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It is proposed that the Book of Virgil demands a circular rather than a linear pattern of reading, and that the role played by the image of shade and darkness, and the word umbra in particular, is to unify the three works in rejecting the triumph of epic and empire. The Birmingham Research Portal provides a publicly accessible, fully searchable interface to explore the research undertaken at the University.

Research Portal. Home Publications Closure and the Book of Virgil. Overview Citation formats. Standard Closure and the Book of Virgil. The Cambridge Companion to Virgil. Added to basket. The Mighty Dead. Adam Nicolson. Helen Morales. The Gallic War. Julius Caesar. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Bartolome Las Casas. The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer. The Iliad. Rumi Poems. Peter Washington. The Tain. Louis Le Brocquy. Anne Carson. The Poems of Catullus.

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Gaius Valerius Catullus. Richard Fanshawe, who became secretary of war to Prince Charles in , rendered Book 4 into Spenserian stanzas and dedicated it to his prince. Printed as 6. The volume concludes with a summary of Rome's civil wars, which connects the lives of Virgil and Horace to Roman political history, as well as making explicit links between Rome's civil wars and England's. Fanshawe then concludes by transforming Anchises' advice to Aeneas to spare the subject and subdue the proud into words fit for a future King of a war-torn Britain: Breton remember thou to governe men Be this thy trade And to establish Peace, To spare the humble, and the proud depresse.

The Prince of Peace protect your Highnesse most excellent life. Anchises' maxim had often been quoted in sixteenth-century manuals of advice to Princes, and Sir John Harington, dedicating his manuscript version of Book 6 to Henry Prince of Wales in , had emphasised the value of Virgil's precepts to future Kings. But where Fanshawe marks a new development in the English reception of Virgil is in his suggestion that the Aeneid offers consoling prophecies to losing causes. Like Fanshawe and Sandys he presents his version as having been written earlier, in , well before the outbreak of the civil war.

He does this both in order to disarm any efforts to apply his version to contemporary events by hostile readers, and, presumably, to alert his sympathisers to the possibility that a poem which ends with the headless body of a King has more than a little to say about the desperate position of Royalist exiles after the execution of Charles I in Denham's influential preface on the theory of translation might alert the wary to think that his Virgil speaks of the present: 'if Virgil must needs speak English, it were fit he should speak not onely as a man of this Nation, but as a man of this age' Sig.

A3 a - which he does, in the description of the death of Priam with which Denham's version abruptly ends: On the cold earth lyes this neglected King, A headless Carcass, and a nameless Thing. The circumstances of these civil war translators sensitise them to the complexities of the Aeneid.

There is no simple triumphalism: fragments of the poem are produced by disparate translators, each commenting on their 26 Cambridge Companions Online Cambridge University Press, Virgil in English translation own life and their flagging state, and looking forward to an age which might allow for the whole imperial fabric of Virgil to be replicated. John Ogilby's Virgil of , radically revised in , is the last of this camp. The edition contains elaborate engraved plates, protected from piracy by royal warrant at the Restoration, which mark the volume as one which, had there then been a King in England, would have sought royal patronage.

Ogilby lost everything in the civil war, and was shipwrecked on his return from Ireland in the s. He rarely takes a royalist peek over the parapet in his translation, since that might have led to the suppression of his expensive volume; but his Virgil showed just enough of its allegiances to win for its author the enviable job of composing the poetry for the coronation of Charles II.

The version is a royalist work printed in a notionally republican country, and this compels it to equivocate. Brutus, the republican hero, is jeered at in the text as a man who would 'o'er his Sons the cruel Axes shake, I For Specious Liberty, and to judgement bring, I Because they rais'd new War for their old King. They circumspectly describe Brutus as The avenger of Lucretia's injur'd Chastity. Superbus' p. The civil war compelled Virgilians to present a Virgil who had divided political loyalties, and alerted them to the ways in which the aftershocks of Rome's civil wars are registered in Virgil's poem.

