I was born on 15 October in the first consulship of Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus in a ditch near Mantua.

‘I don’t think Mother ever forgave my father that ditch. She certainly would not have forgiven me, if I had not gratified her social ambitions by showing an academic bent.

‘Why a ditch at all, you ask? Was Virgil’s mother a drab, a no one? Did he even have a father for his mother to forgive?

This was precisely my mother’s point. Such stories tend to stick’

‘I, Virgil’ is the fictional autobiography of the Roman poet, from his boyhood on a farm in Cremona to his death by poison at the hands of the Emperor Augustus. In the course of the book, through Virgil’s eyes, we gain an oblique view of the great historical events of the time: the assassination of Caesar, the downfall of Pompey and the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra.

read the 1st chapter