From the award-winning translator of The Iliad and The Odyssey comes a brilliant new translation of Virgil's great epic
Fleeing the ashes of Troy, Aeneas, Achilles’ mighty foe in the Iliad, begins an incredible journey to fulfill his destiny as the founder of Rome. His voyage will take him through stormy seas, entangle him in a tragic love affair, and lure him into the world of the dead itselfall the way tormented by the vengeful Juno, Queen of the Gods. Ultimately, he reaches the promised land of Italy where, after bloody battles and with high hopes, he founds what will become the Roman empire. An unsparing portrait of a man caught between love, duty, and fate, the Aeneid redefines passion, nobility, and courage for our times. Robert Fagles, whose acclaimed translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey were welcomed as major publishing events, brings the Aeneid to a new generation of readers, retaining all of the gravitas and humanity of the original Latin as well as its powerful blend of poetry and myth. Featuring an illuminating introduction to Virgil’s world by esteemed scholar Bernard Knox, this volume lends a vibrant new voice to one of the seminal literary achievements of the ancient world.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Series:||Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series|
|Edition description:||Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 B.C.), known as Virgil, was born near Mantua in the last days of the Roman Republic. In his comparatively short life he became the supreme poet of his age, whose Aeneid gave the Romans a great national epic equal to the Greeks’, celebrating their city’s origins and the creation of their empire. Virgil is also credited with authoring two other major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues and the Georgics.
Robert Fagles (1933-2008) was Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He was the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His translations include Sophocles’s Three Theban Plays, Aeschylus’s Oresteia (nominated for a National Book Award), Homer’s Iliad (winner of the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by The Academy of American Poets), Homer’s Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid.
Bernard Knox (1914-2010) was Director Emeritus of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. He taught at Yale University for many years. Among his numerous honors are awards from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His works include The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy, Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His Time and Essays Ancient and Modern (awarded the 1989 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award).
Read an Excerpt
I sing of arms and of a man: his fate had made him fugitive; he was the first
to journey from the coasts of Troy as far
as Italy and the Lavinian shores.
Across the lands and waters he was battered 5
beneath the violence of High Ones, for
the savage Juno's unforgetting anger;
and many sufferings were his in war-
until he brought a city into being
and carried in his gods to Latium; 10
from this have come the Latin race, the lords
of Alba, and the ramparts of high Rome.
Tell me the reason, Muse: what was the wound
to her divinity, so hurting her
that she, the queen of gods, compelled a man 15
remarkable for goodness to endure
so many crises, meet so many trials?
Can such resentment hold the minds of gods?
There was an ancient city they called Carthage-
a colony of refugees from Tyre- 20
a city facing Italy, but far
away from Tiber's mouth: extremely rich
and, when it came to waging war, most fierce.
This land was Juno's favorite-it is said-
more dear than her own Samos; here she kept 25
her chariot and armor; even then
the goddess had this hope and tender plan:
for Carthage to become the capital
of nations, if the Fates would just consent.
But she had heard that, from the blood of Troy, 30
a race had come that some day would destroy
the citadels of Tyre; from it, a people
would spring, wide-ruling kings, men proud in battle
and destined toannihilate her Libya.
The Fates had so decreed. And Saturn's daughter- 35
in fear of this, remembering the old war
that she had long since carried on at Troy
for her beloved Argos (and, indeed,
the causes of her bitterness, her sharp
and savage hurt, had not yet left her spirit; 40
for deep within her mind lie stored the judgment
of Paris and the wrong done to her scorned
beauty, the breed she hated, and the honors
that had been given ravished Ganymede)-
was angered even more; for this, she kept 45
far off from Latium the Trojan remnant
left by the Greeks and pitiless Achilles.
For long years they were cast across all waters,
fate-driven, wandering from sea to sea.
It was so hard to found the race of Rome. 50
With Sicily scarce out of sight, the Trojans
had gladly spread their canvas on the sea,
turning the salt foam with their brazen prows,
when Juno, holding fast within her heart
the everlasting insult, asked herself: 55
"Am I, defeated, simply to stop trying,
unable to turn back the Trojan king
from Italy? No doubt, the Fates won't have it.
