David R. Slavitt Virgil.
Yale University Press, 181 pages, $30; $11 paper
The series of Hermes Books from Yale University Press, under the general editorship of John Herington, has the laudable aim of bringing humane and humanist attention to the Greek and Roman classical writers. Between the Scylla of philological minutiae and the Charybdis of clamoring critical jargons Hermes escorts its little ships. The series harks back to the general-interest books of Richard Jebb and Gilbert Murray, yet it also exacts an awareness of how such modern writers as Eliot, Pound, and Joyce have forever changed our perception of the classics. The series’ successes to date have been Herington’s own Aeschylus, Sara Mack’s Ovid, and, especially, D. S. Carne-Ross’s exciting and innovative Pindar. Now comes Virgil, by David R. Slavitt, a prolific poet, translator, and novelist.