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'The Plato Of Poets': Vergil In The Historia Augusta

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Chapter Summary

The author exhibits a necessity to find reminiscences or quotations from Vergil in the Historia Augusta (HA). References to and quotations from Vergil are unevenly distributed in the HA, and this distribution is related to the complicated genesis of the heterogeneous collection. Vergil is mentioned by name only four more times in the HA. The consultation of texts for divinatory purposes and the composition of centos have this in common: lines and verses are taken out of context and given an entirely new meaning never envisaged by the original author. Both procedures are found in the HA. The quotation from Vergil is inserted into a highly informative section of the life of Hadrian. The proud and classical assertion that it is Rome's mission to rule the world in what are probably the most quoted lines in the Aeneid crowns this passage that began with doggerel of the author's own making.

Keywords: emperor; Hadrian; Historia Augusta; lines; poet; quotation; Vergil



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