Virgil's Aeneid

Virgil's Aeneid

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by Virgil
     
 

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"Written by the Roman poet Virgil more than two thousand years ago, the story of Aeneas' seven-year journey from the ruins of Troy to Italy, where he becomes the founding ancestor of Rome, is a narrative on an epic scale: Aeneas and his companions contend not only with human enemies but with the whim of the gods. His destiny preordained by Jupiter, Aeneas is… See more details below

Overview

"Written by the Roman poet Virgil more than two thousand years ago, the story of Aeneas' seven-year journey from the ruins of Troy to Italy, where he becomes the founding ancestor of Rome, is a narrative on an epic scale: Aeneas and his companions contend not only with human enemies but with the whim of the gods. His destiny preordained by Jupiter, Aeneas is nevertheless assailed by dangers invoked by the goddess Juno, and by the torments of love, loyalty, and despair. Virgil's supreme achievement is not only to reveal Rome's imperial future for his patron Augustus, but to invest it with both passion and suffering for all those caught up in the fates of others." Frederick Ahl's new translation captures the excitement, poetic energy, and intellectual force of the original in a way that has never been done before. Echoing the Virgilian hexameter the verse stays almost line for line with the original in an accurate style.

Editorial Reviews

Erich Segal
Allen Mandelbaum has produced a living Aeneid, a version that is unmistakably poetry." -- The New York Times Book Review
Bernard M. W. Knox
A brilliant translation; the only one since Dryden which reads like English verse and conveys some of the majesty and pathos of the original.
David Ignatow
Mandelbaum has... given us a contemporary experience of the masterpiece, at last.
The New Yorker
Fagles's new version of Virgil's epic delicately melds the stately rhythms of the original to a contemporary cadence. . . . He illuminates the poem's Homeric echoes while remaining faithful to Virgil's distinctive voice.
The New York Times Book Review
A new and noble standard bearer . . . There's a capriciousness to Fagles's line well suited to this vast story's ebb and flow.
Library Journal

Ahl (classics & comparative literature, Cornell Univ.) has previously published translations of Seneca's and Lucan's works and has written books on Sophocles, Lucan, and Ovid. His new translation of this great Latin classic, Virgil's tale of Aeneas's seven-year journey from Troy to Italy, joins recent efforts by Stanley Lombardo (Hackett, 2005) and Robert Fagles (Penguin, 2006). Here, Ahl employs a version of Virgil's hexameter verse, in which the first syllable is accented. Unlike previous translators, he tries to capture some of Virgil's wordplay, puns, and anagrams, aiming to remain true to the original Latin. The overall results are accurate but not as fluent or vigorous as the translations by Lombardo and Fagles. While those translations remain the first choice for general readers interested mainly in The Aeneid's narrative aspects, Ahl's translation is good for those wanting a fuller sense of Virgil's language and poetic artistry. In addition to an indexed glossary of names, Ahl includes notes explaining references; classicist Elaine Fantham offers a substantial introduction discussing Virgil, Aeneas, and The Aeneid. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.
—T.L. Cooksey

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385093187
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/15/1953
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.23(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Aeneid of Virgil


By Virgil

University of California Press

Copyright © 1982 Virgil
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0520045505


Chapter One

Book I

I sing of arms and of a man: his fate had made him fugitive; he was the first

to journey from the coasts of Troy as far

as Italy and the Lavinian shores.

Across the lands and waters he was battered 5

beneath the violence of High Ones, for

the savage Juno's unforgetting anger;

and many sufferings were his in war-

until he brought a city into being

and carried in his gods to Latium; 10

from this have come the Latin race, the lords

of Alba, and the ramparts of high Rome.

Tell me the reason, Muse: what was the wound

to her divinity, so hurting her

that she, the queen of gods, compelled a man 15

remarkable for goodness to endure

so many crises, meet so many trials?

Can such resentment hold the minds of gods?

There was an ancient city they called Carthage-

a colony of refugees from Tyre- 20

a city facing Italy, but far

away from Tiber's mouth: extremely rich

and, when it came to waging war, most fierce.

This land was Juno's favorite-it is said-

more dear than her own Samos; here she kept 25

her chariot and armor; even then

the goddess had this hope and tender plan:

for Carthage to become the capital

of nations, if the Fates would just consent.

But she had heard that, from the blood of Troy, 30

a race had come that some day would destroy

the citadels of Tyre; from it, a people

would spring, wide-ruling kings, men proud in battle

and destined to annihilate her Libya.

The Fates had so decreed. And Saturn's daughter- 35

in fear of this, remembering the old war

that she had long since carried on at Troy

for her beloved Argos (and, indeed,

the causes of her bitterness, her sharp

and savage hurt, had not yet left her spirit; 40

for deep within her mind lie stored the judgment

of Paris and the wrong done to her scorned

beauty, the breed she hated, and the honors

that had been given ravished Ganymede)-

was angered even more; for this, she kept 45

far off from Latium the Trojan remnant

left by the Greeks and pitiless Achilles.

