Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is a figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon. Platos dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity, though it is unclear the degree to which Socrates himself is hidden behind his best disciple, nothing written by Socrates remains extant. As a result, information about him and his philosophies depends upon secondary sources, close comparison between the contents of these sources reveals contradictions, thus creating concerns about the possibility of knowing in-depth the real Socrates. This issue is known as the Socratic problem, or the Socratic question, to understand Socrates and his thought, one must turn primarily to the works of Plato, whose dialogues are thought the most informative source about Socrates life and philosophy, and Xenophon. These writings are the Sokratikoi logoi, or Socratic dialogues, which consist of reports of conversations apparently involving Socrates, as for discovering the real-life Socrates, the difficulty is that ancient sources are mostly philosophical or dramatic texts, apart from Xenophon.
There are no straightforward histories, contemporary with Socrates, that dealt with his own time, a corollary of this is that sources that do mention Socrates do not necessarily claim to be historically accurate, and are often partisan. For instance, those who prosecuted and convicted Socrates have left no testament, historians therefore face the challenge of reconciling the various evidence from the extant texts in order to attempt an accurate and consistent account of Socrates life and work. The result of such an effort is not necessarily realistic, even if consistent, amid all the disagreement resulting from differences within sources, two factors emerge from all sources pertaining to Socrates. It would seem, that he was ugly, Xenophon, being an historian, is a more reliable witness to the historical Socrates. It is a matter of debate over which Socrates it is whom Plato is describing at any given point—the historical figure. As British philosopher Martin Cohen has put it, the idealist, offers an idol, a Saint, a prophet of the Sun-God, a teacher condemned for his teachings as a heretic.
It is clear from other writings and historical artefacts, that Socrates was not simply a character, nor an invention, the testimony of Xenophon and Aristotle, alongside some of Aristophanes work, is useful in fleshing out a perception of Socrates beyond Platos work. The problem with discerning Socrates philosophical views stems from the perception of contradictions in statements made by the Socrates in the different dialogues of Plato and these contradictions produce doubt as to the actual philosophical doctrines of Socrates, within his milieu and as recorded by other individuals. Aristotle, in his Magna Moralia, refers to Socrates in words which make it patent that the virtue is knowledge was held by Socrates. Within the Metaphysics, he states Socrates was occupied with the search for moral virtues, however, in The Clouds, Aristophanes portrays Socrates as accepting payment for teaching and running a sophist school with Chaerephon. Also, in Platos Apology and Symposium, as well as in Xenophons accounts, more specifically, in the Apology, Socrates cites his poverty as proof that he is not a teacher.
Two fragments are extant of the writings by Timon of Phlius pertaining to Socrates, although Timon is known to have written to ridicule, details about the life of Socrates can be derived from three contemporary sources, the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of Aristophanes
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Amassing an enormous fortune during his life, Crassus is, exempting Augustus Caesar, Crassus began his public career as a military commander under Lucius Cornelius Sulla during his civil war. Following Sullas assumption of the dictatorship, Crassus amassed a fortune through real estate speculation. Crassus rose to prominence following his victory over the slave revolt led by Spartacus. A political and financial patron of Julius Caesar, Crassus joined Caesar, together the three men dominated the Roman political system. The alliance would not last indefinitely due to the ambitions, while Caesar and Crassus were lifelong allies and Pompey disliked each other and Pompey grew increasingly envious of Caesars spectacular successes in the Gallic Wars. The alliance was re-stabilized at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, after which Crassus, following his second Consulship, Crassus was appointed as the Governor of Roman Syria.
