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The Aeneid Hardcover – November 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0670038039 ISBN-10: 0670038032 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038039
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Princeton scholar Fagles follows up his celebrated Iliad and Odyssey with a new, fast-moving, readable rendition of the national epic of ancient Rome. Virgil's long-renowned narrative follows the Trojan warrior Aeneas as he carries his family from his besieged, fallen home, stops in Carthage for a doomed love affair, visits the underworld and founds in Italy, through difficult combat, the settlements that will become, first the Roman republic, and then the empire Virgil knew. Recent translators (such as Allen Mandelbaum) put Virgil's meters into English blank verse. Fagles chooses to forgo meter entirely, which lets him stay literal when he wishes, and grow eloquent when he wants: "Aeneas flies ahead, spurring his dark ranks on and storming/ over the open fields like a cloudburst wiping out the sun." A substantial preface from the eminent classicist Bernard Knox discusses Virgil's place in history, while Fagles himself appends a postscript and notes. Scholars still debate whether Virgil supported or critiqued the empire's expansion; Aeneas' story might prompt new reflection now, when Americans are already thinking about international conflict and the unexpected costs of war. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Fagles's new version of Virgil's epic delicately melds the stately rhythms of the original to a contemporary cadence. Having previously produced well-received translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey, he illuminates the poem's Homeric echoes while remaining faithful to Virgil's distinctive voice. Pious Aeneas, passionate Dido, and raging Turnus are driven by the desires and rivalries of the gods-but even the gods recognize their obeisance to fate, and to the foretold Roman Empire that will produce Augustus, Virgil's patron. The excellent introduction, by Bernard Knox, gives historical and literary context, and both Knox and Fagles convincingly argue the epic's continuing relevance. Fagles, writing of Virgil's sense of "the price of empire," notes that "it seems to be a price we keep on paying, in the loss of blood and treasure, time-worn faith and hard-won hope, down to the present day."
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Fagles is simply superb in rendering Vergil's poetry for a modern English reader.
C. Abdella
I have been waiting for Mr. Fagles to provide a translation of this story since I read his translations of the Iliad and Odyssey.
John Benintendi
Books are classics because lots of people have enjoyed reading them over the years.
David W. Drake

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 169 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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279 of 318 people found the following review helpful By T. W. on November 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I got my first look at Fagles' Aeneid today. My test passage was the death of Turnus. Fagles' work is perfectly good, of course, but that wasn't the point of my looking; I wanted, instead, to see if he had improved on Allen Mandelbaum's masterful version. (I don't want a good English Virgil, I want the best English Virgil.) I'll look microscopically at word choices, but I am not a bean-counter, and the point I'm driving at here has to do with how they read and feel as poetry.

12.940, Latin flectere, Mand. "move," Fagles "sway"; 12.941, Latin infelix, Mand. "luckless," Fagles "fateful"; 12.943, Latin Pallantis pueri, Mand. "of Pallas, of the boy," Fagles "young Pallas"; 12.944, Latin straverat, Mand. "stretched," Fagles I forget exactly, something like laid low, felled, killed, etc.

My judgment on these differences: Fagles' words are diffuse and lose some of Mandelbaum's admirable simplicity and directness. When he chooses to be less literal, it seems he's aiming for polish, which I don't want. No doubt he wants to avoid vulgar overliteralness--he knows that the Romans didn't feel the full specific and literal impact of every verbal stem--but instead of deepening the accuracy through attention to idiom, I feel that his choices intrude just a bit too much stuffiness between me and Virgil. Mandelbaum is passionate, his Virgil's pathos unmistakably aimed at the English reader's heart (much like his Dante). Fagles is refined, but without the crisp focus refinement needs. Mandelbaum writes a noble and sober American English that is literary in all of the good senses but none of the bad.

I'll be the first to admit that these are quick and irrational prejudices speaking. I enjoy reading Homer in Greek and Virgil in Latin, and I enjoy reading these epics in English.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Hi, I'm Steve on December 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great new translation. Hold onto your copy of Fitzgerald, but don't hesitate to check out this new edition. This will be my go-to copy of The Aeneid. The book has a useful map, an informative forward, and a handy glossary and list of names. It also goes a long way towards capturing the timelessness of Virgil's poem. Simply put, I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it to any reader. If you have never read Virgil (or Homer), then you need look no further for an illuminating, essential translation.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Daryl M. Williams on January 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Fagles translation turns a classic piece of literature into a readable text. I bought the book because I so enjoyed Fagles translations of The Illiad and The Odyssey, and I have not been disappointed. The translation eschews hexameter verse (almost impossible to preserve in a translation) in favor of the story and readability, but he preserves the poetry which makes these works such a marvel. It makes me want to read the text aloud so the drama will be felt. The introduction by Bernard Knox was tedious and prolix, so I would skip it unless you need background in the classics. I believe Virgil was the first to use a woman, Dido, as a main character. The story of her love of Aeneas and depression when he leaves her at the behest of Mercury is both powerful and contemporary--mankind has not changed. Kudos to Fagles. If you have not read Greek or Roman classics before, the translations by Fagles are sure to captivate you.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Plotinus on March 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is a shame that Vergil's Aeneid is not as well known as Homer's works today. Starting almost immediately upon its publication during the reign of Rome's first Emperor Augustus, this book, the most highly-esteemed work in the Latin language, remained at the heart of Western European self-image until the rediscovery of Homer well into the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages it was an almost holy text, describing the founding of the Holy City (Rome), and written by 'The' Secular Prophet, who in another poem purportedly prophesied the coming of Christ. Vergil was so revered through the ages that the greatest epic writer of the Middle ages, Dante, chose to not only model his own work upon Vergil's, but has Vergil as his guide through the after-life.

The plot is many-layered, telling three tales with one cleverly directed stroke. It tells of the founding of Rome, choosing to describe an episode prior to that of the embarrasing she-wolf myth; the family history and exploits of Rome's new imperial family-line, the Julians, starting with Aeneas himself and his divine mother Venus; and also the entire history of Rome up to that point, including Rome's fights against the Carthaginians, and the battles of Augustus Caesar against Cleopatra. Combined with the story-telling is philosophical wisdom from the stoics, epicureans, and platonists, which contributed to Vergil's reputation as a great polymath and wise teacher. The poetry is modelled on that of Homer and other famous Greek bards such as Apollonius who wrote the definitive tale of Jason and the Argonauts. To many Romans and Medievals, Vergil's epic represented a compendium of knowledge, artfully worked into a poetic adventure with the highest degree of skill.
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