~written by Virgil
~translated by Robert Fagles
After reading Black Ships by Jo Graham (which was based on The Aeneid), I was inspired to find a copy and read it myself. Robert Fagles is an award-winning translator and is especially recognized for his work on Homer's The Illiad and The Oddessy. He more recently turned his attention to The Aeneid by Virgil. While I've never read The Aeneid before, and can't compare Fagles translation to others, I did find it to be very approachable, enjoyable, and immensley readable. In fact, he won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from The Academy of American Poets because of it.
Also included in this edition is a wonderful introduction by Bernard Knox explaining the background, history, and context of The Aeneid. Additional useful elements include a genealogy, notes on the translation, and a fairly comprehensive pronunciation glossary. Apparently, Virgil died before he could finish the epic poem and requested that it be destroyed. Fortunately, for us anyway, his wish was not fulfilled.
The Aeneid consists of twelve books following Aeneas, a Trojan commander, and what remains of the free people of Troy after it's final destruction. Destined by the gods to settle in Italy and become the ancestors of the Romans, their path is not an easy one. (The establishment of this ancestry was one of the primary reasons Virgil set about writing this work.) The Trojans must face storms, wars, monsters, and even the gods themselves in their struggle to survive and to found a new homeland. Even unfinished, the poem is quite an achievement. It is filled with fantastic imagery and is packed with action while addressing the humanity of the people involved.
While in high school, I was intensely interested in classical studies. Reading this terrific translation of The Aeneid was a wonderful way to revisit that one-time obsession. Though it did end rather suddenly, right at one of the climaxes actually, it was very much worth reading and I very much enjoyed it.