Roman poet (1st century BC)
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Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC), known in English as Virgil or Vergil, was a Roman poet, the author of the Eclogues, the Georgics and the Aeneid, the last being an epic poem of twelve books that became the Roman Empire's national epic.

Love conquers all.


Main article: Eclogues
  • Parvis componere magna.
    • To compare great things with small.
    • Book I, line 23 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough)
  • O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori.
    • Trust not too much to that enchanting face;
      Beauty's a charm, but soon the charm will pass.
    • Book II, line 17 (tr. John Dryden)
  • Trahit sua quemque voluptas.
    • Everyone is dragged on by their favorite pleasure.
    • Book II, line 65
  • Quae te dementia cepit!
    • What madness has seized you?
    • Book II, line 69
A snake lurks in the grass.
  • Nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbor;
    Nunc frondent sylvae, nunc formosissimus annus.
    • Every field, every tree is now budding; now the woods are green, now the year is at its loveliest.
    • Book III, lines 56–57 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Latet anguis in herba.
    • A snake lurks in the grass.
    • Book III, line 93
  • Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem.
    • Begin, baby boy, to recognize your mother with a smile.
    • Book IV, line 60 (tr. Fairclough)

Nunc scio quid sit Amor.

Now I know what Love is.
  • Nunc scio quid sit Amor.
    • Now I know what Love is.
    • Book VIII, line 43 (tr. R. C. Trevelyan)
  • Non omnia possumus omnes.
    • We cannot all do everything.
    • Book VIII, line 63 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Carpent tua poma nepotes.
    • Your descendants shall gather your fruits.
    • Book IX, line 50
  • Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque.
    • Time bears away all things, even our minds.
    • Book IX, line 51
  • Cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus.
    • Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.
    • Book IX, line 64
  • Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.
    • Love conquers all; let us, too, yield to Love!
    • Book X, line 69 (tr. Fairclough)
Main article: Georgics
  • Audacibus annue coeptis.
    • Look with favor upon a bold beginning.
    • Book I, line 40
  • Umida solstitia atque hiemes orate serenas,
    • O farmers, pray that your summers be wet and your winters clear.
    • Book I, lines 100–101
  • Ut varias usus meditando extunderet artis
Toil conquered the world, unrelenting toil...
  • Labor omnia vicit
    improbus et duris urgens in rebus egestas.
    • Toil conquered the world, unrelenting toil, and want that pinches when life is hard.
    • Book I, lines 145–146 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough).
  • In primis venerare Deos.
    • Above all, worship the gods.
    • Book I, line 338 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Adeo in teneris consuescere multum est.
    • So strong is habit in tender years.
    • Book II, line 272 (tr. Fairclough)
      • Compare: "Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined." Alexander Pope, Moral Essays: Epistle I (1734), line 150.
  • O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint
    Agricolas, quibus ipsa, procul discordibus armis,
    Fundit humo facilem victum justissima tellus!
    • How lucky, if they know their happiness,
      Are farmers, more than lucky, they for whom,
      Far from the clash of arms, the earth herself,
      Most fair in dealing, freely lavishes
      An easy livelihood.
    • Book II, lines 458–460 (tr. L. P. Wilkinson)
  • Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
    Flumina amem sylvasque inglorius.
Happy the man, who, studying nature's laws,
Through known effects can trace the secret cause.
Love is lord of all, and is in all the same.
Tempus fugit. (Time flies.)
  • Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.
    • Blessed is he who has been able to win knowledge of the causes of things.
    • Book II, line 490 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough); homage to Lucretius.
      • John Dryden's translation:
        Happy the man, who, studying nature's laws,
        Thro' known effects can trace the secret cause.
  • Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi
    Prima fugit; subeunt morbi tristisque senectus
    Et labor, et durae rapit inclementia mortis.
    • In youth alone, unhappy mortals live;
      But, ah! the mighty bliss is fugitive:
      Discolored sickness, anxious labor, come,
      And age, and death's inexorable doom.
    • Book III, lines 66–68 (tr. John Dryden).
  • Amor omnibus idem.
    • Love is lord of all, and is in all the same.
    • Book III, lines 242–244 (tr. John Dryden).
  • Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus.
    • But meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying.
    • Book III, line 284; often quoted as tempus fugit ('time flies').
  • Alitur vitium, vivitque tegendo.
    • Vice thrives and lives by concealment.
    • Book III, line 454
  • Si parva licet componere magnis.
    • If we may compare small things with great.
    • Book IV, line 176 (tr. Fairclough). Cf. Eclogues 1.23.
  • Nec morti esse locum.
    • There is no place for death.
    • Book IV, line 226
  • Fata vocant.
    • The fates call.
    • Book IV, line 496
  • Illo Vergilium me tempore dulcis alebat
    Parthenope studiis florentem ignobilis oti.
    • In those days I, Virgil, was nursed of sweet Parthenope, and rejoiced in the arts of inglorious ease.
    • Book IV, lines 563–564 (tr. Fairclough)

Aeneid (29–19 BC)

Main article: Aeneid

Book I


Arma virumque cano.

I sing of arms and a man.
  • Arma virumque cano.
    • I sing of arms and a man.
    • Line 1
  • Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?
    • Can such resentment hold the minds of gods?
    • Line 11 (tr. Allen Mandelbaum)
  • Tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem!
    • So hard and huge a task it was to found the Roman people.
    • Line 33 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
  • O terque quaterque beati!
    • O three and four times blessed!
    • Line 95
  • Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.
    • Here and there are seen swimmers in the vast abyss.
    • Line 118 (tr. Fairclough)

Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

Some day, perhaps, remembering even this will be a pleasure.

