The Aeneid: A New Verse Translation / Edition 1

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Overview

This extraordinary new translation of Vergil's Aeneid stands alone among modern translations for its accuracy and poetic appeal. Sarah Ruden, a lyric poet in her own right, renders the classic poem in the same number of lines as the original work—a very rare feat that maintains technical fidelity to the original without diminishing its emotional power.

Ruden’s translation follows Vergil’s content faithfully, and the economy and fast pace she achieves are true to his own unflagging narrative force. With its central theme of national destiny versus. the destiny of individuals, the poem has great resonance in our own times, and Ruden adheres closely to the poet’s message. Her rendering of Vergil’s words gives immediacy to his struggling faith that history has beauty and purpose in spite of its pain. With this distinguished translation, modern readers can experience for themselves the timeless power of Vergil's masterpiece.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books

“. . . The translation is alive in every part. . . . [T]he first translation since Dryden’s that can be read as a great English poem in itself.”— Garry Wills, New York Review of Books

— Garry Wills

The New Criterion

"Fast, clean, and clear, sometimes terribly clever, and often strikingly beautiful. . . . For me, hers is the cleanest of modern verse translations."—Richard Garner, The New Criterion

— Richard Garner

Translation and Literature

"Beautifully done. . . . Ruden's version earns special praise for measuring up to the challenge set by Lattimore and Fagles and then going one better in her fidelity to the actual form of the poem, without sacrificing fidelity to the word to any greater extent than they. It deserves to be widely read and admired."—Joseph Farrell, Translation and Literature

— Joseph Farrell

New York Review of Books - Garry Wills
“. . . The translation is alive in every part. . . . [T]he first translation since Dryden’s that can be read as a great English poem in itself.”— Garry Wills, New York Review of Books
David Quint
"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"
Charles Martin
"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
Janet Lembke
"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
J.M. Coetzee
“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
Mary Lefkowitz
"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
The New Criterion - Richard Garner
"Fast, clean, and clear, sometimes terribly clever, and often strikingly beautiful. . . . For me, hers is the cleanest of modern verse translations."—Richard Garner, The New Criterion
Translation and Literature - Len Krisak
“. . . Ruden . . . a poet of considerable skill, has chosen boldly. Her work is . . . [a] rarity. . . . I cannot stress strongly enough Ruden’s skill with near-Swinburnean sound effects . . .” — Len Krisak, Translation and Literature, Volume 18
Translation and Literature - Joseph Farrell
"Beautifully done. . . . Ruden's version earns special praise for measuring up to the challenge set by Lattimore and Fagles and then going one better in her fidelity to the actual form of the poem, without sacrificing fidelity to the word to any greater extent than they. It deserves to be widely read and admired."—Joseph Farrell, Translation and Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300119046
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet 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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Read an Excerpt

THE Aeneid Vergil


By SARAH RUDEN

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2008 Yale University
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-11904-6


Chapter One

Arms and a man I sing, the first from Troy, A fated exile to Lavinian shores In Italy. On land and sea, divine will- And Juno's unforgetting rage-harassed him. War racked him too, until he set his city 5 And gods in Latium. There his Latin race rose, With Alban patriarchs, and Rome's high walls. Muse, tell me why. What stung the queen of heaven, What insult to her power made her drive This righteous hero through so many upsets 10 And hardships? Can divine hearts know such anger? Carthage, an ancient Tyrian settlement, Faces the Tiber's mouth in far-off Italy; Rich, and experienced and fierce in war. They say that it was Juno's favorite, second 15 Even to Samos. Carthage held her weapons, Her chariot. From the start she planned that Carthage Would rule the world-if only fate allowed! But she had heard that one day Troy's descendants Would pull her Tyrian towers to the ground. 20 A war-proud race with broad domains would come To cut down Africa. The Fates ordained it. Saturn's child feared this. She recalled the war That she had fought at Troy for her dear Greeks- Andalso what had caused her savage anger. 25 Deep in her heart remained the verdict given By Paris, and his insult to her beauty, And the rape and privileges of Ganymede- A Trojan. In her rage, she kept from Italy Those spared by cruel Achilles and the Greeks. 30 They tossed on endless seas, went wandering, Fate-driven, year on year around the world's seas. It cost so much to found the Roman nation.

