The Aeneid: Observations

To kick off my quest to read the classics, I have been slowly (and almost reluctantly) working my way through Virgil’s Aeneid. I should admit that I’ve read at least half of it before, for a class in which I was required to write a paper about Queen Dido. But that was over five years ago, so I figured I’d start the whole thing again, because I’d probably need a refresher.

The deal is, reading a book in order to write a paper about it and reading a book for the sake of reading it are two entirely different things. When I read the first time through, I underlined things fervently and wrote snarky notes in the margins. As I read now, I wonder why the hell I underlined those things and laugh to myself because snark aimed at the work of a long-dead Roman poet is really quite amusing. No, seriously. For example:

Oh! A big giant wooden horse! Let’s take it inside! No wonder your city was destroyed, you idiots.

I will have more to say about this horse thing when I get to the actual review, but for now, I thought I’d share some of the things I’m thinking about the book while I’m still reading (and therefore free of having to write about it productively or in paragraph form). Here goes:

— If one were to come to this book unaware of the fact that Aeneas is fated to get to Italy and daddy some babies who will eventually become the people known as Romans, then it wouldn’t take long to get it. Virgil lays it on really thick. To the point of being annoying.

— This Trojan horse business is seriously one of stupidest stories ever. Also, I think it’s interesting that we use the Trojan name to signify strength when really, the Trojans were the ones to get their asses kicked by the Greeks.

— I find it utterly hilarious that when recounting a memory, Aeneas is apparently able to remember the exact words of everyone, and can supposedly quote what a single person said to him years ago verbatim and for several pages. Seriously, I think he’s just making stuff up.

— Getting it on in a cave. That’s hot.

— Dido, listen to me, homegirl. Aeneas isn’t worth it. The gods are just messing with you. Buck up. Listen to some Gloria Gaynor, or something.

— Homer was so much more badass than Virgil.

— Why is this book a classic? Because it’s old and Virgil knew how to work the foreshadowing? I think this just proves that if you write something and it doesn’t end up thrown in a fireplace or get a lot of coffee stains on it or anything, it can be a revered classic, too. I mean, Virgil died before he finished editing the damn thing, so this isn’t even the final, good version!

So, these are some of the things I’ve been thinking about The Aeneid so far. I’m sure I’ll have more, but I’ll just work them into an actual review, written in paragraphs. This review should be coming soon, provided that I can make myself sit down for a few hours this weekend and get through the last few books. Stay tuned.

9 Responses

  1. Trojan Horse Debunked?I no
    Trojan Horse Debunked?

    I no longer know what to believe! Are you saying the Trojan Horse story is bogus?

    Well, despite that, I really like how you are reviewing and commenting on the Aeneid. Your comments are interesting and make the subject fun. Most appreciated!

  2. There’s some recent
    There’s some recent anthropology that suggests we’ve misunderstood what the Trojan horse may have been. A new theory says the Trojan horse may have been a siege machine, if you’ve a picture of one you could imagine it to be a horse looking. So, maybe Homer misunderstood what he was describing (d’oh!) or somehow, somewhere along the line there was a mistake.

  3. Beware of Greeks bearing
    Beware of Greeks bearing gifts…

    …especially if they come in a horse named after a prophylactic.

  4. Heh. Exactly. You know, I
    Heh. Exactly. You know, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I actually spent some time thinking about the Trojan brand prophylactics after reading Book II of The Aeneid, because, really… wouldn’t you not want something like that associated with Troy?

  5. I’m not saying that the
    I’m not saying that the Trojan Horse story is bogus, just that it’s pretty stupid. But I’ll get to that in good time, I promise.

    And jymwrite, I don’t think the historical veracity of the works of Homer or Virgil (who describes the Trojan Horse/fall of Troy at greater length than Homer does) is all that important. If it were, then the fact that they heavily rely on mythological creatures to advance their stories would also be a problem. In the end, it makes for a good story, albeit one that points out the immense stupidity of the Trojans.

  6. My research has suggested
    My research has suggested that the Trojan Horse was actually a real horse. What happened was, they shrank fifty soldiers with a little know herb from Crete,dissolved in a fermented tincture of iodine. These soldiers were injected into a living horse by means of a primitive hypodermic needle, known as a hippocratic fix. Then, the Trojans finally let the horse inside the gate because it was looking a bit wan. They were afraid the animal police would cite them for animal Adkinson, which was a problem in those days, but it wasn’t called that. Thus the science of animal husbandry was born, some historians say. Well, when the soldiers returned to their regular size, just the site of an exploding horse put most of the Trojans into a funk, and they were easily given numbered tickets and made to wait in line. The rest is history.

  7. It’s a Classic coz Virgil
    It’s a Classic coz Virgil said so

    What makes a Classic?

    The author’s will to write one.

    Badass Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey were already seen as Classics back in V’s time. Then Virgil engaged in a do-like thing, trying to make up a Classic of his own.

    How to? Well I guess he had to borrow. Borrowed the goddamned Trojans all at once. It was a way to ligitimize his heritage from Homer. Guess he did so.

    As a Portuguese (or, like Ezra Pound would refer: a Portagoose)I can also add another D.I.Y. Classic: The Lusiads by Cam

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