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Publisher Description

This book is translated and that makes it even more fun to read. The author says it all in the preface “There is something grotesque in the idea of a prose translation of a poet, though the practice is become so common that it has ceased to provoke a smile or demand an apology. The language of poetry is language in fusion; that of prose is language fixed and crystallised; and an attempt to copy the one material in the other must always count on failure to convey what is, after all, one of the most essential things in poetry, its poetical quality. And this is so with Virgil more, perhaps, than with any other poet; for more, perhaps, than any other poet Virgil depends on his poetical quality from first to last. Such a translation can only have the value of a copy of some great painting executed in mosaic, if indeed a copy in Berlin wool is not a closer analogy; and even at the best all it can have to say for itself will be in Virgil's own words, Experiar sensus; nihil hic nisi carmina desunt.

In this translation I have in the main followed the text of Conington and Nettleship. The more important deviations from this text are mentioned in the notes; but I have not thought it necessary to give a complete list of various readings, or to mention any change except where it might lead to misapprehension. Their notes have also been used by me throughout.

Beyond this I have made constant use of the mass of ancient commentary going under the name of Servius; the most valuable, perhaps, of all, as it is in many ways the nearest to the poet himself. The explanation given in it has sometimes been followed against those of the modern editors. To other commentaries only occasional reference has been made. The sense that Virgil is his own best interpreter becomes stronger as one studies him more.

Fiction & Literature
April 10
Todd Gilson

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