Preface and Acknowledgments
Book 8 of Virgil’s Aeneid is a natural enough subject for investigation after Book 5; together the two books frame the second third of the poet’s grand epic of Augustan Rome. Like Book 5, to date Book 8 has not been the subject of much in the way of expansive commentary; it has been both a pleasure and a challenge to work through Virgil’s most Augustan book with a careful eye. Once again, we have learned much from the admirable efforts of our predecessors; for Book 8, special praise redounds to the names of Eden and Gransden. The work of both of these commentators has been supplemented by the admirable and diligent labor of Vivien Ellis in her Newcastle M. Litt. thesis, The Poetic Map of Rome in Virgil Aeneid 8, from which we have derived considerable profit and enjoyment.
Our method for Book 8 has been much the same as for its predecessor. Smith once again bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for the critical text and translation, and for the first draft of the introduction; Fratantuono for the commentary—with both editors assuming full and shared responsibility for the integral work. Our intended audience is once again primarily anyone with a love for the poet, though throughout there is an assumption of a relatively good familiarity with the major trends of Virgilian scholarship. We have liberally cited from classical literature after Virgil (indeed, after Ovid), and from artistic works of later centuries and in other tongues that are indebted to Virgil’s vision (especially the Old French Roman d’ Énéas), out of a conviction that some of the finest commentary on Virgil has been composed by his epigones.
A number of new aids to the Virgilian scholar have appeared since our work on Book 5. Emil Kraggerud’s Vergiliana offers a splendid and convenient assortment of the author’s magisterial work on the text of the poet. Jim O’Hara’s indispensable True Names is now in a second edition. Horsfall’s Epic Distilled (on which Fratantuono has written for Bryn Mawr Classical Review) offers an always intriguing, not infrequently delightful vademecum for the would-be commentator. Rogerson’s Virgil’s Ascanius could not have made a timelier appearance. And, too, we continue to plunder the riches of the Thomas-Ziolkowski Virgil Encyclopedia, without apology or disappointment. The same must be acknowledged of Damien Nelis’ work on the intertextual relationship of the Aeneid and the Apollonian Argonautica, a volume whose seemingly inexhaustible treasures continue to inspire feelings of gratitude and abiding respect. So also the splendid three volumes of the Oxford Fragments of the Roman Historians, which together with Chassignet’s richly annotated Budé provide a luxurious treatment of tantalizing texts.
Among older aids, it is not mere sentiment that inspires us to single out for special attention the work of Warde Fowler in his trilogy of Great War-era Basil Blackwell volumes on the Aeneid. Our work appears a century after Fowler’s treatment of “Aeneas at the site of Rome”; it is a testament to the author’s perceptive and sensitive reading of Virgil that his commentary has not lost its freshness and power, notwithstanding how much has been added to the Virgilian bibliography since. Similar words of respectful hommage could be offered to Cartault’s splendid L’ art de Virgile, which once again we have consulted with great profit. Roiron’s mammoth tome on Virgilian sounds always repays close consultation; so also the judicious notes of Mackail for his 1930 Oxford bimillenary edition. On the grammar of Book 8, the small, unassuming school edition of Mme. Guillemin is indispensable; so too Hahn’s impeccably rigorous volume on coordinate and non-coordinate elements in the poet. On matters historical and religious, Saunders’ Virgil’s Primitive Italy repays frequent consultation.
We have consciously avoided polemic in our attempt to explicate Virgil’s text. We do this out of immense respect for the work of our colleagues across the ages, and also out of a sense of good manners. Book 8 is especially fraught with difficulties that have stirred contentious debate; we have deliberately steered a middle course that seeks to provide assistance to the reader of Virgil, all the while also making clear our (occasionally divergent, though usually happily harmonious) views on the poet. If one of the editors came to Book 5 as more of a pessimist, and the other as more of an optimist (to use crude though useful labels), then the same binary approach (not to say instructive tension) may be felt in the journey through 8. We have found, however, that on closer examination Virgil’s book of Rome offers perhaps surprisingly neutral ground for dispassionate critics; Virgil’s Rome is also his Arcadia.
Once again we are indebted to the help and support afforded to us from colleagues and friends. Timothy Joseph of The College of the Holy Cross generously read through the commentary in its initial draft and offered numerous valuable suggestions. Jim O’Hara kindly afforded us the opportunity to consult a draft of his own commentary on the book for the Focus Aeneid series. Richard Thomas is an incisive and generous critic of our ideas (especially the misguided ones). Michael Putnam remains both friend and Virgilian mentor, and to him we express again our fondest sentiments of admiration and respect; his most welcome, self-described munuscula are cherished pleasures of an internet age. Sergio Casali kindly sent Fratantuono a copy of his admirable edition of Book 2 in time to be of use on certain parallels between Virgil’s books of Troy and Rome. Chris Renaud generously provided a copy of her Texas dissertation on Book 8. Emil Kraggerud responded to a textual inquiry with his usual acumen and judiciousness. Caitlin Gillespie offered her customary learning and much appreciated help on the problems posed by the Virgilian Cleopatra and the larger issue of the depiction of women at war in Latin literature.
The suggestions of the anonymous referee for the press vastly improved the final draft of this edition; we are indebted in particular to a helpful suggested emendation of the text at verse 475.
Fratantuono is especially grateful to his lynx-eyed student critics and occasional editorial assistants (the name of Sarah Foster is prominent here), and to his dear friend and indefatigable freelance photographer Katie McGarr, who kindly contributed images to the enhancement of this edition.
We have words only of praise for the editorial staff at Brill. Giulia Moriconi shepherded this project to completion with helpful attentiveness and wise counsel.
Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit. As a first-year graduate student, Smith fell under the influence of Professor Karl Galinsky’s foundational book on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the principal work of scholarship that guided him through two graduate theses. When Smith moved from Rutgers to Baylor, Karl reached out to him to help him in developing a strong classics program there. For Fratantuono, in addition to the example of his foundational scholarship on Aeneid 8 and the importance of Sicily and Hercules to Virgil’s epic, Galinsky has been a much appreciated source of wisdom, wit, and good humor (not least in their shared realm of panhellenic collegiate life). Meanwhile, though Smith went to Penn in no small measure because of Professor Georg Nicolaus Knauer’s work on Augustan poetry, their relationship would from the start be forged primarily in person. Knauer’s powerful classroom presence and style of teaching his seminars informs Smith’s own pedagogy to this day, as does Knauer’s attention to detail and respect for the history of classical learning. For these reasons and more, we humbly dedicate this volume to Professors Galinsky and Knauer, recognizing each of them not only as prodigious researchers, but as mentors and friends.
Two may be enough; if there is a third, the three-act tragedy that is Book 4 poses its own seductive summons.