I. Some English Versions of the Aeneid:

This is nothing like a definitive list but all of the following are well regarded and still
(I hope) in print. All (save the translation of David West) are in verse.

  • Cecil Day-Lewis, The Aeneid of Virgil. Anchor Books. 1952
  • David West, Vergil, The Aeneid. Penguin. 1990.
  • Robert Fitzgerald, Vergil: Aeneid. Vintage. 1990
  • Rolfe Humphries, The Aeneid of Vergil: A Verse Translation.
  • Allen Mandelbaum, The Aeneid of Virgil. Bantam 1961.
  • Stanley Lombardo, Vergil’s Aeneid. Hackett. 2005.
  • Robert Fagles, Vergil, The Aeneid. Viking 2006
  • Sarah Ruden, The Aeneid of Vergil. Yale University Press 2008.

II. John Dryden's Aeneid:

Dryden's Aeneid is one of my favorites and perhaps a "guilty pleasure". While I might hesitate to recommend it for a first-time reading of Vergil, it is a successful translation for at least two important reasons. I will allow two (among many) more learned than myself (a poet-translator and a professor of English at Cambridge respectively) to elucidate them:

I. Dryden's Language and Style
Today we are in a less favorable position than Dryden was, for we have no style of our own in poetry, no artificial “literary” manner which could suggest the style of Virgil. Dryden did very largely create his own grand manner, it is true: but he had a still living tradition of narrative verse to work on, whereas we have not got such a tradition today.
• Cecil Day-Lewis quoted in Taylor Corse , Dryden's Aeneid: The English Virgil. University of Delaware Press.

II. Dryden's "personal voice":

And which of these many translations should one read? A simple answer: Dryden’s. His is the only English Virgil to be consciously founded on the idea that it is right for a translator to bring his own experience to bear on his original, and his is the only English translation to take fire from the delicious friction between the translator’s concerns and those of his original.
• Colin Burrow, “Virgil in English translation” in The Cambridge Companion to Virgil. Cambridge University Press. 1997.


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III. Some Thoughts on Translation


“It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” • Walter Benjamin

"Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture." • Anthony Burgess

"Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful." • Russian Proverb

"Poetry is what gets lost in translation." • Robert Frost

"Poetry cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve the languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language." • Samuel Johnson

“Say what we may of the inadequacy of translation, yet the work is and will always be one of the weightiest and worthiest undertakings in the general concerns of the world.” • Goethe