Endure, and keep yourselves for days of happiness.
  • Furor arma ministrat.
    • Rage supplies arms.
    • Line 150
  • O socii—neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum—
    O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.
    • Friends and companions,
      Have we not known hard hours before this?
      My men, who have endured still greater dangers,
      God will grant us an end to these as well.
    • Lines 198–199 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit.
  • Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.
    • Endure, and keep yourselves for days of happiness.
    • Line 207 (tr. Fairclough); spoken by Aeneas.
      • John Dryden's translation:
        Endure the hardships of your present state,
        Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate.
  • Dux femina facti.
    • The leader of the enterprise a woman.
    • Line 364 (tr. Fairclough); of Dido.
  • Data fata secutus.
    • Following what is decreed by fate.
    • Line 382
  • Mirabile dictu.
    • Wonderful to tell.
    • Line 439
  • Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi,
    Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
    • Even here, merit will have its true reward...
      even here, the world is a world of tears
      and the burdens of mortality touch the heart.
    • Lines 461–462 (tr. Robert Fagles)
No stranger to trouble myself I am learning to care for the unhappy.
  • Mens sibi conscia recti.
    • A mind conscious of its own rectitude.
    • Line 604
  • Semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt.
    • Your honor, your name, your praise will live forever.
    • Line 609 (tr. Fagles); Aeneas to Dido.
  • Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.
    • No stranger to trouble myself I am learning to care for the unhappy.
    • Line 630, as translated in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999); spoken by Dido.

Book II

  • Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem.
    • Sorrow too deep to tell, your majesty,
      You order me to feel and tell once more.
    • Line 3 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald); these are the opening words of Aeneas's narrative about the fall of Troy, addressed to Queen Dido of Carthage.
  • Quis talia fando
    Temperet a lacrimis?
    • Who could tell such things and still refrain from tears?
    • Lines 6 and 8 (tr. Fagles)
Do not trust the horse, Trojans.
Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.
  • Equo ne credite, Teucri.
    quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
    • Do not trust the horse, Trojans.
      Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.
    • Lines 48–49; Trojan priest of Apollo warning against the wooden horse left by the Greeks.
  • In utrumque paratus.
    • Prepared for either alternative.
    • Line 61
  • Ab uno disce omnes.
    • From one learn all.
    • Lines 65–66 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Horresco referens.
    • I shudder as I tell the tale.
    • Line 204 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Tacitae per amica silentia lunae.
    • Amid the friendly silence of the peaceful moon.
    • Line 255 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Quantum mutatus ab illo.
    • How changed from what he once was!
    • Line 274
  • Arrectis auribus adsto.
    • I wait with listening ears.
    • Line 303 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus
    • It is come—the last day and inevitable hour for Troy.
    • Lines 324–325 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem.
    • The only hope for the doomed is no hope at all.
    • Line 354. Variant translation: The only safe course for the defeated is to expect no safety.
  • Dis aliter visum.
    • The gods thought otherwise.
    • Line 428
  • Fit via vi.
    • Force finds a way.
    • Line 494 (tr. Fairclough)

Book III


Auri sacra fames!

Accursed hunger for gold!
  • Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
    Auri sacra fames?
    • To what extremes won't you compel our hearts,
      you accursed lust for gold?
    • Lines 56–57 (tr. Robert Fagles); the murder of Polydorus.
  • Fama volat.
    • Rumor flies.
    • Line 121 (tr. Fagles)
  • Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum.
    • An awful misshapen monster, huge, his eyelight lost.
    • Line 658 (tr. Mandelbaum); of Polyphemus.

Book IV

Who can deceive a lover?
I sail for Italy not of my own free will.
  • Degeneres animos timor arguit.
    • Fear is the proof of a degenerate mind.
    • Line 13
  • Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae.
    • I feel once more the scars of the old flame.
    • Line 23 (tr. C. Day Lewis); Dido acknowledging her love for Aeneas.
  • Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum.
    • Rumor, swiftest of all the evils in the world.
    • Line 174 (tr. Robert Fagles)
  • Quis fallere possit amantem?
    • Who can deceive a lover?
    • Line 296
  • Numquam, regina, negabo
    Promeritam, nec me meminisse pigebit Elissae
    Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus.
    • I shall never deny what you deserve, my queen,
      never regret my memories of Dido, not while I
      can recall myself and draw the breath of life.
    • Lines 334–336 (tr. Fagles); Aeneas to Dido.
  • Italiam non sponte sequor.
    • I sail for Italy not of my own free will.
    • Line 361 (tr. Fitzgerald); Aeneas to Dido.
  • Improbe Amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis!
    • Unconscionable Love,
      To what extremes will you not drive our hearts!
    • Line 412 (tr. Fitzgerald)
    • Compare:
      • Σχέτλι᾽ Ἔρως, μέγα πῆμα, μέγα στύγος ἀνθρώποισιν,
        ἐκ σέθεν οὐλόμεναί τ᾽ ἔριδες στοναχαί τε γόοι τε,
        ἄλγεά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἀπείρονα τετρήχασιν.
        • Unconscionable Love, bane and tormentor of mankind, parent of strife, fountain of tears, source of a thousand ills.
        • Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, IV, 445–447 (tr. E. V. Rieu)
  • Fata obstant.
    • Fate withstands.
    • Line 440 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Varium et mutabile semper
    • Fickle and changeable always is woman.
    • Lines 569–570
I shall die unavenged,
but I shall die.
  • Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor.
    • Let someone arise from my bones as an Avenger.
    • Line 625
  • Vixi, et, quem dederat cursum Fortuna, peregi;
    Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit Imago.
    • I have lived
      and journeyed through the course assigned by fortune.
      And now my Shade will pass, illustrious,
      beneath the earth.
    • Lines 653–654 (tr. Allen Mandelbaum)
  • ‘Moriemur inultae,
    Sed moriamur’ ait. ‘sic, sic juvat ire sub umbras.’
    • "I shall die unavenged, but I shall die,"
      she says. "Thus, thus, I gladly go below
      to shadows."
    • Lines 659–660 (tr. Allen Mandelbaum)

Book V

  • Furens quid Femina possit.
    • What a woman can do in frenzy.
    • Line 6 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Litus ama.
    • Hug the shore.
    • Line 163 (tr. Fairclough)

Possunt, quia posse videntur.

They can because they think they can.

  • Possunt, quia posse videntur.
    • They can because they think they can.
    • Line 231 (tr. John Conington)
  • Decus et tutamen.
    • An ornament and a safeguard.
    • Line 262; inscription on some British one-pound coins up until 2015. The line was suggested by John Evelyn for the edge legend on the new milled coinage of Charles II of England from 1662 on to discourage clipping. He had seen it on the edge of a mirror belonging to Cardinal Richelieu (recorded in his book Numismata in 1697). The suggestion was adopted.
  • Cede Deo.
    • Yield to God.
    • Line 467
  • Superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est.

