Monday, August 04, 2008


One general response I had to the Aeneid while reading it at the beach (in the Robert Fagles translation) was this: I was repeatedly struck by the image of Virgil actually sitting or standing somewhere and writing the poem. In contrast, when reading Homer (whether Iliad or Odyssey), I never had a sense of a person (be it Homer himself or anyone) actually writing the poem.

Of course, this could be just a side-effect of the fact that I know that a historically identifiable person named Virgil actually wrote the Aeneid, while that is not the case for Homer's epics. But I also had the feeling that this had something to do with how the Latin epic reads.

Perhaps this is something classicists have studied: Virgil as a written text vs. Homer as a text composed orally. What struck me most about it, finally, was that Fagles apparently succeeded in translating Homer and Virgil differently enough to create this sensation.

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