Sicily fell from sight. They sailed with joy Into the open, bronze prows churning foam. 35 But Juno, with her deep, unhealing heart-wound, Muttered, "Will I give up? Have I been beaten In keeping Italy from the Trojan king? Fate blocks me. But then why could Pallas burn The Argive fleet and drown the men it carried, 40 Only to punish Ajax' frenzied crime? Out of the clouds she hurled Jove's hungry fire, Scattered the ships and overturned the sea. Ajax, panting his life out, pierced with flame, She whirled away and pinioned on a sharp rock. 45 But I, parading as the queen of heaven, Jove's wife and sister, fight a single people For years. Will anybody now beseech me, Bow to me, and put presents on my altar?" Her heart aflame with all of this, the goddess 50 Went to Aeolia, land of storm clouds, teeming With wild winds. There King Aeolus rules a vast cave That struggling winds and howling tempests fill. He disciplines them, chains them in their prison. They shriek with rage around the bolted doors; 55 The mountain echoes. Seated on a pinnacle, Aeolus holds a scepter, checks their anger- Without him, they would seize land, sea, and deep sky To carry with them in their breakneck flight. Fearing this, the almighty father shut them 60 In that black cave and heaped high mountains on it, And set a ruler over them to slacken Or pull the reins in, strict in his control. Juno approached him now and made this plea: "The king of men and father of the gods 65 Gives you the right to rouse and soothe the waves. A race I hate sails the Tyrrhenian sea, Bringing Troy's beaten gods to Italy. Goad your winds into fury, swamp the ships, Or scatter them, strew bodies on the water. 70 Fourteen voluptuous nymphs belong to me, And the most beautiful is Deiopea. Her I will make your own, in steadfast union, If you will help me. She will spend her life With you-the lovely children that you'll father!" 75 Aeolus said, "You merely must decide, My sovereign. I must hurry to obey. My power, my modest kingdom, and Jove's favor You brought me. I recline at the gods' banquets, I rule the stormy clouds because of you." 80 With his upended spear he struck a flank Of the hollow mountain. Like a battle charge, The winds pour out. They spiral through the world- The East and South gales, and the mass of whirlwinds From Africa swoop down, uproot the sea, 85 And send enormous billows rolling shoreward. The men begin to shout, the ropes to squeal. Sudden clouds snatch away the daylight sky From Trojan sight. Black night roosts on the sea. Heaven resounds, and fires dance in its heights. 90 The world becomes a threat of instant death. A swift and icy terror numbed Aeneas. He moaned and held his hands up to the stars And gave a cry: "Three times and four times blessed Are those who perished in their fathers' sight 95 Beneath Troy's walls. You, Diomedes, boldest Of Greeks, could you not spill my soul and let me Fall on the fields of Troy, like raging Hector Slain by Achilles' spear, or tall Sarpedon, Where the Simois River churns beneath her ripples 100 Shields, helmets, bodies of so many strong men?" A screaming northern gale flew past his wild words And slammed the sails, and pulled a wave toward heaven. The oars broke, the prow swerved and set the ship Against a looming precipice of water. 105 Crews dangled on the crest, or glimpsed the seabed Between the waves. Sand poured through seething water. Three times the South Wind hurled them at rocks lurking Midway across-Italians call them Altars; Their massive spine protrudes-three times the East Wind 110 Drove them toward sandy shallows-awful sight- And rammed them tight, and ringed them with a sand wall. Before Aeneas' eyes a towering wave tipped, To strike head-on the ship of staunch Orontes And the Lycians, and whirled the helmsman out 115 Head first. The boat was whipped in three tight circles, And then the hungry whirlpool swallowed it. The endless sea showed scatterings of swimmers. Planks, gear, and Trojan treasure strewed the waves. The storm subdued the strong ships carrying 120 Ilioneus, Abas, brave Achates, And old Aletes. Deadly water pushed Through the hulls' weakened joints, and fissures started To gape. Now Neptune felt, with some alarm, The roaring havoc that the storm let loose. 125 Even the still depths spurted up. He raised His calm face from the surface and looked down. He saw Aeneas' ships thrown everywhere, Trojans crushed under waves, the plunging sky. Juno's own brother knew her guile and anger. 