Studies on the Renaissance reception of Virgil as an epic, georgic, and bucolic poet typically overshadow Virgil’s reception as an author of light, ludic verse. In 1428, Maffeo Vegio (1407–1458) wrote his Supplementum to Virgil’s Aeneid, an earnest attempt to complete the revered ancient epic. A decade later, however, Vegio was alluding to Virgil’s poetry irreverently in distichs and epigrams, regarding Virgil’s example as justification for poetic frivolity. The vogue for such poetic trifles sparked controversy between Vegio and his literary associates over poetic decorum and the moral limits of poetry. This article situates Vegio’s short poems within this literary-historical context, showing how the reception of Virgil intersected with a fierce polemic over the status and legitimacy of light verse. It sheds new light not only on Vegio’s poetics of Virgilian allusion, but also on the role of literary networks in shaping the theory and practice of Renaissance imitation and the construction of poetic identity.

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