Sunday, March 25, 2007

Last night I finished The Aeneid by Virgil. Back in college, I had read a number of the classics for classes but didn't enjoy them and only did the minimum amount of reading/comprehension to get by. This changed a few years ago after I saw Troy . It's not a very good movie but after seeing it I was curious how closely it matched up with The Iliad. After reading Homer, it surprised me to find out that a lot of things I assumed were Hollywood add-ons were actually fairly close to the source. Contrary to what some critics wrote, Brad Pitt's portrayal of Achilles as a petulant, spoiled athelete is actually pretty close to the source material. I really enjoyed The Iliad and I went back and re-read some of the other classics I had neglected during college.

Since I know enjoy the classics, and I'm heading to Italy in a week or so, I decided to check out The Aeneid, Virgil's sequel to the Iliad where Aeneas leads the survivor of Troy around the Aegean looking for a place where the goddess Juno won't harass them. Eventually the gods guide them to Italy and they start the ball rolling that will eventually become Rome.

It's particularly interesting to read the little asides in the text where Virgil throws out praise to Aeneas's descendants, in particular the Caesars who were coincidentally running Rome at the time of the writing.

I have to admit that I cheated a little in reading both The Iliad and The Aeneid - I read prose versions. There is something about the visual structure of narrative poetry that makes it difficult for me to read. I don't consider this much of a cheat since these works were meant to be spoken, not read, and so the form of their writing is actually arbitrary. Some might argue that poetry best preserves the cadence of the lines but I don't see a lot of value in that, particularly since I am also not reading either of them in their original languages.

Amazon Link: The Aeneid

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