Wanderlino Arruda
Djalma Souto


Publius Vergilius, Yesterday and Today

Wanderlino Arruda

Of all the hallowed names of universal art, I believe that the greatest patron of nature until the present day, has been the poet, Vergilius, a Roman, native of Andes, near Mantua, in the north of Italy. Even though he is far from being our contemporary by date of birth, it's true (seventy B.C.), he is our contemporary by the actuality of his ideas, of his intransigent defense of everything that he deemed as belonging to the environment. He had intimate disposition and political knowledge worthy of an ecologist at the end of the Twentieth Century. Everything about Vergilius was of the firmest simplicity and he lived for each musical sound and every hue of all his auroras. A man of integrity, he talked equally freely with kings and pastors, able to share the company of the nobles in their palaces as well as the children of the fields and the soft and icy snowflakes of the mountains. The stars and nightingales, the tempests and morning dew, the flight of birds and the fresh blooming of flowers... everything, for him, was music from the depths of the heart, joy to the eyes, and inspiration to the soul. The beauty of the world and of life itself was the best of raw materials for his work, a life of poetic light. A light so strong, that it would forever give brilliance to his intelligence. Vergilius was only twenty-five when he began his composition, "Eclogas". At thirty, he produced the "Georgicas", a didactic poem in four strophes, in which he celebrated the joy of rural labor and life closer to nature, in the countryside. A friend of Otavia, sister to the emperor, he enchanted her with the reading of the sixth strophe of "Eneida", referring to the death of his son, Marcelo. An enchantment of such scope, it would render him fame and fortune, besides the much-coveted royal protection of Mecenas and of the Cesar, himself. With his poetry, the young poet proclaimed the glory of Rome and the Romans, living joyfully and helping others to do so. An enemy of luxury, his verses sung about the sweet harmony of family life and declared that nothing was better than keeping to the wilderness and solitude. Timid, delicate, and of a tender heart, the clashing turmoil of the empire's capital held no beckoning for this sensitive young man. As incredible as it may seem, the greatly impassioned bard of Dido, one of the most beautiful pages of universal poetry, never dedicated his tender, solitary heart to marriage. Cult and melancholy, he preferred to live apart from his fellows.
One of the absolute leading bestsellers in Brazil, in the end of 1982, from the German writer, Hermann Broch, curiously has it's entire theme based on the last hours of the life of Vergilius, who died in Brindisi, Calabria. At the time, he was fifty years old and had decided to travel to Greece, where he took part in the committee of Augustus and unfortunately fell sick during the festivities of Megara, near Corinto. It is thought that during the short course of the fatal illness, in the year 19 B.C., that an entire life perspective had come into his conscience, and that he had spun of heart and soul, a bittersweet inner examination of himself and of his contemporaries. For the scope of an intelligence of the girth of the author of "Eneida", the true creator of "Eneas", life in itself must have been the most monumental of all works of reality and art. Now, would depart from the world one of the cultist intellectuals of the time, involved in all provinces of knowledge, from Mathematics to Veterinary; from Philosophy to Apiculture. A life, which, not unlike the "Georgicas", was an epic of creativity and meaningful work.
I become enthused when I hear my friend, Monsenhor Murta, speak excitedly about the poetry of Virgilio. Monsenhor Murta, who is the outstanding authority on Vergilius in our part of the world. What really enchants me is discovering about the existence of people so intelligent and sensitive as he and Professor Pedro Maciel Vidigal, for searching so far back in time to recapture the vanity of love and the glorification of poetic rationality. I become even more engrossed when I find that Vergilius was also a graffiti artist, wall poet, landscape painter and acclaimed sculptor. Influenced by Homer, he was emulated by Dante, and by Camoens. A Friend of Augustus and Mecenas, by the eternity of his genius, he is still our immortal friend. How good it would be if we could be then at his time to read his last verses! They were written for his tomb in Naples: "Mantua gave me life; Brindisi gave me death; and Naples, the grave. I sang of flocks, fields and warriors."
He died as he was born and lived his life: in immortality!

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