Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Virgilian Tradition: The First Fifteen Hundred Years

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Virgilian Tradition: The First Fifteen Hundred Years

Article excerpt

THE VIRGILIAN TRADITION: THE FIRST FIFTEEN HUNDRED YEARS edited by Jan M. Ziolkowski and Michael CJ. Putnam Yale, 1128 pages, $100

It is sometimes said that Western philosophy is only a series of footnotes to Plato. An exaggeration, to be sure, but not without a grain of truth. In a similar way, one might say that Western poetry and literature are the offspring of Virgil, whose writings, especially the Aeneid, captured die Roman and medieval mind like those of no other poet. In this volume, Michaeli Putnam, one of die world's foremost Virgilians, and Jan Ziolkowski, a medievalist at Harvard, have collected original texts- many translated for die first time into English-showing how Virgil was received, used, and explained through the Roman era and the Middle Ages. The book begins with Virgil and his contemporaries commenting on the poet himself and giving biographical details, then proceeds to die uses made of the poet's writings. …

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