Book IV -The Ideal Qualities of a Roman Citizen
Being the son of a beekeeper, Virgil held in great awe the committed labour that bees put into their hive on a daily basis. His respect for bees can be seen throughout Book IV of the Georgics, but is particularly evident in this passage.
The passage describes a beehive as a nation of its own, in which the citizens are all assigned positions that work for the benefit of the country as a whole. Be they young and fit enough to forage for pollen, or older and strong enough to upkeep the walls of the city, each bee has a specific purpose according to their ability and the needs of the general population. It is a society of collaboration and peace under the ultimate rule of a single monarch, never doubted or challenged.
In many ways Virgil sees the beehive as an ideal society, and so this passage depicts the desired qualities of a Roman citizen, with praise especially for teamwork and respect for others. Virgil believes that if Rome were more like a beehive, it would function with greater success and social tranquility.
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