Virgil's Georgics,
translated by Janet Lembke.
Yale University Press, 114 pages, $50

Translating Virgil these days is either eccentric or … well, there really is no “or.” It is eccentric. Virgil is the archetype for what were called in the heyday of the culture wars “Dead White European Males.” After all, Publius Virgilius Maro was the author of the Aeneid, an explicitly pro-imperial epic that praised Roman arms and Rome’s success in bringing law and civilization to the barbarians. Not the sort of thing, in other words, to garner support at an MLA meeting. Perhaps a new translation that emphasized Virgil’s “ambiguous attitude” toward empire would be more acceptable to sophisticated audiences, or one that placed Dido, the wronged queen of Tyre, at the center of the action. But here, Janet Lembke has eschewed the martial for the agricultural and...


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