Pietas from Vergil to Dryden

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For centuries the most revered poem in the Western literary canon, Vergil's Aeneid celebrates the Roman virtue of pietas . In the preface to his English translation of the poem, John Dryden attempts to explain all that this virtue includes: "Piety alone," he writes, "comprehends the whole Duty of Man towards the Gods, towards his Country, and towards his Relations." Dryden's definition belongs to a dialogue about meaning that reflects a history of contention over religious, political, and moral issues of enduring ...