Boat people wash up on your shore one day, lots of them. They’ve come in a flotilla, begging asylum, and one of their ships has just sunk out at sea. Most of them are tough, hardened young men, coming from a war-torn country, and their reputation precedes them. What do you do? Open the border or close it? Let them stay or turn them away? Shoot them if they won’t go? And how would you react if, on a whim, your own government simply declared your borders fully open, welcomed the newcomers to stay and settle permanently, and announced that, effective immediately, it will recognize no difference between the newcomers and old-stock citizens?

Such is the story at the start of Virgil’s Aeneid, which is an epic tale of refugees seeking resettlement in a new home. Written 2,000 years...


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Vergil, translated by Shadi Bartsch
The Aeneid
Random House, 464 pages, $35.00

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