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The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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"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
Virgil, born in 70 B.C., is best remembered for his masterpiece, The Aeneid. He earned great favor by portraying Augustus as a descendant of the half-god, half-man Aeneas. Although Virgil swore on his deathbed that The Aeneid was incomplete and unworthy, it has been considered one of the greatest works of Western literature for more than two thousand years.
David West (1926-2013) 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.
Top customer reviews
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.
If you've hesitated about The Classics, don't. Jump in here with Fagles' The Aeneid. And to feel the joy of the language that Virgil wanted his audience to experience, give it a listen, too. It just might open a whole new world for you, as the poet meant it to be.
The story itself is the postscript to the Trojan War, a sort of Life After Troy follow-up. The Trojans have been driven from Asia and are seeking a new homeland that providence has told them awaits in Italy among the Latium. It's the Roman Empire's origin story - replete with demigods, he-man bravery, and Olympic favoritism. (Reading in the twenty-first century, you can't help but crack a smile, knowing that Aeneas' forbears would one day, centuries later, find themselves returned to Turkey and surrounded by hostile forces as the Roman Empire makes its final stand). THE AENEID doesn't stray too far from the Homeric formula: fate vs. choice, gluttonous feasts, lots of battle porn, and a smattering of hysterical women.
Reading THE AENEID, one can see its influence on later work. It calls to mind Shakespeare, Milton, and, yes, Dante. The beauty of the metaphors and the blockbuster pacing simply work. We're told reading Virgil is vital to understanding Western Literature. Robert Fitzgerald's translation shows us exactly why that is.
Crafting a poem that is a masterpiece in its own right while remains true to the original is the challenge that seeks the genius.