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Somnium Scipionis

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(Dream of Scipio), the fable with which Cicero ends his De Republica. The only extant manuscript of Cicero's treatise breaks off early in the last book, and the survival of the Somnium is due to its being reproduced by a certain Macrobius, who in the 4th cent. ad furnished it with a Neoplatonist commentary that interested medieval thinkers.

The fable relates how the younger Scipio saw his grandfather, the elder Scipio, in a dream and was shown the dwelling set aside in the Milky Way for those who follow virtue and especially for those who distinguish themselves in the service of their country. The Somnium may have inspired Petrarch's choice of Scipio Africanus as the hero of his epic Africa. Chaucer gives a poetical summary of it in The Parliament of Fowls and mentions it in other passages.

Subjects: Literature

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