A quiz question: Who is it? “No poet has exercised over the poetic production of this country [Britain] so long or so continuous a control.“ Shakespeare or Milton?
Here’s the the complete quotation, from Jasper Griffin, “Virgil“, in: The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal, 1992, p. 127:
“In an essay published in 1931 to mark the bimillenniary of the birth of Virgil, G. Gordon wrote:
‘I suppose there has hardly been a time since the Roman settlement when Virgil has not been read or his name heard at least in this island. It may be safely asserted that no single poet has exercised over the poetic production of this country so long or so continuous a control as Virgil. From Aldhelm to Bridges is the bluntest statement of its range.‘
Recent discoveries from Roman Britain have shown how far this was from being an exaggeration. (…) In the remote Roman province of Britain, in Virgil’s own phrase, ‘penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos‘, Britain quite cut off from the whole world – the poet’s work was everywhere familiar. He is indeed a special case, and as such he can illustrate the continuity of classical culture with exceptional fulness.“