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The Aeneid Paperback – May 19, 2009
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"Ruden's translation separates itself from others by using the same number of verses as Vergil does. She has produced a fresh poetic translation for contemporary English-speaking readers, one that speaks with its own voice."—David Quint, author of Cervantes's Novel of Modern Times: A New Reading of "Don Quijote"
"Sarah Ruden's translation is distinguished by the quality of its verse, the unrelenting propulsive force of its narrative drive, and the intelligence with which she has shaped Vergil to fit her pentameter lines."―Charles Martin, translator, Metamorphoses: A New Translation
"Grace and power reside in Sarah Ruden’s economical line-for-line translation of The Aeneid. Like Vergil’s Latin, her English may easily be lifted off the page and given voice."―Janet Lembke, translator of Virgil’s Georgics
"Toning down the magniloquence, Sarah Ruden gives us an Aeneid more intimate in tone and soberer in measure than we are used to—a gift for which many will be grateful."—J.M. Coetzee
"By conveying the emotional force of the Latin, Ruden makes the Aeneid newly vivid, exciting, and relevant. This translation proves why, for centuries, Virgil's remarkable epic has been required reading."―Mary Lefkowitz, author of Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths
About the Author
Sarah Ruden’s previous translations include Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Petronius' Satyricon. She is a visiting scholar at Yale Divinity School.
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Yet she had heard an ancient rumor fly,
Long cited by the people of the sky,
That times to come should see the Trojan race
Her Carthage ruin, and her tow'rs deface...
Nowadays most people do not like rhyming couplets; they find the rhyming scheme (AA/BB/CC etc) monotonous. But if you can get used to this scheme, Dryden's translation will take off for you.
You can get this book free on Kindle. But, for a superb listening experience, treat yourself to the Audible Audio Edition (21 dollars, well worth it), read by the excellent reader Michael Page.
For some reason the best readers all seem to be British. I think it's because they were trained in classical acting (Shakespearian, Restoration, 18th century) or at least grew up with classical theater as part of their culture. One of the best readings I have ever heard is Simon Prebble's reading of Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana," issued in cassette tapes and now sadly out of print. (Why are some of the most superb audio recordings no longer available? Some other examples are Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" with Irene Worth - who came from America - reading Cleopatra; and John Milton's "Paradise Lost" read by Anthony Quayle, only a small portion of which can now be found, if you scour LP stores.)
There is a some confusion among the commenters about which book they are commenting about. This book is the Dryden translation of Virgil's Aeneid, not the Mandelbaum or some other translation.
My Latin is more or less good enough to read Virgil in the original, although that always means a lot of work. So sometimes I just want to sit down and read it without having to use a lexicon. When I do, this is the edition I turn to, definitely. F. Dryden!
What I like about Humphries is that his version retains the remote, cold dignity and fluid grace of the original.
I will admit to having issues with some of this word choices, but on balance I have never seen Humphries beaten at conveying the stateliness, the high import, and the gravitas of what's going on.
It's more of a feel issue rather than an accuracy of translation issue.
I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself well, but I'll say this: if you get good enough to read Virgil in the original, your respect for this will be increased.
I teach literature in translation and have assigned Fitzgerald, West, and Fagles over the years. I recently shopped a Ruden excerpt in one of my classes; and, judging from an informal poll, many of my students liked and understood it at least as well as the Fitzgerald Aeneid they're currently reading. These same high school students often crave accessibility over either spare poetic vigor or the heuristic alterity of fairly literal translations. To my ear, Ruden offers all three in her sharply beautiful translation.
I think she is working on Aeschylus' Oresteia for the Modern Library. I'm more than intrigued to see what she has accomplished there--could be another incisive, true-sounding translation of a sometimes inscrutable text.