But Pallas-was she powerful enough
to set the Argive fleet on fire, to drown 60
the crewmen in the deep, for an outrage done
by only one infuriated man,
Ajax, Oileus' son? And she herself
could fling Jove's racing lightning from the clouds
and smash their galleys, sweep the sea with tempests. 65
Then Ajax' breath was flame from his pierced chest;
she caught him up within a whirlwind; she
impaled him on a pointed rock. But I,
the queen of gods, who stride along as both
the sister and the wife of Jove, have warred 70
so many years against a single nation.
For after this, will anyone adore
the majesty of Juno or, before
her altars, pay her honor, pray to her?"
Then-burning, pondering-the goddess reaches 75
Aeolia, the motherland of storms,
a womb that always teems with raving south winds.
In his enormous cave King Aeolus
restrains the wrestling winds, loud hurricanes;
he tames and sways them with his chains and prison. 80
They rage in indignation at their cages;
the mountain answers with a mighty roar.
Lord Aeolus sits in his high citadel;
he holds his scepter, and he soothes their souls
and calms their madness. Were it not for this, 85
then surely they would carry off the sea
and lands and steepest heaven, sweeping them
across the emptiness. But fearing that,
the all-able Father hid the winds within
dark caverns, heaping over them high mountains; 90
and he assigned to them a king who should,
by Jove's sure edict, understand just when
to jail and when, commanded, to set free.
Then Juno, suppliant, appealed to him:
"You, Aeolus-to whom the king of men 95
and father of the gods has given this:
to pacify the waves or, with the wind,
to incite them-over the Tyrrhenian
now sails my enemy, a race that carries
the beaten household gods of Ilium 100
to Italy. Hammer your winds to fury
and ruin their swamped ships, or scatter them
and fling their crews piecemeal across the seas.
I have twice-seven nymphs with splendid bodies;
the loveliest of them is Deiopea, 105
and I shall join her to you in sure marriage
and name her as your own, that she may spend
all of her years with you, to make you father
of fair sons. For such service, such return."
And Aeolus replied: "O Queen, your task 110
is to discover what you wish; and mine,
to act at your command. For you have won
this modest kingdom for me, and my scepter,
and Jove's goodwill. You gave me leave to lean
beside the banquets of the gods, and you 115
have made me lord of tempests and of clouds."
His words were done. He turned his lance head, struck
the hollow mountain on its side. The winds,
as in a column, hurry through the breach;
they blow across the earth in a tornado. 120
Together, Eurus, Notus, and-with tempest
on tempest-Africus attack the sea;
they churn the very bottom of the deep
and roll vast breakers toward the beaches; cries
of men, the creaking of the cables rise. 125
Then, suddenly, the cloud banks snatch away
the sky and daylight from the Trojans' eyes.
Black night hangs on the waters, heavens thunder,
and frequent lightning glitters in the air;
everything intends quick death to men. 130
At once Aeneas' limbs fall slack with chill.
He groans and stretches both hands to the stars.
He calls aloud: "O, three and four times blessed
were those who died before their fathers' eyes
beneath the walls of Troy. Strongest of all 135
the Danaans, o Diomedes, why
did your right hand not spill my lifeblood, why
did I not fall upon the Ilian fields,
there where ferocious Hector lies, pierced by
Achilles' javelin, where the enormous 140
Sarpedon now is still, and Simois
has seized and sweeps beneath its waves so many
helmets and shields and bodies of the brave!"
* * *
Aeneas hurled these words. The hurricane
is howling from the north; it hammers full 145
against his sails. The seas are heaved to heaven.
The oars are cracked; the prow sheers off; the waves
attack broadside; against his hull the swell
now shatters in a heap, mountainous, steep.
Some sailors hang upon a wave crest; others 150
stare out at gaping waters, land that lies
below the waters, surge that seethes with sand.
And then the south wind snatches up three ships
and spins their keels against the hidden rocks-
those rocks that, rising in midsea, are called 155
by the Italians "Altars"-like a monstrous
spine stretched along the surface of the sea.
Meanwhile the east wind wheels another three
off from the deep and, terrible to see,
against the shoals and shifting silt, against 160
the shallows, girding them with mounds of sand.
Before Aeneas' eyes a massive breaker
smashes upon its stern the ship that carries
the Lycian crewmen led by true Orontes.
