This book explores Virgil's poetic and mythical transformation of Roman imperialist ideology. The Romans saw an analogy between the ordered workings of the natural universe and the proper functioning of their own expanding empire; between orbis and urbs. In combining this cosmic imperialismwith the military and panegyrical themes proper to epic, Virgil draws on a number of traditions: the notion that the ideal poet is a cosmologer; the use of allegory to extract natural-philosophical truths from mythology and poetry (especially Homer); the poetic use of hyperbole and the 'universalexpression'. Virgil's imagination is dominated by the cosmological poem of Lucretius; the Aeneid, like the De Rerum Natura, is a poem about the universe and how man should live in it, but Virgil's constant inversion of Lucretian values makes of him an anti-Lucretius. Recent criticism has tended tostress the pessimistic and private sides of the Aeneid; but any easy conclusion that the poet was at heart anti-Augustan is precluded by the depth and detail with which he develops the imperialist themes discussed in this book.