I am working on analysing paintings of Virgil in 18th and 19th century. They show him in a very special situation: reciting the Aeneid infront of Augustus and Octavia. This scene was painted quite a couple of times in the history of art.
Now I have two questions. I need the exact discription of this very moment. I believe it is written in "the life of vergil" of which I don't have a complete translation in hand. On this site it only sais:
Much later, when he had refined his subject-matter, he finally recited three whole books for Augustus: the second, fourth, and sixth--this last out of his well-known affection for Octavia, who (being present at the recitation) is said to have fainted at the lines about her son, "…You shall be Marcellus" [Aen. 6.884]. Revived only with difficulty, <she order ten sesterces to be granted to Virgil for each of the verses.>
Is there anything more specific and were can I find it? What sources might have been available to the painters in 18th century france?
In the painting I am concerned with there is Livia put into the scene in a very special and suspicious way. Above her is the statue of Marcellus and on her face a dark shadow. It is the first painting to include Livia. While Octavia faints everyone shows some kind of reaction only Livia sits there not moving and looks at Octavia with contempt. I think it is an allusion to the accusation that she murdered the emperors nephew.
And again: what source might the painter have had? Which historiens claimed that? Is this thaught of Livia killing everyone who is an obstacle to Tiberius also mentioned in Aelius Donatus' "Life of Virgil?
I would be very glad if someone could tell me where and how to continue my research. I have reached a dead end with my knowledge.
Thank you very much.
Greetings from Germany,
- VIRGIL: virgil in history of art Stephanie Deniz Roth