Book VI

  • Bella, horrida bella.
    • Wars, horrid wars.
    • Line 86
  • Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.
    • Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them.
    • Line 95
  • Obscuris vera involvens.
    • Wrapping truth in darkness.
    • Line 100 (tr. Fairclough)
The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.
  • Facilis descensus Averno:
    Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
    Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras,
    Hoc opus, hic labor est.
    • The gates of hell are open night and day;
      Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
      But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
      In this the task and mighty labor lies.
    • Lines 126–129 (as translated by John Dryden)
      • Variant translation:
        It is easy to go down into Hell;
        Night and day, the gates of dark Death stand wide;
        But to climb back again, to retrace one's steps to the upper air—
        There's the rub, the task.
      • Compare:
  • Fidus Achates.
    • Faithful Achates.
    • Line 158; phrase often applied to a friend or relative who remains faithful at all events—Achates was Aeneas' most faithful friend.
  • Procul, O procul este, profani!
    • Away, away, unhallowed ones!
    • Line 258 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Nunc animis opus, Aenea, nunc pectore firmo.
    • Now, Aeneas, is the hour for courage, now for a dauntless heart!
    • Line 261 (tr. Fairclough); Sibyl's words to Aeneas as they enter the underworld.
  • Di, quibus imperium est animarum, umbraeque silentes,
    Et Chaos, et Phlegethon, loca nocte tacentia late,
    Sit mihi fas audita loqui: sit numine vestro
    Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.
    • Ye realms, yet unrevealed to human sight,
      Ye gods who rule the regions of the night,
      Ye gliding ghosts, permit me to relate
      The mystic wonders of your silent state!
    • Lines 264–267 (tr. John Dryden)

Quisque suos patimur manis.

Each of us bears his own Hell.

  • Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram,
    Perque domos Ditis vacuas et inania regna.
    • Obscure they went through dreary shades, that led
      Along the waste dominions of the dead.
    • Lines 268–269 (tr. John Dryden)
  • Malesuada Fames.
    • Hunger that persuades to evil.
    • Line 276
  • Consanguineus Leti Sopor.
    • Death's own brother Sleep.
    • Line 278 (tr. Fairclough)
  • Stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum
    Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.
    • There all stood begging to be first across
      And reached out longing hands to the far shore.
    • Lines 313–314 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.
    • Cease to think that the decrees of the gods can be changed by prayers.
    • Line 376
  • Discite justitiam moniti et non temnere divos.
    • Be warned; learn ye to be just and not to slight the gods!
    • Line 620 (H. Rushton Fairclough)
  • Vendidit hic auro patriam.
    • This man sold his country for gold.
    • Line 621
  • Non, mihi si linguae centum sunt oraque centum
    Ferrea vox, omnis scelerum comprendere formas,
    Omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.
    • Nay, had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, and voice of iron, I could not sum up all the forms of crime, or rehearse all the tale of torments.
    • Lines 625–627 (tr. H. R. Fairclough); the punishments of the Inferno.
  • Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes.
    • They who bettered life on earth by new-found mastery.
    • Line 663 (tr. William Morris); the blessed in Elysium. A paraphrase of this is inscribed on the Nobel prize medals for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and Literature: Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes ("inventions enhance life which is beautified through art").

Mens agitat molem.

Mind moves matter.

Roman, remember by your strength to rule
Earth's people—for your arts are to be these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.
  • Mens agitat molem.
    • Mind moves matter.
    • Line 727
  • Quisque suos patimur manis.
    • Each of us bears his own Hell.
    • Line 743
  • Te tua fata docebo.
    • I will teach you your destiny.
    • Line 759 (tr. Stanley Lombardo)
  • Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
    (Hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
    Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.
    • Roman, remember by your strength to rule
      Earth's people—for your arts are to be these:
      To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
      To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.
    • Lines 851–853 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Tu Marcellus eris.
  • Manibus date lilia plenis.
    • Give lilies with full hands.
    • Line 883
  • Sunt geminae Somni portae, quarum altera fertur
    Cornea, qua veris facilis datur exitus umbris,
    Altera candenti perfecta nitens elephanto,
    Sed falsa ad caelum mittunt insomnia Manes.
    • There are twin Gates of Sleep.
      One, they say, is called the Gate of Horn
      and it offers easy passage to all true shades.
      The other glistens with ivory, radiant, flawless,
      but through it the dead send false dreams up toward the sky.
    • Lines 893–896 (tr. Fagles); the gates of horn and ivory.

Book VII

If I cannot sway the heavens, I'll wake the powers of hell!
  • Major rerum mihi nascitur ordo;
    Majus opus moveo.
    • A greater history opens before my eyes,
      A greater task awaits me.
    • Lines 44–45 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
    • If I cannot sway the heavens, I'll wake the powers of hell!
    • Line 312 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Juno.
      • Variant translation:
        If I am unable to make the gods above relent, I shall move Hell.
      • Compare:


  • Pedibus timor addidit alas.
    • Fear gave wings to his feet.
    • Line 224 (tr. C. Day Lewis)
  • Arte magistra.
    • By the aid of art.
    • Line 442; cf. 12.427.
  • O mihi praeteritos referat si Iuppiter annos.
    • If only Jupiter would give me back
      The past years and the man I was...
    • Line 560 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)

Book IX

In death went reeling down,
And blood streamed on his handsome length, his neck
Collapsing let his head fall on his shoulder—
As a bright flower cut by a passing plow
Will droop and wither slowly, or a poppy
Bow its head upon its tired stalk
When overborne by a passing rain.
  • Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
    Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?
    • Do the gods light this fire in our hearts
      or does each man's mad desire become his god?
    • Lines 184–185 (tr. Fagles)
  • Nequeam lacrimas perferre parentis.
    • I cannot bear a mother's tears.
    • Line 289
  • Volvitur Euryalus leto, pulchrosque per artus
    It cruor inque umeros cervix conlapsa recumbit:
    Purpureus veluti cum flos succisus aratro
    Languescit moriens; lassove papavera collo
    Demisere caput, pluvia cum forte gravantur.
    • Euryalus
      In death went reeling down,
      And blood streamed on his handsome length, his neck
      Collapsing let his head fall on his shoulder—
      As a bright flower cut by a passing plow
      Will droop and wither slowly, or a poppy
      Bow its head upon its tired stalk
      When overborne by a passing rain.
    • Lines 433–437 (tr. Fitzgerald)
    • Compare:
      • Μήκων δ' ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ' ἐνὶ κήπῳ
        καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
        ὣς ἑτέρωσ' ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.
        • He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
          bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;
          so his head bent slack to one side beneath the helm's weight.
        • Homer, Iliad, VIII, 306–308 (tr. R. Lattimore)

Nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time"

(9/11 Memorial Museum)
  • Fortunati ambo! si quid mea carmina possunt,
    Nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo,
    Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immobile saxum
    Accolet imperiumque pater Romanus habebit.
    • How fortunate, both at once!
      If my songs have any power, the day will never dawn
      that wipes you from the memory of the ages, not while
      the house of Aeneas stands by the Capitol's rock unshaken,
      not while the Roman Father rules the world.
    • Lines 446–449 (tr. Robert Fagles)
  • Iuppiter omnipotens, audacibus adnue coeptis.
  • Macte nova virtute, puer, sic itur ad astra.

Book X

  • Fata viam invenient.
    • Fate will find a way.
    • Line 113
Fortune favors the bold.
  • Audentes fortuna iuvat.
    • Fortune favors the bold.
    • Line 284
    • Variant translations:
      • Fortune favors the brave.
      • Fortune helps the daring.
      • Fortune sides with him who dares.
    • Compare:
      • Fortibus est fortuna viris data.
        • Fortune is given to brave men.
        • Ennius, Annales, 257
  • Stat sua cuique dies, breve et inreparabile tempus
    Omnibus est vitae; sed famam extendere factis,
    Hoc virtutis opus.
    • Every man's last day is fixed.
      Lifetimes are brief and not to be regained,
      For all mankind. But by their deeds to make
      Their fame last: that is labor for the brave.
    • Lines 467–469 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)

Book XI

  • Experto credite.
    • Trust the expert.
    • Line 283; cf. "experto crede".
    • Variant translations:
      • Trust one who has gone through it.
      • Believe one who has had experience.
  • Spes sibi quisque.
    • Each one his own hope.
    • Line 30
  • Nulla salus bello.
    • There is no salvation in war.
    • Line 362 (tr. L. R. Lind)

Book XII

Learn fortitude and toil from me, my son,
Ache of true toil. Good fortune learn from others.
  • Aegrescitque medendo.
    • The attempts to heal enflame the fever more.
    • Line 46 (tr. Fagles)
  • Forsan miseros meliora sequentur.
    • Who knows?
      Better times may come to those in pain.
    • Line 153 (tr. Fagles)
  • Disce, puer, virtutem ex me verumque laborem,
    Fortunam ex aliis.
    • Learn fortitude and toil from me, my son,
      Ache of true toil. Good fortune learn from others.
    • Lines 435–436 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)
Go no further down the road of hatred.
  • Usque adeone mori miserum est?
    • Is it then so sad a thing to die?
    • Line 646 (tr. Alexander Thomson)
  • Ulterius ne tende odiis.
    • Go no further down the road of hatred.
    • Line 938 (tr. Robert Fagles); Turnus asking Aeneas for mercy.
  • Vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras.
    • And with a groan for that indignity
      His spirit fled into the gloom below.
    • Line 952 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald)


  • Ille ego, qui quondam gracili modulatus avena
    Carmen, et egressus silvis vicina coegi
    Ut quamvis avido parerent arva colono,
    Gratum opus agricolis, at nunc horrentia Martis ...
    • I am the poet who once tuned his song
      On a slender reed and then leaving the woods
      Compelled the fields to obey the hungry farmer,
      A pleasing work. But now War's grim and savage ...
    • Spurious opening lines of the Aeneid (tr. Stanley Lombardo), not found in the earliest manuscripts. Attributed to Virgil on the authority of "the grammarian Nisus", who claimed to have "heard from older men" that Varius had "emended the beginning of the first book by striking out" the four introductory lines, as reported in Suetonius' Life of Vergil, 42 (Loeb translation). John Conington, in his Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, remarks: "The external evidence of such a story it is impossible to estimate, but its existence suspiciously indicates that the lines were felt to require apology" (Vol. II, p. 30).
  • Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores.
    • I made these little verses, another took the honor.
    • Epigram attributed to Virgil in Donatus' Life of Virgil.

Cecini pascua, rura, duces.

I sang of pastures, farms, and commanders.
  • Mors aurem vellens, "vivite," ait, "venio."
  • Cecini pascua, rura, duces.
    • I sang of pastures, farms, and commanders.
    • Inscription on Virgil's tomb in Naples (tr. Bernard Knox).


  • Minuit praesentia famam.
    • Presence diminishes fame.
    • Claudian, De Bello Gildonico, 385
    • Wrongly attributed to Virgil in an "undoubtedly spurious Italian epistle sometimes printed in [Dante's] works". (Edward Moore, Studies in Dante [1896], footnote on p. 240.)
  • Let fraud supply the want of force in war.
    • From Book II of Dryden's Aeneid; no exact Latin equivalent exists in Virgil's work, but compare: "Dolus, an virtus, quis in hoste requirat?" (Aeneid 2.390).
  • Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam.
    • Life's short span forbids us to enter on far reaching hopes.
    • Horace, Odes, Book I, ode iv, line 15
  • Virginibus puerisque canto.
    • I sing for maidens and boys.
    • Horace, Odes, Book III, ode i, line 4
  • Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam,
    Maiorumque fames.
    • As money grows, care follows it and the hunger for more.
    • Horace, Odes, Book III, ode xvi, lines 17–18
  • Interdum volgus rectum videt, est ubi peccat.
    • At times the world sees straight, but many times the world goes astray.
    • Horace, Epistles, Book II, epistle i, line 63
"The noblest motive is the public good." (Library of Congress)
  • Vincit amor patriae.
    • The noblest motive is the public good.
    • Richard Steele, in The Spectator. Compare Aeneid 6.823: Vincet amor patriae ("Love of country shall prevail").
    • "In The City of God Augustine quoted the line but changed the verb from the future to the present tense (vincet › vincit). That form became a traditional quotation, often reprinted and reproduced on medals, monuments, and family crests. [...] "Vincit amor patriae" appeared at the head of Spectator no. 200 (October 19, 1711) without translation. The essays from the Spectator were published and republished as books as early as 1713. To assist readers who lacked Latin or Greek, the editors of the 1744 edition provided English translations for its epigraphs; to "Vincit amor patriae" was added "The noblest Motive is the Publick Good." It stuck. The translation was modernized and made its way into innumerable texts and onto public buildings. It is inscribed on the ceiling of the south corridor of the Library of Congress and attributed to Virgil. A mistranslation became a quotation." —Willis Goth Regier, Quotology (2010), pp. 40–41.

