Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Aeneid

By Virgil

I’m going to try to keep this big picture and not get snagged on any of the many analytical and thematic points that came up in class - as interesting as they are - because that’s a whole different box of cookies.*

Self #1: “Repeat after me: This is a book review, not an essay.”
Self #2: “This is a book review, not an essay.”
Self #1: “Got it?”
Self #2: “Book review, not essay.”
Self #1: “Very good.”
Self #2: “Can I get back to the review now?”
Self #1: “By all means.”

I liked The Aeneid. It wasn’t exactly a pleasure read, but I liked it in the way you like arduous things (and by arduous I mean reading all 300+ pages of epic prose in 3 days) once they’re over. If you’ve ever read Grapes of Wrath maybe you know what I’m talking about. There were a lot of slow parts, many of which involved an excess of names, but there were also plenty of gripping parts that had me actually forgetting to watch the page numbers tick by as slowly as the minutes. For example, the last four books are almost entirely devoted to one long, drawn out, dramatic, and incredibly visceral battle scene. I may have cringed at least once a page, but I certainly wasn’t bored! 

Two Sentence Summary: After the sack of Troy, Aeneas escapes with a group of Trojan warriors and sets out for the shores of Italy, where he will found New Troy (aka Rome). He must first overcome the obstacles of a vindictive meddling goddess, and then conquer the land destined to become a great empire.

I’m guessing most of you have heard of The Aeneid. And maybe you’ve heard whisperings of comparisons to The Odyssey. Maybe some have you have even read it. If you a) haven’t and b) have read The Odyssey and didn’t loathe it, I recommend The Aeneid as a good companion read. It’s an excellent microcosmic example that for all the energy the Romans put into dissing the Greeks, they put at least as much or more into imitating (and in their minds, improving on) them. Naturally it’s chock full of meaty themes as well, like the conflict between duty and desire, the martyrdom of present happiness for future greatness, learning what to let go of and when, the ephemerality of human life and connection, the entanglement of place and identity... the list goes on. And Virgil wasn’t kidding around. He knew his way around a vivid description (see: incredibly visceral battle scene). I’ve never read such inventive – and numerous – descriptions of dawn. They put Homer’s lovely, if repetitive, “rosy-fingered dawn” to shame. And that’s pretty much Virgil’s goal in a nutshell**: outdo Homer. Whether he succeeds or not is up to you.

So what do you think? Did I keep the essay-writing impulse on a short enough leash? Are you thinking of giving The Aeneid a go? Or did I just resurrect old repressed memories of reading The Odyssey under duress in high school?

* I say box of cookies because I’ve never liked the creepy-crawly connotations of “can of worms.” It reminds me too much of sophomore biology and my lab partner who was determined to use night crawlers for the worm unit and then got scared of them when they reared their thick, slick, ugly pink heads and… oh. I’ve gone an opened another box of cookies, haven’t I?
** Other than, you know, establishing a mythic tradition for the founding of Rome that is. And getting paid handsomely by the emperor.

Books Read This Year: 5
Top 100 Progress: 38/100


  1. Ahaa, its nice discussion on the topic of this piece of writing here at this
    blog, I have read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.

    Have a look at my blog post :: diaper rash home remedies

  2. Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up very fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    Here is my webpage Unknown

  3. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It's on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

    Feel free to visit my site

  4. I just could not depart your site before suggesting that I really loved the usual info a person provide on your guests?
    Is gonna be back incessantly to check out new posts

    my webpage; unknown

  5. AnonymousMay 01, 2013

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for
    you? Plz answer back as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. kudos

    Also visit my web blog - microsoft Points

  6. AnonymousMay 07, 2013

    Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective.
    A lot of times it's tough to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say you've done a very good job with this.
    In addition, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Chrome.
    Superb Blog!

    My webpage ... Unknown

  7. AnonymousMay 12, 2013

    Hello, Neat post. There's a problem along with your website in internet explorer, may check this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a huge part of other folks will leave out your excellent writing because of this problem.

    Visit my website; Stretch Marks

  8. AnonymousMay 15, 2013

    I am really loving the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems?

    A small number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera.
    Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

    Look at my site ...

  9. AnonymousMay 18, 2013

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I
    could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    My blog ... Psn Code Generator

  10. AnonymousMay 22, 2013

    Appreciating the persistence you put into your website and detailed information you offer.

    It's good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same outdated
    rehashed information. Wonderful read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    Also visit my page; World Of Tanks Hack

  11. AnonymousMay 23, 2013

    Hi to every body, it's my first pay a quick visit of this weblog; this blog carries remarkable and really fine data in support of visitors.

    my web-site ... PS3 Jailbreak 4.41

  12. AnonymousMay 29, 2013

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog thus i came to “return the favor”.
    I'm attempting to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    Have a look at my blog post: Psn Code Generator

  13. AnonymousJune 04, 2013

    Very good article. I am dealing with many of these issues as well.


    Also visit my web site ... Microsoft Office Gratuit

  14. AnonymousJune 07, 2013

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave
    it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it
    pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    My web-site ... how to jailbreak a ps3 ()

  15. AnonymousJune 19, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further
    post thank you once again.

    Look into my web page - iTunes Code Generator

  16. AnonymousJune 16, 2014

    I'm not positive the place you are etting your information,
    however good topic. I must spend some tiime finding out much more or understanding more.
    Thank you ffor magnificent information I was in search oof this inf for my mission.

    my blog ... the venus factor review