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The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) Reissue Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0143106296
ISBN-10: 0143106295
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

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).
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143106295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143106296
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is not a review of the story of Aeneas, but rather a review of Robert Fagles's translation of the Aeneid. Fagles's work in this translation is readable, accessible, and over-all well executed.

The Penguin Classics version of Fagles's translation is a great book to hold in your hand. The book FEELS good. Also, the book has some extras that make it essential. First, Barnard Knox has written an excellent introduction to the text. He explains Virgil's cultural and literary context, and he discusses the Aeneid's relationship to its Homeric predecessors. Highly recommended reading. Second, the book has a helpful map of Aeneas's wanderings which helps orient the reader. Third, in the back of the book is a pronunciation guide and glossary. Some of these names are a bit strange, so it's a good idea to refer to the back sometimes for some help. Every character and place in the book, no matter how minor, is explained in the glossary.

In addition to all these benefits, this translation of the text is quite good. Fagles has produced a verse translation, which preserves the poetic nature of the original. If you're looking for a prose version of the Aeneid, then this book might not be for you (but I'd suggest you give the verse a try). The other verse translation that I would recommend is Robert Fitzgerald's (The Aeneid). Both translations are very good, and I believe that some passages in Fitzgerald's are better than Fagles's, and vice versa. However, the Fitzgerald translation does not contain the same helpful extras that I mentioned above. Penguin Classics provides superb auxiliary materials in all their volumes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A work for the ages. In a word: Magnificent.

I don't like to read translations because I know that so much is lost from the original language. As a poet and writer, I know how important the play of language is, its rhythms, a word's several meanings.

But when it comes to The Classics, I have to set that issue aside and try to find the "best" translation I can find. I also realize that people in antiquity read aloud, even when alone. This was such a common practice, in fact, that Augustine remarked in his Confessions (c. 398) how surprised he was when he found a friend in his room reading to himself, silently. So, when I learned of Robert Fagles translation of Virgil's The Aeneid, I got excited. The NYT wrote of it: "Fagles always aimed to produce translations for reading aloud, and for his translations to be fully savored you have to take them in by the ear."

I downloaded Fagles' The Aeneid as an audiobook and started listening. But I soon found myself getting "lost" while listening. Maybe it was me as a modern reader (not a listener), maybe it was the flow of words. The language seemed so rich that it felt like I was hitting a wall of sound and words. The story was there somewhere but I had a hard time following it. So, I bought a paperback copy of the book, too. Then I listened and followed the text as well. What a delightful experience! I could follow along the text and listen, and I have to say, it was incredible.

Now that I've finished this Fagles translation, I just might try his Homer. I've already read Pope's translation of both The Illiad and The Odyssey. But now I feel encouraged to try listening to both. I did not understand what was meant by "epic poetry" until I read those two works. Now, with Virgil's The Aeneid, my trifecta is complete.
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Format: Paperback
This epic follows Aeneas as, guided by Fate and piety/duty, he leads his band of Trojan refugees in search of their new homeland. Though derivative of the Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's story is more coherent, more tied to actual places/events, and more varied in phraseology and vivid description than Homer's poetry (which appears to be heavily shaped by oral tradition). Personally, I prefer Virgil's more literary style.

I have read two different Aeneid translations: Robert Fagles' and C. Day Lewis'. Of the two, I definitely preferred Fagles. Both occasionally use language that is, in my opinion, a bit too modern/colloquial, but Lewis deliberately does so in jarring fashion with some frequency (claiming that it keeps the readers' attention). I find Lewis' words/phrases like "hullo", "brick-a-brack", "boomerang", "armchair general", "lay your cards on the table", etc. to be irritations that knock me out of the flow of the poem rather than devices that are interest-catching in any positive fashion. The only thing I preferred about Lewis' translation was that his lines had a consistent number of beats (6) while Fagles' varied significantly.

This classic is a must-read, though I am still in search of a translation that best suits my personal preferences.
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After a generation of civil war, Octavian consolidated power and took the new title, "Augustus, son of a god" (referring to the newly deified Julius Caesar, his posthumously adoptive father). Augustus needed to unify the various Roman peoples and embarked on a program to give the people a common heritage. He commissioned Vergil, the greatest poet of his age, to write a Roman epic rivaling Homer that would also glorify the Julian family, validate their claim to be descended from Venus, and put across the idea that Augustus was destined to rule Rome. So basically The Aeneid is official government propaganda. As anyone who has studied propaganda knows, the language of propaganda is cliché. And The Aeneid abounds with clichés. Of course, Vergil was working at a huge disadvantage and died before The Aeneid was completely finished, but even so, I'm afraid that Vergil is no Homer. He wrote in a different language and lived in a different culture. He also had a different motive for writing. And that is the problem with this translation. Fagles is a great translator of Homer and I like his work on Sophocles, too, but I think he's a bad fit for Vergil. His muscular sensibility feels like a bull in a china shop. But if you're just reading for basic information, Fagles is acceptable. Even though I think most of The Aeneid is a bore, I also think The Aeneid is a major literary touchstone of Western culture. Its influence on English literature is inestimable. Shakespeare may have had "little Latin," but the little Latin he possessed obviously included Vergil. For that reason Vergil is a must-read for serious students of English literature. Three and a half stars rounded up to four.
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