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Thread: The Aeneid Discussion Group

  1. #1
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    The Aeneid Discussion Group

    Hey there. I am starting this thread to discuss Virgil's The Aeneid. It is one of the great epics of ancient times, and it is one of the most influential works in history. Written at the end of the first century B.C., it came at the end of the crises of the Roman Republic where Augustus firmly gained control of the empire and created the governing system of the Principate. Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro), who had already established his greatness of Roman poetry through his previous works of The Eclogues and The Georgics, looked back at the chaos of that century and tried to make sense of it by creating an epic of the founding of Rome and linking the founding to his contemporary events. In addition, he looks back to Homer as a model for his epic, and while there are several parallels to Homer, it is quite different as well. I hope many will join me in this read.

    I will be reading the relatively new Robert Fagles translation ( http://www.amazon.com/Aeneid-Virgil/dp/0670038032), but i have previously read the Robert Fitzgerald translation (http://www.amazon.com/Aeneid-Virgil/dp/0679729526). I will say that I loved the Fitzgerald translation but since Fagles did such a great job on translating both The Illiad and The Odyssey, I just had to check out how he does with a Latin text. So without further ado, post your thoughts as we go. I will try to post thoughts on each book of the 12 books, but do not feel constrained by that.

    Finally here's an image of the Robert Fagles's translation:



    The sketch on the book's cover is Aeneas, the hero of the epic, carrying his elderly father through burning city of Troy. That act tells us so much of the character of Aeneas.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    preliminary sketch

    First lines of "The Aeneid" in Latin and translation..."ARMA virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris/ Italiam fato profugus Lavinaque venit/ litora--multum ille et terris jactatus et alto/ vi superum, saevae memorem Junonis ob iram,/ multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem/ Inferretque deos Latio--genus unde Latinum/ Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae." ...and the English translation....................................... ............"ARMS, and the man I sing, who forc'd by fate,/ And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,/ Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore./ Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,/ And in the doubtful war, before he won/ The Latian realm, and built the destin's town;/ His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine, And settled sure succession in his line,/ From whence the race of Alban fathers come, And the long glories of majestic Rome." .......This translation done by no less than John Dryden of a work he could read in the original text (the Aeneid written 19 B.C.E.) gives clear premise that the ancestors will be shown to be the aristocrats and gods of ancient Greece, society models for Virgil's Roman Empire.
    Last edited by quasimodo1; 12-30-2007 at 10:47 PM. Reason: date

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    I wanted to begin my reading this coming year with the ancient texts (Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Beowolf and so forth), but I bought a friend Invisible Man and read the introduction. Then the prologue. I am currently reading the second chapter. Maybe I will join you on Sundays, while I'm working at the book store; we have more than enough copies.

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Wow! We're sold out. That's weird.

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    translation in vernacular

    Arms and the man I sing, who first made way,
    predestined exile, from the Trojan shore
    to Italy, the blest Lavinian strand.
    Smitten of storms he was on land and sea
    by violence of Heaven, to satisfy
    stern Juno's sleepless wrath; and much in war
    he suffered, seeking at the last to found
    the city, and bring o'er his fathers' gods
    to safe abode in Latium; whence arose
    the Latin race, old Alba's reverend lords,
    and from her hills wide-walled, imperial Rome.
    .by Theodore C. Williams (Juno equals the Greek god, Hera, queen of the Greek deities)
    Last edited by quasimodo1; 12-30-2007 at 09:57 PM.

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    Homer, comparing first lines

    Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
    driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
    the hallowed heights of Troy.
    Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
    many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
    fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
    But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove –
    the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,
    the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun
    and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return. . . .

    Translated by Robert Fagles (1996)

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I SING of deadly dolorous debate,
    Stir'd vp through wrathfull Nemesis despight,
    Betwixt two mightie ones of great estate,
    Drawne into armes, and proofe of mortall fight,
    Through prowd ambition, and hartswelling hate,
    Whilest neither could the others greater might
    And sdeignfull scorne endure; that from small iarre
    Their wraths at length broke into open warre.

    These are the opening lines of Spencer's M U I O P O T M O S: or THE FATE OF THE BUTTERFLIE... a mock epic that clearly recalls the opening lines of Virgil's epic setting up a tale of war between the spider and the fly (or the butterfly, as the case may be).
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    Oh man, I'll certainly have to be in on a discussion that includes both the Aeneid and Muiopotmos (indeed I've spent the last week or so casually pondering whether I can find a way to write a dissertation on Muiopotmos somehow...alas thus far to no avail ). I've read the Aeneid more than once, and been through it recently for my exams, so I'm not going to re-read it along with the group but will happily join in whatever discussion emerges.

