The Aeneid of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Aeneid of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Aeneid of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Aeneid of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Excerpt

The translation by Surrey of Books II and IV of the Aeneid is the earliest example of English blank verse and one of the earliest of all English translations of Vergil. It has aroused more controversy than any other English translation of the Aeneid. In presenting this new edition, my primary purpose is simply to make readily available a rare and valuable text, and to settle the controversy as to the meaning of the resemblance between Surrey translation and that of Gawin Douglas. But I shall touch on several other controversies as well, for the problems that this work has occasioned are related and it would be impossible to consider any one of them separately.

Surrey's distinction of having introduced blank verse into English is now no longer questioned, but the actual date of his doing so (that is, the date of the Vergil translation) is still unknown. This is the first of three major problems that plague students of his Aeneid. The present range of possibilities for the date of its composition is 1538-1544, but, as no manuscripts of the translation are extant, and as the early printed editions are all either undated or dated after Surrey's death in 1547, theories about the precise date of composition rest entirely on conjecture.

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