The Aeneid, Virgil’s epic poem of the founding of Rome, provides a “gateway to civilization” for every thoughtful reader through its exploration of timeless truths of the human condition, a CCU audience was told on March 15.

Dr. Michael Poliakoff, a classics scholar with degrees from Michigan and Oxford who recently served as vice president for academic affairs at the University of Colorado, spoke at the latest Issue Monday forum of the Centennial Institute. The moral and ethical struggles of Aeneas in love and war illustrate an attitude of “humility, skepticism, doubt, debate, and self-examination” that equips us for civilized life together because it “recognizes we are imperfect beings,” Poliakoff said.

A maturing effect comes from grappling with the poem’s lessons, he argued, noting C. S. Lewis’s observation that “no man who has once read it with full perception remains an adolescent.” We can even see in Virgil’s model of conduct for the individual and society a point of congruence between Greco-Roman thought and Judeo-Christian thought, suggested Poliakoff—since the pagan idealism of the Aeneid aligns closely with the biblical injunction to.”do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).

Michael Poliakoff’s lecture slides are linked here. A full audio podcast of his talk is linked here.