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The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age (1883)

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Pages: 340

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC

By: William Young Sellar

Excerpt from book: art of all who lived and wrote in that age. In the Augustan Age these conditions may be classified under four heads: (1) the political circumstances of the Empire and the state of moral and religious feeling resulting from them: (2) the social relation of men of letters to men eminent in the State: (3) the wealth, luxury, and outward splendour which met the eye and gratified the senses, in the great city itself, and in the villas scattered over the shores and inland scenes of central Italy: (4) the intellectual culture inherited from the preceding age and modified by the tastes and conditions of the new generation. These will be reviewed as conditions acting on the imagination, and forming the intellectual atmosphere in the midst of which the productions of poetical genius expanded into various shapes and dimensions of beauty and stateliness. The battle of Actium marked the end of a century of revolution, civil disturbances and wars, of confiscations of property, proscriptions and massacres, such as no civilised state had ever witnessed before. The triumph of Augustus secured internal peace and order for a century. The whole world was, as Tacitus says1, exhausted, and gladly consented to the establishment of the Empire in the interests of peace. The generation to which Virgil, Horace, Tibullus, and Propertius belonged had passed through one of the worst crises of this long period of suffering. The victors of Philippi, so far from following the example of clemency set to them by the great victor of Pharsalia, had emulated the worst excesses of the times of Marius and Sulla2. The poets whose works record the various phases of feeling through which that age passed had in their own person experienced the consequences of the general insecurity. Virgil, in addition to the loss of his...  


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