Virgil is not quite a Vicar of Bray: his text changes with the times, but always resists the simplicities of an imposed ideology. With the Restoration he is marched into Toryism, and a number of the resistant voices which might oppose this transformation are forcibly repressed, or surface in parodies such as John Phillips's scurrilous Maronides Gone are the voices of despair and unease which had been heard by Denham. In the copiously annotated translations of Books 3 and 6 by John Boys, printed a year after the Restoration in , Virgil becomes an imperial triumphalist.

We are entering a world of party political Virgils, in which the Fourth Eclogue could be read, not as a prophecy of the birth of Christ, but of how, in William Walsh's parody, 'The Vile,. When Dryden came to translate Virgil in , however, times had changed around him. He had become a Catholic in , and had lost his post as poet laureate after the Glorious Revolution of , when the Dutch Protestant William of Orange was installed on the throne and the Catholic James II was deemed to have abdicated. Virgil's translators need adversity to alert them to the painful worth of a Virgilian prophetic future, and to the complexities of the Aeneid's embedded politics; and Dryden's Virgil is the greatest offspring of the line of resistant Virgils composed by displaced writers.

It appeared in a rich folio ornamented with the plates from Ogilby's version, and was ostentatiously not dedicated to William III. Dryden's heroic couplets are elastic, sometimes jocular, sometimes as strictly disciplining as the moral environment of Virgil's poems.

In his critical writings Dryden frequently associated Virgil with 'retrenchment', a word which he uses to mean that Virgil, unlike Ovid, curbs his style he speaks of 'the sober retrenchments of his Sense' p. Dryden, however, rarely retrenches his own wish to elaborate the original. Often his version brings to the surface currents of metaphorical suggestion at which Virgil only hints. In the Georgics this habitual working-up of Virgil's metaphors enables Dryden to reproduce the continual interweavings of politics and agriculture which run through his original.

When, for example, Virgil writes that ploughing is necessary to prevent sterile reeds from overrunning dominantur the carefully nurtured corn, Dryden turns this into an outright battle: So that unless the Land with daily Care Is exercis'd, and with an Iron War, Of Rakes and Harrows, the proud Foes expell'd, And Birds with clamours frighted from the Field.

Dryden was himself embattled in Virgil in English translation I have undertaken to Translate in my Declining Years: strugling with Wants, oppress'd with Sickness, curb'd in my Genius, lyable to be misconstrued in all I write' p. Dryden's age and sickness everywhere lend a feverish energy to his version. His Aeneid displays a fitful zeal for the fresh energies of younger characters, which draws from the poem a sympathy for the youthful Turnus, and a fascination with the death of youth which parallels Virgil's own.

When young men such as Pallas die Dryden's language becomes tenderly ambiguous: One vest array'd the Corps, and one they spread O'er his clos'd Eyes, and wrap'd around his Head: That when the yellow Hair in Flame shou'd fall, The catching Fire might Burn the Golden Caul. The pun brings out the tenderness of those who burn him in order to release his spirit. The translation is not at its subtlest when it renders the ethical framework of the poem plus Aeneas is usually just 'good', and far too often Dryden baldly states that actions are 'ordain'd by Fate', rather than struggling to render Virgil's delicate elisions of human and divine agency ; but Dryden's fascination with age and youth can enable him to provide living equivalents for the pains of Virgilian family feeling.

When Dryden spoke of himself as 'lyable to be misconstrued in all I write' he was referring to his position as a Catholic Tory within the literary and political world of the s. His Virgil has been seen as a 'Jacobite' work - that is, as a poem which shows his support of the exiled James II. Dryden quite often introduces the language of legitimate kingship and succession to his version. His Aeneas, at 1. In Dryden's Georgics the bee-keeper must 'to the lawful King restore his Right' 4. Dryden's loathing of William often makes him read into Virgil a hostility to foreigners, and especially towards foreign kings.