Crassus used Syria as the launchpad for a campaign against the Parthian Empire. Crassus campaign was a failure, resulting in his defeat. Crassus death permanently unraveled the alliance between Caesar and Pompey, within four years of Crassus death, Caesar would cross the Rubicon and begin a civil war against Pompey and the optimates. Marcus Licinius Crassus was the second of three born to the eminent senator and vir triumphalis P. Licinius Crassus. This line was not descended from the Crassi Divites, although often assumed to be, the eldest brother Publius died shortly before the Italic War and Marcus took the brothers wife as his own. This grandfather was son of P. Licinius Crassus, the latters brother C. Marcus Crassus was a talented orator and one of the most energetic and active advocates of his time. Cinnas proscription forced Crassus to flee to Hispania, after Cinnas death in 84 BC, Crassus went to the Roman province of Africa and joined Metellus Pius, one of Sullas closest allies. Marcus Licinius Crassus next concern was to rebuild the fortunes of his family, according to Plutarchs Life of Crassus, Crassus made most of his fortune through rapine and fire.
Sullas proscriptions ensured that his survivors would recoup their lost fortunes from the fortunes of wealthy adherents to Gaius Marius or Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Crassuss wealth is estimated by Pliny at approximately 200 million sestertii. Some of Crassus wealth was acquired conventionally, through traffic in slaves, production from silver mines, Crassus bought property which was confiscated in proscriptions. He notoriously purchased burnt and collapsed buildings, Plutarch wrote that observing how frequent such occurrences were, he bought slaves who were architects and builders
The gens Lucretia was a prominent family of the Roman Republic. Originally patrician, the included a number of plebeian families. The Lucretii were one of the most ancient gentes, and the wife of Numa Pompilius, the first of the Lucretii to obtain the consulship was Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus in 509 BC, the first year of the Republic. The patrician Lucretii favored the praenomina Titus, Spurius and they were one of the only gentes known to have used the name Hostus, and may have used Opiter, which was favored by the Verginii. The main praenomina used by the plebeian Lucretii were Lucius, Spurius, there are examples of Gaius and Titus. The only patrician family of the Lucretii bore the cognomen Tricipitinus, the plebeian families are known by the surnames Gallus and Vespillo. Carus was a belonging to the poet Lucretius. On coins, the cognomen Trio is found, but it is not mentioned in any ancient writer, a few of the Lucretii are mentioned without any surname. For an explanation of this practice, see filiation, the wife of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome, according to some accounts, she married after his accession to the throne.
Lucius Lucretius, quaestor in 218 BC, at the commencement of the Second Punic War, he was prisoner by the Ligures, along with some other Roman officers. Marcus Lucretius, tribunus plebis in 210 BC, took a part in the dispute over the appointment of a dictator in that year. Spurius Lucretius, praetor in 205 BC, during the Second Punic War, received Ariminum, subsequently called Gallia Cisalpina, in 203 he rebuilt the city of Genua, which had been destroyed by Mago. Gaius Lucretius Gallus, praetor in 171 BC, received the command of the fleet in the war against Perseus, in the following year he was accused of great cruelty, and condemned to pay a heavy fine. Marcus Lucretius, tribunus plebis in 172 BC, brought forward a bill ut agrum Campanum censores fruendum locarent, in the following year, he served as legate to his brother, the praetor, in Greece. Spurius Lucretius, praetor in 172 BC, obtained the province of Hispania Ulterior, in 169 he served with distinction under the consul Quintus Marcius Philippus in the war against Perseus.
He was one of three ambassadors sent into Syria in 162, Gnaeus Lucretius Trio, triumvir monetalis circa 136 BC. Quintus Lucretius Ofella, a partisan of Sulla, he commanded the army accepted the surrender of Praeneste in 82 BC. The following year, he himself a candidate for consul, in violation of Sullas law de magistratibus
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman philosopher, lawyer, political theorist and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy family of the Roman equestrian order. According to Michael Grant, the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature, Cicero introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary distinguishing himself as a translator and philosopher. Though he was an orator and successful lawyer, Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. During the chaotic latter half of the 1st century BC marked by civil wars, following Julius Caesars death, Cicero became an enemy of Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series of speeches. His severed hands and head were then, as a revenge of Mark Antony. Petrarchs rediscovery of Ciceros letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance in public affairs, according to Polish historian Tadeusz Zieliński, the Renaissance was above all things a revival of Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of Classical antiquity.
