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W.W. Cook Estate
10-20-3 J 22765
ROFESSOR MACKAIL has not de
voted his whole book to the details of the influence of Virgil upon life and letters. That influence has been analyzed by competent hands before and repetition would be gratuitous. But, rather, he has presented us with a study of the significance of Virgil to the twentieth century. Others have traced the reactions of different ages to the Roman poet, with all of the varieties of different kinds of appreciation and interpretation, and much of this is implicit in Professor Mackail's judgments. The estimates of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries enter into the truth of our determination of Virgil's meaning to the present. The remarkable similarity between our own times and the days of the Roman poet should assist us to interpret, more vividly, Virgil's message to the world, a message that lives with spirit and power for us at the present moment.
The luminous, central idea of Virgil's life and
work concerns us here. It reveals to us a Virgil not merely historian or poet of an actual or an idealized Rome of long ago, but a Virgil, the interpreter of the abiding significance of Rome and Italy. Where does the permanence of the Aeneid lie? A fine critic of Virgil has said: Aeneas is "an ideal and mystical figure standing outside time and place, that seems to be now Aeneas, now Rome, now the soul of Man setting forth doubtfully on the pilgrimage of a dimly descried eternal glory."
To every age does this vision belong. It will continue to have importance for future aspiration. Virgil is one of those personalities that Nature creates in only her most amazing moods, when she wills to give to the world heroic figures of commanding grace or thought to lead the race to higher levels.
Revolt against the past should not include rebellion against what is eternally good and true. Professor Mackail's book is offered as a contribution to the highly important question of our debt to Virgil. This volume is the fourth to appear in the series, known as "Our Debt to Greece and Rome." Its eloquence amply meets the aims and purposes of the Library as a whole to trace the influence and clarify the
significance of Greek and Roman thought and culture in their relation to our own time. The artist in Virgil and the human element in Virgil belong at once to the Old and to the New.