A collection of writings attributed since the mid-1st century of this era to Vergil
already mentions the Culex
; a life of Lucan
has him boasting "How much time have I left before my Culex?" on the debut performance of his Bellum Civile
writes that the Culex
, and Catalepton
were his incunabula
, the awkward works of his youth.
Certainly, many were written at a very early date, either still during Vergil's life or shortly thereafter. Since very few of these (possibly excepting one or two poems in the Catalepton) are considered today to be by Vergil, most scholarship has concentrated on the tricky business of dating. Most of the poems have strong Vergilian "elements", borrowings and exaggerations of the most notable features of the Vergilian style. Dating is then usually done by searching for features borrowed from collections of other authors of more certain date. The Culex, e.g., borrows heavily from the epic language of the Aeneid, the metrical patterns of the Eclogues, and the descriptive themes of the Georgics. It also seems to display a certain awareness of Ovid's Metamorphoseon and Propertius's first book, giving us a terminus post quem of 16 B.C., 3 years after Vergil's death, and a terminus ante quem of about 30 A.D., allowing enough for authentic acceptance by Martial and Lucan.
The poems are often parodic; they assume a Vergilian narrative persona and latch on to the most distinctive Vergilian features, distorting them for a simultaneously comic and critical effect. Others, such as the De Institutione Viri Boni, seem to have slipped in almost by accident, and display very little that can be called Vergilian.
The full list in the current collection:
A few of these I have already noded, and plan to add the rest at some future point.