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Virgil's Aeneid

March 8, 2014

                    *** Membership List Update ***

Dear Members (aka "Thinkers"):

On February 19, 2014, the Leadership Team posted a notice on the Club Home Page and sent e-mail notices to over 20 members inviting those members who had not shown a continuing interest in the Club to renew their commitment, failing which their names would be removed from the Membership list. If you log into the TBC Home Page, you will see that our numbers have been reduced from 82 - 45. 

Although this was a larger cull than expected, we are pleased with the result. We are only interested in members who have a genuine and abiding interest in the classics, and are willing to participate as active members of the Club. The remaining 45 members are individuals that have shown a genuine and sustained interest. We see this as a "refreshing" of the Club. And, as a practical matter, this will also assist in managing the membership list and in making participation of serious members more accessible.

It is our goal to limit the number of members to somewhere around 60 going forward. We will be tightening up the admissibility questions and criteria for new members as well. In other words: Only serious minds need apply...

Thank you to those of you who have made and continue to make this Club a genuine source of great joy, stimulation and shared, mutual interests, where "friendships of pleasure" can evolve and, perhaps some day, evolve into select friendships of excellence or virtue for some of us:"Friendship is finding someone who loves the same books we do".

See you all in the agora.

Robaire

*******************************************

March 4, 2014

                                     *** REMINDER ***

If anyone registered for Virgil's Aeneid is unable to make the meeting, please change your RSVP as soon as you are aware so that those on the Waiting List will have time  to read the text before the meeting.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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  • Kinneret

    Ok. Thx, Robaire. I liked the free-flowing dialogue, too. It was very engaging. I just need to be more forceful. :-)

    March 14, 2014

  • Kinneret

    I meant to add that Jo did a terrific job, and Robaire's and Lorraine's input added a lot of interesting background info. And everyone's participation added great spark to the debates. Great group!

    March 13, 2014

  • Kinneret

    I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. (I did try to participate, but probably need to jump in faster; some voiced what I was thinking, so I held back.) While Fitzgerald is the preferred translation, it seems, I enjoyed reading Dryden's poetic rendition.

    March 13, 2014

    • Robert ("Robaire") N.

      Hello Kinneret. The individual leading the discussion has control of how much "interruption"­ she or he will allow. The general rule is that members should yield the floor to each other respectfully and should make room for differing views and perspectives. Jo elected last night to allow a more "free-flowing"­ dialogue, i.e. less moderated than I typically would. But that is the prerogative of the leader. Homam will set the tempo for his session on Marcus Aurelius in April. A word of advice: take your cue from the leader and follow his or her lead. That generally works best.

      March 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I do get carried away and if I offended anyone with my "carried-awayness" I sincerely apologize. I had a great time and I got somewhere in understanding the context of the book and my understanding at least of the role of fate. Many thanks to Jo, Lorraine and Robaire.

    March 13, 2014

  • Lorraine

    Great discussion, the best ever! Much heat and some light. Thanks to Jo for a provocative presentation.

    March 12, 2014

  • Ingeborg

    Certainly a very lively, and at times heated, discussion!

    March 12, 2014

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    Another magnificent evening (notwithstanding the storm). Oodles (is that even a word?) of animated, provocative, even riveting, dialogue and healthy debate. No consensus on the meaning or role of fate in "The Aeneid", and even some serious question as to whether Virgil himself was confused about fate, or whether he manipulated "fate" to achieve his political ends?

    Dido came off as a heroine; Aeneas as a pious but perplexed man. And Jo discovered a pre-Christian linear view of history. That one has my head spinning.

    Thank you all for weathering the storm and making this another marvelous reading. And my thanks to those of you who changed your RSVP and notified us of your inability to attend due to the storm. If, as per James Harley's suggestion, any of you wish to gather informally next Wednesday or any time, please feel free to use the site to organize.

    Homam, you are on next month to walk us through Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations". We're all looking forward to that.

    Robaire

    March 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just found out about having been moved from the wait list and, unfortunately, am not prepared to participate in discussion.

