Virgil's Georgics ranks as one of the most precious pastoral poems ever written, and it has served as a model for its type ever since. Georgics means of or relating to agriculture or rural life and it comes from the Greek word georgicus. Virgil's main theme in this, his second great work after The Eclogues, was the importance of peace both in the spiritual and physical sense. One arrives at this peace through embracing the hard life of the farmer and also coming to an understanding of one's place in the universe.
Virgil used the Greek poet Hesiod as his guide for describing why the cheerful acceptance of laboring on a farm was salutary. (Hesiod's Works and Days is an attempt by the poet to explain to an estranged brother why his work on the family farm would make him a better person.)
As for an understanding of one's place in the universe, Virgil used as his model the Epicurean philosophy in the poetry of his fellow Roman, Lucretius. But although Virgil absorbed the incredible poetry of both Hesiod and Lucretius, he did not copy them. His work is entirely his own. The Georgics is an amazing synthesis of the scientific and the spiritual, which continues to amaze us to this day.
This great poem is organized into four parts, or books. Its ostensible subject is farming and the correct seasons for the various chores of the farmer: the cultivation of vines and the planting of trees, farm animals and their diseases, and, finally, how to care for bees. Though Virgil claims that his aim is to teach, the real result is to inspire us with the genius of his poetic ability. Download and start listening now!