In hell, always a place where translators vent their animosities, he inserts those who 'To Tyrants. Dryden's friend the Earl of Roscommon said that translators should 'chuse an Author as you chuse a 2. Friend' p. Dryden himself advocated a form of translation which was very close to that of Denham: 'I have endeavour'd to make Virgil speak such English as he wou'd himself have spoken, if he had been born in England, and in this present Age' pp.

His translation of Virgil draws on his own experience as a resistant member of a persecuted minority, compelled to bite his lip in a political milieu which was an abhorrence to him. In his 'Life of Virgil' the Roman poet is presented as a man like Dryden himself, at odds with the political order of his day, who resisted Augustus' imperial revolution as quietly and firmly as Dryden resisted the Revolution of 'Yet I may safely affirm for our great Author.

Dryden's Virgil is no simple imperial poet, but a closet republican, prudently muting his admiration for Brutus and Cato in an age when support of Augustus was the only politic course. Dryden's own political position is not simply imposed on his original, however. His hostility to foreign invasions is qualified by his own awareness that he, as a translator, is bringing a foreign text into England and in the Georgics this can lead him to stress the benefits of hybridising native stock: a grafted apple tree 'admires the Leaves unknown, I Of Alien Trees, and Apples not her own' 2.

His translator's wish to absorb the foreign, rather than being overwhelmed by it, leads Dryden to have a strong, almost anti-imperial, bias in favour of the native people who resist Aeneas. Parry and Lyne have drawn attention to the 'other voices' of private lament which qualify the imperial triumphalism of the Aeneid. Dryden's Virgil is not quite the reluctant imperialist of later twentieth-century criticism; but he is, like his civil war predecessors, a Virgil of divided loyalties.

Dryden is sure that Lavinia prefers the indigenous Turnus to Aeneas, and his Jove is far more explicit than Virgil's that the invading nation will have to assimilate its customs to those of the natives: The Trojans to their Customs shall be ty'd, I will, my self, their Common Rites provide, The Natives shall command, the Foreigners subside. For Dryden, Aeneas' victory in Italy is not complete: foreign rulers must yield to the customs of native peoples just as foreign texts must be absorbed by the language and customs of their translators.

Later translators of Virgil shrink anxiously away from Dryden's example, and many claim to produce 'literal' translations, far removed from what they often term the 'indulgences' of Dryden. Theories of translation have Virgil in English translation always adopted a terminology which connects the translator's activity with larger questions of national identity, politics and morality: Horace spoke of a fidus interpres a faithful interpreter , and Dryden himself had in his Anglican days presented his preferred form of translation as a via media, like his own Church, which afforded a 'latitude' to translators between the extremes of 'metaphrase' word-for-word translation and imitation.

After the translator's task is often described in terms which represent his obligation to Virgil as a moral one. Joseph Trapp, in his blank verse Virgil of accuses Dryden of being 'extremely licentious' p. Trapp, comfortably ensconced as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, begins the process of disentangling Virgil from the political and spiritual battles of the translator's own times.

The Virgil who could voice the dislocation of an embattled royalist, or who could speak like a friend to an expropriated Catholic, died, and in his place came the Virgil of dons, parsons, and schoolmasters. Christopher Pitt Rector of Pimperne in Dorset and Joseph Warton a headmaster of Winchester produced the most influential eighteenth-century Englishing of The Works of Virgil , which prompted Samuel Johnson justly to remark that 'Dryden's faults are forgotten in the hurry of delight, and Pitt's beauties are neglected in the languor of a cold and listless perusal.

Book 6 in the Pitt-Warton Virgil is not a mirror for Princes, or a fable for poets such as Dante who wish to explore their debts to earlier writing: in Warburton's lengthy disquisition it is turned into an allegory of the mysteries of Eleusis. With that long note begins the shower of dusty antiquarianism which was to dull the surface of Virgil in English for generations.