    March 12, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I won't be able to get downtown in this storm, so I have to cancel as well. Hopefully there will be a second meeting, seems like a lot of people won't be able to make it.

    March 12, 2014

  • James H.

    Too scary for me as well to drive in from outside of Ottawa. Is there sufficient interest and numbers in holding an informal meeting next Wednesday on this wonderful poem?

    March 12, 2014

  • Jim A.

    Hi Everybody. Unfortunately, driving conditions seem to have deteriorated sharply - I think I will play it safe tonight. Kudos to those of you you live in Center Town, as opposed to those of us who live way out in the boonies in the west end. Terribly sorry about the late notice; I hope somebody else can slip in. Jim

    March 12, 2014

  • Jo R.

    Seeing the weather warnings, I don't think I can make it downtown from Kanata tonight. >:( I'm starting to think the Fates are keeping me away from this book club!!

    March 12, 2014

  • James H.

    Looks like Chione will be causing mischief tomorrow but hopefully fate prevails .

    March 11, 2014

  • Louisa

    Regretfully, I am be unable to attend due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict. Apologies to members on the wait list for the short notice.

    March 10, 2014

  • Peter

    Good work on this important decision-making for the TBC! Always a good idea to put quality ahead of quantity.

    March 10, 2014

  • Lorraine

    At the end of Book 6, Aeneas exits the underworld through the Gate of Ivory. This is the gate through which the powers of the underworld send false dreams up toward the heavens. What is the meaning of this exit?

    March 9, 2014

  • Ingeborg

    I am on wait list so will not be at the meeeting but I am enjoying reading the comments on Virgil's Aeneid. In case anyone might be interested in seeing an operatic adaptation of Aeneid's fatefull decision to leave Dido to fullfill the prophecy of his fate to be the founder of Rome, I am putting in a plug for Ottawa university production of Dido & Aeneas, march 16 at the university. Tickets only $15, , a good way to spend asunday afternoon!

    1 · March 5, 2014

    • Ingeborg

      I am in Whistler BC this week and do not have my notes on the student opera with me, but it is all there on Ottawa University music Faculty page. The oldest english opera, based on Virgil. Title is Dido and Aeneas. I have arranged a group of Opera Lyra people to go to this production sunday matinee march 16. Tickets still available.

      March 6, 2014

    • Lorraine

      Here's the link. http://www.music.uott...­ It's also available on March 15, fittingly enough for Julius Caesar's progenitor.

      March 6, 2014

  • Lorraine

    Part II: In the process, Augustus completed Julius Caesar’s work of converting the Republic to an Empire, and Romans lost the limited liberty that they possessed. Cicero, who ended up with his head displayed on a platform in the forum, his silver tongue pulled out, symbolizes this loss. Should we understand The Aeneid as the voice of a nation grateful for its deliverance from violence, or is a work of fawning flattery written by Virgil, the hired hand? Rome bought peace at the price of its liberty. Was the price too high?

    March 2, 2014

    • Robert ("Robaire") N.

      ... only if it is the luxury of self-discipline grounded in moral virtue (paraphrasing Socrates to Callicles in Plato's Gorgias).

      March 4, 2014

    • Lorraine

      Interesting point. That would mean that political liberty can exist only when yoked to the virtue of self-discipline, i.e. self-restraint, i.e. undue individualism. Greek poets of the 5th c. BC make this point again and again, in vain as it turned out. Conservative Roman thinkers such as Marcus Porcius Cato were afraid of catching the "Hellenistic" disease, and believed that Roman civilization would come to an end when Greek-type individualism took hold. So strongly did Cato hold to this belief that he refused to call historical figures by name, a privilege he allowed only to an elephant in the war against Hannibal. His efforts, too, were in vain.

