When thinking of the epics that tell the tales of Odysseus,
Achilles and Aeneas, grand scenes come to mind. Characters are larger than life,
battles are loud and bloody, and the gods are an ever-present influence over the
fortunes of their heroes. If the reader approaches Lavinia
expectations, they will be disappointed. It's not an epic; it's a quiet tale,
small and contained. It tells of the things that would have concerned the women
of that time tending to the hearth and performing home rituals, caring for
their children, ministering to the wounded in battle -- common, mundane matters.
Battles happen in the background for the most part. There are no marble-columned
palaces here; what action there is takes place in a rural community.
The reader's expectations may also be distorted by a well-publicized review by
Beyond the Book
History records that Publius Vergilius Maro, better known as Vergil (or
Virgil), was born in 70 BCE. Scholars argue about his place of birth and
his early education, but legend has it that he was born the son of a farmer in Northern Italy, which
was then known as Cisalpine Gaul ("Gaul, on this side of the Alps").
Despite a relatively lowly birth, he was well-educated, ending his education in Rome
where, after dabbling briefly with other studies, he focused on philosophy.
Vergil lived during one of the most turbulent times in history. He was ten years old
when the First Triumvirate (Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus) was formed, 17
when it collapsed, and 26 when Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE. He fled south
to Naples during the civil war...