Read Homer and Vergil – Everything Else is Crap

Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1:

We should take the same order through the Roman authors, too. And so, as among the Greek authors Homer gives one the most auspicious beginning, so too does Vergil among the Romans. Of all the Greek and Roman poets of that time, Vergil is undoubtedly the closest to Homer. I will employ the very words which I took from Domitius Afer as a youth, who told me when I asked him who in his opinion came closest to Homer, ‘Vergil is second to Homer; but he’s much closer to first place than to third.’ And indeed, as we have ceded to that celestial and immortal nature, so perhaps there is more care and diligence in Vergil because he had to work harder than Homer, and although we are overcome by his outstanding passages, perhaps we can compensate for this with the evenness of Vergil’s work. Everyone else follows far behind him.

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Idem nobis per Romanos quoque auctores ordo ducendus est. Itaque ut apud illos Homerus, sic apud nos Vergilius auspicatissimum dederit exordium, omnium eius generis poetarum Graecorum nostrorumque haud dubie proximus. LXXXVI. Vtar enim verbis isdem quae ex Afro Domitio iuvenis excepi, qui mihi interroganti quem Homero crederet maxime accedere “secundus” inquit “est Vergilius, propior tamen primo quam tertio”. Et hercule ut illi naturae caelesti atque inmortali cesserimus, ita curae et diligentiae vel ideo in hoc plus est, quod ei fuit magis laborandum, et quantum eminentibus vincimur, fortasse aequalitate pensamus. Ceteri omnes longe sequentur.

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