By the later eighteenth century translators of Virgil were presenting themselves as accurate copyists. The preface to James Beresford's Aeneid in quotes with approval Pierre-Daniel Huet's assertion in De interpretatione that translators should, like painters, copy from the life, and states his ambition to be 'a faithful Representer' of Virgil p. This leads Beresford to write with a tortured Latinity 'Relume the altars' p. Many translators in this period, however, and even those who claim to replicate the true shape of their original, render Virgil into an English which bears the unmistakable imprint of Milton.

The preface to Alexander Strahan's version in blank verse of insists on. Paradise Lost 2. Milton's dominance as a model for translators can influence the politics as well as the vocabulary of the English Virgil. In the eighteenth century, nourished by an odd alliance between Milton's austere anti-royalism and Dryden the Catholic Tory's insistence that Virgil was a closet republican, Virgil first becomes a Whig. As befits an enemy of untrammelled royal authority Andrews presents Juno as a would-be absolute monarch rankling over an infringement of her royal prerogative 'Say Muse!

The Whig Virgil lived on in the version of Charles Symmons in , a cleric who wrote a life of Milton, and whose outspoken Whig views prevented his advancement in the Church. Symmons's passion for liberty leads him to represent Aeolus' subjugation of the winds in Aeneid 1 a passage which many earlier translators read as a paradigm of regal government as akin to the restrictive regime of a nineteenth-century madhouse: Mad with control, they shake their prison's bounds; And the high mountain with their howl resounds. Symmons lived in the Welsh marches, and his family estate contained the house in which Thomas Phaer, that earlier borderland Virgilian, had translated the Aeneid: he is a typical English translator of Virgil, on the boundaries of the country, and politically at odds with his betters.

Virgil in the later eighteenth century was on the cusp between readings which made him into a Miltonic prophet of national liberty, and those which made him, and his translators, more Latin than the original. The world of Borges's The Real Quixote', in which an imitator seeks to become so faithful to Don Quixote that he rewrites it verbatim, is not far away. In Robert Singleton's Works of Virgil illustrates a final odd turn in the cult of accuracy.

Renaissance readers of Virgil saw moral precepts embedded in the Aeneid as Sidney put it 'Who readeth Aeneas carrying old Anchises on his back, that wisheth not it were his fortune to perform so excellent an act' For Singleton, the first warden of Radley, whose fascination with discipline led him to produce a treatise on 'Uncleanness', translating Virgil 9. Virgil in English translation was itself a moral activity, by which his charges would be able 'to acquire accuracy; to lay up stores of knowledge; in a word, to chasten and inform their minds' p.

Not for him the 'indulgence', as he calls it, of Dry den's version. In Singleton's hands Virgil becomes a text which compels schoolboys to evacuate themselves of identity, and, in the name of purity, to turn themselves into little Romans. Singleton - another Irish-born Englisher of Virgil, who wrote a primer of the Irish language - marks his own additions and the grammatical necessities of the English language in square brackets; but the authorised language of classical translation, laced with phrases from Shakespeare and Milton, thickly adorns his version.

By Virgil is so associated with poetical self-denial and with efforts to Latinise English that few poets with a sense of their own mastery would attempt him. Shelley, who preferred the republican Lucan to Virgil, turns Gallus into a Wanderer drifting away from civilisation in his version of Eclogue 10, and was attracted too by the under-sea voyage of Aristaeus in Georgics 4.

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Wordsworth translated Aeneid into heroic couplets in the early s in a spirit which typifies the era: 'Having been displeased in modern translations with the additions of incongruous matter, I began to translate with a resolve to keep clear of that fault, by adding nothing; but I became convinced that a spirited translation can scarcely be accomplished in the English language without admitting a principle of compensation.

A degree zero of presence for the translator is unattainable, and a great poet who set out to achieve such perfect non-being would inevitably wince in horror from the void which opened before him: the translator's poetic identity depends upon there being some elusive flavour of selfhood or nationhood slipped into the foreign text as it passes to its new cultural milieu.

