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Customer Review

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
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This review is from: The Aeneid (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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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