Springer, Carl P. E.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
All three of Vergil’s major works received patronage, although somewhat indirectly, by Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and they have been an integral aspect of education since they were given to the public. Research going back hundreds of years, from John Wesley of the late 1700s to the contemporary Peter White, has sought to address the finer details of the relationship between Augustus and Vergil, focusing heavily on Vergil’s attitude towards Augustus and the new imperial rule. In this paper, I will add to this controversy-steeped conversation from the perspective of an educator, highlighting the possibility that Vergil was a kind of teacher to Augustus, delivering instruction to him by means of his poetry. I do so by primarily addressing the Georgics, Vergil’s second work. In this work, Vergil passes on subtle lessons to Augustus on how to handle his newfound power. In doing so, Vergil acts simultaneously as an entertainer and an educator, poet and imperial advisor. He uses descriptions of bees, bee colonies, and the care of both as his primary delivery method for his lessons. Vergil dedicates an entire book of verse to bees, and this fact is not insignificant. As he writes in Georgics IV, “labor on little things; but there is no little glory.” I will set out to show that Vergil deliberately personalizes and personifies bees in an attempt to serve as an indirect imperial advisor. This paper highlights both the complexity of literary analysis as well as the beauty of Vergil’s original Latin text. It asks its audience to evaluate materials through several lenses, or a unique intersection. At this incredibly rare intersection of insects, education, and imperial rule rests one man, one student, and very many bees.
Though I will soon be a teacher myself, I was a student first. As such, I owe a great deal of thanks to the teachers who guided me, inspired me, and molded me into the curious and driven student who wrote this thesis. Dr. Carl Springer, thank you for your patience, guidance, and compassion throughout this grueling but rewarding process. I would also like to extend a thanks to Dir. Sherese Williams and Dir. Leslie Pusey for being my ferocious defenders since I began my undergraduate experience. To Lauren McCarty, I owe so much more than thanks for providing me with a solid background in Latin and for becoming a mentor to whom I can always return. This process has been made not only bearable but even enjoyable by the support of my grandmother, my aunts, my mother, my sisters, my partners, and my friends. You carry my heart with you.
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Bees in literature; Education, Ancient
Augustus, Emperor of Rome, 63 B.C.-14 A.D.; Virgil. Georgica--Criticism and interpretation
Classical Literature and Philology
[ii], 33 leaves
Reagan, Ollyvir, "Bee pluribus unum: Vergil as an imperial advisor" (2022). Honors Theses.