P. Virgilii Maronis Opera

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by Virgil

P. Virgilii Maronis Opera

Title page from P. Virgilii Maronis Opera, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Virgil
Editor Charles de la Rue?
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Londini: Impensis W. Innys
Date 1746
Edition Juxta editionem novissimam Parisiensem, a. 1722
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages 610, 222
Desc. 8vo (21 cm.)
Location [[Shelf {{{shelf}}}]]
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Bookplate of R. Wmes. Vaughan, front pastedown.

Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19BCE) was a Roman poet born in Cisalpine Gaul, meaning in Gaul on the side of the Alps closest to Rome (versus Transalpine Gaul). His family was well-off, enabling his studies at Cremona and Milan, as well as Rome and Naples, the latter under the Epicurean philosopher Siro.[1] When land was confiscated following the battle of Phillippi in 42BCE for the army veterans of Antony and Octavian, Virgil’s family lost land, but he was likely compensated with property near Naples due to his familiarity with the commissioners in charge of distributing that land.[2] Virgil’s Eclogues, his first collection of poems, were likely written around that time, perhaps as late as 38BCE, due to the confiscations being a central topic of two of the poems.[3] At some later point, Virgil became part of the poetic circle around Maecenas, and therefore was in somewhat close connection with Octavian, the future emperor Augustus. Virgil published his Georgics in 29BCE. Throughout the 20s BCE, both of Virgil’s books of poetry were widely read and distributed, though they were almost shadowed by his epic poem the Aeneid, which tells the tale of the Trojan Aeneas who flees Troy and eventually founds the Roman civilization.[4] Despite leading a sickly and relatively secretive life, Virgil was extraordinarily famous as the poet who exemplified the greatness of the Roman Empire through “the technical perfection of his verse” and imagery.[5] His fame only grew after his death, with his birthday being celebrated and his works and tomb revered as almost magical or miraculous. His popularity is clear by the vast number, and high quality, of copies of his works that survived from the third to fifth centuries CE. Even Christians, who generally opposed all “pagan” Roman works and ideas, appropriated and interpreted his works to their own benefit and understanding.[6]

This work is described as the “latest” (novissimam) edition at the time from 1722 Paris, though the publication actually happened in 1746 London at the expense of multiple sponsors. No compiler or Latin scholar is identified but the illustrator is as Carolus Ruaeus. It is a collection of Virgil’s works (Bucolica, Georgica, and the Aeneid) accompanied by interpretations and notes, as well as a prologue and brief explanation of Virgil’s life, and an index or “Vocabulorum” at the end.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Virgil Delph. 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The precise edition owned by Wythe is unknown. George Wythe's Library[7] on LibraryThing indicates this without selecting a specific edition. The Brown Bibliography[8] lists the 1746 edition published in London—the Wolf Law Library followed Brown's suggestion and purchased this edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in full aniline calf with blind tooling to boards. Rebacked in period style. Includes the bookplate of R. Wmes. Vaughan with the signature of "J. Vaughan" on the front pastedown. Purchased from MW Books Ltd.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.


  1. "Virgil” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. Ibid.
  3. "Virgil " in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Virgil” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  6. Ibid.
  7. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 13, 2013, http://www.librarything.com/profile/GeorgeWythe
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433