Strange to confess, but this is the first time I’ve read the entire poem cover to cover (in English, quickly – several decades ago I’d read it all in Latin over a number of weeks). It came out other than how I’d expected: firstly, more straightforward and easier to get my head round and understand, and secondly, clearly less good than Homer [as I’d always felt, but I’d hoped/feared that this Virgilian drenching might tip things the other way]. In addition, reading through quickly (six books a day for two days) provides a momentum which carries you through the knots, the bits where Virgil seems to be showing Aeneas in a bad light and the victims of Rome’s mission seem to be the true recipients of the poet’s sympathies. That doesn’t go away, it’s all still there, but somehow Aeneas’ mission stops you getting too concerned, and its strength has sufficient force to breathe vigour and interest into Aeneas’ character: he’s far less of a woolly priest than I’d remembered him. Part of the problem I think is teaching just books 2, 4, and 6 (with occasional bits of 1 and 12) – the focus is on the losses of Troy, Dido and Marcellus, and not Aeneas’ determination to do the right thing and win through. At the climax of Book 12 we feel a great sense of Aeneas’ success – he’s done it! – but also the preceding books have sufficiently Romanised our sensibilities to share Aeneas’ anger in killing Turnus for his slaying of Pallas.
- Abortion Aeneid Aeschylus aesthetics Aidan Andrew Dun Alexander Allingham Antigone Art Blake Bowie Brideshead Christianity Comedy Conrad death drama Eliot English epic ethics Feminism Fleet Forster French Godot Gormenghast Greek Greek history Hartley historiography history Homer Iliad Jesus Larkin literary theory Literature London love Modernism Montaigne Music myth Mythology Oedipus Philip Gross Philosophy Plato poetry politics post-modernism Protagoras psychogeography Quakers Religion Romance Roman history Sayers Sex Socrates Sophocles Theology Theseus The Wind in the Willows thriller Tragedy Travel Troy Truman Show Virgil War Wilde Wimsey World War II