Virgil And Horace And Modern Interpretations Of The Early Roman Empire

Decent Essays
Modern interpretations of the early Roman Empire have been heavily influenced by historians throughout the ages, including poets Virgil and Horace. They shaped current interpretations of Ancient Rome and inspired great writers such as Shakespeare to tell the tales of the early Roman Empire.
The great poet Virgil (Plubius Vergilius Mano, 76-19 BC) was born in Mantua, northern Italy. His poems are some of the most acclaimed and studied texts from the early Roman Empire and portray many of the ideals and virtues which many people associate with the Roman Empire today. His masterpiece ‘The Aeneid’ lays the moral fabric of an ideal Rome, one which the Emperor Augustus was anxious to revive. The Emperor Augustus realised the value of propaganda
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Initially fighting for Brutus at Philippi, he accepted the early amnesty offered by Augustus. “…he deeply admired him for ending a prolonged, nightmarish epoch of civil wars” (M. Grant, 2015). Horace was inspired by Virgil, who in turn was impressed with Horace’s poetic ability. Under his influence, he wrote many of his most famous works including Satires, Epodes, Odes and Epistles. Most of his works celebrate common events and everyday life and “…some of his modern admirers see him as the poet of the lighter side of life; others see him as the poet of Rome and Augustus” (M. Grant, 2015). The way Horace wrote about the Roman people themselves led them to believe they were living in a Golden Age under the hand of Augustus. It was a form of propaganda. As Horace told the Romans in one of his odes, “Because you are servants of the gods, you are masters on earth” (Horace’s Odes.) This view, which he managed to portray to the people of Rome, is reflected in the writings of other historians throughout the ages such as Livy. Horace’s Odes were appreciated by educated Romans, and they became school textbooks with ‘few ancient lyrical successors…’ (Britannica, 2015). They also profoundly influenced later writers including Goethe, Voltaire, Pierre Corneille and Alexander Pope. The fact that they were so widely read had an enormous impact …show more content…
This portrayal influenced the way historians viewed this particular time in Rome. Because both poets believed in the cause of Augustus, and were not writing simply because they were being paid, they create a representation considered accurate, if slightly embellished, by many people, including Shakespeare and other writers who have adapted both Horace and Virgil’s work. “This evidence highlights the conscious pervasive influence Augustus asserted, using his power to influence the people of Rome and to create an age of literature in his own image” (S. Steinbrenner, 2010). Without the writing of both these men, modern interpretations would be very different. By hailing Augustus and writing about the idyllic peace and prosperity and the return of original values, Horace and Virgil created an image about the early Roman Republic. “Thy reign restores rich fruits to the countryside, Augustus; brings back safe our Capitol…recalls the ancient Rules whereby Rome’s nae, Italy’s majesty, Fame, strength and empire spread from the uttermost West…” (Horace, Odes, IV: 15). Their subsequent popularity on a world wide scale means their writing is often the basis for many interpretations of the Roman Republic and life, despite their tendency to exaggerate details of history. “Next Augustus, entering the walls of Rome in triple triumph,

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