What can I say about Virgil’s The Aeneid, other than to express how insanely jealous I am of his sweeping, lyrical, beautiful sentences? I adored every moment; it held my attention all the way through, like a good song. My heart thump-thump-thumps at his rhythm, alliteration, and utterly unique descriptions. I have the biggest writer-crush on Virgil and the biggest translator-crush on Robert Fitzgerald.
I’ll just highlight a few of my favorite passages:
“The queen, for her part, all that evening ached/With longing that her heart’s blood fed/a wound/Or inward fire eating her away./The manhood of the man, his pride of birth/Came home to her time and again; his looks,/His words remained with her to haunt her mind,/And desire for him gave her no rest” (653).
Dido is obsessive and irrational, but this description of her inner turmoil is so pure! Love can be as restless and unpleasant as it is wonderful, and Virgil gets at the heart of that.
“On a white shining heifer, between the horns,/Or gravely in the shadow of the gods/opulent altars. Through the day/She brings new gifts/and when the breasts are opened/Pores over organs, living still, for signs./Alas, what darkened minds have soothsayers!/What good are shrines and vows to maddened lovers?/The inward fire eats the soft marrow away,/And the internal wound bleeds on in silence” (655).
I do not recall the last time I read a more beautiful passage. I have returned to this so many times. This captures how we look for signs, obsessively, unconsciously sometimes; but in the end, what good are shrines and vows to maddened lovers? In the end, it’s all us – but we seek divinity in everything, and I definitely see a commentary on this in Virgil’s writing.
Dawn came up meanwhile from the Ocean stream/And in the early sunshine from the gates/Picked huntsmen issues: wide-meshed nets and snares,/Broad spearheads for big game, Massylian horsemen/Trooping with hounds in packs keen on the scent” (657).
Lasty, I just love Virgil’s simple, descriptive, elegant scene-building; It reminds me a lot of Homer. I love the attention to nature and natural elements, and the way he gives an overview of the scene-at-large before zeroing in on a specific character. A classmate, Louise, describes this as a “zoom lens” technique. Insanely gorgeous.
I need to get my hands on the complete Aeneid and read it as soon as I possibly can.