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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and easy to read
I am new to the classical works of Greece and Rome, however I've recently challenged myself to become more well acquainted with the works that have shaped story telling.
The fairly recent (mid nineties) Penguin translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey were where I began, and both books artfully represented the behemoths that these particular stories are in the world...
Published on 3 Mar 2004 by Mr. S. J. Hunt

versus
7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars inferior to the previous penguin version
the Jackson Knight translation previously available in Penguin Classics is vastly superior...and should be sought out in 2nd hand shops...Quite why penguin thought it a good idea to change a classic version of a classic is beyond me; that said at least it isn't as bad as the awful Seamus Heaney version.
Published on 8 Nov 2008 by J. E. Holmes


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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and easy to read, 3 Mar 2004
By 
Mr. S. J. Hunt "sjhunt" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am new to the classical works of Greece and Rome, however I've recently challenged myself to become more well acquainted with the works that have shaped story telling.
The fairly recent (mid nineties) Penguin translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey were where I began, and both books artfully represented the behemoths that these particular stories are in the world of literature. It was then with some trepidation that I picked up this volume, clear that this Roman book would not come up to scratch. I am glad to say I was completely wrong. West's translation is rich and readable. I even managed to read this on a busy bus on the way to work!
The accessibility of this work is its strength and I would recommend this story, and in particular this artful translation, to anyone who has no real specialist knowledge, but enjoys a good story and revels in the ancient greatness such tales can evoke.
Recommended
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, ambivalent and very Roman, 30 July 2006
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Vergil's epic used to be read as the traditional moral propaganda that justified the Roman empire and Augustus' rule, but it's a far more complex and problematic poem than that. Yes, as a previous reviewer, has stated, he takes Homer as his starting point, but Vergil's intention is not to 'top' Homer but to question and reflect on Rome's self-identity and the values that Roman culture has been built upon.

It is possible to read this is a simple, rousing epic of war and the heroic ethos, but the other 'voices' question the very values that the poem purports to support. Ultimately this is a poem of profound grief and loss and mourning for the past and for the price that has been paid in order to move forward into the future, and in this sense, it is a comment on the fall of the Republic and the emergence of the Principate under Augustus.

Having said that, it's also a good story, picking up from the end of the Iliad and telling the fall of Troy, Aeneas' escape with a group of Trojans and his search for Italy where he will found the city that will become Rome. The most famous incident is the tragic story of Dido (Book 4) which even in Vergil's own day was regarded as the best bit of the whole poem.

Together with the Iliad and the Odyssey, this is one of the foundation stones of European literature, and the Penguin translation is clear, easy and fluent. For a more poetic and rhythmic translation I would recommend the Allen Mandelbaum version which tends to be the one used by academics. Enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively, enjoyable translation, 3 May 2012
I am not a student of classics, and the only ancient classic I'd read prior to this was Homer's Odyssey which, frankly, was the most boring thing I'd ever read. Needless to say I was not expecting to like this book and was only reading it at all because I thought it would be useful in studying English literature. To my surprise I actually really enjoyed it! It has a lively and engaging style and Virgil's characters are so real you feel you could touch them. I wonder now if it was Homer's or the translator's fault I didn't enjoy The Odyssey... who knows! But I would definitely recommend this copy of The Aeneid!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thanks for the memories, 6 Feb 2011
Not that I was there during the original story...
I bought this for an office mate who wanted to broaded her education. I had studied it at school many years ago, even did some of it in the original Latin. Brought back happy memories. Nice version of the story - seems to flow well from the flick through that I did before handing it on. Can highly recommend it. Written as the Roman equivalent to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Funny that cultures need to find some basis in history to justify themselves.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Reading Classic, 9 Feb 2011
By 
Christian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
When compared to the works of Homer this tale feels like a homage to it. With the similarities to the Grecian gods and the style of the tale, you feel as if Homer had scribed another tale.

And yet this translation sparkles and makes it one of the easiest reading classics that I have read. There are no footnotes or other reference points to break the text, with appendices to flesh out two 'books'.

It would be churlish to give this less than five stars. The text is glorious and the tale draws you along. Many years after Virgil wanted the book destroyed it still lives.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and easy to read, 3 Mar 2004
By 
Mr. S. J. Hunt "sjhunt" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I am new to the classical works of Greece and Rome, however I've recently challenged myself to become more well acquainted with the works that have shaped story telling.
The fairly recent (mid nineties) Penguin translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey were where I began, and both books artfully represented the behemoths that these particular stories are in the world of literature. It was then with some trepidation that I picked up this volume, clear that this Roman book would not come up to scratch. I am glad to say I was completely wrong. West's translation is rich and readable. I even managed to read this on a busy bus on the way to work!
The accessibility of this work is its strength and I would recommend this story, and in particular this artful translation, to anyone who has no real specialist knowledge, but enjoys a good story and revels in the ancient greatness such tales can evoke.
Recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virgil verging on the most brilliad of the Trojan epics, 3 Nov 2013
By 
H. Tee (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
OK - near 2000 years old, written around 17BC, Roman Virgil takes the already historic Homer Greek poems The Iliad (Fall of Troy) and the sequel Odyssey (Warrior returns to his family) of about 800BC and writes a similar epic poem in Latin. The story details how Rome (Latinum) was founded by Trojan Aeneas thus satisfying the then Emperor Augustus idea of noble Rome.

