Friday, February 7, 2014

Dreams of Immortality

Stephanie Frampton, a classics fellow here at the Academy, treated us to an exploration of why Vergil carefully does not refer to the act of writing, unlike other writers of his time.  Along the way, she offered some excerpts that spoke to the dream of escaping mortality, of words and deeds. 

I have completed a monument
More lasting than bronze and far higher
Than that royal pile of Pyramids,
Which the gnawing rain and furious
North wind cannot destroy, nor the chain
Of countless years and the flight of time.
My end won't be complete, and a great
Part of me will evade the death god:
I'll prosper on, fresh with future praise.
As long as the priest with the silent
Virgin climbs the Capitoline hill,
High and low — where raging Aufidus
Thunders, where Daunus rules over a
Farming people poor of water — I
Will be proclaimed to have been the first
To adapt Aeolic songs into
Italian measures. Melpomene,
Accept the proud honor you have earned
And crown my head with Delphic laurel.

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