130 He called the East and South Winds and addressed them: "Is this the arrogance of noble birth? Without my holy sanction, you have dared To churn up land and sea and raise these mountains? Which I-but first I'll calm these waves you've roused. 135 Later I'll punish you with more than words. Get out now, fast, and tell this to your ruler: I was allotted kingship of the sea, And the harsh trident. In his massive stone hall- Your home, East Wind, and all the rest-we let him 140 Swagger, but he must keep that dungeon locked." Faster than words, he calmed the swollen sea, Chased off the mass of clouds, brought back the sun. Cymothoe and Triton heaved the ships Off jagged boulders. Neptune with his trident 145 Helped them. He freed vast sandbanks, smoothed the surface, His weightless chariot grazing the waves' peaks; As often in a crowded gathering Crude commoners in rage begin to riot, Torches and stones fly, frenzy finds its weapons- 150 But if they see a stern and blameless statesman, They all fall silent, keen for him to speak. Then he will tame their hearts and guide their passions: Like this, the roar of the broad sea grew quiet Under the lord's gaze. Now beneath a clear sky, 155 He slacked the reins and flew on with the breeze. Aeneas' worn-out group now fought to reach The nearest shore, turning toward Libya. A bay runs inland, and an island makes A harbor with its sides; waves from the deep 160 Break there and flutter out their separate ways. Mammoth cliffs flank the place, and twin stone spires Loom to the sky. Beneath them, smooth and safe The water hushes. Forests as a backdrop Quiver, a grove with its black shadows rises. 165 At the bay's head, rocks dip to form a cavern With a clear spring and seats of natural rock. Nymphs live there. At the shore no rope is needed To hold worn ships, no hooked and biting anchor. Aeneas landed seven ships, regrouped 170 From the whole fleet. The Trojans went ashore In great and yearning love of that dry sand. Still dripping with salt water, they lay down. To start, Achates struck a spark from flint And caught the flame in leaves and fed it dry twigs 175 From all sides, till it blazed up through the tinder. Downheartedly they got out instruments Of Ceres, and the soaking grain they'd rescued; They had to sear it dry before they ground it. Meanwhile Aeneas climbed a crag to view 180 The great expanse of sea. Where did the wind toss Antheus, Capys, Caicus' lofty prow Hung with his arms-or any Trojan vessel? There was no ship in sight; but three stags wandered The shore. Entire herds came after them, 185 And grazed in a long column through the valley. Taking a stand, he snatched the bow and arrows That his devoted friend Achates carried. He brought the strutting, branching-antlered leaders To the ground first, and then his arrows chased 190 The mass in havoc through the leafy groves. Exulting, he continued till he brought down Seven large bodies for his seven ships, Then went to share the meat out at the harbor, And with it casks of wine that good Acestes 195 Had stashed with them when they left Sicily- A noble gift. Aeneas spoke this comfort: "Friends, we are all at home with suffering- Some worse than this-but god will end this too. You came near Scylla's frenzy, and the deep roar 200 At the cliffs, you saw the rocks the Cyclops threw. Revive your hearts, shake off your gloomy fear. Sometime you may recall today with pleasure. We fight through perils and catastrophes To Latium, where divine fate promises 205 A peaceful homeland, a new Trojan kingdom. Endure and live until our fortunes change." Sick with colossal burdens, he shammed hope On his face, and buried grief deep in his heart. Trojans around his prey prepared their feast, 210 Ripped the hide off the ribs and bared the guts. Some of them pierced the quivering chunks with spits, Some set out cauldrons, others tended flames. The food restored and filled them-the old wine, The rich game-as they stretched out on the grass. 215 After the feast, their hunger put away, They dwelt in longing on their missing friends. They hoped, they feared: were these men still alive, Or past the end and deaf to any summons? Loyal Aeneas, most of all, was groaning 220 Softly for keen Orontes, Amycus, Lycus, For Gyas and Cloanthus-brave men, hard deaths.