Quotes about Virgil

Half of my soul.
~ Horace
Virgil has a thousand secret beauties... —John Dryden
The most attractive figure in literary history. —Matthew Arnold
  • Animae dimidium meae.
    • Half of my soul.
    • Horace, Odes, Book I, ode iii, line 8
  • Vergilium vidi tantum.
    • Virgil I only saw.
    • Ovid, Tristia ["Sorrows"], IV, x, 51
  • Ideoque optime institutum est ut ab Homero atque Vergilio lectio inciperet, quamquam ad intellegendas eorum virtutes firmiore iudicio opus est: sed huic rei superest tempus, neque enim semel legentur.
    • It is therefore an admirable practice which now prevails, to begin by reading Homer and Vergil, although the intelligence needs to be further developed for the full appreciation of their merits: but there is plenty of time for that since the boy will read them more than once.
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria (c. 95 AD), I, viii, 5 (tr. H. E. Butler)
  • Vtar enim verbis isdem quae ex Afro Domitio iuvenis excepi, qui mihi interroganti quem Homero crederet maxime accedere "secundus" inquit "est Vergilius, propior tamen primo quam tertio". Et hercule ut illi naturae caelesti atque inmortali cesserimus, ita curae et diligentiae vel ideo in hoc plus est, quod ei fuit magis laborandum, et quantum eminentibus vincimur, fortasse aequalitate pensamus. Ceteri omnes longe sequentur.
    • I will repeat the words which I heard Domitius Afer use in my young days. I asked what poet in his opinion came nearest to Homer, and he replied, "Virgil came nearest to Homer, but is nearer first than third." And in truth, although we must needs bow before the immortal and superhuman genius of Homer, there is greater diligence and exactness in the work of Virgil just because his task was harder. And perhaps the superior uniformity of the Roman's excellence balances Homer's pre-eminence in his outstanding passages.
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, X, i, 86 (tr. H. E. Butler)
  • Corpore et statura fuit grandi, aquilo colore, facie rusticana, valetudine varia; nam plerumque a stomacho et a faucibus ac dolore capitis laborabat, sanguinem etiam saepe reiecit. Cibi vinique minimi; libidinis in pueros pronioris... Vulgatum est consuesse eum et cum Plotia Hieria. ... Cetera sane vitae et ore et animo tam probum constat, ut Neapoli Parthenias vulgo appellatus sit, ac si quando Romae, quo rarissime commeabat, viseretur in publico, sectantis demonstrantisque se subterfugeret in proximum tectum.
    • He [Virgil] was tall and of full habit, with a dark complexion and a rustic appearance. His health was variable; for he very often suffered from stomach and throat troubles, as well as with headache; and he also had frequent haemorrhages. He ate and drank but little. He was especially given to passions for boys... It is common report that he also had an intrigue with Plotia Hieria. ... Certain it is that for the rest of his life he was so modest in speech and thought, that at Naples he was commonly called "Parthenias" ("The Maiden"), and that whenever he appeared in public in Rome, where he very rarely went, he would take refuge in the nearest house, to avoid those who followed and pointed him out.
    • Suetonius, Vita Vergili 8–11, in Suetonius, with an English translation by J. C. Rolfe, Vol. II (1914), p. 467
  • "Bucolica" triennio, "Georgica" VII, "Aeneida" XI perfecit annis.
    • The "Bucolics" he finished in three years, the "Georgics" in seven, the "Aeneid" in twelve.
    • Suetonius, Vita Vergili 25, in Suetonius, with an English translation by J. C. Rolfe, Vol. II (1914), p. 473
  • Facundia Mantuani multiplex et multiformis est et dicendi genus omne complectitur.
    • The Mantuan's eloquence is many-sided and diverse, embracing every style.
    • Macrobius, Saturnalia (c. 400), V, i, 4 (Loeb translation)
  • Decem Rhetorum, qui apud Athenas Atticas floruerunt, stylos inter se diversos hunc unum permiscuisse.
    • He combined, all by himself, the divergent styles of the ten orators who flourished in the Athens of Attica.
    • Macrobius, Saturnalia, V, i, 20 (Loeb translation)
  • Nempe apud Vergilium, quem propterea paruuli legunt, ut uidelicet poeta magnus omniumque praeclarissimus atque optimus teneris ebibitus animis non facile obliuione possit aboleri...
    • Virgil certainly is held to be a great poet; in fact he is regarded as the best and the most renowned of all poets, and for that reason he is read by children at an early age – they take great draughts of his poetry into their unformed minds, so that they may not easily forget him.
    • Augustine of Hippo, The City of God (c. 410), Book I, Chapter 3 (tr. Henry Bettenson)
  • Or se' tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte
    che spandi di parlar sì largo fiume?

Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore.

You are my master and my author.
Dante Alighieri
  • O de li altri poeti onore e lume,
    vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amore
    che m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.

    Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore,
    tu se' solo colui da cu' io tolsi
    lo bello stilo che m'ha fatto onore.
    • O, of the other poets honour and light,
      Avail me the long study and great love
      That have impelled me to explore thy volume!

