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The Aeneid
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Product Description

"Robert Fagles's translations of both the Iliad and Odyssey have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and become the standard translations of our era. Now, his stunning modern verse translation of Virgil's Aeneid is poised to do the same. This beautifully produced edition of the Aeneid will be eagerly sought by readers desiring to complete their Fagles collection and the attention it receives will stimulate even greater interest in his translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. BACKCOVER: Praise for Robert Fagles's translation of the Odyssey: "Wonderfully readable...just the right blend of sophistication and roughness, it seems to me." Ted Hughes "A memorable achievement...Mr. Fagles has been remarkably successful in finding a style that is of our time and yet timeless." Richard Jenkyns, The New York Times Book Review "Remarkably seductive...In Fagles's hands, this 'perennial poem of adventure' is again a work of entertainment, of majesty and epic beauty great enough to stun the senses." The Philadelphia Inquirer"

Customer Reviews:

  • What a new translation of a classic should be.
    Books are classics because lots of people have enjoyed reading them over the years. A translation of a classic should be enjoyable. Fagles' translation is easy to read and full of excitement. In short, it is enjoyable and makes me want to learn more about the story and the period; just what we need today.

    One reviewer below gave this translation one star and in the process trashed every other English review of the Aeneid (that is, until his own "long awaited" translation arrives on the shelves). His recommendation until then is to learn Latin and then read the Aeneid in Latin. I do read Latin very slowly, but I also have to work and read other things besides the classics. So I have to rely on English translations for most of the non-English books I read, including those in Latin. Fagles' more than meets my need.

    If the tradeoff is a translation that is exact to the original langauge but dull or incomprehensible, so that a reader will not finish it, versus one that cheats a bit on the meaning or structure but is readable and exciting, I think the original author is much better served by the latter. If I become so excited about a work (as I have been by, e.g. Dante's Divine Comedy) that I dig into the original, then that's good and I'll make the effort (in Dante's case to learn Italian) well enough to read it in the original. But who wins if I cannot finish the English translation?

    ...more info
  • Aeneid
    I found this translation to be very engaging and entertaining. The stories are developed in a fashion that is very familiar and contemporary but still retains the pleasure of the earlier telling. I highly recommend this book to everyone from high school up. ...more info
  • a good translation
    I recently read this translation after reading the Fitzgerald translation. This flows better and some of the words are translated in a more precise manner....more info
  • Very accessible
    The key to a good translation is to make it accessible to a reader living milennia after it was written. Fagles is simply superb in rendering Vergil's poetry for a modern English reader. He will rescue the Aeneid for generations of students in much the same way that Heaney has rescued Beowulf....more info
  • sound and action
    Fagles's Aeneid is swift, vivid, and sonorous. With his translations of Homer behind him, Fagles enjoys a surety of reference that allows him--and the reader--to concentrate on the visual and auditory and intellectual action. Fagles gets a lovely running-before-the-wind feel by alternating fourteeners and hexameter, trimming the course with pentameter. Some transitional phrases seem too smooth, as if perhaps Fagles has stolen the ball, and occasionally I missed the poetic precision in the English that more delicate translations e.g. C.Day Lewis's achieve at points. Bernard Knox's introduction is interesting and moving, if hastily written. The glossary of persons/gods and places is useful and ample and in the back of the book where it can be ignored as desired. This reads wonderfully aloud, perhaps 1/2 to 1 book per evening, aloud with friends or family or by yourself. This is delectable action poetry, to take you lands away--to Rome no less....more info
  • A masterpiece
    A classic. This edition deepens our understanding and enjoyment of one of the greatest of all epic poems....more info
  • Very readable
    There is no such thing as a "best" translation, only translations that suit one's purpose. If you want to read the Aeneid as a gripping story, Fagles's version does very well. I have just finished reading book 4, and Dido's fury, as set against the implacable higher purpose of Aeneas, has perhaps never been as vividly, even scarily, portrayed.

    On the other hand, it could be argued that Fagles's verse does not convey the stately or epic quality of the Latin in the way that, for instance, Fitzgerald's does. A short comparison may suffice:

    "sed nullis ille mouetur / fletibus aut uoces ullas tractabilis audit; / fata obstant placidasque uiri deus obstruit auris." (Vergil)

    "But no tears move Aeneas now. / He is deaf to all appeals. He won't relent. / The Fates bar the way / and heaven blocks his gentle, human ears." (Fagles)

    "But no tears moved him, no one's voice would he / Attend to tractably. The fates opposed it; / God's will blocked the man's once kindly ears." (Fitzgerald)

    Fitzgerald's version is closer to the Latin (other than not using the present tense), better reflects its formal nature, and achieves a Vergilian metrical effect with the three successive beats of "God's will blocked." But Fagles's free and fluid rendition is undoubtedly more engaging to the modern reader.