The unconscious identity of the translator is the one thing which must always be gained in translation, and to attempt to eradicate it is to seek a kind of non-being. Wordsworth cannot 'add nothing', and he cannot escape from the dominance of Miltonic vocabulary: Laocoon's serpent ends like the tail of Milton's Sin 'In folds voluminous and vast' 2. Wordsworth's own poems, too, of memory and guilt colour his Aeneas, a compulsive narrator like Wordsworth's own Solitaries: 'I will attempt the theme though in my breast I Memory recoils and shudders at the test' 2.

Wordsworth's unfinished version is eventually driven to add some 'compensation' for Virgil's effects, despite its wish to render the very word of its original. Most Victorian Virgils are influenced by the prevalent belief that the 'primary' epic of Homer was superior to the 'secondary', literary, epic of Virgil. There were attempts to turn Virgil into a folk epic by rendering him in ballad measure John Conington in , in rhyming hexameters Charles Bowen in , a n d in the omni-purpose Germanic-heroic style of William Morris , whose Aeneas sounds as ruggedly Anglo-Saxon as Beowulf: 'Nor less Aeneas, howso'er, hampered by arrow-hurt' Translating Virgil became the weekend activity one suspects the chief weekend activity of many a Victorian parson.

A domestic Virgil can result, intended to educate the immediate family of the translator in the ways of ancient Rome. The Rev. King, rendering Virgil in neo-Popean couplets for his family in , creates an Aeneas who does not think first of his father Anchises after witnessing the death of Priam, but of his entire family: 'My wife, my son, my sire of equal age, I My plunder'd dwelling all my care engage' 2.

The muscular examples of Shakespeare and Milton are used to justify their limp blank verse. The chief goal of the translation is to flex the native thew and sinew of English, claim these two Scots: 'These two great Masters have shown, of what the English language is capable, when its masculine strength is properly applied' p.

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Virgil is rarely deployed explicitly by Victorian translators to justify the Empire, since such an appropriation would weaken their repeated claims to fidelity, but the vocabulary with which they describe the act of translation shows that they regard the conquest of Virgil as the ultimate display of Anglo-Saxon strength. And now? Virgil has not found an Ezra Pound whose Cantos show an evident preference for Douglas's translation over Virgil's original or a Christopher Logue to wrench him into modernity.

Translators still work in the shadow of the schoolroom. David Slavitt's effort in to turn the Eclogues and the Georgics into exercises in literary self-consciousness often collapses into a parody of someone who is haunted by the voices of dead schoolmasters: The beautiful shepherd, Corydon ardebat ardently loved.

It was as a schoolroom text, a glossed and annotated model for rhetoricians, that Virgil first entered the Western canon, and it may yet be that Virgil in English translation dons and schoolmasters will retire him into the Elysian Fields to sport with Molesworth as he hunts the gerund. Our legacy from the Virgils of earlier translators is a schizophrenic one, in which there are absolute divides between personal responses to Virgil, sophisticated scholarly accounts of his politics, and the ideal selfless accuracy of the translator. We inherit the idea that translating Virgil with a minimum of intrusions from our own cultural milieu is a good idea; we also inherit the idea that Virgil is politically and emotionally polymorphous.

But in the present these Virgils belong to different modes of writing. This is illustrated by the editions in which translations of Virgil are now most readily available. Both the World's Classics Aeneid and that in the Everyman's Library present full and poetically uncoloured translations of the poem that of C.

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Day Lewis and of Robert Fitzgerald respectively. They also include introductions in which first-rate scholars of Virgil Griffin and Hardie outline the political complexity of the poem when read in its historical context. What is profoundly odd about these books is that neither of their respective dust-jackets, nor even their introductions, mentions the fact that the poem which they are introducing is a translation rather than the original. We have so deeply imbibed the notion that translators should be invisible that we have ceased to confess that they are even there; equally we have so completely grasped the idea that Virgil is implicated in the political life of the early Principate that no edition is thinkable which does not learnedly historicise his verse.