For long years they were cast across all waters,

fate-driven, wandering from sea to sea.

It was so hard to found the race of Rome. 50

With Sicily scarce out of sight, the Trojans

had gladly spread their canvas on the sea,

turning the salt foam with their brazen prows,

when Juno, holding fast within her heart

the everlasting insult, asked herself: 55

"Am I, defeated, simply to stop trying,

unable to turn back the Trojan king

from Italy? No doubt, the Fates won't have it.

But Pallas-was she powerful enough

to set the Argive fleet on fire, to drown 60

the crewmen in the deep, for an outrage done

by only one infuriated man,

Ajax, Oileus' son? And she herself

could fling Jove's racing lightning from the clouds

and smash their galleys, sweep the sea with tempests. 65

Then Ajax' breath was flame from his pierced chest;

she caught him up within a whirlwind; she

impaled him on a pointed rock. But I,

the queen of gods, who stride along as both

the sister and the wife of Jove, have warred 70

so many years against a single nation.

For after this, will anyone adore

the majesty of Juno or, before

her altars, pay her honor, pray to her?"

Then-burning, pondering-the goddess reaches 75

Aeolia, the motherland of storms,

a womb that always teems with raving south winds.

In his enormous cave King Aeolus

restrains the wrestling winds, loud hurricanes;

he tames and sways them with his chains and prison. 80

They rage in indignation at their cages;

the mountain answers with a mighty roar.

Lord Aeolus sits in his high citadel;

he holds his scepter, and he soothes their souls

and calms their madness. Were it not for this, 85

then surely they would carry off the sea

and lands and steepest heaven, sweeping them

across the emptiness. But fearing that,

the all-able Father hid the winds within

dark caverns, heaping over them high mountains; 90

and he assigned to them a king who should,

by Jove's sure edict, understand just when

to jail and when, commanded, to set free.

Then Juno, suppliant, appealed to him:

"You, Aeolus-to whom the king of men 95

and father of the gods has given this:

to pacify the waves or, with the wind,

to incite them-over the Tyrrhenian

now sails my enemy, a race that carries

the beaten household gods of Ilium 100

to Italy. Hammer your winds to fury

and ruin their swamped ships, or scatter them

and fling their crews piecemeal across the seas.

I have twice-seven nymphs with splendid bodies;

the loveliest of them is Deiopea, 105

and I shall join her to you in sure marriage

and name her as your own, that she may spend

all of her years with you, to make you father

of fair sons. For such service, such return."

And Aeolus replied: "O Queen, your task 110

is to discover what you wish; and mine,

to act at your command. For you have won

this modest kingdom for me, and my scepter,

and Jove's goodwill. You gave me leave to lean

beside the banquets of the gods, and you 115

have made me lord of tempests and of clouds."

His words were done. He turned his lance head, struck

the hollow mountain on its side. The winds,

as in a column, hurry through the breach;

they blow across the earth in a tornado. 120

Together, Eurus, Notus, and-with tempest

on tempest-Africus attack the sea;

they churn the very bottom of the deep

and roll vast breakers toward the beaches; cries

of men, the creaking of the cables rise. 125

Then, suddenly, the cloud banks snatch away

the sky and daylight from the Trojans' eyes.

Black night hangs on the waters, heavens thunder,

and frequent lightning glitters in the air;

everything intends quick death to men. 130

At once Aeneas' limbs fall slack with chill.

He groans and stretches both hands to the stars.

He calls aloud: "O, three and four times blessed

were those who died before their fathers' eyes

beneath the walls of Troy. Strongest of all 135

the Danaans, o Diomedes, why

did your right hand not spill my lifeblood, why

did I not fall upon the Ilian fields,

there where ferocious Hector lies, pierced by

Achilles' javelin, where the enormous 140

Sarpedon now is still, and Simois

has seized and sweeps beneath its waves so many

helmets and shields and bodies of the brave!"

* * *

Aeneas hurled these words. The hurricane

is howling from the north; it hammers full 145

against his sails. The seas are heaved to heaven.

The oars are cracked; the prow sheers off; the waves

attack broadside; against his hull the swell

now shatters in a heap, mountainous, steep.

Some sailors hang upon a wave crest; others 150

stare out at gaping waters, land that lies

below the waters, surge that seethes with sand.

And then the south wind snatches up three ships

and spins their keels against the hidden rocks-

those rocks that, rising in midsea, are called 155

by the Italians "Altars"-like a monstrous

spine stretched along the surface of the sea.

Meanwhile the east wind wheels another three

off from the deep and, terrible to see,

against the shoals and shifting silt, against 160

the shallows, girding them with mounds of sand.

Before Aeneas' eyes a massive breaker

smashes upon its stern the ship that carries

the Lycian crewmen led by true Orontes.

