What Do I Read Next?
The Eclogues (often called the Bucolics) is Virgil's first published collection of poetry. It consists of ten selections, (eclogues, in Greek). The word Bucolics comes from the Greek word for cowherd. These are pastorals, poems set in an idealized countryside among herdsmen and small landowners. Reality intrudes in Eclogues 1 and 9, which concern the confiscation of Virgil's farm.
Virgil wrote the Georgics in four sections. This handbook of agriculture was also intended to promote the revival of traditional Roman pastorial and agrarian life, with an emphasis on family life, hard work, practical patriotism and simplicity of manners and pleasures. Commissioned by Caesar Augustus in an attempt to make Rome's pastoral and agrarian past seem like an attractive and viable way of life for the population to continue to follow, the vision put forward in the Georgics is in many ways like that of Thomas Jefferson's for the new nation of the United States of America that he helped found.
Lucan's Pharsalia, also known as the Bellum Civili, is an epic written during the reign of the Emperor Nero. It is about the civil war between Caesar and Pompey a hundred years earlier. Unlike the Aeneid, it takes place in known historical times. It uses Fate rather than the intervention of the gods to explain events. For these reasons, its earliest critics claimed it was not an epic.
Livy wrote at the same time as Virgil and for many of the same reasons. In his history, Ab urbe conditor, he reminds his Roman readers of their great heritage. Not all of Livy's work survives, but it was almost as influential as that of Virgil.
David Wishart's I Virgil published in 1995, is a fictionalized biography of Virgil. It assumes that Virgil was ambivalent toward his protagonist Aeneas and the scope and plot of the Aeneid because he had reservations about Caesar Augustus's rule of Rome. In this account, Virgil is poisoned by Augustus when he realizes that the Aeneid is an indictment of his character.