What one does not find in recent Virgils is any honestly confessed fruitful overlap between the political and historical concerns of the translators and the way in which they translate. And the myth of the modern translator's transparency is more of a myth than a reality. Even our twentieth-century literalists retain a folk memory that Virgil is a poet for exiles.

Day Lewis, although the World's Classics edition will not confess as much, turned to the Georgics after leaving the Communist Party in and retiring to Devon, finding in Virgil, as so many of his fellow translators had done, an imaginary version of the community which eluded him in reality. Fitzgerald too confesses that he first read the Aeneid in 'the closing months of the Second Great War, when I was stationed on an island in the Western Pacific'. Other kinds of twentiethcentury exile have turned to Aeneas for comfort as well. Sisson's Aeneid is steeped in a post-Eliotean conviction that Culture has departed from the West: his prefatory remark that 'Everyone should know something of the Aeneid.

Until recently, everybody did' p. Eliot, Virgil is one of the founding texts of a Western civilisation with which the present is losing touch. The status of Virgil as a classic has made translators feel that they should suppress their own presence in order to allow his voice to emerge; but despite their efforts at self-effacement Virgil remains a writer who appeals to poets who want to re-insert themselves into the centre of a cultural tradition from which they feel displaced.

Seamus Heaney's Aeneas in Seeing Things, is worn by time, aware that his language has been uttered before - that, as Charles Bowen put it in , 'Hundreds of Virgil's lines are for most of us familiar quotations, which linger in our memory, and round which our literary associations cluster and hang, just as religious feeling clings to well-known texts or passages from Scripture': No ordeal, O Priestess, That you can imagine would ever surprise me For already I have foreseen and foresuffered all.

Aeneas' weariness was anticipated by T. Eliot: 'And I Tiresias have foresuffered all I Enacted on the same divan or bed' The Waste Land, , and Heaney's translation of Virgil is part of a consistent project late in his career to insinuate himself into an Eliotean-European line of poetry, which links Dante and Virgil and Eliot in one tradition. And Heaney, of course, like so many earlier translators of Virgil, is no spokesman for an English Empire, but an Irishman.

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In his attack on 'The cult of Virgil', Robert Graves remarked sourly that 'Whenever a golden age of stable government, full churches, and expanding wealth dawns among the Western nations, Virgil always returns to supreme favour. Those who, like Fanshawe or Dryden, are longing to occupy a world which no longer exists, or who, like Chaucer or Heaney, wish to drag themselves across the threshold of an English House of Fame - these poets have turned to Virgil for support. And which of these many translations should one read? A simple answer: Dry den'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. Larry D. Benson et al. Boston Douglas, Gavin 4 vols. David F. William Frost and Vinton A. Harmondsworth Poole, Adrian, and Maule, Jeremy, eds. Poetic Traditions of the English Renaissance.

New Haven and London, pp. Bristol Steiner, T. Princeton, NJ. To offer a survey of modern receptions of Virgil in this chapter would be to follow, with unequal footsteps and all too close behind, Theodore Ziolkowski's magisterial account in his Virgil and the Moderns, which appeared as recently as Ziolkowski suggests that Virgil's presence in the twentieth century is particularly apparent as a cultural icon and avatar appropriated by poets, novelists, historians and politicians to configure their aspirations and anxieties in the period between the two world wars: [T]he response, including the preference for particular works, varied from country to country and from individual to individual, depending upon political, social and even religious orientation.

Virgil's texts, almost like the sortes Virgilianae of the Middle Ages, became a mirror in which every reader found what he wished: populism or elitism, fascism or democracy, commitment or escapism. The status accorded to the text of Virgil in this period was almost scriptural, explicitly so for Theodor Haecker, the passionate anti-Nazi whose Vergil.

