Vergil, "The Aeneid"

Cashman Kerr Prince

Tuesdays, January 30 - April 3 (not February 20 or March 13) 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. 8 sessions
Prescott House, 55 Beacon Street

Two millennia ago, Vergil wrote a Latin epic narrating the tale of Æneas, a Trojan prince who escaped the razing of his native city, had some adventures, and came to the Italian peninsula, where he found the Roman race. “Arms and the man I sing,”  it begins. From this opening, in 12 books, we get a story of Homeric proportions. Written under the star of Augustus (and the auspices of ministrations or behest of Mæcenas), this poem is part of the political project of the time: re-founding the Roman Republic. Of course, we now know this as the period of the Principate, the beginnings of what becomes the Roman Empire. Imperialism is writ large (swashbucklingly so) in this poem.

Along with the political dimension, this is a poem of beauty and depth. We meet friends and foes, learn a little something about the power of gossip and battle-rage, and take a voyage to the underworld thanks to the Sibyl’s sage instructions. At the heart of the poem is Æneas, but Vergil is as much on display here as his hero.

We will read this epic and unpack history, poetry, and ideology. Now is your chance to read one of the more influential works of classical literature, one which has an amazingly long reach across the years. 

Reading: Vergil, Æneid. I recommend the recent version translated by David Ferry. The University of Chicago Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780226450186, $35 cloth.

Please note: All translations of Æneid are quite different, sometimes surprisingly so. (We will discuss why this is so in the seminar, with examples.) For this reason, I would like to encourage all to read the recent David Ferry translation, so we can focus on Vergil’s original text and on one translator’s decisions and choices.

Teaching Style: Seminar     Weekly Preparation: 2-4 hours

    Cashman Kerr Prince

    Cashman Kerr Prince is a visiting scholar in classical studies at Wellesley College. He holds degrees in classics and comparative literature from Wesleyan and Stanford University and the Université de Paris 8. His areas of specialization include ancient Greek didactic poetry and classical reception in later art and literature. He writes for the Boston Musical Intelligencer, is a cellist with the Brookline Symphony Orchestra, and works as general manager for the local nonprofit, Music for Food.