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Overview

A powerful and poignant translation of Vergil’s epic poem, newly equipped with introduction and notes

"Ruden set the bar for Aeneid translations in 2008, and has raised it now with this revision. I am confident it will be a long time before a translator exceeds the standard that she has set."—A.M. Juster, Athenaeum Review

This is a substantial revision of Sarah Ruden’s celebrated 2008 translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, which was acclaimed by Garry Wills as “the first translation since Dryden’s that can be read as a great English poem in itself.” Ruden’s line-for-line translation in iambic pentameter is an astonishing feat, unique among modern translations. Her revisions to the translation render the poetry more spare and muscular than her previous version and capture even more closely the essence of Vergil’s poem, which pits national destiny against the fates of individuals, and which resonates deeply in our own time.
 
This distinguished translation, now equipped with introduction, notes, and glossary by leading Vergil scholar Susanna Braund, allows modern readers to experience for themselves the timeless power of Vergil’s masterpiece.
 
Praise for the First Edition:
 
“Fast, clean, and clear, sometimes terribly clever, and often strikingly beautiful. . . . Many human achievements deserve our praise, and this excellent translation is certainly one of them.”—Richard Garner, The New Criterion
 
“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
 
“An intimate rendering of great emotional force and purity. . . . The immediacy, beauty, and timelessness of the original Latin masterpiece lift off these pages with gem-like originality.”—Choice
 


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300240108
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 02/09/2021
Edition description: Revised and Expanded Edition
Pages: 392
Sales rank: 301,437
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Sarah Ruden is a Classics scholar, a poet, and a writer on religion and culture. She has published seven book-length translations of Greek and Roman works. Susanna Braund is Professor of Latin Poetry and its Reception at the University of British Columbia.

Read an Excerpt

Book 1

Landfall at Carthage

My song is of war and a man: a refugee by fate,
the first from Troy to Italy’s Lavinian shores,
battered much on land and sea by blows from gods obliging brutal Juno’s unforgetting rage;
he suffered much in war as well, all to plant his town and gods in Latium. From here would rise the Latin race, the Alban lords, and Rome’s high walls.

Remember for me, Muse. Tell me the reasons. What pain,
what insult to her power, moved the queen of gods to drive a man famous for piety through misery on misery? Can such anger grip gods’ minds?

An ancient city built by colonists from Tyre faced Italy and Tiber’s mouth across the sea:
wealthy Carthage, fierce and fond of waging war.
They say that Juno loved her best; even Samos came in second. Here the goddess kept her weapons and her chariot; this land would rule the world if fate allowed. This was her aim and hope.
But she’d heard that men of Trojan blood would topple Carthage and her heights one day.
They’d be a people proud in war, an empire fatal for her Libya. This was what the Fates had spun, this was Juno’s fear. She remembered how she’d fought at Troy to help her cherished Greeks.

Still other reasons for her rage and bile remained deep-rooted in her heart: Paris’ scornful verdict on her beauty, the honors paid by Jove to kidnapped Ganymede, her hatred for that race.
Enflamed by this, she barred from Latium the sea-tossed Trojans, the few left by the Greeks and cruel Achilles. They roamed for many years,
over many oceans, forced on by the Fates.
To found the Roman race required such great effort.

Sicily had slipped from sight. The Trojans gladly sailed for open sea, their bronze prows churning foam.
But Juno, nursing her eternal wound, thought to herself: “Am I to leave off from my plan and fail to turn the Trojan king from Italy?
It seems that Fate forbids it. Then how could Pallas burn the Argive fleet and drown its crew, just to punish the mad crime of Ajax, son of Oïleus?
On her own, she hurled Jove’s lightning from the clouds,
wrecked the ships, and whipped up waves with wind;
she grabbed up Ajax in a gust and spiked him on sharp reefs—the man puffed fire from his punctured chest!
But me, the queen of all the gods, Jove’s wife and sister too, for years I’ve had to fight against a single race! Now who’ll worship me or put gifts on my altars as a supplicant?”

Her hot heart fixed on these thoughts, Queen Juno reached
Aeolia, a land that teemed with storms and clouds.
In his colossal cave, King Aeolus ruled the warring winds and howling gales and locked them up inside. They roared around the latches outraged. Over them, the mountain murmured mightily. Aeolus, sitting in his stronghold,
scepter in his hand, soothed their angry spirits.
Otherwise, they’d seize the oceans, lands,
and deepest sky, and blast them all away.
It was this fear that made the mighty Father hide them in a lightless cave and heap mountains on top. He chose a king who swore he’d curb the winds or free their reins as he was told.
Now Juno came to wheedle him: “Aeolus,
the father of the gods and king of men chose you to calm the waves or whip them up with wind.
A race I hate travels the Tuscan sea:
they bring the beaten gods of Troy to Italy.
Rouse the winds to gale-force, sink the ships,
or scatter them and fling the crew into the sea.
In my retinue are fourteen gorgeous nymphs;
Deiopea is the loveliest of all. She’s yours—
just do me this favor. I’ll join you both in lasting marriage, so she’ll spend her years with you and make you father to fair children.”

