Virgil’s works have been interpreted in striking ways during periods of political upheaval in the 20th and 21st centuries. Following the end of World War I, Benito Mussolini saw the Aeneid, Eclogues, and Georgics as good resources for re-unifying Italy due to the values and themes they promoted, especially agrarianism, empire, and war. Mussolini’s readings of these texts were entirely optimistic and programmatic. After World War II, a shift occurred in interpretations of the Aeneid towards pessimism that came to be known as “The Harvard School of Thought”. These scholars saw a darkness and negativity not understood before in the text. Finally, the Alt-Right movement of the 2010s interprets the Aeneid as pro-white and anti-immigration. Given these three unique readings, the applicability and relevance Virgil and his works have to modern politics and wars are clear, as is the malleability of their interpretations based on people’s agendas.
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