Columbanus was the first of the long stream of famous Irish monks who left their traces in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France; amongst them being Gallus or St Gall, founder of St Gallen, Kilian of Wiirzburg, Virgil of Salzburg, Cathald of Tarentum and numerous others.
Donatus states in his life of Virgil, a work also based on the lost work of Suetonius, that Lucretius died on the same day on which Virgil assumed the toga virilis, that is, in the seventeenth year of Virgil's life, and on the very day on which he was born, and adds that the consuls were the same, that is Cn.
There is not in his history a trace of that rather gross adulation in which even Virgil does not disdain to indulge.
Like others who have gone through the conventional course of instruction, he kept a place in his memory for the various charms of Virgil and Horace, of Tacitus and Ovid; but the master whose page by night and by day he turned with devout hand, was the copious, energetic, flexible, diversified and brilliant genius of the declamations for Archias the poet and for Milo, against Catiline and against Antony, the author of the disputations at Tusculum and the orations against Verres.
The earliest in the order of time of the poets who adorn this age - P. Vergilius Maro or Virgil (70-19) - is also the greatest in genius, the most richly cultivated, and the most perfect in art.
Such were the Cento Nuptialis of Ausonius, the sketch of Biblical history which was compiled in the 4th century by Proba Falconia, wife of a Roman proconsul, and the hymns in honour of St Quirinus taken from Virgil and Horace by Metellus, a monk of Tegernsee, in the latter half of the 12th century.
It was at this time that Virgil addressed 'the famous fourth eclogue to him.
We find now only imitative echoes of the old music created by Virgil and others, as in Statius, or powerful declamation, as in Lucan and Juvenal.
His taste, however, was curious; he preferred Cato the elder, Ennius and Caelius Antipater to Cicero, Virgil and Sallust, the obscure poet Antimachus to Homer and Plato.
The inspiring idea of the poem was accepted, purified of all alien material, and realized in artistic shape by Virgil in his national epic. He deliberately imparted to that poem the charm of antique associations by incorporating with it much of the phraseology and sentiment of Ennius.