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The Aeneid ()


    Arma virumque cano (I sing of arms and the man.)

One of the first great literary works of Western Civilization, The Aeneid is the founding epic of Rome, making the case for a sort of Roman version of Manifest Destiny.  It picks up with the fall of Troy and follows Aeneas and a hardy band of survivors through their victory over and fusion with the Latins.  Along the way, it explains the undying enmity between Rome and Carthage, as Aeneas abandons his lover Dido, Queen of Carthage, and, in its day, it served as a justification for the rise and rule of Caesar Augustus, portraying the Roman Empire as predestined and paralleling Aeneas and Augustus as instruments of that destiny.  In fact, Virgil, despite over a decade of effort, considered the work to be unfinished and unworthy, so he requested that it be burned upon his death, but Augustus, thankfully, intervened and saved it.

One interesting facet of the story is that Aeneas himself often takes a back seat to other characters.  In particular Dido and the Latin warrior Turnus, prince of the Rutulians.  Indeed, Turnus emerges as one of the great heroes in literature as he struggles against the fates and he wars against Aeneas and the Trojans, whom the gods have decreed will rule all of Italy.

One of the great tragedies of modern education is the rarity of Latin and Greek in the curriculum, replaced by French and Spanish.  Hard to believe I wasted 6 years on Spanish classes (never learning to conjugate verbs mind you) when we could have been learning not merely the languages upon so much of English is based, but also studying the great seminal works of Western Civilization.  The epic poems of Virgil and Homer remain vital to our culture and remain well worth reading.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

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Classics
Book-related and General Links:
    -REVIEW: The Aeneid Translated by Robert Fitzgerald ACCEPTING A HEROIC CHALLENGE (C. H. SISSON, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: The Aeneid Translated by Robert Fitzgerald The Return of Virgil (D.S. CARNE-ROSS, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: Immemorial Elms Reviews of The Eclogues of Virgil: A Translation by David Ferry and Virgil: His Life and Times by Peter Levi (Richard Jenkyns, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: Bernard Knox: Virgil the Great, NY Review of Books
                 Virgil's Epic Designs: Ekphrasis in the Aeneid by Michael C.J. Putnam
                 Virgil: His Life and Times by Peter Levi
                 Virgil's Experience: Nature and History; Times, Names, and Places by Richard Jenkyns
    -EXCERPT: AENEID II, 3-56 TRANSLATED BY ROBERT FITZGERALD
    -t h e   c l a s s i c s   p a g e s:  v i r g i l 's   p a g e
    -Vergil's Home Page
    -Introduction to Virgil, The Aeneid (John D. Cox)
    -Plot Summary:  Introduction to Latin Epic : Style of the Aeneid
    -Outline
    -A Bibliographic Guide to Vergil's Aeneid (Shirley Werner)
    -Bibliography of Vergilian Scholarship: 1987-1988
    -The Aeneid--The Core Studies 1 Study Guide (Roger Dunkle, Brooklyn College)
    -Virgil's Aeneid Links
    -Virgil's Aeneid (FAQ's, etc.)
    -Uncle Otto's Ultimate Aeneid Home Page
    -ETEXT: The Aeneid  (Virgil / Translated by John Dryden)
    -ONLINE STUDYGUIDE: The Aeneid   by Virgil (SparkNote by Patrick Gardner)

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