Written over two thousand years ago, the Aeneid of Virgil occupies an unparalleled position within the poetry of antiquity. Considered by contemporaries and successors in Roman times to be the acme of Roman poetical achievement, it has subsequently found favour and been a source of inspiration to many of the major figures in the European literary tradition from Chaucer through Dante to Renaissance writers (e.g. Milton and Spenser), English Augustans (e.g. Pope and Dryden) and Victorian poets such as Tennyson, who famously referred to Virgil as the
"Wielder of the stateliest measure
ever moulded by the lips of man."
Throughout its critical history, both the poem's ethical content and the poet's technical mastery have commanded admiration, and any student of the Aeneid must be aware of Virgil's skill in assimilating, imitating and reworking his source materials to produce a national epic for Rome in hexameters, whose "sweetness of sound" and ornate, ordered style have always been a source of praise.