Cicero was born in 106 BC in Arpinum, a hill town 100 kilometers southeast of Rome and his father was a well-to-do member of the equestrian order and possessed good connections in Rome. However, being a semi-invalid, he could not enter public life, although little is known about Ciceros mother, Helvia, it was common for the wives of important Roman citizens to be responsible for the management of the household. Ciceros brother Quintus wrote in a letter that she was a thrifty housewife, Ciceros cognomen, or personal surname, comes from the Latin for chickpea, cicer. Plutarch explains that the name was given to one of Ciceros ancestors who had a cleft in the tip of his nose resembling a chickpea. However, it is likely that Ciceros ancestors prospered through the cultivation. Romans often chose down-to-earth personal surnames, the family names of Fabius and Piso come from the Latin names of beans, lentils. Plutarch writes that Cicero was urged to change this name when he entered politics. During this period in Roman history, cultured meant being able to speak both Latin and Greek, Cicero used his knowledge of Greek to translate many of the theoretical concepts of Greek philosophy into Latin, thus translating Greek philosophical works for a larger audience.
It was precisely his broad education that tied him to the traditional Roman elite, according to Plutarch, Cicero was an extremely talented student, whose learning attracted attention from all over Rome, affording him the opportunity to study Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola. Ciceros fellow students were Gaius Marius Minor, Servius Sulpicius Rufus, the latter two became Ciceros friends for life, and Pomponius would become, in Ciceros own words, as a second brother, with both maintaining a lifelong correspondence. Cicero wanted to pursue a career in politics along the steps of the Cursus honorum
Plato was a philosopher in Classical Greece and the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the most pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, unlike nearly all of his philosophical contemporaries, Platos entire work is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years. Along with his teacher and his most famous student, Plato laid the foundations of Western philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead once noted, the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. In addition to being a figure for Western science, philosophy. Friedrich Nietzsche, amongst other scholars, called Christianity, Platonism for the people, Plato was the innovator of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy, which originate with him. He was not the first thinker or writer to whom the word “philosopher” should be applied, few other authors in the history of Western philosophy approximate him in depth and range, perhaps only Aristotle and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank.
Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Platos early life, the philosopher came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens. Ancient sources describe him as a bright though modest boy who excelled in his studies, the exact time and place of Platos birth are unknown, but it is certain that he belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens or Aegina between 429 and 423 BCE. According to a tradition, reported by Diogenes Laertius, Ariston traced his descent from the king of Athens, Codrus. Platos mother was Perictione, whose family boasted of a relationship with the famous Athenian lawmaker, besides Plato himself and Perictione had three other children, these were two sons and Glaucon, and a daughter Potone, the mother of Speusippus. The brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon are mentioned in the Republic as sons of Ariston, and presumably brothers of Plato, but in a scenario in the Memorabilia, Xenophon confused the issue by presenting a Glaucon much younger than Plato.
Then, at twenty-eight, Hermodorus says, went to Euclides in Megara, as Debra Nails argues, The text itself gives no reason to infer that Plato left immediately for Megara and implies the very opposite. Thus, Nails dates Platos birth to 424/423, another legend related that, when Plato was an infant, bees settled on his lips while he was sleeping, an augury of the sweetness of style in which he would discourse about philosophy. Ariston appears to have died in Platos childhood, although the dating of his death is difficult. Perictione married Pyrilampes, her mothers brother, who had served many times as an ambassador to the Persian court and was a friend of Pericles, Pyrilampes had a son from a previous marriage, who was famous for his beauty. Perictione gave birth to Pyrilampes second son, the half-brother of Plato and these and other references suggest a considerable amount of family pride and enable us to reconstruct Platos family tree
De rerum natura
De rerum natura is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, the universe described in the poem operates according to these physical principles, guided by fortuna and not the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities. To Epicurus, the unhappiness and degradation of humans arose largely from the dread which they entertained of the power of the deities, from terror of their wrath. This wrath was supposed to be displayed by the misfortunes inflicted in this life, to remove these fears, and thus to establish tranquility in the heart, was the purpose of his teaching. Lucretius identifies the supernatural with the notion that the deities created our world or interfere with its operations in some way. He argues against fear of such deities by demonstrating, through observations and arguments and these phenomena are the regular, but purposeless motions and interactions of tiny atoms in empty space.
