This essay advances a new account of Vergil's philosophical interests in the fourth book of the Georgics, qualifying the didactic speaker's ostensible diffidence in this area. Alongside technical bee-materials overtly sourced from Aristotle's zoological work, he offers a political characterisation of the hive as "city"(polis) that is directly indebted to Plato's Politeia (i.e. the Republic). Within the same passage (4.149–227), Vergil's account of recurrent bee-behaviours reveals additional Aristotelian influence, in particular as to the figure of the "king": applied to the paradigmatic genus of bees, it will be argued, physiological and theological theories to be found in the libri esoterici supply a deeper rationale for the interconnection of animals and plants, as also for the relationship between animals and man, than has been allowed for in existing treatments of Georgics 4. An exploratory analysis of Vergil's father-god (Jupiter) in relation to Aristotle's Prime Mover as ultimate motive cause within the natural world provisionally concludes that the conception of the supreme divinity introduced in Georgics 1 reflects awareness of the text known to us as Metaphysics Lambda (i.e. Book 12). Despite the well-known issues of contemporary accessibility and intrinsic obscurity that beset the relevant works, the enquiry addresses a gap in modern scholarship and offers a basis for further investigation of Vergil's debt to the corpus Aristotelicum in the Georgics.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 381-419
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.