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Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.
Oscar Wilde, Intentions
The Virgilian tradition preserves three problematic and somewhat contradictory sets of testimonia about Virgil's role in framing his own corpus as a ‘career’. On the one hand, there are the passages where Virgil himself clearly marks his own progression from Eclogues to Georgics to Aeneid. These include instances of self-quotation (Ecl. 5.85–7; Geo. 4.566) and promises of future work in higher style (Ecl. 8.6–13, Geo. 3.46–8) as well as less explicit passages whose imagery is now interpreted as foreshadowing the pastoral–didactic–epic progression – for example, the closing lines of Eclogues 1 and 10 often read as a transition to the harsher world of the Georgics. Reinforcing and completing these internal signposts are two pseudo-Virgilian texts. First, there is Virgil's supposedly self-composed ‘epitaph’, which neatly concludes cecini pascua rura duces (‘I sang pastures, farms, and war-leaders’). The other passage is the famous ille ego prologue which, according to Servius and Donatus, originally opened the Aeneid. It offers a brief literary biography of the poet: first I composed with a ‘slender reed’ (gracili … auena); then I left the woods and produced a work ‘pleasing to farmers’ (gratum opus agricolis), ‘but now’ (at nunc) I sing of arms and the man. The potent combination of Virgil's own statements, the pseudepigraphical additions, and the canonization of the Aeneid quickly transformed the Virgilian corpus into a poetic version of the cursus honorum.
The army that marched through Asia under Alexander’s command included speakers of many regional Greek dialects, but its official, administrative language, spoken by its Macedonian leaders and used in formal documents, was a version of Attic, the dialect spoken at Athens. The evidence for a native “Macedonian” language is shadowy, but suggests that it was either an idiosyncratic variant of Greek or a closely related Indo-European language. Although the Macedonian royal house claimed to have its origins in Argos, where the spoken language was a form of Doric Greek, the political power and cultural influence exerted by Athens made its dialect particularly important for a philhellenic Macedonian court interested in laying claim to a Hellenic heritage. The formal adoption of Attic as the official language of the Macedonian court under Philip II was merely the culmination of a linguistic trend that had already been under way for more than half a century. Its consequences for the linguistic and cultural landscape of the Hellenistic period were monumental.
The version of Attic adopted by the Macedonian royal house differed in some respects from the local dialect spoken by ordinary Athenians. By the late fifth century, the influence of Ionic, a dialect closely related to Attic and spoken in many of the city-states that made up the Athenian empire, had led to the development of a “Greater Attic” dialect in which certain marked local morphological and syntactical features were diminished or eliminated entirely.
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