      Thou art my master, and my author thou,
      Thou art alone the one from whom I took
      The beautiful style that has done honour to me.
    • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, I, 82–87 (tr. Longfellow)
  • O anima cortese mantoana
    Di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura,
    E durera quanto 'l moto lontana.
    • O spirit courteous of Mantua,
      Of whom the fame still in the world endures,
      And shall endure, long-lasting as the world.
    • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, II, 58–60 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Tu duca, tu signore e tu maestro.
    • You are my guide, you are my lord and teacher.
    • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, II, 140 (tr. Mark Musa)
  • O gloria di Latin, disse, per cui
    mostrò ciò che potea la lingua nostra...
    • "O glory of the Latin race," he said, "by whom our language showed forth all its power..."
    • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, VII, 16–17 (tr. Carlyle-Wicksteed)
  • Ma Virgilio n'avea lasciati scemi
    di sé, Virgilio, dolcissimo patre,
    Virgilio a cui per mia salute die'mi.
    • But us Virgilius of himself deprived
      Had left, Virgilius, sweetest of all fathers,
      Virgilius, to whom I for safety gave me.
    • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, XXX, 49–51 (tr. Longfellow)
  • Quem te, inquit, reddidissem,
    Si te vivum invenissem,
    Poetarum maxime!
    • What a man I should have made of you if I had met you in your life, greatest of poets!
    • Anonymous poet at Paris in the twelfth or thirteenth century, describing how Paul of Tarsus, upon visiting the tomb of Virgil at Naples, according to legend, "shed tears of regret at the thought that the poet had not lived at a time when he might have been converted by the Apostle", as reported in Latin Poetry: Lectures Delivered in 1893 on the Percy Turnbull Memorial Foundation in the Johns Hopkins University (1895) by Robert Yelverton Tyrrell, p. 127, A History of Classical Scholarship (1903) by John Sandys, p. 611, and The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (2013), ed. M. C. Howatson, p. 592
  • Nothing in short was omitted by that godlike man. Only fools would want to add anything; only insolent men to change anything. Sentences, numbers, figures, simplicity, candor, ornaments, nature, art, learning—all is incomparable, or, in a word—Virgilian. ... Let the cravens who contend that the free genius and taste of divine Virgil were prisoners of Homer's inventions hold their peace. It was not thus. The arguments of Homer which nature proposed to him were corrected by Virgil as a schoolboy's theme by his professor.
    • Julius Caesar Scaliger, Poetices (1561), Book V, Ch. 3, as quoted in "Life of Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484–1558)" by Vernon Hall, Jr. — Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 40, Part 2 (1950), p. 153
  • ...exemplum, regula, principium, finis esse debet nobis Maro.
    • Virgil should be our example, our rule, the beginning and the end.
    • Julius Caesar Scaliger, Poetices libri septem (1561), Book V, Ch. 3, as quoted in Philip Hardie's The Last Trojan Hero: A Cultural History of Virgil's Aeneid (2014), p. 9
  • Homer's poems were writ from a free fury, an absolute and full soul; Virgil's out of a courtly, laborious, and altogether imitatory spirit: not a simile he hath but is Homer's; not an invention, person, or disposition but is wholly or originally built upon Homerical foundations, and in many places hath the very words Homer useth.
  • And for his poesy, 'tis so rammed with life,
    That it shall gather strength of life, with being,
    And live hereafter more admired than now.
  • The chastest poet and royalest that to the memory of man is known.
    • Francis Bacon, as quoted in Latin Poetry: Lectures Delivered in 1893 on the Percy Turnbull Memorial Foundation in the Johns Hopkins University (1895) by Robert Yelverton Tyrrell, p. 128
  • Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
    To tend the homely slighted Shepherds trade,
    And strictly meditate the thankles Muse,
    Were it not better don as others use,
    To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
    Or with the tangles of Neaera’s hair?
  • Hail mighty Maro! may that sacred name
    Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame;
    Sublime ideas and apt words infuse,
    The Muse instruct my voice, and thou inspire the Muse!
  • I looked on Virgil as a succinct and grave majestic writer; one who weighed not only every thought, but every word and syllable.
  • He seems to have studied not to be translated.
  • There is an inimitable grace in Virgil's words, and in them principally consists that beauty which gives so inexpressible a pleasure to him who best understands their force. This diction of his, I must once again say, is never to be copied; and since it cannot, he will appear but lame in the best translation.
  • Virgil is so exact in every word, that none can be changed but for a worse; nor any one removed from its place, but the harmony will be altered. He pretends sometimes to trip; but it is only to make you think him in danger of a fall, when he is most secure.
    • John Dryden, A Parallel Betwixt Poetry and Painting (1695)
  • [Homer's] Fire burns with extraordinary Heat and Vehemence … Virgil's is a clearer and a chaster Flame ...
  • Virgil cannot be said to copy Homer; the Grecian had only the advantage of writing first.
    • John Dryden, The Works of Virgil (1697), 'Dedication to the Aeneis'
  • Virgil, above all poets, had a stock, which I may call almost inexhaustible, of figurative, elegant, and sounding words.
    • John Dryden, The Works of Virgil (1697), 'Dedication to the Aeneis'
  • Virgil was of a quiet, sedate temper; Homer was violent, impetuous, and full of fire. The chief talent of Virgil was propriety of thoughts, and ornament of words.
  • I came home a little later than usual the other night; and, not finding myself inclined to sleep, I took up Virgil, to divert me till I should be more disposed to rest. He is the author whom I always choose on such occasions; no one writing in so divine, so harmonious, nor so equal a strain, which leaves the mind composed and softened into an agreeable melancholy; the temper in which, of all others, I choose to close the day.
  • When first young Maro in his boundless mind
    A work to outlast immortal Rome designed,
    Perhaps he seemed above the critic's law,
    And but from Nature's fountains scorned to draw:
    But when to examine every part he came,
    Nature and Homer were, he found, the same.
    Convinced, amazed, he checks the bold design,
    And rules as strict his laboured work confine,
    As if the Stagirite o'erlooked each line.
  • This fire is discerned in Virgil, but discerned as through a glass, reflected from Homer, more shining than fierce, but every where equal and constant.
  • The delight of all ages, and the pattern of all poets.
    • Voltaire, An Essay on Epic Poetry (1727)
  • Virgil loved rural ease, and, far from harm,
    Maecenas fix'd him in a neat, snug farm,
    Where he might free from trouble pass his days
    In his own way, and pay his rent in praise.
