P. Vergilius Maro Mantuanus parentibus modicis fuit ac praecipue patre, quem quidam opificem figulum, plures Magi cuiusdam viatoris initio mercennarium, mox ob industriam generum tradiderunt, egregiaeque substantiae silvis coemendis et apibus curandis auxisse reculam. natus est Cn. Pompeio Magno M. Licinio Crasso primum consulibus Iduum Octobrium die in pago qui Andes dicitur et abest a Mantua non procul. praegnans eo mater somniavit enixam se laureum ramum, quem contactu terrae coaluisse et excrevisse ilico in speciem maturae arboris refertaeque variis pomis et floribus, ac sequenti luce cum marito rus propinquum petens ex itinere devertit atque in subiecta fossa partu levata est. ferunt infantem ut sit editus neque vagisse et adeo miti vultu fuisse, ut haud dubiam spem prosperioris geniturae iam tum daret. et accessit aliud praesagium, siquidem virga populea more regionis in puerperiis eodem statim loco depacta ita brevi evaluit tempore, ut multo ante satas populos adaequavisset; quae “arbor Vergilii” ex eo dicta atque etiam consecrata est summa gravidarum ac fetarum religione suscipientium ibi et solventium vota.
(Suetonius, Vita Vergili 1-5)
Publius Vergilius Maro was a Mantuan of humble parentage, especially with regard to his father: some have reported that he was an artisan who was a potter, many that he was at first the employee of a viator [a minor official whose main task was to summon people who had to appear before magistrates] named Magus and then a son-in-law on account of his industry, and that he built up a fortune of no mean substance by buying up woodlands and tending bees. [Virgil] was born on the Ides of October, during the first consulships of Gnaeus Pompeius the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus [October 15, 70 b.c.e.], in a village called Andes, not far from Mantua. While pregnant with him, his mother dreamed that she gave birth to a laurel branch, which took root when it touched the earth and sprang up on the spot into the form of a full-grown tree, stuffed with diverse fruits and flowers. And the following day, while she was making for the neighboring country spot with her husband, she turned aside from the path and delivered herself by childbirth in an adjacent ditch. They say that when the child was born, he did not cry, and so mild was his countenance that even then he gave no small reason to hope that his birth would prove to be auspicious. Another omen was added to this when the poplar sprout that was immediately planted in the same place, according to the custom of the region in cases of childbirth, grew up so fast that it stood level with the poplars planted long before. It was called on that account the tree of Virgil, and it was in fact made sacred by the greatest reverence of pregnant women and new mothers who took and fulfilled vows there. (tr. David Wilson-Okamura, revised by Jan M. Ziolkowski)