—an exile driven on by Fate, he was the first to flee the coast of Troy, destined to reach Lavinian shores and Italian soil, yet many blows he took on land and sea from the god above— thanks to cruel Juno's relentless rage—and many losses he bore in battle, too, before he could found a city, bring his gods to Latium, source of the Latin race, the Alban lords and the high walls of Rome.

At the University of Toronto Bookstore yesterday, I discovered I had been too hasty in buying the David West prose translation of Virgil's Aeneid last year. Penguin has just released a new verse translation by Robert Fagles, whose verse editions of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey I have enjoyed and own. If the new work is anything like the previous two, it will be eminently readable.

You may have been turned off, as I once was, by the tendency of translators of Greek and Latin works to use archaic English grammar ("thee/thou/thy") and diction to emphasize the age of the originals. The best feature of Fagles' translations is modern English with excellent diction and vivid imagery. "Fresh" is a common descriptor in the broad critical praise his works have earned, and for good reason. The accessibility of the language makes it easier for casual readers to immerse themselves in the stories, which become as compelling as they must have been to contemporaries of the authors.


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