Augustan Poetry Essay

842 words - 3 pages

Augustan Poetry

Often through hardship and nearly insurmountable difficulty great works of art are born. Although years of bloodshed and civil war had plagued Rome since the death of Julius Caesar, some of the most powerful and influential literature in the western world was developed in that timeframe. During the Age of Augustus (approximately 43 BC – 17 AD) such great writers as Virgil, Horace, Livy, Propertius, and Ovid created epic masterpieces of literature and philosophy. It was through the collective efforts of these great poets and writers as well as Augustus himself, that the rise of a new facet of Roman literature was possible. Seeing the opportunity to foster a great rebirth of Roman culture (specifically literature), Augustus and his closest advisor Maecenas created a situation advantageous for the great writers of the time to write (for the government) and profit from their skills. Augustus genuinely wanted lasting peace and a solid foundation for his new government, and so he essentially helped out the writers who in turn, indirectly helped him. The great literature was not pure propaganda for Augustus (although it was a little biased towards him) but from this revival of Roman identity through a revolution in literature, Augustus was able to ensure a great deal of peace, pride, prosperity, and power from his people and respect from the rest of the ancient world.

The great literary resurgence of the Augustan Age would not have been possible without the great writers of the time. Some of the most influential, persuasive, and powerful writing emerged out of Caesar’s murder, the civil wars, and the peace thereafter. Virgil was the first to begin the literary explosion as he claimed a classic Greek style of writing to be Roman. Virgil’s Bucolics along with the Georgics and the Aeneid are considered some of, if not the, first books to truly give Roman literature a prominent voice. The Aeneid in particular “Romanized” epic poetry. Epic Poetry had been the greatest form of storytelling and furthermore the Greeks form of storytelling. It also rivaled the great legends of the Greeks, gained much respect for Rome in the ancient world (where the Greeks were traditionally the great writers and thinkers), and, most importantly, allowed the Roman’s to make their myth’s and history known. (The Aeneid can be seen as a direct response to the great literature of the Greeks, in particular, Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey). Simultaneously, Horace became a prominent author of skill, prominence, and witty satire and the master of Roman lyrical poetry. Horace’s Epodes, like Virgil’s Bucolics, reflected much of the...

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