This indispensable anthology gathers texts and translations that cover major aspects of the Virgilian tradition from the Roman poet’s own lifetime to the year 1500. Unprecedented in scope, the book presents a vast compendium of materials that illuminate how poets, teachers, students, and common folk responded to Virgil and his poetry. The volume offers a brief commentary on each text, many of which are translated into English for the first time.
The book begins with a chronological survey of Virgil’s influence upon writers from Augustan Rome to Renaissance Italy. There follow detailed reviews of biographies of Virgil, of how his writings were received and used, and of how the poet was envisaged and explained through the centuries. The final section focuses on the tradition of legends associated with Virgil.
The editors' whimsical likening of their book to a "warehouse-sized toyshop for students and their teachers" should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. For this hefty volume's welter of scholarly terminology (with neither footnotes nor a glossary) makes it rough going for even the most ardent amateur lacking considerable classical learning. That said, the book dramatizes like no other the Roman poet Virgil's (70-19 B.C.E.) extraordinary impact on writers of his own time through those of the 16th century, from Horace to Gutierre Diaz de Games. Brief but telling Virgilian snippets from works by these and other authors-some not otherwise easily available-form the basis of this solidly bound and constructed book. Subentries organized under the headings "Virgil the Poet," "Biography: Images of Virgil," "Virgil's Texts and Their Uses," "Commentary Tradition," and "Virgilian Legends" are by 25 expert contributors listed at the end. Highly recommended only for large public and university libraries patronized by specialists and graduate students in classical studies.