Meanwhile, he argues against the fear of death by stating that death is the dissipation of a beings material mind, Lucretius uses the analogy of a vessel, stating that the physical body is the vessel that holds both the mind and spirit of a human being. Neither the mind nor spirit can survive independent of the body, thus Lucretius states that once the vessel shatters its contents can no longer exist. So, as a simple ceasing-to-be, death can be neither good nor bad for this being, being completely devoid of sensation and thought, a dead person cannot miss being alive. According to Lucretius, fear of death is a projection of terrors experienced in life, Lucretius puts forward the symmetry argument against the fear of death. The poem consists of six untitled books, in dactylic hexameter, the fourth book is devoted to the theory of the senses, hearing, smell, of sleep and of dreams, ending with a disquisition upon love and sex. The fifth book is described by Ramsay as the most finished and impressive, while Stahl considers that its puerile conceptions indicate that Lucretius should be judged as a poet, not as a scientist.
This in its turn introduces a description of the great pestilence which devastated Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The abrupt ending suggests that Lucretius had not finished editing the poem before his death. Lucretius wrote this poem to Memmius, who may be Gaius Memmius, who in 58 BC was a praetor. There are over a dozen references to Memmius scattered throughout the poem in a variety of contexts in translation, such as Memmius mine, my Memmius. However, the purpose of the poem is subject to ongoing scholarly debate, Lucretius refers to Memmius by name four times in the first book, three times in the second, five in the fifth, and not at all in the third, fourth, or sixth books. However, Memmius name is central to several verses in the poem
Rome is a special comune and the capital of Italy. Rome serves as the capital of the Lazio region, with 2,873,598 residents in 1,285 km2, it is the countrys largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the center of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4.3 million residents, the city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio, along the shores of the Tiber. Romes history spans more than 2,500 years, while Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at only around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The citys early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans and it was first called The Eternal City by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was taken up by Ovid and Livy. Rome is called the Caput Mundi, due to that, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, and the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism.
Famous artists, painters and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, in 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic. Rome has the status of a global city, Rome ranked in 2014 as the 14th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the worlds most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations Food, however, it is a possibility that the name Romulus was actually derived from Rome itself. As early as the 4th century, there have been alternate theories proposed on the origin of the name Roma. There is archaeological evidence of occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago. Evidence of stone tools and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence, several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum.
Between the end of the age and the beginning of the Iron age. However, none of them had yet an urban quality, there is a wide consensus that the city was gradually born through the aggregation of several villages around the largest one, placed above the Palatine. All these happenings, which according to the excavations took place more or less around the mid of the 8th century BC. Despite recent excavations at the Palatine hill, the view that Rome has been indeed founded with an act of will as the legend suggests in the middle of the 8th century BC remains a fringe hypothesis. Traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth
Pierre Gassendi was a French philosopher, priest and mathematician. While he held a position in south-east France, he spent much time in Paris. He was an active observational scientist, publishing the first data on the transit of Mercury in 1631, the lunar crater Gassendi is named after him. He wrote numerous works, and some of the positions he worked out are considered significant. Richard Popkin indicates that Gassendi was one of the first thinkers to formulate the scientific outlook. He clashed with his contemporary Descartes on the possibility of certain knowledge and his best known intellectual project attempted to reconcile Epicurean atomism with Christianity. Gassendi was born at Champtercier, near Digne, in France to Antoine Gassend, a youthful prodigy, at a very early age he showed academic potential and attended the college at Digne, where he displayed a particular aptitude for languages and mathematics. Soon afterwards he entered the University of Aix-en-Provence, to study philosophy under Philibert Fesaye, in 1612 the college of Digne called him to lecture on theology.
