T. S. Eliot considered the Aeneid to be the most important single work in Western literature: the supreme literary achievement of the most influential culture in European history and the standard
by which all subsequent works were to be judged.
This Folio Society edition includes extensive notes and a glossary of all the characters compiled by Robert Fagles, as well as a postscript in which he describes Virgil’s ‘unequalled blend of grandeur and accessibility … of eloquence and action, heroics and humanity’. A substantial introduction by Yale classicist Bernard Knox, Fagles’s former tutor and long-term collaborator, places the poem in its historical context and also describes his own early encounter with Virgil’s poetry while a soldier in Italy during the Second World War.
Translated by Robert Fagles
Limited to 1,750 numbered copies
Each copy hand-numbered on a special limitation page
Bound in full Nigerian goatskin
Gilded top edges and ribbon marker
Blocked in gold and black with a design by Jeff Clements inspired by Trojan sails and Roman arches
Printed endpapers showing a map of the voyage of Aeneas and his companions
Set in Centaur
512 pages with frontispiece and 16 colour plates
Book size: 9¾" x 6¾"
A masterpiece of world literature
‘Wars and a man I sing – an exile driven on by Fate,
he was the first to flee the coast of Troy,
destined to reach Lavinian shores and Italian soil.’
From the smouldering ruins of Troy, one prince escapes the victorious Greeks: Aeneas. Before they reach a safe haven, Aeneas and his Trojans will have ‘drunk deep/of each and every disaster land and sea can offer’. The goddess Juno is their implacable enemy, and harries the Trojans by sea and on land. In Carthage, Aeneas faces a painful conflict between duty and love for Queen Dido. In Italy, the Trojans must endure a further war with indigenous tribes before Aeneas can fulfil his destiny: to found the new kingdom of Rome.
‘The classic of all Europe’ T. S. ELIOT
T. S. Eliot considered the Aeneid to be the most important single work in Western literature: the supreme literary achievement of the most influential culture in European history and the standard by which all subsequent works were to be judged. The greatest European writers have been influenced by Virgil – Chaucer; Shakespeare; Milton and Dante, who chose Virgil as his guide to Hell and Purgatory in The Divine Comedy. The very phrases of the Aeneid have entered our culture and literature: ‘Arms and the man I sing’ (arma virumque cano); ‘There are tears of things’ (sunt lacrimae rerum) and ‘I fear the Greeks bearing gifts’ (timeo Danaos et dona ferentis).
A national epic filled with heroism and pathos
The Aeneid was written at the end of the 1st century BC, in the wake of the civil wars that had convulsed Rome and effectively ended the Roman Republic. Augustus Caesar was on the imperial throne and with his reign, a period of stability had begun. In writing the story of Rome’s foundation, Virgil gave these recent wars a heroic new context. He provided the Empire with a national epic to rival the Odyssey and the Iliad, and gave Romans a sense of destiny fulfilled, and the promise of hope for the future.
The Aeneid, however, is far more than a political poem. Few have seen the price of empire and the pity of war as clearly as Virgil. When Aeneas first meets Dido, he has just been reduced to tears by frescoes depicting the Trojan War and his fallen comrades. Aeneas’ visit to the underworld, where he meets his father and other loved ones; Dido’s suicide; Cassandra dragged from Minerva’s sanctuary by Ajax and Priam slaughtered at the altar – these are among the most powerful moments in all literature.
The stories of Aeneas’ wanderings and battles have inspired countless works of art, from baroque oil paintings to Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. The Aeneid was a particularly popular subject for art in the Roman world. This Folio Society edition is illustrated with plates of frescoes from Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia, Stabiae and Rome. In the case of two of them, one showing Aeneas with his father and son and another with Aeneas carrying the armour of the Etruscan king Mezentius, this is the first time they have been reproduced in a book.
An acclaimed translation by Robert Fagles
‘Fagles’s translation of the Aeneid is simply irresistible reading. One reads it with the wish of having read it in youth’ RICHARD FORD
Robert Fagles was a renowned classicist and one of only a handful of people to have translated all three great classical epics. His translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, both published in Folio Society editions, have been critically acclaimed and widely read. Two years before his death in 2008, he published this much-praised translation of the Aeneid. It blends the natural directness of Virgil’s language with the lyrical intensity of his metaphors. Fagles wrote, ‘I have sought a compromise between Virgil’s spacious hexameter, his “ocean-roll of rhythm”, and a tighter line more native to English verse.’
‘A majestic achievement … you will forget you are reading a translation’ LOUIS BEGLEY
"The volume is very handsomely bound, the design fits it like a glove and the illustrations are unique examples of Roman art finely reproduced. The text is perfect and the introduction and postscript b..." [read more]
"The volume is very handsomely bound, the design fits it like a glove and the illustrations are unique examples of Roman art finely reproduced. The text is perfect and the introduction and postscript by Fagles on his translation are welcome adjuncts to the epic itself. Since it is my humble opinion that everyone should have a copy of the Aeneid in one translation or another and since Fagles is among the best you cannot go wrong with this volume. " [hide full review]