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The Aeneid

The Aeneid

by Virgil

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

For a long time, some people have found it difficult to accept that Virgil really meant to end the epic the way it currently stands – with Aeneas killing the surrendering Turnus, so that (as Fitzgerald translates it) "With a groan for that indignity / His spirit fled into the gloom below." In the fifteenth century, two Italian poets, Pier Candido Decembrio, and, more famously, Maffeo Vegio, attempted to write continuations of the poem, in Latin. You can read both these versions, along with a sixteenth century translation of Maffeo Vegio's version, here.

The nineteenth-century English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson composed this poem to celebrate the 1900-year anniversary of Virgil's death. Read it here.

The twentieth-century American poet Allen Tate engaged with the Aeneid in several of his poems. In "The Mediterranean," he uses the voyage of Aeneas as a metaphor for the discovery of America. The poem's Latin epigraph – "Quem das finem, rex magne, dolorum?" – is adapted from line 241 of Book 1 of the Aeneid, which reads, in Fitzgerald's translation (lines 327-228), "Great king, / What finish to their troubles will you give?" Ironically, Fitzgerald's translation of this line is closer to Tate's adaptation than to Virgil's original Latin. In Virgil's Latin, Venus asks when Jupiter will let the Trojans finish their laborum – "labors." Tate changes this word to dolorum – meaning "pains" or "troubles." Click this link to read Tate's poem.

Another of Allen Tate's famous responses to the Aeneid is the poem "Aeneas at Washington. "

The twentieth-century American poet Robert Lowell (a student of Allen Tate) used motifs from the Aeneid as the basis for his poem "Falling Asleep over the Aeneid." You can read Lowell's poem here.

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