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The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"Fitzgerald's is so decisively the best modern Aeneid that it is unthinkable that anyone will want to use any other version for a long time to come."--New York Review of Books

"From the beginning to the end of this English poem...the reader will find the same sure control of English rhythms, the same deft phrasing, and an energy which urges the eye onward."--The New Republic

"A rendering that is both marvelously readable and scrupulously faithful.... Fitzgerald has managed, by a sensitive use of faintly archaic vocabulary and a keen ear for sound and rhythm, to suggest the solemnity and the movement of Virgil's poetry as no previous translator has done (including Dryden).... This is a sustained achievement of beauty and power."--Boston Globe

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. 

David West was a leading classical scholar and a professor at Newcastle University. The Guardian stated that his translation of the Aeneid is "remarkably true to the Latin, and has brought Virgil’s epic to life for a generation of modern English readers." A leading figure in the resurence of interest in the ancient world, he was President of the Classical Association in 1995, and a Vice-President of the Association for Latin Teaching. He died in 2013.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449327
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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170 of 175 people found the following review helpful By SkookumPete on February 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is no such thing as a "best" translation, only translations that suit one's purpose. If you want to read the Aeneid as a gripping story, Fagles's version does very well. I have just finished reading book 4, and Dido's fury, as set against the implacable higher purpose of Aeneas, has perhaps never been as vividly, even scarily, portrayed.

On the other hand, it could be argued that Fagles's verse does not convey the stately or epic quality of the Latin in the way that, for instance, Fitzgerald's does. A short comparison may suffice:

"sed nullis ille mouetur / fletibus aut uoces ullas tractabilis audit; / fata obstant placidasque uiri deus obstruit auris." (Vergil)

"But no tears move Aeneas now. / He is deaf to all appeals. He won't relent. / The Fates bar the way / and heaven blocks his gentle, human ears." (Fagles)

"But no tears moved him, no one's voice would he / Attend to tractably. The fates opposed it; / God's will blocked the man's once kindly ears." (Fitzgerald)

Fitzgerald's version is closer to the Latin (other than not using the present tense), better reflects its formal nature, and achieves a Vergilian metrical effect with the three successive beats of "God's will blocked." But Fagles's free and fluid rendition is undoubtedly more engaging to the modern reader.

Occasionally Fagles does introduce a modern idiom that is trite or jarring. For instance, when the sea-nymph speeds Aeneas's ship on its way in Book 10, she does so skillfully ("haud ignara modi") because she "knows the ropes".

The book has a useful introduction, a few notes, and a pronouncing glossary. Fagles's postscript is, however, a tedious pastiche of quotations from previous critics and could have been omitted.
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166 of 175 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Publius Vergilius Maro was commisioned by Caesar Augustus to author a national epic for Rome. The work which Virgil composed for this purpose was the Aeneid. It is an epic poem that tells the story of a minor character from Homer's Iliad who leads a rag-tag band from the smouldering ruins of Troy in order to found a "New Troy" to the west: Rome. It is in the Aeneid, not the Iliad (as most people who have not read the works tend to believe) that we see the spectacle of the Trojan Horse & the famous line "I do not trust Greeks bearing gifts." The Iliad ends with the death of Hektor - before the plan of the Trojan Horse is devised by Odysseus. The Odyssey picks up after the sack of Troy. The Aeneid fills in the gaps & narrates the story of the few Trojans who escape the wrath of the Greeks. According to legend, Romulus & Remes (the two brothers who eventually founded the city itself) were descendents of Aeneas. As is usual, Fitzgerald's translation is top notch. I have read Mandelbaum's rendition as well & much prefer Mr. Fitzgerald. The book also contains a useful glossary & postscript which help elucidate the allusions to Hannibal & Cleopatra which the Romans of Virgil's day would have picked up right away, but which might be unfamiliar to modern day readers. Also, it is HIGHLY recommended that one read the Iliad & the Odyssey before embarking on Virgil's work. [...] But, for a quick answer: the reason that Juno (Hera in the Greek) has a vendetta against Aeneas is due to the fact that he is Trojan. This all derives from the judgment of Paris when Juno was "jilted" by the bribe that Aphrodite offered Paris (also a Trojan).Read more ›
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on March 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
The editorial reviews shoud be heeded: this is, and remains, the best Aeneid in English. Fitzgerald's rendition is hard as a diamond and as crystal clear and brilliant, stately and spell-binding as watching a tall ship move across the bay.

For many years there was no satisfactory Virgil in modern English, and this was the first. There are now several, and many interesting, but this one should remain paramount because acquaintence with this poem is absolutely essential. It is often overlooked in world lit survey courses which go no farther than the Greeks. There is a lingering prejudice that Roman literature is inferior. That may well be generally true, but Virgil towers above all his Roman peers -- no one approaches him. He is the necessary link and pivot between the ancient understanding of man and civilization and ours; he is our ground, as Dante well recognized by honoring him as guide in the the Divine Comedy.

Love the Greeks as one must, the added dimension of heterosexual passion brought into classical literature by Virgil is breath-taking. Hopefully, you will never be the same after reading the great Aeneas-Dido affair -- to date there is really nothing like it in world literature. Oh yes, the Greeks were interested in women, even intelligent ones, especially honorouble ones, frequently devilish and playful and meddling ones. But Woman was first conveyed in all wholeness, dimensionality and grandeur by this poet -- perhaps something your teacher or mum failed to mention -- but no excuse for missing it now. Makes that business about Helen and Troy seem like bad comix . . . .
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