Wednesday, March 04, 2009

New versions of The Aeneid

The Feb. 2009 issue of Poetry begins with a selection from Book Two of the Aeneid, in David Ferry's translation. The passage (Aeneas's escape from Troy, as told to Dido) includes one of my favorite moments in the book, as Aeneas tries to embrace his wife Creüsa's ghost:

Three times I tried to embrace her and to hold her;
Three times the image, clasped in vain, escaped
As if it were a breeze or on the wings
Of a vanishing dream.

The selection implies that Ferry is translating the epic, which is something to look forward to. But there's also a new translation available now (even more recent than the Robert Fagles translation I read last summer): Sarah Ruden's new translation, published by Yale University Press. Garry Wills raves about it in the March 12, 2009, issue of the New York Review of Books (unfortunately, the article is not on-line):

The wonder of [Vergil's] poem is that it has a melancholy melodiousness while retaining a tight aphoristic ring. Fagles often achieved the former, but rarely the latter. Ruden gets both.

(By the way, why do Ferry and Fagles write "Virgil" while Wills and Ruden write "Vergil"?)


Don Share said...

Answer to your question:



Andrew Shields said...

Thanks, Don! I should always ask questions when I post something; it helps make clear that somebody is out there. :-)