Aeolus said: “Your task, O Queen, is to know your wish and will; mine, to make it happen.
Thanks to you, I have this little kingdom and Jupiter’s goodwill, I dine with gods,
I’m master of the storms and wild weather.”

Saying this, he struck the hollow mountain with the butt-end of his spear. A battle-line of winds rushed out the rift and swept over the lands.
Notus, Eurus, and Africus, full of storms,
settled on the sea as one and churned it from its bed; they rolled huge waves to shore.
Next came the shouts of men, the shriek of ropes.
At once, storm-clouds snatched the sky from sight.

Black night brooded on the sea. The heavens thundered, frequent ashes tore the dark.
All signs warned the men that death had come.

At once Aeneas’ knees buckled with chill.
He groaned and held up both hands to the stars:
“Three and four times fortunate, all you who died by Troy’s high walls under your fathers’ gaze!
O Diomedes, bravest of the Greeks!
I wish I’d fallen on Troy’s fields, my blood spilled by your strong right hand, where fierce Hector perished on Achilles’ spear, and huge Sarpedon too;
where Simoïs rolls in its stream so many shields and helmets, so many bodies of the brave.”

As he spoke, the howling north wind hit the sails head-on and pushed the sea up to the stars.
The oars snapped and the ship swung broadside to the waves; a wall of water crashed on deck.
Some sailors hung on crests, some saw seabed as each wave loomed up. The sea boiled with sand.
Notus snatched three ships and hurled them onto reefs that lurked mid-sea, the ones Italians call Altars,
huge spines near the surface. Eurus drove three boats into the shoals, a sorry sight, and smashed them on the rocks. Sand built up around them.
Before Aeneas’ eyes, a giant wave broke on the ship of good Orontes and his Lycians.
It threw the helmsman off the deck headfirst into wild waters. Eddies spun the ship around three times, then the raging undertow engulfed it.
A few men surfaced in the vast abyss. Weapons,
planks, and Trojan treasure floated in the waves.
The storm seized Ilioneus’ sturdy ship,
brave Achates’ ship, Abas’ ship, and old
Aletes’ ship. They all let in fatal water through the hulls’ loose seams and gaping cracks.

Now Neptune sensed the sea’s chaos and clamor,
the storm Aeolus sent. He felt the churning of the sluggish waters of the deep. Perplexed,
he raised his peaceful face and scanned the sea.
He saw Aeneas’ wave-tossed ships, the Trojans swamped by swells and the ruin of the sky.
Juno’s angry treachery was clear to him.
He called Eurus and Zephyrus, and said to them:

“Is it your noble birth that makes you bold?
You winds now dare to mingle sky and earth and stir up waves without permission? Why,
I should—But first I’ll soothe the wild sea. Then you’ll get what you deserve, and it won’t be in words!
Get out of here, now, and tell your king:
rule over the sea and savage trident’s mine
by lot, not his. His kingdom is the cave where you live, Eurus. Let him strut in that court and rule there—once his winds are jailed.”

Faster than his words, Neptune soothed the swells,
routed huddled clouds, brought back the sun.
Cymothoe and Triton pried the ships off crags;
Neptune helped them with his trident. He cleared pathways through long shoals and calmed the sea,
skimming wave-crests lightly in his chariot.
Just as riots often fester in great crowds when the common mob goes mad; rocks and firebrands fly, the weapons rage supplies;
but if they see a man of weight in piety and service, they hush and wait to hear him;
he guides their minds and soothes their hearts with words—
just so, all the tumult of the sea died down once Neptune scanned the waters. He turned his team and let them run free under cloudless skies.

Aeneas’ tired crew fights to reach the nearest shore; they bend toward the Libyan coast.
There, an island’s deep bay forms a harbor with its sides. Every wave from the high sea is broken here and fans out to the curving coves.
On both sides sheer cliffs and matching crags menace the sky, but underneath, safe pools lie wide and still. Above, a rustling forest sets the scene, dark with trembling shade.
A cave with rocky overhangs faces the front.
It has freshwater pools and stones for seats,
the home of nymphs. Here no cables tie the weary boats, no anchor bites the sand.
Aeneas enters with his ships, seven left from all the fleet. With great love for land,
the Trojans reach the shore they craved, disembark,
and rest their sodden limbs on sand. Achates is the first to strike a spark from flint.
He kindles fire with leaves and sets dry fodder on the flames, then feeds the blaze with twigs.
Weary from their wandering, they fetch the pots and spoiled grain they rescued from the waves, then dry the food with fire and crush it under stone.

Table of Contents

Map of Aeneas' Wanderings viii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction to the Poem xv

Translator's Note xlix

Book 1 Landfall at Carthage 3

Book 2 Aeneas' Story: The Fall of Troy 27

Book 3 Aeneas' Story: Mediterranean Wanderings 52

Book 4 Dido's Suicide 74

Book 5 Trojan Games 96

Book 6 A Visit to Hades 125

Book 7 Italy-and War 150

Book 8 An Embassy to Evander 175

Book 9 Nisus and Euryalus 197

Book 10 Bloodshed, and Pallas Down 222

Book 11 Truce and Conflict 250

Book 12 The Last Duel 278

Notes 307

Bibliography 325

Glossary 327

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