Virgil at Odds

While on the surface the Aeneid could be seen as a Roman epic meant to glorify Rome and rival those of the ancient Greeks, the author was engaged in a struggle.Virgil had to satisfy the cultural demands of his work, the political demands of his time, and his own personal demands as an artist.In tackling his problem, Virgil is revealed to be slightly reluctant of embracing fully the still young regime of Octavian but still proud of Rome and his ancestry, and concerned with the moral issues of civil war.
When considering the style with which Virgil composed the Aeneid, it is important to look at the time in which he lived and exactly what was going on around him when it was written.Virgil was born in 70 BC and died in 19 BC.This places him in the very beginning of what was to be a long and relatively stable existence of the Roman Empire.Further, it was during the poet’s lifetime that Rome made citizens of all Italians, allowing a huge community to share in Rome’s growing heritage.People who formerly may have felt like outcasts under the oppression of Rome could now call Rome their own.This included Virgil because he came from a provincial Italian town far outside Rome.W.A. Camps cites that while Virgil was still a young man, his family’s estates were confiscated by Caesar to be given to veterans of the battle of Philippi (1).Caesar was eventually assassinated and the next twenty years of the poet’s life are shaded by bloody struggles for power among heirs and military leaders.
Eventually Caesar’s adopted son Octavian defeats Marc Antony and Cleopatra’s forces and brings all Rome under his rule, in about 30 BC.This is important because Virgil had been fond of Octavian, although it is not known if he publicly supported anyone during the conflict.It is known that Virgil came to enjoyfirst the friendship then the patronage of Octavian and his minister Maecenas, both of whom bestowed a small fortune upon him (…


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