The Aeneid is one of the most important single works in all of Western literature. It tells the story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It was written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, immediately after the tumultuous civil wars that had engulfed Rome. Augustus Caesar was now on the throne, and a long period of stability was to begin. Virgil’s epic gave Rome a founding nationalistic myth rivaling that of the Odyssey and the Iliad for the Greeks.
Virgil (70 BC-19 BC) influenced many of the greatest Western writers to follow, including Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. Dante, as another example, chose Virgil as his guide to Hell and Purgatory in The Divine Comedy. Besides the Aeneid, Virgil is also known for the Eclogues and the Georgics, both classics in the Western Canon.
Due to the importance of this work, there are almost an unlimited number of editions to choose from. The Limited Editions Club (LEC) version from 1944 (which I will review later in a separate post) uses the famous translation from John Dryden (1631-1700). He employed a rhyme scheme, which modern translations typically no longer follow (since it is a non-Roman convention). The Folio Society Limited Edition, shown immediately below, uses the 2006 translation from Robert Fagles (1933-2008).
About the Folio Society Limited Edition
- Bound in full Wassa Nigerian goatskin
- Blocked in gold and black with a design by Jeff Clements inspired by Trojan sails and Roman arches
- Set in Centaur
- Printed on Cordier Wove paper at Memminger MedienCentrum AG, Memmingen, Germany
- Printed endpapers showing a map of the voyage of Aeneas and his companions
- Illustrated with plates of frescoes from Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia, Stabiae and Rome
- 9¾” x 6¾”, 512 pages
- 16 color plates plus frontispiece
- Each copy numbered by hand on a special limitation page (limited to 1,750 copies)
- Gilded top edges, ribbon marker
- Translation by Robert Fagles, who also provides extensive notes and a glossary of all the characters
- Introduction by Yale classicist Bernard Knox
Pictures of the Folio Society Limited Edition (photos courtesy of Librarything user Virion).