An Introduction to Virgil's 'Aeneid'

An Introduction to Virgil's 'Aeneid'

An Introduction to Virgil's 'Aeneid'

An Introduction to Virgil's 'Aeneid'

Excerpt

This book is addressed to students of Latin and of literature in general, including those who are approaching Virgil for the first time; it contains little that can be new to the professional Virgilian scholar, and a great deal that will be too familiar to merit his attention. It is of course heavily indebted to the work of other writers on Virgil, past and present. It represents, as any book on Virgil will inevitably do, a personal view rather than one universally agreed, but includes (I hope) enough factual information to prevent its usefulness depending too much on the value of the author's opinions. It attempts to cover all the more important aspects of the poem which is its subject, but in an illustrative manner only, with the hope of helping the reader but not of doing for him what he may find more interest in doing for himself.

The general plan is as follows. Chapters II-V discuss the subject of the Aeneid, the story of the principal characters, and the dominant features of the background against which these play out their parts. Chapters V-VI discuss the poet's arts of construction and expression. Chapters VIII-XI treat of the materials from history and literature on which Virgil has drawn in making the fabric of his narrative and the associations which it evokes in consequence. The first chapter deals with considerations which it is useful to have in mind in reading the poem, anticipating in the process some elements of what is said later; but the reader not yet well acquainted with the content of the poem may find it best to postpone this at a first reading and begin with Chapter II. This chapter and the following Chapters, III and IV, include summary accounts of the story as a whole and of certain themes within it, partly for the benefit of the newcomer to the Aeneid, but partly also because a summary narrative of this kind may be the most economical way of conveying an interpretation. The appendices which follow at the end of the book are, naturally enough, a miscellany. Some are designed to give the student an outline of information about subsidiary matters which he may otherwise find mysterious when he encounters incidental references to them elsewhere. Some . . .

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