Vater des Abendlands of was one of the most popular works of the period on the poet, and was translated into English in as Virgil. Haecker proclaims: Virgil is the only pagan who takes rank with the Jewish and Christian prophets; the Aeneid is the only book, apart from Holy Scriptures, to contain sayings that are valid beyond the particular hour and circumstance of their day, prophecies that re-echo from the doors of eternity, whence they first draw their breath.

For whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, we are all still members of that Imperium Romanum, which finally and after terrible errors accepted Christianity sua sponte, of its own free will a Christianity which it could not abandon now without abandoning itself and humanism too.

Modern receptions and their interpretative implications Virgil's poetry has, of course, always brought out a strongly proprietorial sense in his readers. Already in the first century AD, the Stoic Seneca was calling him Vergilius noster as he cited him as an authority, and for Tertullian in the following century, in a more complex appropriation which has continued to resonate through the poet's reception, he could be referred to as anima naturaliter Christiana. From the vantage-point of his own moment, Ziolkowski offers a thoughtful commentary on the depth of the emotional investment involved in their appropriation of Virgil by twentieth-century figures representing ideological perspectives that were often dramatically divergent: Although the political readings range from conservative to totalitarian, the religious views from pagan to Christian, and the ethnic stamp from narrowly national to broadly occidental, the response was triggered in every case by the powerful conviction that Virgil in his works offers a message of compelling relevance for the morally chaotic and socially anarchic present entre deux guerres - a view that strikes us, in retrospect, as particularly poignant because we know today what followed those hopeful bimillennial appeals to Virgilian ordo, pietas, and humanitas?

It is with such sentiments in mind that Ziolkowski prefaces his study with the statement that 'Virgil is too important to be left to the classicists',4 signalling and reproducing a distinction between academic and non-academic receptions of the poet which has become entrenched in the twentieth century.

Rand as a classic, a foretaste of Christianity and a fundamental document of Western civilization, and T. Eliot's well-known assertion of this view in What is a Classic? Mackail's edition of the Aeneid , likewise part of the bimillenary festivities, pursued a similar line. This positive presentation of the Aeneid as a classic vindication of the European world-order, happily consonant with Roman imperialism and the achievements and political settlement of Augustus, found few dissenters between the two World Wars.

However, this unease, it may be felt, had to 3. The consensus is indeed that evidence for Eliot's detailed knowledge of Virgil's works is scant, whether in his poetry 'even the critics who try the hardest to make the case for a "Virgilian" Eliot are able to demonstrate his presence in at most a few lines in some half-dozen poems'6 or in his essays on Virgil 'utterly derivative in content'7. There is, then, a received distinction between studying 'Virgil' the business of classicists, it is implied and his 'reception'. It seems equally clear to Ziolkowski and Harrison on which side Eliot's encounter with Virgil lies, differ though they may in the value they attach to their respective interpretative strategies.

Is that the end of the matter, and are the issues finally and definitively settled? At the heart of this question is what is involved in the interpretation of the past and the role of such interpretation in articulating the present, an issue, it could be argued, equally vital in the writings of Virgil and Eliot, and one that can be rendered unusually visible in their interaction.

We may lead into an examination of the implications of Eliot's engagement with Virgil by articulating two different aspects of a term which plays an important role in his thought, 'tradition'. The first could take as its perspective the etymology of the word, the notion of 'handing down': the present is seen as the passive recipient of the texts of the past, or of whatever else constitutes the tradition.

The past is viewed as closed and as determining the present, and tradition is a quasi-religious process like apostolic succession. Within this aspect, the means by which those texts came to constitute the tradition, the succession of judgements over the passage of time by which some texts were included in the canon and others excluded, are elided. There are moments in Eliot's writings when this view of tradition can be felt strongly. Thus in his essay of , 'Tradition and the individual talent', he speaks of tradition as involving the historical sense, which in turn involves a 'perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order'.

