The Aeneid of Virgil (The Teaching Company: The Great Courses)

by Elizabeth Vandiver

CD audiobook, 1999




The Teaching Company (1999). 6 cds and course guidebook


Presents Virgil's epic poem about Aeneas and his journey west from ruined Troy to the founding of a new nation in Italy. The Aeneid is an examination of leadership, a study of the conflict between duty and desire, a meditation on the relationship of the individual to society and of art to life, and a Roman's reflection on the dangers, and the allure, of Hellenistic culture. It represents both Virgil's tribute to Homer, and his attempt to re-imagine and surpass the Homeric model.

User reviews

LibraryThing member datrappert
I have read the Iliad, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the Odyssey, which I found episodic and lacking momentum, but with some great scenes and a rousing conclusion. So naturally I felt like I needed to read the Aeneid, which draws so much from both works. My attempt failed however, as I found it to just not be that interesting. Perhaps it stems from the self-serving nature of the poem to begin with, to celebrate the superiority of Rome by telling of its founding by Aeneas, a survivor of the Trojan War. But whereas the Iliad, though a classic work of the Greeks, is more sympathetic to the vanquished Trojans, the Aeneid seems to lack this distinction. So I was excited to finally get a chance to listen to the Teaching Company's course on the Aeneid, and I'm glad I did. Professor Vandiver is excellent. I listened to the audio version; I'm not sure if there is a video one or not; this is a pretty old course. She knows her subject matter extremely well and conveys it just as well to an audience who may not know a lot about the Aeneid or its background. She sketches in the known facts (and speculation) about the poet Virgil and how the Aeneid was written--but not completely finished--in the reign of Augustus. She then provides a thorough book-by-book discussion of the poem, providing her own and various others' interpretations of key passages. At the end, she sums up the historical significance of the poem, which is far-reaching. All in all, it is a very good series of lectures, the only weakness being, in my opinion, the Aeneid itself. Although Virgil varies the details and outcomes, so many episodes are inspired by the Iliad and the Odyssey that the poem seems to lack originality. Nor does Aeneas himself seem as interesting a character as Achilles or Odysseus. And there is no opposing character to match Hector of Troy. So in the end, I'm very happy to have listened to this course and to have gained an understanding of the story of the Iliad--but I am not now inspired to go out and read it.… (more)


Local notes

6 cds and course guidebook


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