The helmsman is beaten down; he is whirled headlong. 165
Three times at that same spot the waters twist
and wheel the ship around until a swift
whirlpool has swallowed it beneath the swell.
And here and there upon the wide abyss,
among the waves, are swimmers, weapons, planks, 170
and Trojan treasure. Now the tempest takes
the sturdy galleys of Ilioneus
and brave Achates, now the ships of Abas
and many-yeared Aletes; all receive
their enemy, the sea, through loosened joints 175
along their sides and through their gaping seams.
But Neptune felt the fracas and the frenzy;
and shaken by the unleashed winds, the wrenching
of the still currents from the deep seabed,
he raised his tranquil head above the surface. 180
And he can see the galleys of Aeneas
scattered across the waters, with the Trojans
dismembered by the waves and fallen heavens.
Her brother did not miss the craft and wrath
of Juno. Catching that, he calls up both 185
the east wind and the west. His words are these:
"Has pride of birth made you so insolent?
So, Winds, you dare to mingle sky and land,
heave high such masses, without my command?
Whom I-? But no, let me first calm the restless 190
swell; you shall yet atone-another time-
with different penalties for these your crimes.
But now be off, and tell your king these things:
that not to him, but me, has destiny
allotted the dominion of the sea 195
and my fierce trident. The enormous rocks
are his-your home, East Wind. Let Aeolus
be lord of all that lies within that hall
and rule in that pent prison of the winds."
So Neptune speaks and, quicker than his tongue, 200
brings quiet to the swollen waters, sets
the gathered clouds to flight, calls back the sun.
Together, then, Cymothoë and Triton,
thrusting, dislodge the ships from jagged crags.
But now the god himself takes up his trident 205
to lift the galleys, and he clears a channel
across the vast sandbank. He stills the sea
and glides along the waters on light wheels.
And just as, often, when a crowd of people
is rocked by a rebellion, and the rabble 210
rage in their minds, and firebrands and stones
fly fast-for fury finds its weapons-if,
by chance, they see a man remarkable
for righteousness and service, they are silent
and stand attentively; and he controls 215
their passion by his words and cools their spirits:
so all the clamor of the sea subsided
after the Father, gazing on the waters
and riding under cloudless skies, had guided
his horses, let his willing chariot run. 220
And now Aeneas' weary crewmen hurry
to find the nearest land along their way.
They turn toward Libya's coast. There is a cove
within a long, retiring bay; and there
an island's jutting arms have formed a harbor 225
where every breaker off the high sea shatters
and parts into the shoreline's winding shelters.
Along this side and that there towers, vast,
a line of cliffs, each ending in like crags;
beneath the ledges tranquil water lies 230
silent and wide; the backdrop-glistening
forests and, beetling from above, a black
grove, thick with bristling shadows. Underneath
the facing brow: a cave with hanging rocks,
sweet waters, seats of living stone, the home 235
of nymphs. And here no cable holds tired ships,
no anchor grips them fast with curving bit.
Aeneas shelters here with seven ships-
all he can muster, all the storm has left.
The Trojans, longing so to touch the land, 240
now disembark to gain the wished-for sands.
They stretch their salt-soaked limbs along the beach.
Achates was the first to strike a spark
from flint and catch the fire up with leaves.
He spread dry fuel about, and then he waved 245
the tinder into flame. Tired of their trials,
the Trojan crewmen carry out the tools
of Ceres and the sea-drenched corn of Ceres.
And they prepare to parch the salvaged grain
by fire and, next, to crush it under stone. 250
Meanwhile Aeneas climbs a crag to seek
a prospect far and wide across the deep,
if he can only make out anything
of Antheus and his Phrygian galleys, or
of Capys, or the armor of Caicus 255
on his high stern. There is no ship in sight;
all he can see are three stags wandering
along the shore, with whole herds following
behind, a long line grazing through the valley.
He halted, snatched his bow and racing arrows, 260
the weapons carried by the true Achates.
And first he lays the leaders low, their heads
held high with tree-like antlers; then he drives
the herds headlong into the leafy groves;
they panic, like a rabble, at his arrows. 265
He does not stay his hand until he stretches,
victoriously, seven giant bodies
along the ground, in number like his galleys.
