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Virgil's Aeneid (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1997

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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

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446272
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By mp on February 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
John Dryden's 1697 translation of Virgil's Ancient Roman epic "The Aeneid" is, after 300 years, still entertaining and edifying. For students of Restoration/18th Century literature, it is a shining example of the major poetic tradition of the age, Neoclassicism. Dryden, trying with his measured heroic couplets to recapture the high forms of the age of Augustus in Rome, appropriately translates the famous epic of Aeneas, founder of Rome.
"The Aeneid" takes up the Homeric tradition, beginning in the aftermath of "The Iliad" and the Trojan War. Aeneas, protected by his mother, the goddess Venus, is advised to flee Troy with the remaining Trojans. He has been fated to found a greater empire in Italy. Juno, queen of the gods, who supported Greece in the Trojan War, has recently heard that the descendants of Troy will destroy her new favourites in Carthage. All of this raises Juno's ire, and she manipulates men and nature in an effort to end the Trojan line. Through Juno's efforts, and in a manner similar to Homer's "Odyssey," the three day journey from Troy to Rome ends up taking many years.
Aeneas as a hero is a problematic figure. Though he is a skilled warrior and committed leader, his relationships with women are thoroughly troubled in "The Aeneid." In particular, his treatment of Carthage's Queen Dido and later the Trojan women is questionable. In addition, Aeneas has a tendency to let his introspection and attachment to ceremony draw him away from his people when they need his leadership the most. Often, though, these desperate situations allow the next generation, represented by Aeneas's son Ascanius, to shine in action scenes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James M. Rawley on December 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm glad to see Dryden getting all these good reviews. Penguin has done an excellent job annotating his work, and he has many advantages over other translators.

First of all, he really was the finest poet of his age, universally acknowledged as such after Milton's death. Second, he was genuinely popular, his Virgil translations no less than his other work. Third, the English neo-classical period developed a verse form, the heroic couplet, partly in imitation of Latin poets like Virgil, so translating Virgil into that form was an extremely natural thing to do. This gives Dryden a slight edge over Pope, also the finest poet of HIS generation, but translating a less sophisticated writer, Homer, into an even more sophisticated style than Dryden's.

Even at that, Pope's Homer is excellent, but Dryden's Virgil is absolutely supreme.

The original AENEID is so well-written and such a good story that any translation is likely to be exciting, and many modern poets -- by no means universally recognized as the best poets of their generation, and nothing like as popular as Dryden in any case -- have done a good job with Virgil. But Dryden is off the charts, and Penguin does him justice.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By C. L Wilson on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
A Masterpiece in every sense of the word. I have also read John Conington's translation, done in about 1870, but find that Dryden's much earlier one wins out. Even though it has a very outmoded rhyme scheme, so despised in today's world, it is that very rhyme scheme that literally carries you along in the reading, making it much easier. Everything is here, war, unrequited love, violence to the max, blood, gore, horrific battle scenes, slaughter unending, the human condition. Which encompasses the gods, who succumb to using mankind as chess pieces to play out their very human emotions. And how Virgil must have clearly understood the futility of war, as well as its horror - and something else - how it catches hold of man and chases away his reason. The poetry is truly soaring; many scenes are as vivid as any movie screen could make them. The pathos and poignancy are not soon forgotten. Scenes of parents behind city walls seeing their sons shut out and killed when the gates are shut are heartwrenching. Here is an example of the power in Virgil's storytelling:

There is this king, who was evil and a very bad ruler,(one of the things he does as punishment to citizens is to tie a living man to a dead man, face to face, and leave them together while the dead man decays) and his people manage to throw him out. In his escape he takes with him his infant daughter, Camilla, whom he loves very much. (It is one of the poet's strengths that no one is either all good or all bad.) They come to a raging river, and the king quickly realizes that, although he is a very strong swimmer, he cannot possibly cross with Camilla, a babe in arms. What to do? He has with him a stout lance or spear, and lashes Camilla to this.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Platonicus on September 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If Virgil were British, this is what he would have sounded like. Much praise must be give to John Dryden for this accomplishment. For our translator has managed to tune to the Latin lyre to the beat of English metre. These fine and artful heroic rhyming couplets are without a doubt a manifestation of the aesthetic potential of the English language. This edition is preferred above all others, with the exception of Allen Mandelbaum's rendering, which is without rhyme and without rival in the arena of Virgilian translation.
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