The Harvard Classics revisited: Aeneid

I just finished reading Aeneid by Virgil the other day and it is fitting that the assigned reading for day 6 is also a section from this book. I read a post from another blog discussing the odyssey by homer and questioning why the Iliad was not also included in the classics? Aeneid is the same story, told in a different way, but if you were looking to diversify a set of books and two classics told the same tale why not pick the version by a different author. Perhaps this was regarded as the better version? In school, Homer was always discussed, but the Aeneid was either mentioned or forgotten entirely.
Aeneid reads like an old testament book of the bible with unfaithful fives, gods making deals with one another, and fight scenes that leave one on the edge of their seat. There were times when it would have been nice to have listened to a great courses lecture on the Aeneid first and know who certain characters were in the mythology. This is one tough aspect of reading old text, you didn’t grow up in the culture so the knowledge of these characters isn’t as powerful when they appear. Just about anyone could read a Christian text and understand certain references when they are brought up, we were raised with it. However, throw in a dead religion and a group of gods and goddesses that nobody learns about unless they take a college mythology class and it is easy to become lost. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that I had to pull the phone out and google different characters at times.
The most fascinating aspect of Aeneid to me was the mention of the Romans from time to time and how the Trojan culture survived through them. This was something I either forgot about in school or it was never brought up. The romans of course at one time defeated the Greeks and the power of the region was handed over. The Etruscans were also mentioned, regarded as a mysterious group in Greek history, I was surprised to see one mentioned and wondered how much I missed out on in school. Fortunately, there is a Great Courses lecture I can listen to discussing the Etruscans and their culture.
The Aeneid, like so many other books, is not one that you can only read once to get the whole story, and thankfully with the Harvard reading guide I am sure I will be coming back to it again in the future.

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