Virgil’s Georgics

18 May, 2023 630 Agriculture

In the year 29 BC the great Roman poet Virgil published these lines: Blessed is he who has succeeded in learning the laws of nature’s working, has cast beneath his feet all fear and fate’s implacable decree, and the howl of insatiable Death. But happy too is he who knows the rural gods… They’re from his poem the Georgics, a detailed account of farming life in the Italy of the time. ‘Georgics’ means ‘agricultural things’, and it’s often been read as a farming manual. But it was written at a moment when the Roman world was emerging from a period of civil war, and questions of land ownership and management were heavily contested. It’s also a philosophical reflection on humanity’s relationship with the natural world, the ravages of time, and the politics of Virgil’s day. It’s exerted a profound influence on European writing about agriculture and rural life, and has much to offer environmental thinking today.

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Guests

  • Katharine Earnshaw No other episodes
    Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter
  • Neville Morley 3 episodes
    Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter
  • Diana Spencer 2 episodes
    Professor of Classics at the University of Birmingham

Reading list

  • Ownership and Exploitation of Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World
    Paul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven and Arjan Zuiderhoek (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Virgil: Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics
    P. Hardie (Oxford University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Vergil and the Mausoleum Augusti: Georgics 3.12-18
    S.J.Harrison (Acta Classica, 2005)
  • Allegories of Farming from Greece and Rome: Philosophical Satire in Xenophon, Varro and Virgil
    Leah Kronenberg (Cambridge University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Temple Buiding, Primus Language, and the Proem to Vergil's Third Georgic
    David Mebans (Classical Philology, 2008)
  • Varro the Agronomist: Political Philosophy, Satire and Agriculture in the Late Republic
    Grant A. Nelsestuen (Ohio State University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Italy's Economic Revolution: Integration and Economy in Republican Italy
    Saskia T. Roselaar (Oxford University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Playing the Farmer: Representations of Rural Life in Vergil's Georgics
    Philip Thibodeau (University of California Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Horse-Hoeing Husbandry
    Jethro Tull Google Books →
  • The works of Virgil containing his Pastorals, Georgics and Aeneis
    Virgil (trans. John Dryden) (3 volumes, Nabu Press or Wentworth Press, 2012-19) Google Books →
  • The Georgics
    Virgil (trans. Peter Fallon) (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Virgil's Georgics: A New Verse Translation
    Virgil (trans. Janet Lembke) (Yale University Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • Vergil's Political Commentary in the Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid
    Leendert Weeda (De Gruyter Open Poland, 2015) Google Books →
  • Reflections and New Perspectives on Virgil's Georgics
    Bobby Xinyue and Nicholas Freer (eds.) (Bloomsbury, 2019) Google Books →

Related episodes


Programme ID: m001lyt4

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001lyt4

Auto-category: 630 (Agriculture)