    Occasionally Fagles does introduce a modern idiom that is trite or jarring. For instance, when the sea-nymph speeds Aeneas's ship on its way in Book 10, she does so skillfully ("haud ignara modi") because she "knows the ropes".

    The book has a useful introduction, a few notes, and a pronouncing glossary. Fagles's postscript is, however, a tedious pastiche of quotations from previous critics and could have been omitted....more info
  • Another stunning collaboration
    Virgil's "Aeneid" is one of the great classical poems. In this translation, the esteemed team of Robert Fagles (translator) and Bernard Knox (author of the Introduction) reprise their partnership from Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey."

    This epic work begins with the destruction of Troy. Aeneas, one of the Trojans, escapes with many of his fellows and their families. The poem by the Roman poet Virgil outlines the founding of Rome by Aeneas. One interesting feature, as Knox puts it, is the use of "characters and incidents from the Homeric epics" (page 12). For instance, Aeneas has a brief encounter with the Cyclops, whom Odysseus (or Ulysses in the Latin) confronted. As with the Homeric works, so, too, the "Aeneid." The gods and goddesses routinely intervene to either assist or thwart the Trojans. Their fates are never quite their own. Knox also notes in the Introduction that the "Aeneid" is something that the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" are not--historical. There are many references in Virgil's work to the particulars of Roman history, such as to the beheaded body of Pompey, the Carthaginian Wars, Hannibal, Romulus and Remus, Caesar and Augustus, and so on. Knox also observes that Dante hearkened back to Virgil's work in his "Divine Comedy."

    The poem itself begins with the essence of the matter:

    "Wars and a man I sing--an exile driven on by Fate,
    He was the first to flee the coast of Troy,
    Destined to reach Lavinian shores and Italian soil,
    Yet many blows he took on land and sea from the gods above--
    Thanks to cruel Juno's relentless rage--and many losses
    He bore in battle, too, before he could found a city, bring his gods to Latium, source of the Latin race,
    The Alban lords and the high walls of Rome."

    Thus, this epic addresses the origins of Rome.

    The story follows a number of pathways and outlines many remarkable events. The storm that the furious Juno created to destroy Aeneas' escape from the destruction of Troy (itself described most graphically), the arrival of the remains of the fleet at Carthage (where Aeneas and Dido enjoy some time together), the departure from Carthage as Aeneas follows his plan to get to Italy (and the death of Dido), the trip to Sicily, the visit to the Kingdom of the Dead, battle upon battle, and so on.

    The full epic poem contains many adventures and challenges to Aeneas and his cohort, as they seek to create a new city, Rome.

    The translation is wonderful (as far as I can tell), another triumph by Fagles. The lines are clean, as he tries to walk a middle ground, as he puts it (page 390), "between the features of an ancient author and the expectations of a contemporary reader." The team of Fagles and Knox appears to have essayed another successful venture into epic territory.
    ...more info
  • An Essential Addition to the Western Canon
    The origins of our Western tradition begins with the story of Troy. The Iliad is the basis of our knowledge and very few translators have attempted to give us an accurate rendering into English. First Pope, then some work by Fitzgerald and Lattimore and eventually a 90's best seller by Fagles. The Odyssey also became the focus of a Fagles translation and both were successful. (T. E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia" had been the most recent translator of the Odyssey for Oxford University). Now, the next sequence in important works of the West, The Aeneid, has been wonderfully updated by Fagles. This is a great addition to the basics of Western thought and I highly recommend all of them for the basis of understanding why we are what we are in a cultural way. After all, very few works comprise this tradition and all should be read by any person seeking the basis for what is basically all of our future philosophy. From here, we have Dante, which builds upon Virgil and Amazon.com offers the excellent current translation by Esolen on "The Divine Comedy' in a three volume work. Extensive notes are involved in all of these mentioned, and they will give you a well rounded education. The Aeneid is a nice one volume edition, with excellent references and notes and is well worth the price!...more info
  • epic undertaking
    Allen Mandelbaum's translation of Virgil's Aeneid won the National Book Award in 1973. Of that translation Robert Fagles wrote: it "has a wonderful, detailed liveliness in every line."

    That's true. I love the Mandelbaum Aeneid and have taught undergrads from it for nearly a quarter-century.

    But into this year of stock depressions and women not being worthy of the Oval Office comes a ray of pure joy. (Yes, OK, Obama is a ray of hope, yes he is. But I don't teach him twice or three times a year.)

    The Robert Fagles translation is beyond lively: it's lyrical. It's compelling, like the poem itself. I think it may move even the least-motivated undergrad to feel . . . . something.

    Of the death of Dido:

    Mandelbaum:

    For as she died
    A death that was not merited or fated,
    but miserable and before her time
    and spurred by sudden frenzy, Proserpina
    had not yet cut a gold lock from her crown,
    not yet assigned her life to Stygian Orcus.

