Thursday, July 31, 2008

Enduring Works

"The Aeneid is a cautionary tale. It is one we need to read today," Fagles said, amplifying his oft-stated conviction that readers of every generation need enduring works from the distant past available to them in their own idiom, freshly imbued with new vitality and insight. The Aeneid, in particular, he stressed, "speaks of the terrible price of victory in war, for Virgil knew that victory is finally impossible, that it always lies out of reach. He saw the unforeseen aftermath, the way war could go all wrong, whether from poor planning or because of the gods on high. He knew the sheer accumulation of death, the destruction, the pain we inflict when we use force to create empire. Even though in Virgil, as in Homer, you find great reservoirs of memory. You find the restorative power of love set against a world of violence. There is still an overriding sadness in the poem. There are countless losses. War rages on too long. The majority of books in the Aeneid end in death. Aeneas reaches out to the ghosts of those he loved, always beyond his grasp."

Quoted by Nicholas A. Basbanes in his Every Book Its Reader, page 155.

No comments:

Post a Comment