This done, he seeks the harbor and divides
the meat among his comrades. And he shares 270
the wine that had been stowed by kind Acestes
in casks along the shores of Sicily:
the wine that, like a hero, the Sicilian
had given to the Trojans when they left.
Aeneas soothes their melancholy hearts: 275
"O comrades-surely we're not ignorant
of earlier disasters, we who have suffered
things heavier than this-our god will give
an end to this as well. You have neared the rage
of Scylla and her caves' resounding rocks; 280
and you have known the Cyclops' crags; call back
your courage, send away your grieving fear.
Perhaps one day you will remember even
these our adversities with pleasure. Through
so many crises and calamities 285
we make for Latium, where fates have promised
a peaceful settlement. It is decreed
that there the realm of Troy will rise again.
Hold out, and save yourselves for kinder days."
These are his words; though sick with heavy cares, 290
he counterfeits hope in his face; his pain
is held within, hidden. His men make ready
the game that is to be their feast; they flay
the deer hide off the ribs; the flesh lies naked.
Some slice off quivering strips and pierce them with 295
sharp spits, while on the beach the others set
caldrons of brass and tend the flame. With food
their strength comes back again. Along the grass
they stretch and fill their bellies full of fat
venison meat and well-aged wine. That done- 300
their hunger banished by their feasting and
the tables cleared-their talk is long, uncertain
between their hope and fear, as they ask after
their lost companions, wondering if their comrades
are still alive or if they have undergone 305
the final change and can no longer hear
when called upon. Especially the pious
Aeneas moans within himself the loss
now of the vigorous Orontes, now
of Amycus, the cruel end of Lycus, 310
the doom of brave Cloanthus, of brave Gyas.
Their food and talk were done when Jupiter,
while gazing from the peaks of upper air
across the waters winged with canvas and
low-lying lands and shores and widespread people, 315
stood high upon the pinnacle of heaven
until he set his sight on Libya's kingdom.
And as he ponders this, the saddened Venus,
her bright eyes dimmed and tearful, speaks to him:
"O you who, with eternal rule, command 320
and govern the events of gods and men,
and terrify them with your thunderbolt,
what great offense has my Aeneas given,
what is his crime, what have the Trojans done
that, having undergone so many deaths, 325
the circle of all lands is shut against them-
and just because of Italy? Surely
-- PrePress Department Westchester Book 4 Old Newtown Road Danbury CT 06810 Voice: 1-203-791-0080 Fax: 1-203-791-9286 e-mail: email@example.com
From the Paperback edition.
What People are Saying About This
Robert Fagles gives the full range of Virgil's drama, grandeur, and pathos in vigorous, supple modern English. It is fitting that one of the great translators of The Iliad and The Odyssey in our times should also emerge as a surpassing translator of The Aeneid.
"Robert Fagles' translation of the Aeneid is a majestic achievement. If you look up any line in the poem that is particularly dear to your heart, chances are that you will forget that you are reading a translation, so high is the quality of Fagles' English poem."
"A new and noble standard bearer . . . There's a capriciousness to Fagles's line well suited to this vast story's ebb and flow."
-The New York Times Book Review (front page review)
"Fagles's new version of Virgil's epic delicately melds the stately rhythms of the original to a contemporary cadence. . . . He illuminates the poem's Homeric echoes while remaining faithful to Virgil's distinctive voice."
-The New Yorker
"Robert Fagles gives the full range of Virgil's drama, grandeur, and pathos in vigorous, supple modern English. It is fitting that one of the great translators of The Iliad and The Odyssey in our times should also emerge as a surpassing translator of The Aeneid."
-J. M. Coetzee
"If only Robert Fagles' translation had been available when I studied Virgil's Aeneid at school in Latin. He reveals in his superb translation the true beauty of the language which generations of schoolchildren failed to grasp in their pitiful struggles."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am rereading this edition after a lapse of 20 years since my first reading as a student of literature in college. I picked it up again out of curiosity, and found myself enthralled after a couple of pages. I didn't think I would want to keep this book, but it deserves a permanent place in my library. If you have any curiosity at all about The Aeneid, try this translation.
