The Aeneid

Author Virgil
Original title Aeneis
Original language Latin
Translation The Aeneid by Robert Fagles
ISBN 978-0-14-310513-8
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Review

I’ve heard some people say that the Aeneid is more remote, less down-to-earth and human, than the Oddyssey. Perhaps it’s Virgil’s authorship, perhaps it’s just Robert Fagles shining as a translator—at any rate I got nothing of this impression. On the contrary, the Aeneid stood out for me as remarkably human: Whereas both works, of course, tell of epic journeys and trials, and the interventions of gods, the Aeneid seems to leave more space for the characters to flex and become fleshed out as characters, and more breathing room to do rather than merely have divinely done for them. I enjoyed both works, but perhaps I will seek out a Fagles translation the next time I read Homer.

One thing that struck me as humorous was that, apparently, the Roman gods were remarkably incompetent at disguise. Time after another, a god would take on the form of some human to speak to some hero or other; the hero would immediately recognise that he was speaking to a god. One exception was the Fury who successfully disguised herself as an old crone, but upon being addressed as though she were an old crone reacted, well, furiously, casting off her disguise. There may have been an example of successful impersonation somewhere, but it seems hubris usually got in the way.

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