Four years he received the degree of Doctor of Theology at Avignon, in the same year he answered a call to the chair of philosophy at Aix-en-Provence University, and seems gradually to have withdrawn from theology. He lectured principally on the Aristotelian philosophy, conforming as far as possible to the traditional methods while he followed with interest the discoveries of Galileo. He came into contact with the astronomer Joseph Gaultier de la Vallette, in 1623 the Society of Jesus took over the University of Aix. They filled all positions with Jesuits, so Gassendi was required to find another institution and he left, returning to Digne, and travelled for the chapter to Grenoble. In 1624 he printed the first part of his Exercitationes paradoxicae adversus Aristoteleos and he spent some time with his patron Nicolas Peiresc. After 1628 Gassendi travelled in Flanders and in Holland where he encountered Isaac Beeckman and he returned to France in 1631, and two years became provost of Digne Cathedral.
During this time he wrote some works, at the insistence of Marin Mersenne and they included his examination of the mystical philosophy of Robert Fludd, an essay on parhelia, and some observations on the transit of Mercury. Gassendi spent some years travelling through Provence with the duke of Angoulême, during this period he wrote only the one literary work, his Life of Peiresc, whose death in 1637 seemed to afflict him deeply, it received frequent reprintings and an English translation. He returned to Paris in 1641, where he met Thomas Hobbes, in 1642 Mersenne engaged him in controversy with René Descartes. His objections to the propositions of Descartes appeared in print in 1642
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation, wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and his writing on aesthetics and psychology would exert important influence on thinkers and artists throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Though his work failed to garner substantial attention during his life, Schopenhauer has had an impact across various disciplines, including philosophy, literature. When Danzig became part of Prussia in 1793, Heinrich moved to Hamburg, as early as 1799, Arthur started playing the flute. In 1805, Schopenhauers father died, possibly by suicide and he dedicated himself wholly to studies at the Gotha gymnasium in Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, but left in disgust after seeing one of the masters lampooned. By that time, Johanna Schopenhauer had already opened her famous salon and he was disgusted by the ease with which his mother had forgotten his fathers memory. He left to become a student at the University of Göttingen in 1809, there he studied metaphysics and psychology under Gottlob Ernst Schulze, the author of Aenesidemus, who advised him to concentrate on Plato and Immanuel Kant.
In Berlin, from 1811 to 1812, he had attended lectures by the prominent post-Kantian philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Schopenhauer had a notably strained relationship with his mother Johanna. He wrote his first book, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason and his mother informed him that the book was incomprehensible and it was unlikely that anyone would ever buy a copy. In a fit of temper Arthur Schopenhauer told her that his work would be long after the rubbish she wrote would have been totally forgotten. In fact, although they considered her novels of dubious quality and we published more and more of her son Arthurs work and today nobody remembers Johanna, but her sons works are in steady demand and contribute to Brockhaus reputation. He kept large portraits of the pair in his office in Leipzig for the edification of his new editors, in 1814, Schopenhauer began his seminal work The World as Will and Representation. He finished it in 1818 and Brockhaus published it that December, in Dresden in 1819, Schopenhauer fathered, with a servant, an illegitimate daughter who was born and died the same year.
In 1820, Schopenhauer became a lecturer at the University of Berlin and he scheduled his lectures to coincide with those of the famous philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, whom Schopenhauer described as a clumsy charlatan. However, only five students turned up to Schopenhauers lectures, a late essay, On University Philosophy, expressed his resentment towards the work conducted in academies. While in Berlin, Schopenhauer was named as a defendant in a lawsuit initiated by a woman named Caroline Marquet and she asked for damages, alleging that Schopenhauer had pushed her. According to Schopenhauers court testimony, she annoyed him by raising her voice while standing right outside his door. Marquet alleged that the philosopher had assaulted and battered her after she refused to leave his doorway and her companion testified that she saw Marquet prostrate outside his apartment
Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini, best known simply as Poggio Bracciolini, was an Italian scholar and an early humanist. He was responsible for rediscovering and recovering a number of classical Latin manuscripts, mostly decaying and forgotten in German, Swiss. His most celebrated find was De rerum natura, the surviving work by Lucretius. Poggio di Guccio was born at the village of Terranuova, since 1862 renamed in his honour Terranuova Bracciolini, near Arezzo in Tuscany. Taken by his father to Florence to pursue the studies for which he appeared so apt, he studied Latin under Giovanni Malpaghino of Ravenna, the friend and protégé of Petrarch. He studied notarial law, and, at the age of twenty-one he was received into the Florentine notaries guild, under Martin V he reached the top rank of his office, as Apostolicus Secretarius, papal secretary. As such he functioned as an attendant of the Pope, writing letters at his behest and dictation, with no formal registration of the briefs. He was esteemed for his excellent Latin, his extraordinarily beautiful book hand, and as liaison with Florence.