This Dover Edition of -The Aeneid- by Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil or Vergil) is a 1995 reprint of the English verse trans lation by Charles J. Billson, published in London in 1906. To try to render, or match, Virgil's Latin verse, into an English verse 'equivalent' is a tough job indeed. Though, there ARE several English verse translations available in paperback format. As one reviewer already noted, there are no notes or annotations for this 'thrift edition.' This poses problems for those who lack knowledge of Roman history, knowledge of Virgil and his times, and Roman/Greek mythology. On the other hand, it can be a refreshing 'break' for those who want to simply enjoy the work itself (though not in its original language and verse format) in a readable, if somewhat stilted English verse form. The original Latin (from the Loeb Classical Library, Vol. 63) begins: 'Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris/ Italiam fato profugus Lavinaque venit/ litora--' [the prose translation by H.R. Fairclough (Revised by G.P. Goold) renders this as: 'Arms and the man I sing, who first from the coasts of Troy, exiled by fate, came to Italy and Lavine shores--'.] This English verse translation by Billson presents this same opening as: 'Arms and the Man I sing, who first from Troy,/A Doom-led exile, on Lavinian shores/ Reached Italy; long tossed on sea and land/ By Heaven's rude arm--'. This particular verse rendering, I believe, rates 4 stars, while the epic itself rates 5 stars as one of the world's great works of creative art and literature. The poem also became the ancient Roman empire's national epic (celebrating Rome's legendary ancient ancestors and her 'destined' purpose) from the time of the 1st Emperor Augustus onward.
I didn't quite understand this when I read it at 10 years old, but then I read it again at 14, and since then I've asked all of my friends to read it. Now I'm reading this great adventure to my kids, and they love every sentence. Read this, and the Odyssey.
Dover Thrift has long been a great resource for those of us who want to read the classics without breaking our budgets. For students like myself, it could even be referred to as a 'godsend.' Dover Thrift's version of Aeneid is a great copy to introduce one's self to the text with. It's poetic, but reasonably easy to follow. The downside is that there is no introductory commentary or footnote material, but it's still a great place to start your journey with Aeneas. The Aeneid itself is a seminal text. One way to think of it is as the text that linked together Homer and Dante: it utilizes epic conventions, but it also has an original narrative voice that would inspire Dante to follow Virgil--the character--through a fantastic, fictional hell, but also to follow Vergil--the writer's--literary example. A must-read.
Pretty good translation, not as good as some I've read. Wish it had reference numbers.
A translation on par with the best of Fagles and Kaufmann's works.
A classic in the utmost form of the Greek warriors who began Rome and the Roman Empire.
Fitzgerald's translation captures what Virgil's vision must have been. Aeneas possesses all the qualities of a true hero. I wept when I read the king's prayer as his son left for battle with Aeneas. The love felt for this son was one of the most beautiful passages I've ever read.
The Aeneid by Virgil was excellently translated by Fitzgerald in this classic epic/adventure. I am a Latin student, and I have read the Latin version and Fitzgerald did an excellent job with this. If you like Latin/Roman culture, this is a MUST read. Its a classic, and one of the best books ever written. I don't think there has ever been another legendary epic as good as this!
Fitzgerald's translation of The Aeneid is considered by experts to be the best English version of Virgil's timeless epic. This is a must read for ambitious students and literature buffs. Were it not for good, dependable translations of classical works, the modern reader who knows no Latin could not explore the ideas of antiquity through the writings of its participants.
A bit slow, but it certainly follows the whole "odyssey" thing.
I¿m torn on the concept of Virgil continuing the Homeric tradition, which was at least 800 years old by the time he came around. On the one hand, it was an homage and The Aeneid is a classic in its own right, telling the tale of Aeneas¿ wanderings from Troy to Italy after the Trojan War, and his victories in battle there over the Latins, essentially making it foundation mythology for the Romans. One thing I didn¿t like is a fact of the culture, that the Romans converted all the Greek Gods and mythology to their own names, which I have a perhaps silly philosophical objection to. Worse is the less than straightforward way of referring to people or places in the narrative, it makes reading the book harder; I was regularly going into Fitzgerald¿s glossary (e.g. Orcus = underworld/Hades; Pelides=Achilles; Ausonia=Italy; Elissa=Dido, etc etc).The first six books of The Aeneid are along the lines of the Odyssey, and contain my favorite parts: Book II, ¿How They Took the City¿, which tells of the use of the Trojan horse, Book IV, ¿The Passion of the Queen¿, which has Aeneas breaking Dido¿s heart leading to her suicide, and Book VI, ¿The World Below¿, which has Aeneas descending into the Underworld (but does this last one sound familiar?). The last six book are along the lines of the Iliad, and get a little nationalistic, with allusions to Augustus Caesar, Antonius (Marc Antony), and others ¿ and this was of less interest to me.Certainly readable but can¿t touch The Odyssey.
