Stories of genuine camaraderie among artists are noteworthy. They are both exemplary and rare in nature. Fortunately, the virtue of generosity has not been strange to some great artists. This is the case of Virgil, the greatest of the Latin Poets, born in 70 B.C. Virgil sought the welfare of a promising poet, five years younger than him, named Horace, who would later establish himself as another giant of Latin Letters. By that time, Gaius Maecenas (c. 70-8 B.C.), that noble Roman benefactor, supported Virgil since his very first years, made his studies possible and commissioned his second great work, the Georgics, which, written in four books, immortalize the name of Maecenas, mentioning him four times. Maecenas, in addition to having material wealth,he could influence in matters of the Roman Empire due to his relationship with Emperor Augustus, who commissioned Virgil’s last work, the capital work of Latin literature and national poem of the Romans: the Aeneid. As Aurelio Espinosa Pólit (Quito, 1894-1961), translator of Virgil’s complete works into Spanish, notes: “Virgil, by the providential mercy of Maecenas and Augustus, was defended from the material calamities of common existence, and could devote himself without dilemma to his mission as poet, thinker, and universal interpreter of man”.
In honor of Maecenas, the Royal Academy of Language (Real Academia de la Lengua RAE in spanish) defines the term “patronage” as the “protection or help given to a cultural, artistic or scientific activity”, where the person who acts as “patron” promotes projects in which he or she can even get involved, not only with financial support, but also through different activities, under an ideal of commitment to art and society.
The poet Virgil brought about the meeting between Maecenas and Horace, a circumstance that allowed this last one to build a work that exerts an enormous influence to this day. Gaius Cilnius Maecenas created a suitable environment for the flourishing of the Latin genius of his time. He assured an optimal quality of life for the many artists he encouraged, providing them with favorable means for creation. In the case of Horace, for example, he gave him a country home outside Rome, in the Sabine Mountains, where he could retire to create, especially during the hot heat of August, a month named after Augustus.
This example of collaboration is a fact worth spreading. It is praiseworthy that individuals of artistic genius, such as Virgil, show themselves as souls of the highest order.
In music, we find a matching example in Paris of the 19th century. The great Franz Liszt, who at a very young age was recognized as the best pianist of his time, was about to offer in the City of Light one of his usual spellbinding recitals. On the night of the concert, the stage of an elegant theater allowed a glimpse of the silhouettes of a piano and its performer. The dim light of a few candles offered an intimate atmosphere of expectation. At the sound of the first notes, the figure of the pianist gradually became clearer with the successive glow of the candles, which one by one, were being lightened by the stagehand. As the music became more and more present, the space became warmer and warmer as a result of the sonorous impetus. Under the spell of Lisztian incantation, when the candlelight reached its fullness, the revealed face of the pianist produced astonishment and perplexity: it was a young unknown, even for the promoter of the theater. That night, the audience, in shock, gave a standing ovation to the performer who, like Virgil’s Horace, received the flame from the hands of the most remarkable pianist of his time, whom he was to succeed. The next morning, all Paris knew the name of that young man: it was Frederic Chopin.