    Fagles:
    Since she was dying a death not merited or deserved,
    no, tormented, before her day, in a blaze of passion -


    While I miss the reiteration of "fate" (arguably Virgil's favorite noun) -- nam quia nec fato merita nec morte peribat,sed misera ante diem subitoque accensa furore, -- I still find the Fagles lines more liquid and agonizing, more urgently pulling the reader along to an awful consequence.

    There's a similar comparison even in the best of Mandelbaum, the speech Aeneas makes to Dido, when the reader realizes how much he hates his life and how he longs to have been allowed to stay in Troy.

    And the text itself is a thousand time more helpful. Here is a longer glossary than in Mandelbaum's and maps and a genealogy and the best thing: digressive notes on the translation with sound-bites from other translations. Check out the info on the pictures on the temple doors in Book I. The best is the discussion - complete with quotes from Dryden writing about his own translation - on Mercury's line to Aeneas in 4.710-11. Anyone who doubts the inherent misogyny of Rome need read no further.

    Mandelbaum probably didn't get any control over the textual apparatus in the Bantam edition, but for a teacher - and I would think, a reader - that's really beside the point. What the Fagles' translation offers is much more helpful. Much.

    For this I may have to do that least-favorite thing: copy all my notes into a new edition. Sigh....more info
  • The Aeneid
    This is one of the books on the 100 Best Books of all time list.
    I am very happy to add it to my collection in my library. It looks
    rather formidable but I am sure that I will at some point read it....more info
  • Give it a shot, a worthy undertaking
    The works of Virgil no doubt conjure up images of stodgy academia, and dusty leather-bound tombs full of dusty leather-bound Latin-English phrases. I will leave it up to more worthy minds to praise Virgil's contribution to modern language and literature. Aeneid was a prestige read for me - I wanted to buckle down and see if I could muscle my way through it.

    I was very pleasantly surprised. Classics, both modern and ancient, are, collectively the most widely known and sparsely read books this side of the yellow pages. Some are just more of an undertaking than the average reader is willing to go through - but once in a while, when you pick up the right book - you begin to understand.

    Aeneid is the founding epic of the Roman Empire and follows the protagonist, Aeneis son of Aphrodite - from his flight from the sack of Troy, to his part in founding what will become Rome. Aeneis, was a great warrior featured prominently in the Iliad, and one of the few to escape from the fallen city. Throughout the epic, Aeneis and his Trojan followers wage war with the Latins, and eventually found Rome and the Roman Empire that Virgil himself lived in. . . .

    There is abundant praise for the translation of Aeneid, while I have no frame of reference, I must nevertheless agree. The confines of Dactylic hexameter are abandoned at times, to the great benefit of readability, and story. It was an engrossing read, equal parts entertainment and challenge. Next time you are in a book store pick it up (make sure it is translated by Fagles) and read a few pages - perhaps you will like it as much as I did.
    ...more info
  • Get It For The Extras!
    In the same clunky, dry style of his Iliad & Odyssey translations, Robert Fagles brings us the unofficial third volume of the Trojan Trilogy: Virgil's Aeneid. His translation makes all of the action and events very clear, but Fagles lacks an ear for poetry & lyricism (compare to the Fitzgerald, infinately superior) and many of his tin-eared word and phrase selections leave the reader cold.

    However, the book itself is incredibly beautiful and well made, and the extras (Introduction, notes & Glossary by Bernard Knox; maps; translator's notes; bibliography) make this a book well worth owning! ...more info
  • Another atrocious Aeneid translation by an unpoetical professor
    I should preface this review by saying that I am fluent in Latin (or at any rate I read it about as easily as I read English or French.)

    This particular translation of the Aeneid is the worst I have ever seen. The so-called blank verse is devoid of metre, and amounts to nothing more than prose - very awkward, uninspired prose - artificially chopped up into lines of a more or less constant length. This sort of travesty has been common in English translations of the classics since the 1940's or so, but Fagles adds his own inexpressible sense of bad taste. The result is absurd rubbish.

    For the benefit of monolingual anglophones, I observe that Virgil is at least equal to Shakespeare as a poet. As a stylist he is far superior. Does anyone imagine that some professor in say, Egypt, could translate Shakespeare into say, Arabic, in a way that could give Arabs a sense of just how wonderfully beautiful and moving Shakespeare is at his best? Of course not. The only example in English of a great poet being translated into really great English verse is Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyam. And Fitzgerald was a great English poet, not a professor.

    In American culture however, only professors get the chance to translate the Greek and Latin classics any more, for only they know the originals well enough to attempt this. Further, English poetry is virtually dead - very few people read poetry, and even fewer have any idea of what poetry is, or how it differs from prose.

