September 21: Italy, Hell, etc.

I like Dryden's Aeneid translation; you have to get into the jingle of the iambic pentameter, but once you do it's fine -- it's like swimming in the ocean. Of course if you immerse yourself in it too much your sensibility will wrinkle under the punchlines of DA-da DA-da da(pause) DA DA-da DA-da -- or its variants:

But you, if pious minds by pray’rs are won,
Oblige the father, and protect the son.
Or
A soldier’s fauchion, and a seaman’s oar.
I might add that one of the great things about being a dilettante ("Through Trivia's grove they walk," as Dryden says) is that it doesn't bug you when you don't know what "fauchion" means.

In this excerpt Aeneas descends into the underworld, and the highlight is that it's pretty much as bad as we feared:
Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,
Revengeful Cares and sullen Sorrows dwell,
And pale Diseases, and repining Age,
Want, Fear, and Famine’s unresisted rage;
Here Toils, and Death, and Death’s half-brother, Sleep,
Forms terrible to view, their sentry keep;
With anxious Pleasures of a guilty mind,
Deep Frauds before, and open Force behind;
The Furies’ iron beds; and Strife, that shakes
Her hissing tresses and unfolds her snakes.
I don't know why Dryden hates sleep so much; maybe we're living in the Golden Age of Napping without realizing it.

Oh, I almost forgot the part that lets me get on my soapbox. Aeneas has found the Sybil's temple, which has previously-on-the-classical-myths tableaux on it, and we find this:
Here hapless Icarus had found his part,
Had not the father’s grief restrain’d his art.
He twice assay’d to cast his son in gold;
Twice from his hands he dropp’d the forming mold.
You know what I take that to mean? Don't write about your kids -- don't use your kids in your business. Last night, for professional reasons, I had to look at "Dan In Real Life," and immediately I hated that guy because he puts his family in the paper. Stage parents are generally terrible (TRUE STORY) but at least the kids get to act, which can be somewhat fun; when you're written about you're as passive as Icarus getting gold poured over him. I am glad to have classical sanction for one of my prejudices.

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