Death of Virgil

imagesThis is a tough one. Death of Virgil tells the story of emperor Augustus requiring a dying Virgil to leave Athens and surrender the manuscript of the Aeneid before destroying it as a fitting end to pure art. Since the Aeneid glorifies Augustus, it is a struggle between the artistic and the political: for Rome, the Aeneid is the gift that keeps on giving, even after Virgil passes on.

I read the complete Aeneid recently in the Fagles’ translation. If you like history, especially history punctuated by war, death, and destruction, the Aeneid is a valuable historical artifact and at a minimum provides a useful textbook for the teaching of Latin (where they still do that). Otherwise, the story of Aeneas and the founding of Rome is somewhat flat and boring.

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Aeneas vs. Ernaux

download.jpgI recently read Virgil’s Aeniad and despite the super-glossy modernization by Fagles, it was a good read. Furthermore it fulfilled one of those major milestones of literature life forces on us.

Unfortunately, despite being judged the best book I had read in 2019 (to date), The Aeneid was just another violent epic full of cleaved breastbones, rolling heads, and buckets of blood and gore.

The first gory epic I read was Chanson de Roland. At a very young age I’m sure the carnage was great fun (and prepared me for Ben Vereen on Broadway years later).Since then I have read epics such as Beowulf (in Old English),  the Iliad and the Odyssey, and The Lord of the Rings.

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