  • The warmest admirers of the great Mantuan poet can extol him for little more than the skill with which he has, by making his hero both a traveller and a warrior, united the beauties of the Iliad and Odyssey in one composition; yet his judgment was perhaps sometimes overborne by his avarice of the Homeric treasures; and, for fear of suffering a sparkling ornament to be lost, he has inserted it where it cannot shine with its original splendor.
  • Savez-vous le latin, madame? Non; voilà pourquoi vous me demandez si j'aime mieux Pope que Virgile. Ah! madame, toutes nos langues modernes sont sèches, pauvres, et sans harmonie, en comparaison de celles qu'ont parlées nos premiers maîtres, les Grecs et les Romains. Nous ne sommes que des violons de village. Comment voulez-vous d’ailleurs que je compare des épîtres à un poëme épique, aux amours de Didon, à l'embrasement de Troie, à la descente d'Énée aux enfers? Je crois l'Essai sur l'Homme, de Pope, le premier des poëmes didactiques, des poëmes philosophiques; mais ne mettons rien à côté de Virgile. Vous le connaissez par les traductions; mais les poëtes ne se traduisent point. Peut-on traduire de la musique? Je vous plains, madame, avec le goût et la sensibilité éclairée que vous avez, de ne pouvoir lire Virgile.
    • Do you understand Latin, Madam? No; else you would not have asked whether I like Pope better than Virgil. Ah! Madam, all our modern languages are dry, poor, and wholly devoid of harmony, when compared to those which were spoken by our first masters, the Greeks and the Romans: we are merely to be compared to country fiddlers. Besides, how could you expect me to compare epistles to an epic poem, to the love of Dido, the burning of Troy, and the descent of Aeneas into hell? I think Pope's Essay on Man is one of the first and best didactic poems; but do not let us place any work upon an equality with Virgil. You are merely acquainted with him in a French dress; but poets cannot bear translating. Can you translate music? I really pity you, Madam, endowed as you are with such an exquisite degree of taste, and of refined sensibility, for not being able to read Virgil.
    • Voltaire, letter to Madam du Deffand (19 May 1754), in The Unpublished Correspondence of Madame Du Deffand, trans. Mary Meeke, Vol. II (1810), pp. 257–258
  • I have this year read all Virgil through. I read a book of the Æneid every night, so it was done in twelve nights, and I had a great delight in it. The Georgicks did not give me so much pleasure, except the fourth book. The Eclogues I have almost all by heart.
  • The principal and distinguishing excellency of Virgil, and which, in my opinion, he possesses beyond all poets, is tenderness. Nature had endowed him with exquisite sensibility; he felt every affecting circumstance in the scenes he describes; and, by a single stroke, he knows how to reach the heart.
    • Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, Vol. II (1783), Lecture XLIII: 'The Æneid of Virgil', p. 447
  • [The] pathetic is Virgil's great excellence in the Æneid, that way he surpasses all other poets of every age and nation, except, perhaps (and only perhaps), Shakspeare. It is on that account that I rank him so very high; for surely to excel in that style which speaks to the heart is the greatest of all excellence.
  • That harmonious plagiary and miserable flatterer, whose cursed hexameters were drilled into me at Harrow.
    • Lord Byron, letter to Thomas Moore (11 April 1817), in Letters and Journals of Lord Byron (1830), p. 329
  • Virgil's style is an inimitable mixture of the elaborately ornate, and the majestically plain and touching.
    • William Wordsworth, letter to Lord Lonsdale (17 February 1819), in Letters of the Wordsworth Family from 1787 to 1855, collected and ed. by W. Knight, Vol. II (1907), p. 123
  • Virgil seems to have copied Greek models completely, imitating them slavishly and lifelessly, and so they appear as plagiarisms more or less devoid of spirit.
    • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion, ed. W. Jaeschke, Vol. II, p. 402, as reported and quoted in The Last Trojan Hero: A Cultural History of Virgil's Aeneid (2014) by Philip Hardie, p. 14
  • If you take from Virgil his diction and metre, what do you leave him?
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk (8 May 1824), in Specimens of the Table Talk of the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol. I (1835), p. 50
  • O Virgile! ô poète! ô mon maître divin!
  • It never occurs to me to place him among the Roman poets of the first order.
  • Unless one is a moron, one always dies unsure of one's own value and that of one's works. Virgil himself, as he lay dying, wanted the Aeneid burned.
    • Gustave Flaubert, letter to Louise Colet (19 September 1852), in The Letters of Gustave Flaubert: 1830–1857, selected, edited and translated by Francis Steegmuller (1980), p. 170
  • Le poète de la latinité tout entière.
    • The poet of the entire Latin world.
    • Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Étude sur Virgile (1857), p. 35, as quoted in Why Vergil?: A Collection of Interpretations (2000), "Homage to Virgil" by Charles Fantazzi, p. 290
  • Over the whole of the great poem of Virgil, over the whole Æneid, there rests an ineffable melancholy: not a rigid, a moody gloom, like the melancholy of Lucretius; no, a sweet, a touching sadness, but still a sadness; a melancholy which is at once a source of charm in the poem, and a testimony to its incompleteness. Virgil, as Niebuhr has well said, expressed no affected self-disparagement, but the haunting, the irresistible self-dissatisfaction of his heart, when he desired on his deathbed that his poem might be destroyed. A man of the most delicate genius, the most rich learning, but of weak health, of the most sensitive nature, in a great and overwhelming world; conscious, at heart, of his inadequacy for the thorough spiritual mastery of that world and its interpretation in a work of art; conscious of this inadequacy—the one inadequacy, the one weak place in the mighty Roman nature! This suffering, this graceful-minded, this finely-gifted man is the most beautiful, the most attractive figure in literary history; but he is not the adequate interpreter of the great period of Rome.
    • Matthew Arnold, "On the Modern Element in Literature" (1857), lecture published in On the Classical Tradition (1960) ed. by R. H. Super, p. 35
  • He writes passionately, because he feels keenly; forcibly, because he conceives vividly; he sees too clearly to be vague; he is too serious to be otiose; he can analyze his subject, and therefore he is rich; he embraces it as a whole and in its parts, and therefore he is consistent; he has a firm hold of it, and therefore he is luminous. When his imagination wells up, it overflows in ornament; when his heart is touched, it thrills along his verse. He always has the right word for the right idea, and never a word too much. If he is brief, it is because few words suffice; when he is lavish of them, still each word has its mark, and aids, not embarrasses, the vigorous march of his elocution. He expresses what all feel, but all cannot say; and his sayings pass into proverbs among his people, and his phrases become household words and idioms of their daily speech, which is tesselated with the rich fragments of his language, as we see in foreign lands the marbles of Roman grandeur worked into the walls and pavements of modern palaces.