Throughout his long office of 50 years, Poggio served a total of seven popes, Boniface IX, Innocent VII, Gregory XII, Antipope John XXIII, Martin V, Eugenius IV, Nicholas V. In spite of his salary in the Curia, he remained a layman to the end of his life. The greater part of Poggios long life was spent in attendance to his duties in the Roman Curia at Rome, although he spent most of his adult life in his papal service, he considered himself a Florentine working for the papacy. His five years spent in England, until returning to Rome in 1423, were the least productive, Poggio resided in Florence during 1434−36 with Eugene IV. In spite of the remonstrances and dire predictions of all his friends about the age discrepancy, the marriage was a one, producing five sons. At stake was the new approach of the humanae litterae in relation to the divinae litterae, Valla claimed that biblical texts could be subjected to the same philological criticism as the great classics of antiquity. Poggio held that humanism and theology were separate fields of inquiry, Poggios series of five Orationes in Laurentium Vallam were countered, line by line, by Vallas Antidota in Pogium.
It is remarkable that eventually the belligerents acknowledged their talents, gained their respect, and prompted by Filelfo, reconciled. Shepherd finely comments on Vallas advantage in the dispute, the power of irony. He resolved to retire from his service of 50 years in the Chancery of Rome and this coincided with the news of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans
The Georgics is a poem by Latin poet Virgil, likely published in 29 BC. As the name suggests the subject of the poem is agriculture, the Georgics is considered Virgils second major work, following his Eclogues and preceding the Aeneid. The poem draws on a variety of sources, and has influenced many authors from antiquity to the present. The work consists of 2,188 hexametric verses divided into four books, the yearly timings by the rising and setting of particular stars were valid for the precession epoch of Virgils time, and so are not always valid now. Virgil begins his poem with a summary of the four books and it takes as its model the work on farming by Varro, but differs from it in important ways. Numerous technical passages fill out the first half of Book 1, of particular interest are lines 160–175, where Virgil describes the plow. In the succession of ages, whose model is ultimately Hesiod, the age of Jupiter and its relation to the golden age, of chief importance is the contribution of labor to the success or failure of mankind’s endeavors, agricultural or otherwise.
The book comes to one climax with the description of a storm in lines 311–50. After detailing various weather-signs, Virgil ends with an enumeration of the associated with Caesar’s assassination and civil war. Prominent themes of the book include agriculture as mans struggle against a hostile natural world, often described in violent terms. Like the first book, it begins with a poem addressing the divinities associated with the matters about to be discussed, trees, in the next hundred lines Virgil treats forest and fruit trees. Their propagation and growth are described in detail, with a contrast drawn between methods that are natural and those that require human intervention. Three sections on grafting are of particular interest, presented as marvels of man’s alteration of nature, included is a catalogue of the worlds trees, set forth in rapid succession, and other products of various lands. A point of cultural interest is a reference to Ascra in line 176 and these depict the growth and beauty that accompany springs arrival.
The poet returns to didactic narrative with yet more on vines, emphasizing their fragility, a warning about animal damage provides occasion for an explanation of why goats are sacrificed to Bacchus. The olive tree is presented in contrast to the vine. The next subject, at last turning away from the vine, is other kinds of trees, those that produce fruit, Virgil again returns to grapevines, recalling the myth of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs in a passage known as the Vituperation of Vines. The remainder of the book is devoted to extolling the simple country life over the corruptness of the city, the third book is chiefly and ostensibly concerned with animal husbandry