The helmsman is beaten down; he is whirled headlong. 165

Three times at that same spot the waters twist

and wheel the ship around until a swift

whirlpool has swallowed it beneath the swell.

And here and there upon the wide abyss,

among the waves, are swimmers, weapons, planks, 170

and Trojan treasure. Now the tempest takes

the sturdy galleys of Ilioneus

and brave Achates, now the ships of Abas

and many-yeared Aletes; all receive

their enemy, the sea, through loosened joints 175

along their sides and through their gaping seams.

But Neptune felt the fracas and the frenzy;

and shaken by the unleashed winds, the wrenching

of the still currents from the deep seabed,

he raised his tranquil head above the surface. 180

And he can see the galleys of Aeneas

scattered across the waters, with the Trojans

dismembered by the waves and fallen heavens.

Her brother did not miss the craft and wrath

of Juno. Catching that, he calls up both 185

the east wind and the west. His words are these:

"Has pride of birth made you so insolent?

So, Winds, you dare to mingle sky and land,

heave high such masses, without my command?

Whom I-? But no, let me first calm the restless 190

swell; you shall yet atone-another time-

with different penalties for these your crimes.

But now be off, and tell your king these things:

that not to him, but me, has destiny

allotted the dominion of the sea 195

and my fierce trident. The enormous rocks

are his-your home, East Wind. Let Aeolus

be lord of all that lies within that hall

and rule in that pent prison of the winds."

So Neptune speaks and, quicker than his tongue, 200

brings quiet to the swollen waters, sets

the gathered clouds to flight, calls back the sun.

Together, then, Cymothoe and Triton,

thrusting, dislodge the ships from jagged crags.

But now the god himself takes up his trident 205

to lift the galleys, and he clears a channel

across the vast sandbank. He stills the sea

and glides along the waters on light wheels.

And just as, often, when a crowd of people

is rocked by a rebellion, and the rabble 210

rage in their minds, and firebrands and stones

fly fast-for fury finds its weapons-if,

by chance, they see a man remarkable

for righteousness and service, they are silent

and stand attentively; and he controls 215

their passion by his words and cools their spirits:

so all the clamor of the sea subsided

after the Father, gazing on the waters

and riding under cloudless skies, had guided

his horses, let his willing chariot run. 220

And now Aeneas' weary crewmen hurry

to find the nearest land along their way.

They turn toward Libya's coast. There is a cove

within a long, retiring bay; and there

an island's jutting arms have formed a harbor 225

where every breaker off the high sea shatters

and parts into the shoreline's winding shelters.

Along this side and that there towers, vast,

a line of cliffs, each ending in like crags;

beneath the ledges tranquil water lies 230

silent and wide; the backdrop-glistening

forests and, beetling from above, a black

grove, thick with bristling shadows. Underneath

the facing brow: a cave with hanging rocks,

sweet waters, seats of living stone, the home 235

of nymphs. And here no cable holds tired ships,

no anchor grips them fast with curving bit.

Aeneas shelters here with seven ships-

all he can muster, all the storm has left.

The Trojans, longing so to touch the land, 240

now disembark to gain the wished-for sands.

They stretch their salt-soaked limbs along the beach.

Achates was the first to strike a spark

from flint and catch the fire up with leaves.

He spread dry fuel about, and then he waved 245

the tinder into flame. Tired of their trials,

the Trojan crewmen carry out the tools

of Ceres and the sea-drenched corn of Ceres.

And they prepare to parch the salvaged grain

by fire and, next, to crush it under stone. 250

Meanwhile Aeneas climbs a crag to seek

a prospect far and wide across the deep,

if he can only make out anything

of Antheus and his Phrygian galleys, or

of Capys, or the armor of Caicus 255

on his high stern. There is no ship in sight;

all he can see are three stags wandering

along the shore, with whole herds following

behind, a long line grazing through the valley.

He halted, snatched his bow and racing arrows, 260

the weapons carried by the true Achates.

And first he lays the leaders low, their heads

held high with tree-like antlers; then he drives

the herds headlong into the leafy groves;

they panic, like a rabble, at his arrows. 265

He does not stay his hand until he stretches,

victoriously, seven giant bodies

along the ground, in number like his galleys.

This done, he seeks the harbor and divides

the meat among his comrades. And he shares 270

the wine that had been stowed by kind Acestes

in casks along the shores of Sicily:

the wine that, like a hero, the Sicilian

had given to the Trojans when they left.<

Continues...

Continues...


Excerpted from The Aeneid of Virgil by Virgil Copyright © 1982 by Virgil. 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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What People are saying about this

J. M. Coetzee
Robert Fagles gives the full range of Virgil's drama, grandeur, and pathos in vigorous, supple modern English. It is fitting that one of the great translators of The Iliad and The Odyssey in our times should also emerge as a surpassing translator of The Aeneid.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A thousand books to a thousand persons.

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