five-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
By: 
Virgil
user_rating: 
0

A-AeneidThe story hasn’t changed in more than 2,000 years: Aeneas and his men—run out of Troy after the wily Greeks, bearing the gift of a wooden horse, have sacked the city—set sail for Italy. Boy meets girl (in this case, Dido, a Phoenician princess); girl falls in love; boy leaves to fulfill his destiny as the father of the Roman people; and girl spectacularly commits suicide atop a blazing pyre. Virgil’s tale never lacks for adventure, violence, strong characters, passionate relationships, meddling from the gods, and even a visit to the underworld. Virgil, and now Robert Fagles, have given us an epic—and a translation—for the ages.
Viking. 496 pages. $40. ISBN: 9780143105138

Los Angeles Times 5 of 5 Stars
"I’m here to report that [Fagles’s translation] is magnificent. … . One must say more: This work, this miraculous beast of a text, is so enjoyable that you will hardly know you are reading an ancient masterpiece." Thomas Cahill

Richmond Times Dispatch 5 of 5 Stars
"From Greek, Fagles turns now to Latin, and his new rendering of Virgil’s Aeneid is quite possibly the best English version since John Dryden’s 300 years ago." Ron Smith

San Diego Union-Tribune 5 of 5 Stars
"Robert Fagles’ new translation of The Aeneid presents a vigorous, passionate Virgil, and a heroic Aeneas, who guides his flock of followers from the fall of Troy in Asia Minor through the Mediterranean to adventures in Carthage, landing in Italy and fierce battles with the indigenous peoples. … Although he loses some of the magic of Virgil’s brilliant economy of language, his techniques seem appropriate to a 21st century in which an attempt has been made to renew the toga film as a genre." Page Dubois

New York Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The triumph is ultimately literary, of course, and also collective—since it belongs in part to those white-haired translators who have brought such well-seasoned judgments to a timeless tale. Theirs is the prevailing army, among whose ranks Robert Fagles emerges as a new and noble standard-bearer." Brad Leithauser

Philadelphia Inquirer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"If Fagles’ translation is not obviously greater than Fitzgerald’s or Mandelbaum’s, his edition is: well over 100 pages of supplementary material, including a long, excellent historical introduction by Bernard Knox, notes, and an extensive glossary. Anyone who has not read Virgil’s poem since college (and felt guiltily that they should) will want to get this splendid version." Gregory Feeley

Critical Summary

The difference between an adequate translation and a great one can be difficult to discern. With this new version of Virgil’s famous epic, Robert Fagles, Princeton emeritus professor of comparative literature and the acclaimed translator of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, solidifies his reputation as the leader in a field that doesn’t always reward panache. Updated for a modern audience with "an almost cinematic style," writes Page Dubois, Fagles’s translation is more accessible than other, more academic ones. It has user-friendly maps, notes, a glossary, a historical introduction, and type that’s easy to read. The Aeneid will remain fresh for generations fortunate enough to be guided by Fagles’s talents.