Virgil, the greatest Roman poet, did more to establish the idea of Rome (and hence of the Roman Empire) than any other ancient poet. As a young man he began his poetic career writing pastoral poems, which are called Eclogues. This seminar will study the political pressures in the final days of the Roman Republic that led Virgil to invent a new genre of poetry. He borrowed the idea of the pastoral from the Hellenistic Greek poets, but made a new genre of poetry uniquely his own. Concentrating on a selection from Virgil’s Eclogues, this seminar will trace both the influence of the Greek tradition and Virgil’s own influence in creating a style and a genre of pastoral poetry that was to have immense significance in subsequent European poetry.