    That opening line has got to be one of the most imitated, referenced and parodied in all of literature, with "to be or not to be" a possible close second. From Spenser, to Shaw, to the fellow in my first year Latin class who used to run around saying "Karma virumque cano," it seems as though no one can resist the impulse to make witty with the Aeneid's first three words.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

  9. #9
    Muses of LitNet, sing! of the famed lines written by Vergil,
    Lines you preserved through the ages, a lasting witness of Roman
    Glory, ambition, and pride, which endured the barbarians' fury,
    Shadowy letterless times, and the whimsical errors of careless
    Scribes, and became forefather to many a noble descendant,
    Being itself a descendant of parents with fame everlasting.

    Optima dies ... prima fugit

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Wow, what a great start. Quasi has graciously sent me a web link of Virgil's biography: http://quotes-of-wisdom.eu/en/author/virgil/biography. Also Wiki provides a good background to Virgil and to the Aeneid. I also forgot to mention that we have The Aeneid here on lit net as a electronic book: http://www.online-literature.com/virgil/aeneid/. This is the John Dryden translation.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    Virgil's audience

    While re-reading the Aeneid's "book 1", especially a line like..."Besides, long causes working in her mind,/ And secret seeds of envy, lay behind;" this reader wonder's who made up Virgil's audience. The answer... mostly aristocratic citizens, senators, generals, tax collectors, regional governors, patricians of all stripes. Could this group be more than 5% of the Roman population? Probably not. Taking this into account, you can view this epic as what is called today an "open letter" to the present and future elite of Rome.

  12. #12
    No longer confused... Lioness_Heart's Avatar
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    omg I'm going to reread all my latin GCSE notes and then join in with this discussion; I Love the Aeneid!! We had to memorise huge chunks of latin and the English translation for our exam, and our teacher drew us a 'pictoral Aeneid' on the whiteboard nearly every lesson.
    "The magic gave me insight, and you gave me a heart, but for all the heart and insight in the world, I am still a cat."

  13. #13
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quasimodo1 View Post
    While re-reading the Aeneid's "book 1", especially a line like..."Besides, long causes working in her mind,/ And secret seeds of envy, lay behind;" this reader wonder's who made up Virgil's audience. The answer... mostly aristocratic citizens, senators, generals, tax collectors, regional governors, patricians of all stripes. Could this group be more than 5% of the Roman population? Probably not. Taking this into account, you can view this epic as what is called today an "open letter" to the present and future elite of Rome.
    Good point Quasi. I suspect it was even less than 5% of the population.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lioness_Heart View Post
    omg I'm going to reread all my latin GCSE notes and then join in with this discussion; I Love the Aeneid!! We had to memorise huge chunks of latin and the English translation for our exam, and our teacher drew us a 'pictoral Aeneid' on the whiteboard nearly every lesson.
    Great Lioness. What's a pictorial Aeneid?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  14. #14
    Jealous Optimist Dori's Avatar
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    Excellent! I own The Aeneid in audio format (Robert Fagles's translation).

    I'm not sure how useful this website will be, but virgil.org seems to be a good source to learn more about Virgil.
    com-pas-sion (n.) [ME. & OFr. <LL. (Ec.) compassio, sympathy < compassus, pp. of compati, to feel pity < L. com-, together + pali, to suffer] sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    First off, let me say that I know nothing or little about this subject and I am sort of left in the dust....but, so far, what I have read interests me, and I will try to keep reading all of your posts. The poetry is grand. I am always hungry to learn new things, also.

    Virgil, you did a fine job starting this thread. I like the way you posted the photo of the cover, of that particular translation...very helpful. Thanks for the knowledge that another translation is available on this site, also.

    I like the links to various sites, such as the biography of Virgil, thanks, Quasi, ....also very helpful. I will certainly read up on Virgil's biography, among other things and educate myself a little about this subject. Sadly, I greatly lack in my knowledge of Greek Mythology and history.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dori View Post
    Excellent! I own The Aeneid in audio format (Robert Fagles's translation).
    Now this interests me. I would be interested in listening to this in the near future and will look into it. Did you buy it recently...any thoughts on how to find it, Dori?


    I'm not sure how useful this website will be, but virgil.org seems to be a good source to learn more about Virgil.
    Thanks, Dori, I will read this site, as well.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

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