The life of pleasure which he had lived in his youth comes back to him, not as it was in its actual distractions and disappointments, but in the idealizing light of meditative retrospect.
His greatest work, which made the Romans regard him as the father of their literature, was his epic poem, in eighteen books, the Annales, in which the record of the whole career of Rome was unrolled with idealizing enthusiasm and realistic detail.
No poet has surpassed him in the power of vitally reproducing the pleasure and pain of the passing hour, not recalled by idealizing reflection as in Horace, nor overlaid with mythological ornament as in Propertius, but in all the keenness of immediate impression.
One great work had still to be done in prose - a retrospect of the past history of the state from an idealizing and romanticizing point of view.
He is the idealizing poet of the hopes and aspirations and of the purer and happier life of which the age seemed to contain the promise.