Virgil lived in Naples for almost seven years. Distinguished for the flu that his work had on the western civilization, even the Portuguese Fernando Pessoa absorbed its reverberations, the Latin poet came from a farming family in Andes, near Mantua.
The epicurean school in Naples
In 45, Publius Virgil Maron arrived in the capital city of Campania to further his study of Epicureanism at the school of Sirone. In this same year, he began to practice philosophical meditation and poetry.
His predilection for Naples depended not only on the livability of the place. He also saw there a spiritual significance: he considered this city the concretization of the Epicurean hortus, the oasis in which to take refuge, secluded from the drudgery of everyday life.
The dwelling in Posillipo, in the sweet lap of Partenope
The area in which he settled was Posillipo, where Sirone himself owned a villa that, at some point, became the property of the poet. This was located between the Crypta neapolitana, the entrance to the ancient Roman road that led to Pozzuoli, and Mergellina, in the locality that, in the Middle Ages, was called Patulcis or Paturcium.
In this small villa, surrounded by a plot of land, Virgil wrote the Georgics. According to Roberto Pane, he first declaimed this work in the 'Odeon to 17 tiers of steps between Marechiaro and Gaiola, right in the archaeological area of Pausilypon, literally "relief from pain."
Love of the countryside, the Bucolics
The rural landscape was of great inspiration to him and finds its ultimate expression in both the Bucolics and the Georgics. The Bucolics is a work characterized by great musicality and a clearly Epicurean influence. Here, the principle of live Avoiding sociality, without ambition, like pastors.
At the time, the fashion for pastoral poetry of Greek model already existed, but Virgil did not want to merely imitate. Rather, he intended to construct his own fantastic universe. Themes included realistic ones such as the plundering of fields for the benefit of veterans.
On the occasion of the emperor's triumph in Egypt and the East, he conceived his major and later work: theAeneid. To this, without being able to give it the final revision, he devoted himself until his death, giving voice in it to philosophical, literary and historical studies.
He died in Salento, in Toast ,then called Calabria, after making arrangements for the unfinished poem to be set on fire. Fortunately, Octavian's will prevailed and the work has survived to the present day.
The cult of Virgil the magician
In the Middle Ages, Virgil's fame was also as a magician and alchemist. Various legends surrounded his figure; some are also mentioned by Matilde Serao.
The best-known story, however, paints the poet as a savior of Naples who ordered an egg to be stored inside an iron cage in the foundations of the Castel dell'Ovo. Had the egg remained intact, the city would have been safe. The nurturing of such legends, in Naples, gave rise to a veritable pagan cult of Virgil, replaced in the Middle Ages by that of S. Gennaro, current patron saint.
Vergiliano Park in Piedigrotta
To conclude the itinerary, the last stop can only be the Vergiliano Park in Piedigrotta, located a short walk from the Mergellina Metro Line 2 station, to visit the alleged tomb of Virgil.
After his death in Salento, in fact, the poet's body was transported along the Appian Way to Naples, and buried on the way to Pozzuoli, near the ancient cave that connected the city with the Campi Flegrei. The funerary inscription, made many a long time later, in 1688, on his cenotaph "Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope: cecini pascua rura duces" is said to have been dictated by the dying poet and celebrates three localities that welcomed him: Mantua at his birth, Brindisi at his death and Naples, in his lifetime.
In Canto VI of the Aeneid, the poet situates the gateway to the underworld near Lake Avernus in Pozzuoli, where, to this day, it is possible to take a pleasant walk.