    Such pre-eminently is Shakespeare among ourselves; such pre-eminently Virgil among the Latins; such in their degree are all those writers who in every nation go by the name of Classics.
  • Virgil imitated Homer, but imitated him as a rival, not as a disciple.
    • John Conington, P. Vergili Maronis Opera, with a Commentary by John Conington, M.A., Vol. II (1863), Introduction, p. 27
  • His single words and phrases, his pathetic half-lines giving utterance, are as the voice of Nature herself, to that pain and weariness, yet hope of better things, which is the experience of her children in every time.
Wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • My lord, you know what Virgil sings—
    Woman is various and most mutable.
  • Roman Virgil, thou that singest Ilion's lofty temples robed in fire.
  • Thou that singest wheat and woodland, tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd;
    All the charm of all the Muses often flowering in a lonely word.
  • Thou that seest Universal Nature moved by Universal Mind;
    Thou majestic in thy sadness at the doubtful doom of human kind.
  • I salute thee, Mantovano, I that loved thee since my day began,
    Wielder of the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man.
  • Hundreds of Virgil's lines are for most of us familiar quotations, which linger in our memory, and round which our literary associations cluster and hang, just as religious feeling clings to well-known texts or passages of Scripture.
  • Of all that [Homer] knew he sang, but Virgil could only follow and imitate, with a pale antiquarian interest, the things that were alive for Homer.
    • Andrew Lang, letter to Lady Violet Lebas in Letters on Literature (1892), p. 65
  • The use which the grammarians made of Vergil is so extensive that, if all the MSS. of him had been lost, it would be possible from the notices given us by the ancients of the Vergilian poems, and the passages quoted from them by the grammarians alone, to reconstruct practically the whole of the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid.
  • [Virgil] borrows royally from nearly every older master of style. Yet the result, if a mosaic, at least remains clear, beautiful, even harmonious, in its general design and effect.
  • But it is to beauty that, like Dante, one returns as the final fact and feature of his style. Under Virgil's verbal sorcery, Latin becomes a golden language of exquisite richness, veined with a delicate melancholy and wistful reverie upon the abundant travail of life. If his wealth of tremulous pities and mystic dreams do not make true poetry, then poetry was never written.
    • John Wight Duff, A Literary History of Rome (1909), p. 349
  • Does [Aeneas] really resemble Odysseus at any point? No—there is no greater difference within the whole compass of ancient literature; and to understand that is to see how absurd are those critics who would dismiss Virgil contemptuously as a mere plagiarist and imitator of Homer. There is no more profound or astonishing originality in all the literature of antiquity than Virgil's; and that precisely because it operates within the limits imposed by the inherited and traditional forms, which it reverently observes.
  • With Virgil European poetry grows up.
    • C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), Chapter 6: "Virgil and the Subject of Secondary Epic"
Our classic, the classic of all Europe, is Virgil. —T. S. Eliot
  • [Aeneas] is the symbol of Rome; and, as Aeneas is to Rome, so is ancient Rome to Europe. Thus Virgil acquires the centrality of the unique classic; he is at the centre of European civilisation, in a position which no other poet can share or usurp. The Roman Empire and the Latin language were not any empire and any language, but an empire and a language with a unique destiny in relation to ourselves, and the poet in whom that Empire and that language came to consciousness and expression is a poet of unique destiny. [...] No modern language can hope to produce a classic, in the sense in which I have called Virgil a classic. Our classic, the classic of all Europe, is Virgil.
  • I think that he had few illusions and that he saw clearly both sides of every question—the case for the loser as well as the case for the winner.
  • the sense in which a poet is a philosopher … Virgil is the greatest philosopher of ancient Rome. ...Virgil was, among all authors of classical antiquity, one for whom the world made sense, for whom it had order and dignity, and for whom, as for no one before his time except the Hebrew prophets, history had meaning.
  • No, Virgil, no:
    Not even the first of the Romans can learn
    His Roman history in the future tense,
    Not even to serve your political turn;
    Hindsight as foresight makes no sense.
  • Why Virgil's poems have for the last two thousand years exercised so great an influence on our Western culture is, paradoxically, because he was a renegade to the true Muse. His pliability; his subservience; his narrowness; his denial of that stubborn imaginative freedom which the true poets who preceded him had prized; his perfect lack of originality, courage, humour, or even animal spirits: these were the negative qualities which first commended him to government circles and have kept him in public favour ever since. [...] Few poets have brought such discredit as Virgil on their sacred calling.
    • Robert Graves, "The Virgil Cult" (1961), in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 38, no. 1 (1962), pp. 13–35; partially quoted in Philip Hardie's The Last Trojan Hero: A Cultural History of Virgil's Aeneid (2014), p. 14, and in Richard Jenkyns's The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal (1992), p. 142.
  • Virgil's narrative subjective or more accurately, empathetic-sympathetic. Virgil not only reads the minds of his characters; he constantly communicates to us his own reactions to them and to their behaviour.
    • Brooks Otis, Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry (1964), p. 88
  • Homer is a world; Virgil, a style.
    • Mark Van Doren, as quoted in Allen Mandelbaum, trans., The Aeneid of Virgil (1971), p. vi
  • Like every human being, a poet has to deal with three questions: how, what for, and in the name of what to live. The Bucolics, the Georgics and the Aeneid answer all three, and these answers apply equally to the Emperor and to his subjects, to antiquity as well as to our times. The modern reader may use Virgil in the same way that Dante used him in his passage through Hell and Purgatory: as a guide.
    • Joseph Brodsky, "Virgil: Older than Christianity, a Poet for the New Age", in Vogue (October 1981), p. 180
  • For Virgil all war is mad and one cannot conduct oneself morally on the battlefield.
    • K. W Gransden, "War and Peace", in Harold Bloom's Virgil's Aeneid (1987), p. 143
  • At every step I have seen how impossible it is to translate Virgil, especially his unequaled blend of grandeur and accessibility..., of eloquence and action, heroics and humanity.
    • Robert Fagles, "Translator's Postscript" to Virgil, The Aeneid (New York: Viking, 2006), p. 389

See also