Modern receptions and their interpretative implications history. In the word 'simultaneous', the 'pastness of the past' is collapsed and narrative time is compressed into an instantaneous moment experienced in the here-and-now. This notion is presented in the sentence that follows as 'the timeless': 'This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.

Eliot's formulation is somewhat milder than this. This ambivalence within the term is subtly orchestrated in 'Tradition and the individual talent' in ways which are important for understanding Eliot's approach to Virgil. A gravitation towards one or other of the two aspects could be suggested by highlighting the static 'timelessness' of the first in bold type and the reconfigurating activity involved in the second in italic: What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.

The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new the really new work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives. In characterising tradition here, the rhetoric of words and phrases such as 'existing order', 'arrives', 'supervention' and the use of passive verbs work to suppress the notion of agency. A tension is being constructed within the term 'tradition' which will find its resolution in the notion of the 'individual talent' Eliot is developing. The curiously discomforting associations of appropriation which can be fleetingly felt in the phrase 'usable past' can 9.

To configure the poet's relation to tradition in terms of appropriation is to emphasise intervention, agency, the force of will, where Eliot's references to the poet's 'continual surrender of himself, or the progress of the artist as 'a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality', and the doctrine of 'depersonalization',12 work to spirit such associations away.

This resistance to what I called earlier the 'politics' of tradition - the process of contested judgement and evaluation, the play of interests which constitute tradition-making - can provide a point of transition to Eliot's interpretation of Virgil's Aeneid as the representative of the classic. For Eliot, as we shall see, a defining feature of the classic is its capacity to transcend the immediate circumstances of its composition.

So, at the very beginning of What is a Classic? However, it is worth enquiring how this bare reference manages to carry such weight and why it might be deemed to be especially appropriate here. If we are to be precise, the bag of Aeolus recalls Homer's Odyssey A simile, the first in the epic and so occupying a position of particular prominence, compares the situation to what is presented as a characteristic - timeless, we might say - outbreak of violence amongst a crowd 1.

Modern receptions and their interpretative implications ille regit dictis animos et pectora mulcet: sic cunctus pelagi cecidit fragor, aequora postquam prospiciens genitor caeloque invectus aperto flectit equos curruque volans dat lora secundo. And as often when unrest brews up in a large crowd, and the common rabble rages angrily and presently firebrands and stones are flying for fury brings missiles to hand , if at that point they happen to have caught sight of a man who commands their respect by the quality of his character and conduct, they become silent and stand by with attentive ears; he controls their passions with his words and soothes their hearts: just so all the crashing of the sea died down, as soon as Father Neptune gazing over its surface and driving beneath the cloudless sky guides his steeds and, as he flies along, gives rein to his speeding chariot.

The simile works to associate elemental forces with political disorder in such a way as to represent an ideology of social control generated and presided over by the great man.

The Cambridge companion to Virgil (Book, ) []

Eliot's reference to Aeolus serves to appropriate this discourse so as to position himself within it: as the unruly rabble of critics takes sides in a dispute over 'classic' versus 'romantic', there comes among them a man who commands their respect by the quality of his character and conduct to control their passions with his words and soothe their hearts, rescuing the idea of the classic for the notion of timelessness, and thus restoring order to the sordidness of literary politics.

The mystique of the great man who can calm the crowd finds its counterpart in the realm of the aesthetic in the mystique of the individual talent grounded in a notion of tradition which suppresses that individual's role as an appropriating agent and so part of the fray. The timelessness of the classic in the realm of the aesthetic is being constructed by means of an opposition to the socio-political, the discourse which seeks to ground its explanations in circumstance, in contestation and in use.

The realm of the aesthetic is more overtly characterised in terms of social emplacement when Eliot, in sketching a theory of cultures, turns to discuss what he calls 'maturity of manners': With maturity of mind I have associated maturity of manners and absence of provinciality. I suppose that, to a modern European suddenly precipitated into the past, the social behaviour of the Romans and Athenians would seem indifferently coarse, barbarous and offensive.