    The result is the worst possible cultural climate in which to translate a sublime poet like Virgil. The translators are dull professors with no real knowledge of English poetry, no knowledge of metre or rhyme, no knowledge of the resources of English poetry, and certainly no ability to innovate in English poetry without making fools of themselves.

    If you really want to gain some idea of the poetical beauty of the Aeneid, don't bother reading any modern translation, or even any of the older translations like Dryden or Gawain Douglas - they are all miserable failures - though not as embarrassingly bad as Fagles. Instead, get an English interlinear of the Aeneid and a Latin grammar, and invest a few years of your spare time in learning Latin.

    Alternately, you might wish to look at Edmund Spenser's free translation of Virgil's Gnat, which is among his best verse, and which gives an excellent idea of Virgil in a playful mood.

    Or wait for my own translation of the Aeneid.......more info
  • Wonderful read...annoying listen.
    5 stars for the translation: The meaning and context is clearly understandable and easily readable. Mandelbaum's translation was very good. The Fitzgerald translation was passable. I always felt that Fitzgerald "rewrote" the Aeneid in a style HE thought should have been written. Fagles' translation does justice to Virgil in that Fagles has translated it in a style and manner more closely to what Virgil orginally wrote.

    MINUS 2 stars: voicing and voice characterization
    This is the most annoying aspect of this reading. Simon Callow is no George Guidall or Frank Muller as fans of recordedbooks will quickly notice.

    Callow's voice characterization can only be described as high screechy/wailing and raspy for female reading parts. This includes all harpies, sibyls and most disappointing of all Dido. He just seems to use the same characterization for all of them and it gets rather tiresome quickly. And to top it off, sometimes he starts in this high screeching raspy voice and then reverts to his stentorian Shakespearean voice for the rest of the part.

    Most disappointing considering that Simon Callow does have a very forceful dramatic voice when he reads in his own style. I just wish he had used it for the entire read.

    MINUS 1 star: Voice dynamics
    His voice dynamics is uneven...sometimes his voice is booming and at other times it is almost at an inaudible whisper. I listen to this in my car and I find that I have to rewind numerous times to hear what he said.

    Summary: Until there is a better audio - read the poem instead and let your imagination take you to a time and place long gone but whose hero's travails are somehow relevant to this time and place. I guess that's why this poem is still being read today.
    ...more info
  • excellent
    Book is in great condition,and it made a great gift for the person I bought it, so I'm happy! ...more info
  • Western Europe's Secular Epic
    It is a shame that Vergil's Aeneid is not as well known as Homer's works today. Starting almost immediately upon its publication during the reign of Rome's first Emperor Augustus, this book, the most highly-esteemed work in the Latin language, remained at the heart of Western European self-image until the rediscovery of Homer well into the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages it was an almost holy text, describing the founding of the Holy City (Rome), and written by 'The' Secular Prophet, who in another poem purportedly prophesied the coming of Christ. Vergil was so revered through the ages that the greatest epic writer of the Middle ages, Dante, chose to not only model his own work upon Vergil's, but has Vergil as his guide through the after-life.
    The plot is many-layered, telling three tales with one cleverly directed stroke. It tells of the founding of Rome, choosing to describe an episode prior to that of the embarrasing she-wolf myth; the family history and exploits of Rome's new imperial family-line, the Julians, starting with Aeneas himself and his divine mother Venus; and also the entire history of Rome up to that point, including Rome's fights against the Carthaginians, and the battles of Augustus Caesar against Cleopatra. Combined with the story-telling is philosophical wisdom from the stoics, epicureans, and platonists, which contributed to Vergil's reputation as a great polymath and wise teacher. The poetry is modelled on that of Homer and other famous Greek bards such as Apollonius who wrote the definitive tale of Jason and the Argonauts. To many Romans and Medievals, Vergil's epic represented a compendium of knowledge, artfully worked into a poetic adventure with the highest degree of skill.
    Having lived through brutal civil war himself, Vergil brings a great deal of personal life experience dealing with uncertainty, violence, fear and loss, to his endeavour. While clearly uneasy with the loss of freedom the establishment of the Empire and the fall of the Republic brought, he weighs this loss against the previous civil strife and mayhem, and accepts order over chaos even though he retains feelings of nostalgia for the former ways.
    Vergil's perfectionism towards his work is reflected in the stories told by his contemporaries that he only composed a few lines of the epic a day, working from a prose model he had written beforehand, and how he asked on his deathbed that the epic be burnt because it was not yet in its fully completed state. To other eyes, the few unfinished lines and very minor discrepancies were hardly of note, and the epic was proudly published by the Emperor, and quickly became the standard text of study by students of Latin, and the patriotic book and fundamental epic of the Empire.
    For those of us today wishing the chance to travel to other places and times, the Aeneid whisks us off to Ancient Rome, and in some ways, in some mystical sense, makes us Romans....more info