The penguin prose version gives a lot of background to the story, including family trees, maps, a synopsis of each chapter and historical analysis since there are many contemporary references to actual Roman battles and people (e.g. Carthage). You certainly don't need to read any of the extra stuff to enjoy the story (but certainly is an education!). There really is a lot of analysis out there.

This is in itself an excellent historic war story with passion, heroes, gods, war, politics and leadership. The hero starts his journey and much like Odysseus travels from Troy, via several Greek or Libyan locations, to the tribes of Italy thereby fulfilling his destiny (set by the Roman gods this time). Once in Italy the story builds to the pivotal fight between Aeneas and Turnus. I, like most people (men?), did find the famous relationship between Aeneas and queen Dido really poignant and tragic - they fall in love but finds his destiny leads him to abandon her (she feels she can do no less than kill herself on a pyre - how would you then react if later you met her ghost tormented eternally in the underworld?).

If you were contemplating reading The Aeneid I don't think it would strictly matter if you hadn't read the two prequels of Homer but I think the trio do work best in order.

Some quotes

Before the entrance hall of Orcus, in the very throat of hell, Grief and Revenge have made their beds and Old Age lives there in despair, with white-faced Diseases and Fear and Hunger, corrupter of men, and squalid Poverty, things dreadful to look upon, and Death and Drudgery besides. Then there are Sleep, Death's sister, perverted Pleasures, murderous War astride the threshold, the iron chambers of the Furies and raving Discord with blood-soaked ribbons binding her viperous hair.

Their heads were lolling. He cut them off. Next he removed the head of their master Remus and left the blood gurgling out of his trunk and warming the ground as the black gore soaked through the bedding.

The blade went straight through the middle of the forehead and parted the smooth young cheeks. The wound was hideous. He fell with a crash and the ground shook with the weight of him. As he lay dying he strewed around his nerveless limbs and armour blooded with brains, and two halves of his head hung on his two shoulders.

Well worth a read - 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid, readable prose translation of Virgil's epic, 29 Dec 2012
The great Latin epic, written in the first century BC, follows the adventures of Aeneas, a prince of Troy, and his family and companions as they venture around the Mediterranean, from the destruction of their city to the founding of a settlement in Italy that would eventually become Rome. All the while the hero and his companions are at the mercy of the competing deities of Graeco-Roman myth, as they engage in a heavenly tug-of-war over their eventual fate.

And David West's translation is a really good one.

It's tempting to be a bit sniffy about prose translations of narrative verse - he even admits this in his introduction (p. xlv). But as he there explains, previous attempts to render the Aeneid into English meter have often been weedy and uninteresting. On the other hand, West's prose is beautifully sonorous and rhythmic, at times almost like reading verse; while at the same time being clear and understandable. Take for example this fragment from Book 4 (pp.70-71):

"With these words Anna lit a fire of wild love in her sister's breast. Where there had been doubt she gave hope and Dido's conscience was overcome. First they approached the shrines and went round the altars asking the blessing of the gods. They picked out yearling sheep, as ritual prescribed, and sacrificed them to Ceres the Lawgiver, to Phoebus Apollo, to Bacchus the Releaser and above all to Juno, the guardian of the marriage bond. Dido in all her beauty would hold a sacred dish in her right hand and would pour wine from it between the horns of a white cow or she would walk in state to richly smoking altars before the faces of the gods, renewing her offerings all day long, and when the bellies of the victims were opened she would stare into their breathing entrails to read the signs."

The other great advantage of this translation, in my opinion, is its not having footnotes or endnotes to distract the reader's attention from the flow of the narrative. Two particularly complicated passages are instead elaborated in appendices at the back of the book; there are also a couple of useful maps and family trees of the principal characters. This does mean, however, that at a few points the text, names, etc., have been slightly amended to make it clearer to the modern reader - which means that this edition won't be suitable as a crib.

There is also an introduction (40 pages) explaining how the Aeneid came to be written; its significance as a work in praise of the Emperor Octavian; and a synopsis of each of its twelve books.

In short, a fine, very readable, lucid translation of this classic poem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff - if you're Roman, 27 Dec 2012
By 
Not being Roman, though, I have to admit that it can be rather tedious in places.

In this, the primary statement of classical Roman values, Virgil gives us a reworking of Homer's great epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Roman hero, Aeneas, is seen to evolve in type from his Greek predecessors, Hector and Odysseus. He endures many of the same trials along the way as they had done before him. Thus is forged in mind, body and soul the quintessential Roman.

Essential reading, therefore, and I mean essential reading for all students of ancient Rome.

(Shortcut for non-professionals: stick to the even-numbered chapters!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great epic, 6 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Edition)
This epic is such an interesting read and features Aeneas as a tragic hero. Background knowledge is needed for this book and why it was written and all the comptemorary(roman) references need to be included such as those with dido and cleopatra which all adds an extra dimension to the book. It contains a great amount of philosophy which when you know about it, it really shows what a great writer Virgil is and all the ideas that are contained within the epic. The book moves quite fast so concentration is needed because often if you skim read the lines it makes it difficult to understand what is going on. This is a classic epic and should be read because it really is great.
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