The Art of the Aeneid

The Art of the Aeneid

The Art of the Aeneid

The Art of the Aeneid

Synopsis

Anderson's text captures both the toughness and the tenderness of the greatest work of Latin literature. Includes examinations of each book of the Aeneid, extensive notes, suggestions for further reading, and a Vergil chronology.

Excerpt

I wrote this book in the modern city of Rome, which still shows many traces of Augustan Rome some two millennia since the life of Vergil. It was during the troubled years of 1967–68, when Rome itself was reasonably quiet, apart from its traffic, but the wider world and especially the United States at home and abroad confronted many tragic disturbances. To leave aside the obvious problems of war in Vietnam, I need only point out that the spring of 1967 saw in all too close juxtaposition the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The murderous collision of politics, ambitions, and conflicting goals for the United States was not totally unlike the murderous Roman world in which Vergil tried to live, avoiding direct contact with the ferocity of events and people in Rome itself, but looking on the events with an anxiety and distaste that upset the ideal Epicurean life that he hoped to achieve with his friends on the lovely Bay of Naples.

I planned this book for students much like those I was teaching there in Rome in 1967–8: young men and women who were concerned with the world in which they lived, but were seeking relevant comparisons in other times, cultures, and literatures. The Aeneid, the greatest piece of Roman literature, has always offered an art that dazzles its students, that demanded of Vergil so much that, even though he dwarfed poetic competition in the Roman world, nevertheless he was not satisfed with what he left behind, unedited and unpublished, at the time of his premature death in 19 BC, not quite fifty-one.

It appears that we owe it to Augustus that Vergil’s dying wish, that the rolls on which he had composed the poem should be burned up and not published, was not allowed to be carried out. Instead . . .

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