I found this easier to get through than [book: The Iliad], I think because at least for the first half there was stuff going on besides warfare. But I think I'm kind of epiced out after those two and [book: Paradise Lost] all this semester.
The Aeneid is one of those staples of an education in Latin with which I was acquainted during my high school and college years, but only from a translation standpoint. In other words, I would be assigned to translate passages from The Aeneid as homework, but never really read the epic in its entirety until now.I love poetry, but epic poetry is something I've never quite been able to wrap my head around. I think it's because, with epic poetry, it's so much about the story and so little (In many cases) about the symbolism that I run into trouble. The conventions of the poetic form make it difficult to follow what would be, in prose, a normal sentence over several lines. By the time I get to the end of a "sentence" in an epic, I've lost the entire meaning of the thought because of the twists and turns of the poetic dialogue.So, basically, this was a bit of a slog for me.Keeping in mind that, in both Greek and Roman mythology, the gods and goddesses are petty and vengeful and really, really like to indulge their whims, I really thought Juno was spot-on. She was upset that Paris chose Venus as the best goddess (That's such a reductive way to state this, but there you have it), so she decided to take it out on Aeneas. However, she didn't really take into account that Aeneas would be protected by some other gods and goddesses, so she just ended up killing a bunch of people close to Aeneas without ever really being able to touch him. I guess that's the "Hurting those closest to your target hurts more than actually hurting your target" theory of vengeance.Aeneas is one of those characters that ran kind of hot and cold with me. At times, he seemed to be the heroic, noble founder of Rome from legends. At other times, he was kind of boring. For being the title character of this epic, I found him pretty blah.I did find myself, during battle scenes, grimacing quite often whenever someone was slashed/impaled/beheaded/what-have-you, as Vergil was quite fond of the term "gore" and all that went with it ("Thick gore," "thick black gore," "clotted gore" -- You get the idea). Much more effective than a lengthy description of blood spurting several feet from a decapitated trunk, if you ask me.Overall, I liked The Aeneid well enough to see why it's a classic in higher education. However, for those of you squeamish of epic poetry, I'd suggest finding either a prose version (I'm sure they exist somewhere) or a version that offers summaries of each of the books.My rating: 7/10
Sometimes you just enjoy the book.
This is a classic of course. This translation in particular is quite well done. It has excellent notes and references. I love this work particularly because of the context in which it was written which gives depth to many of the events and/or the way in which they are portrayed.
I read this in Latin and survived the experience only because I was young and stubborn. In truth, the Odyssey is a much better written tale.
In what you'll recognize as a classic "reading group review" (if you've been paying attention . . . and why would you be?), some thoughts from The Aeneid Week 1:-I haven't been this excited about a reread in a long time.-Indeed, what is fate here? That which must be? The desultorily enforced whim of Zeus? Its own proof, because if you just did something awesome, some god or other must have been on your side?-I read that Virgil studied under Sino the Epicurean. I'd always thought of V. as more of a Stoic. Will read with that in mind.-What is all this about them braving Scylla and the cyclops? Like, Aeneas did everything Odysseus did, only offscreen? Burn!
A bit of a slog. Much harder to get through than Odyssey, less poignant than Illiad. Still, the section on Dido was moving and the bit in Book 6 (?) about the Queen of the Latins was worth the price of admission.
