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Virgil: Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1-6 (Loeb Classical Library) Hardcover – January 31, 1916
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Unlike the Mandelbaum or Fitzgerald translations, the Loeb is very literal, which helped me to see how the words fit together syntactically. A page of Latin text faces its translation, and it is easy to look back and forth to understand the translation. Because there are no vocabulary words or footnotes, the Loeb cannot be used alone by a student first learning Vergil. However, used in conjunction with the Boyd or Pharr edition of the Aeneid, it is a wonderful help.
Whether to help with translation or to study for tests, I highly recommend the Loeb. Because the Latin is on a page by itself with the English translation facing it, students can translate without any help whenever they are ready, making the Loeb a uniquely flexible aid to studying Vergil.
Vergil constructs Aeneas, a very minor character in the Iliad, as the princely survivor and pilgrim from Troy, on a journey through the Mediterranean in search of a new home. According to Fitzgerald, who wrote a brief postscript to the poem, Vergil created a Homeric hero set in a Homeric age, purposefully following the Iliad and Odyssey as if they were formula, in the way that many a Hollywood director follows the formulaic pattern of past successful films. Vergil did not create the Trojan legend of Roman origins, but his poem solidified the notion in popular and scholarly sentiment.
Vergil sets the seeds for future animosity between Carthage and Rome in the Aeneid, too -- the curse of queen Dido on the descendants of Aeneas of never-ending strife played into then-recent recollections of war in the Roman mind. Books I through VI are much more studied than VII through XII, but the whole of the Aeneid is a spectacular tale.
True to the Loeb translations generally, this offers the Latin text on one page and an English translation on the facing page; this translation is done by G.P. Goold, working from H.R. Fairclough's standard edition (which is true also for the second half of the Aeneid, in the second volume of the Loeb printing). The translations are careful and work more at being faithful to the text in literal without being choppy manner; poetic license (which can often wreak havoc on a comparison of original language to translation analyses) is kept to a minimum, but not entirely absent here.
Vergil died before he could complete the story. He wished it to be burned; fortunately, Augustus had other ideas. Still, there are incomplete lines and thoughts, and occasional conflicts in the storyline that one assumes might have been worked out in the end, had more editing time been available. Despite these, the Aeneid remains a masterpiece, and the Loeb editions will remain standards for academic scholarship for some time to come.
Classics students depended on the older edition for its convenience and assistance (I used it myself nearly 40 years ago), but had to go to other editions for more scholarly purposes. This has now been remedied.