The day was over. Jove looked down from heaven At the sail-flying waters, outstretched lands And shores, and far-flung nations. At the sky's peak, 225 He fixed his gaze on Libyan territory. His mind was anxious, busy. And now Venus Spoke these sad words to him, her shining eyes Filling with tears, "You, everlasting ruler Of gods and men and fearful lightning-thrower, 230 What great crime did Aeneas and the Trojans Commit against you? They have died and died, But in the whole world found no Italy. You promised that the circling years would draw Teucer's new lineage from them, Romans, chieftains, 235 To rule an empire on the land and sea. Father, what new thought turns you from this purpose? When Troy calamitously fell, I weighed it Against the fate to come, to my great comfort. And yet the pummeling fortunes of these heroes 240 Don't change. When will you end their trials, great ruler? Antenor could escape the swarm of Greeks; Into Illyrian coves, into Liburnia, He safely voyaged, to the Timavus' source, Where the sea breaks through nine mouths, and the mountain 245 Roars, and the echoing waves oppress the fields. And here he founded Padua, a homeland For Trojans, with a Trojan name, its gateway Displaying Trojan arms. He has his rest there. But we, your children, promised heirs to heaven, 250 Have lost our ships-obscene!-through Someone's anger And treachery. We are kept from Italy. Is this our new realm, won through righteousness?" The gods' and mortals' father gave his daughter The smile that clears the sky of storms and kissed her 255 Lightly, and this was how he answered her: "Take heart-no one will touch the destiny Of your people. You will see Lavinium In its promised walls, and raise your brave Aeneas To the stars. No new thoughts change my purposes. 260 But since you suffer, I will tell the future, Opening to the light fate's secret book. In Italy your son will crush a fierce race In a great war. With the Rutulians beaten, Three winters and three summers he'll shape walls 265 And warrior customs, as he reigns in Latium. But his son Ascanius, now called Iulus too (He was named Ilus during Ilium's empire), Will rule while thirty spacious years encircle Their circling months, and he will move the kingdom 270 To Alba Longa, heaving up strong ramparts. Three centuries the dynasty of Hector Will govern, until Ilia, royal priestess, Conceives twin boys by Mars and gives them birth. And the wolf's nursling (glad to wear brown wolfskin), 275 Romulus, will then lead the race and found The walls of Mars for Romans-named for him. For them I will not limit time or space. Their rule will have no end. Even hard Juno, Who terrorizes land and sea and sky, 280 Will change her mind and join me as I foster The Romans in their togas, the world's masters. I have decreed it. The swift years will bring Anchises' clan as rulers into Phthia, And once-renowned Mycenae, and beaten Argos. 285 The noble Trojan line will give us Caesar- A Julian name passed down from the great Iulus- With worldwide empire, glory heaven-high. At ease you will receive him with his burden Of Eastern plunder. Mortals will send him prayers here. 290 Then wars will end, cruel history grow gentle. Vesta, old Faith, and Quirinus, with Remus His twin, will make the laws. Tight locks of iron Will close War's grim gates. Inside, godless Furor, Drooling blood on a heap of brutal weapons, 295 Will roar against the chains that pinion him." Concluding, he dispatched the son of Maia To have the Trojans welcomed down in Carthage With its new fort. Dido, who was not privy To fate, might keep them out. The god's wings rowed him 300 Through the vast air, to stand on Libya's shore. Since it was heaven's will, the fierce Phoenicians Peacefully yielded; most of all their queen Turned a calm, gentle face to meet the Trojans. Steadfast Aeneas had a worried night, 305 But at the light of nurturing dawn decided To go and find out where the wind had brought them And who or what-the land looked wild-lived here, And bring what he could learn to his companions. The fleet lay hidden in a tree-lined inlet, 310 Under a rocky overhang enclosed By bristling shade. He set off with Achates, Holding two quivering pikes with iron blades. Deep in the woods his mother came to him, A girl in face and clothes-armed, as in Sparta, 315 Or like Harpalyce in Thrace, outracing The breakneck Hebrus with her harried horses- A huntress with a bow slung, quick to hand, From her shoulders, and the wind in her free hair, And a loosely tied-up tunic over bare knees: 320 She greeted them and asked, "Please, have you met One of my sisters wandering here, or shouting, Chasing a foam-mouthed boar? She has a quiver, And wears a spotted lynx skin and a belt." Venus stopped speaking, and her son began. 325 "Young girl, I haven't seen or heard your sister. But I should call you-what? There's nothing mortal In your face or voice. No, you must be a goddess: Apollo's sister? Daughter of a nymph clan? No matter: have compassion, ease our hardship. 330 On which of the world's shores have we been thrown? Beneath which tract of sky? The wind and huge waves Drove us to this strange land in which we wander. I'll slaughter many victims at your altar." She answered, "That would surely not be right. 335 These quivers are what Tyrian girls all carry; We all wear purple boots, laced on our calves. This is the Punic realm and Agenor's city. Unconquerable Africans surround us. Dido is queen; she came here out of Tyre, 340 Escaping from her brother's persecution. It's quite a story; I'll just tell the main parts. Her husband was Sychaeus, the Phoenician Richest in land-and she, poor thing, adored him. Her father gave her as a virgin to him 345 In marriage. But Pygmalion her brother Is king, and there is no one more depraved. Hate rose between them. In blind lust for gold, And indifferent to his sister's love, Pygmalion Wickedly caught Sychaeus at an altar 350 And murdered him. He dodged and made up stories, Cynically drawing out her anxious hope. But in her dreams there came to her the vision Of her unburied husband's strange, pale face. He bared his stabbed chest, told of that cruel altar, 355 Stripped bare the monstrous crime the house had hidden. He urged a quick escape. To aid her journey Out of her country, he revealed where treasure, A mass of gold and silver, lay long buried. Alarmed, she made her plans, alerted friends- 360 All those who also hated the cruel tyrant Or lived in sharp fear. Seizing ready ships, They loaded them with gold. The ocean carried Greedy Pygmalion's wealth. A woman led.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE Aeneid Vergil by SARAH RUDEN Copyright © 2008 by Yale University. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Translator's Preface....................vii
Book One....................1
Book Two....................24
Book Three....................48
Book Four....................70
Book Five....................91
Book Six....................117
Book Seven....................144
Book Eight....................168
Book Nine....................190
Book Ten....................214
Book Eleven....................241
Book Twelve....................268
Glossary....................297
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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    Translation of The Aeneid

    Having read this book, very reluctantly in high school, I was not eager to return to it but decided I'd try it after reading a positive review of this translation. It is marvelous...fast paced, poetic, easy to follow. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a rousing good story that has lasted for centuries and is part of our Western tradition. Forget your experience with it in school: this translation keeps one turning the pages and enjoying the language.

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    Posted September 28, 2009

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    Posted July 30, 2009

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