Unlike Homer, to whome I can lose long nights bound by his captivating cadence, Virgil's Aeneid took me a full season--nearly six months--to finish. The tricks of the trade that were novel when I saw them in Homer lost some of their luster in Virgil's derived forms, though there were some passages and stories here that provide almost universal archetypes to the lineage of western literature.The first remarkable thing is how little has changed in Mediterranean cultures' sense of heroicism in the many hundreds of years that elapsed between the Homeric epics and Virgil's lifetime in the first century CE. Without an academic familiarity with Imperial Roman culture, it's hard to determine how much of the poem's epic content is supposed to reflect ideals that are still relevant to its contemporary audience versus how much--and knowing Romans' captivation with the-good-old-days-had-real-heroes, we-are-only-sad-imitations, I sense that this might be closer to the mark--the glories of the past and the founding of Rome are a legacy of god-like men and endeavors that cannot or even should not be emulated. If one were to prune out the portions of the poem that are weak echoes of Homer's mastery, those pieces that are hackneyed homages to Caesar Augustus, and perhaps pare down some of the martial descriptiveness, one would have something very close to perfect. When Virgil allows himself to be narrative--maybe at slight expense to the propagandistic tack--wonderful things happen. Pious, predictable Aeneas is no crafty Odysseus, and besides performing the prescribed role of establishing Roman history, seems to be less dimensional than some of the epic's other notable characters. Where Homer's women are mostly reduced to submissive pale sketches unless deities (Athena, for example, is always inspirational no matter who writes about her), Virgil gives us a couple of plausible inspirations. Dido pulls of tragic without simpering, and even in the underworld refuses to be a doormat. Camilla is nothing short of fantastic.But in the end, there is a lot of poring over gory and repetitive battle scenes. Important to the epic genre and the symbolic completeness of the story? Likey. But to the modern reader or at least one disinterested in military history, not terrifically impactful. A required read in the Western Canon. But a touch too much work to be enjoyable.
Aeneas is the son of a goddess. His wife is dead. His home is destroyed because someone decided to run away with the wife of a Greek King named Helena. A prophecy is guiding him to Latium, an area of Italy where his descendants will become the greatest empire of mankind. But first, there is an epic that has to happen.The story is not entirely unlike The Odyssey. There are some parallels, and there are some things that are put in to place to basically say, "This is happening at the same time" because it is.Suicidal queens, vengeful royalty, and large sea voyages are abound in this epic tale.
In my opinion, the greatest of the Classical epics. The Aeneid does not merely praise the glory of Rome and Augustus by exhalting Aeneas; it conveys a melancholy for everything that Aeneas, the Trojans, and even their enemies underwent in order to bring about fate. Rome's enemy Carthage, and even Hannibal who lead the invading army, is here depicted as the eventual avengers of a woman abandoned by her lover not for any fault of her own, but merely because the gods required him to be elsewhere. The Italians are shown as glorious warriors, whose necessary deaths in battle may not be worth it. Finally there is the end, not with the joy of triumph, but with the death moan of the Italian leader. The translation by David West perfectly captures the tone of the original.
The rating (3 stars) and review refer more to Patric Dickinson's translation than to the epic itself - which is at least 6 stars out of 5.Dickinson's translation suffers many of the same problems that plague other verse tranlations of Vergil and Homer: an inability to translate the prosody of an inflected language into the prosody of an uninflected one. Much of the prosody of the Aeneid relies on syntactical figures, such as chiasmus or interlocking word order. Those are simply unable to be replicated into English. This lack is in addition to the inability to translate puns and other audio affects from any language to any other. And, since contemporary English poetics does not value meter, even the near approximation of moving Vergil's hexameters into English pentameters is lost in this translation.This is not to say that the translation is without merit or is a particularly poor one. It is quite serviceable, quite readable, and quite faithful (as much as possible without the full range of poetic effects at its disposal) at preserving the original's sweep.But, to be honest, a good prose translation is probably better at conveying the content and the sentiment. The purpose of a verse translation ought to be to translate into English not only the content but also, as much as possible, the form - either through mimicry or through adaptation. Dickinson's translation, like so many others, does not do enough of either.
The fact that this is unfinished makes me want to gnaw on my own liver - because it ends right when things start (finally) getting interesting. Still an interesting read, however, if only to get glimpses into the way the ancient Greeks thought.
I really enjoy Fitzgerald's translation... I think he hit a home run on this one, although I'm not as hot on his Homeric translations. The Everyman's Library edition is quite an attractive one as well. As for the Aeneid, it's a fine tale of love and war, an interesting bit of propaganda, and some nice poetry. Those interested in Vergil as alchemist, rather than as author, should check out Avram Davidson's novels (particularly The Phoenix and the Mirror).