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The Georgics by Virgil

The Georgics

by Virgil

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I knew going in that this wasn't going to be action packed, like, say, The Aeneid, and it isn't. Actually, that's not quite true. In some places there is plenty of action – where the plague is setting in and everything is dying, where the cattle and horses are going mad with desire (not for each other, thankfully), where the young bull is being pulverized so that he will spontaneously combust into a swarm of bees, where Orpheus is very nearly rescuing Eurydice from Hades... there is really quite a lot of drama here. The drama is broken up, though, by sections in which we are milking goats, arranging shrubberies for bees, and grafting fruit trees. Disease, muck, and war alternate with idyllic stretches of lambs frolicking, bees buzzing among the flowers, and happy farmers resting under shady trees. I picked this up looking for more of the beautiful nature imagery I loved in the Aeneid, and I definitely found that, but the back and forth, between farming lessons, country-living fantasies, myths, and death & destruction kept things interesting. The different sections did not hold together particularly well for me, but I only read this once, with no explanatory material aside from the introduction, and I expect I'd have gotten more out of it if I'd put more in.

There were a few places where I found Fallon's modern colloquialisms and word choices jarring, but mostly the poetry was really lovely. Since I'm not competent to read Latin poetry, I've no idea how this is as a translation, but I do plan to keep an eye out for a different version – Fitzgerald's Aeneid had a more formal feel to it, and this felt a little to “folksy” to me, but maybe the two poems are just very different beasts. The language is very readable, anyway, and the footnotes are good (though I wish they'd been put at the foot of the pages). ( )
  meandmybooks | Aug 6, 2014 |
This was the hardest book to read. I don't know why it was worse than any of the other classics, but it about killed me. Even illustrating the margins didn't help. Good luck ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
The Works and Days by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod was written around 700 BC. At its center, the Works and Days is a farmer's almanac in which Hesiod instructs his brother Perses in the agricultural arts. It also contains an outline of the mythology of the gods of ancient Greece. In the poem Hesiod also offers his brother extensive moralizing advice on how he should live his life. I mention this because The Works and Days was the poet Virgil's model for composing his own didactic poem in hexameters known as The Georgics. Like many of the Roman writers and artists, Virgil looked to the Greeks for a model. Works and Days shares with the Georgics the themes of man's relationship to the land and the importance of hard work.
The Georgics itself is a poem in four books, published in 29 BC. It is the second major work by the Latin poet Virgil, following his Eclogues and preceding the Aeneid. As its name suggests (Georgica, from the Greek word γεωργεῖν, geōrgein, "to farm") the subject of the poem is agriculture; but far from being an example of peaceful rural poetry, it is a more complex work in both theme and purpose.
The work consists of 2,188 hexametric verses divided into four books. Each of the books covers different aspects of the agrarian culture. Book One begins with a summary of the whole poem and typical obeisance to the gods and Augustus himself. In addition to Virgil's intention to honor Caesar he also honors his patron Maecenas. In the middle books he shares his lofty poetic aspirations and the difficulty of the material to follow.
Mirroring Hesiod Virgil describes the succession of ages of man emphasizing the tension between the golden age of Jupiter and the age of man. The focus on the importance of Augustus is fascinating as it adds a political aspect to what is primarily an arcadian poem. Throughout the poem the theme of man versus nature is present as is the relation of man to animals. I found the discussion of Bees and the similarities with human society in the fourth Book one of the most fascinating sections of this marvelous poem.
Always of interest to me are philosophical influences, and there were two predominant philosophical schools in Rome during Virgil's lifetime: Stoicism and the Epicureanism. Of these two, the Epicurean strain is predominant not only in the Georgics but also in Virgil's social and intellectual milieu. Both his friend,the poet Horace, and his patron Maecenas were Epicureans. The Georgics was also influenced by Lucretius' Epicurean epic De Rerum Natura, one of my favorite Roman texts. The combination of philosophy, arcadian poetry, mythology, and politics makes this work a beautiful compendium of Roman culture. ( )
  jwhenderson | Sep 8, 2012 |
Beautiful didactic poem, especially attractive section on bee-keeping ( )
  markbstephenson | Jun 12, 2010 |
This is just a completely awesome poem. I always thought of Latin poetry as being sort of Gorey-esque: cool but heavy, dusty, and brocaded, replete with busts of dead Great Figures. This is nothing like that: refreshing, natural; I read it every Spring. ( )
  fromula | Jun 24, 2009 |
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Virgil's "poem of the land" has shaped the way that English poets write about nature and the countryside since the Renaissance.

» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Virgilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delille, ...Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delille, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fallon, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferry, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gerhardt, IdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gogh, Vincent vanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssen, JacquesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, C. DayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What makes the cornfield smile; beneath what star Maecenas, it is meet to turn the sod; Or marry elm with vine; how tend the steer; What pains for cattle-keeping, or what proof; Of patient trial serves for thrifty bees;- Such are my themes.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140444149, Paperback)

A eulogy to Italy as the temperate land of perpetual spring, and a celebration of the values of rustic piety, "The Georgics" is probably the supreme achievement of Latin poetry.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:56 -0400)

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"Newly translated by the poet and translator David Ferry, the Georgics is one of the great songs, maybe the greatest we have, of human accomplishment in difficult - and beautiful - circumstances, and in the context of all we share in nature." "The Georgics celebrates crops, trees, and animals - and, above all, the human beings who care for them. It takes the form of teaching about this care: the tilling of fields, the tending of vines, the raising of cattle and bees. There's joy in the detail of Virgil's descriptions of work well done, and ecstatic joy in his praise of the very life of things, and passionate commiseration too, because of the vulnerability of men and all other creatures to what they have to contend with: storms, and plagues, and wars, and all mischance."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300107927, 0300119860

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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