Extract One: Book 5, from line 362 (MP3 format, 8:17, 15 MB) Extract Two: Book 6, from line 268 (MP3 format, 4:41, 8.5 MB)
"Arms and the man I sing." So begins one of the greatest works of literature in any language. Written more than two thousand years ago, The Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas' seven-year journey from the ruins of Troy to Italy, where he becomes the founding ancestor of Rome. Virgil's supreme achievement is not only to reveal Rome's imperial future, but to invest it with both passion and suffering for all those caught up in the fates of others.
Frederick Ahl's new translation captures the excitement, poetic energy, and intellectual force of the original in a way that has never been done before. Ahl has used a version of Virgil's ancient hexameter, a swift-moving six-beat line varying between twelve and seventeen syllables, to reproduce the original poetry in a thrillingly accurate and engaging style. This is an Aeneid that the first-time reader can grasp and enjoy, and whose rendition of Virgil's subtleties of thought and language will enthrall those already familiar with the epic. Unlike most translators, Ahl has chosen to retain Virgil's word-play, the puns and anagrams and other instances of the poet's ebullient wit. "To shear away Virgil's luxuriance," Ahl writes, "is not to separate the painting from a (superfluous) gilded frame, but to lacerate the canvas. Like Shakespeare and the Greek tragedians, Virgil grasped that humor and earnestness are not mutually exclusive in art any more than they are in life. One should read the Aeneid not in solemn homage, but for enjoyment."
Enhanced by Elaine Fantham's Introduction, Ahl's comprehensive notes, and an invaluable indexed glossary, this lively new translation brings readers closer to the original and the myriad enjoyments to be found there.