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Virgil: His Life and Times by Peter Levi
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Virgil: His Life and Times (1998)

by Peter Levi

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To Deirdre with my love
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I have been reading Virgil for more than fifty years...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312193521, Hardcover)

Born on October 15, 70 B.C., in a small village near Mantua in Northern Italy, Publius Vergilius Maro, or Virgil, grew up to be hailed as the greatest Roman poet. And although his work has influenced Western literature for two millennia, little is know about the man himself. In Virgil: His Life and Times, Professor Peter Levi reconstructs the poet's life by examining archaeological and historical evidence from Augustan Rome, as well as through close readings of the poet's own work. "Virgil is an intensely personal poet, yet he is anonymous.... My aim is not so ambitious as to try and restore his prestige single-handed. It has simply been to try to understand him in his original context." Professor Levi does an admirable job off adding flesh to the dusty bones of Virgil, pulling away many of the myths that surround his life and letting the genius of his imagination shine through. Although perhaps not a good book for anyone not already acquainted with Virgil, Levi's new book shines with an unabashed love of his subject and will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone who has ever been swept away by the pathos and power of the Aeneid.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:20 -0400)

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In this biography, the eminent classicist Peter Levi uses Virgil's poems, like the Eclogues, Georgics, his epic, The Aeneid, as well as historical and archeological evidence, to discard many of the myths surrounding Virgil's life. In doing so, he uncovers the life of a poet whose powerful imagination and ethereal ability helped shape the epic vision of modern man. Indeed, Virgil's densely written and beautifully complex verse dominated Augustan Rome, the period of unprecedented prosperity, peace, and expansion that inaugurated the Golden Age of Roman poetry. Virgil, in fact, was the one poet who most fully understood the Roman Empire's enduring legacy and through his poetry defined the idea of civilization for generations to come. Although contemporary critics and readers often overlook Virgil's genius, Levi demonstrates that to neglect Virgil is to truncate many of the literary foundations of our culture.… (more)

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