the idea of his country's greatness. In his Georgics he sings the praise of Italian agriculture; his Aeneid is a glorification of the Roman race.
He was born in Mantua in 70 B. C. His parents were plebeians, but sufficiently prosperous to give their son a good education. He received his first training at Cremona, went afterwards to Naples, and finally to Rome. How long he remained at the capital on this occasion is not certain, but we know from the Eclogues that he was in his native place during the troubles caused by the confiscation of lands in northern Italy for the benefit of the veterans of Octavian1 after the battle of Philippi in 42 B. C. The soldiers, not satisfied with the lands which had been assigned to them around Cremona, proceeded to seize those near Mantua; and it was only through the protection afforded him by Asinius Pollio, the legate in the district, and afterwards____________________