      March 5, 2014

  • Lorraine

    Part I: The Aeneid is a hymn to Augustus Caesar. Virgil heaps lavish praise on Augustus, describing him at Line 790 as follows: “Here is the man whose coming you so often hear prophesied: here he is, Augustus Caesar, son of a god, the man who will bring back the golden years to the fields of Latium once ruled over by Saturn, and extend Rome’s empire beyond the Indians and the Garamantes to a land beyond the stars, beyond the yearly path of the sun, where Atlas holds on his shoulders the sky all studded with burning stars and turns it on its axis.” And so forth. Rome had suffered through a century of war, civil war, corruption and criminality. Augustus Caesar, after a period of frightful blood-letting in revenge of Julius Caesar, restored peace and good governance to the Romans, his iron fist artfully concealed in a velvet glove (see Part II)

    March 2, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      In Part I line 790 of Fitzgerald's translation, that is not what I have at all. Are you referring Book I (that's how mine is divided)?

      March 5, 2014

    • Lorraine

      Dear Molly: It's Line 790 of Book 6. I'm using the prose translation by David West. Sorry for the imprecision.

      March 5, 2014

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    Thoughts on linking my initial questions regarding the role of "fate" in the Aeneid and the recent exchange about Augustus: Fate links the story of Aeneas to Augustus in a direct and powerful way. We learn very early on in the Aeneid that Aeneas' destiny is to found the race that will become Rome, and to begin the line of kings that will result in Augustus. As such, the epic endows Augustus' government with a kind of divinely appointed power: Augustus was fated to rule, in a destiny that stretches all the way back to his great ancestor, Aeneas! Anchises (Aeneas' father) makes this clear in the Underworld when he shows Rome's future leaders to Aeneas. In other words, fate underlies not only the epic's plot, but Augustus' government.

    March 4, 2014

    • Lorraine

      Yes, the Roman state and Augustus' reign were fated to rule the world. The corollary of this is that resistance is futile--unless of course the resistance is also fated.

      1 · March 5, 2014

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    Part II Question: What is this "fate" that Virgil repeatedly enlists as he unfolds his narrative of Aeneas' journey? More specifically: Fate stands as the ultimate Architect of Aeneas' destiny (and that of the other characters): Is there any role for free will in Virgil? Is free will capable of defying or resisting this fate? In other words, was Aeneas truly free to choose between Dido and Rome? Is fate a force separate and apart from the will of the gods? If so, do the gods (does Jupiter or Jove) have the power to trump fate? If not, what is this fate? And is it inevitable? If so, why do Virgil's characters (including Juno and the other gods) strive so passionately to elude it? Are such efforts ultimately futile? Or is there any good to be gained from resisting fate by charting an independent course?

    March 2, 2014

    • Lorraine

      The Aeneid is yet another instance of the ancients attempting to work out the relation of divine fate and human free will (amongst many other things). Fate is a force outside the gods, and not even the gods can change what is written in Fate's scrolls. Human beings, in this understanding, have limited free will. Their freedom consists in recognizing and fulfilling their fate; those who refuse to recognize and/or who try resist will be destroyed. That is why Dido must die. Cicero himself attributed Rome's greatness to recognizing and accepting its destiny as the master of the world. Or, as one of my fellow students put it, Rome was doomed to greatness, where greatness is understood as incessant wars of aggression, killing and being killed on a grand scale, plundering of other peoples' treasure, taking of staggering number of slaves, and the impoverishment and taking away of political power of its own citizens.

      1 · March 2, 2014

  • Robert ("Robaire") N.

    PART I Reflections on our Reading of Virgil's Aeneid. Jo has indicated she will be unable to post any preliminary talking points due to academic commitments and suggested I might try to spark some initial dialogue to stimulate our collective reading of the epic. (I have no idea where Jo will be taking us, so this initial foray into the heart of the epic may itself be fatefully doomed...)

    This is my first reading of "The Aeneid". Given its obvious reliance on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, I don't know why I never took the time to read it before. It is rich and engaging. I am currently working my way through "The Underworld" with Aeneas and Sybil (Book VI). I plan to put a large dent in the remaining Chapters this afternoon. One of the recurring themes that strikes me is the role of "fate". It strikes me as central to the Book and raises a host of absorbing questions for me. (Continued in Part II).

    March 2, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I think Robert Fitzgerald's translation is considered the best. I picked up a new copy for $10 at a second hand book store. Make sure it has a glossary unless you are on intimate terms with "the Gods" and their various affairs. Molly

    February 25, 2014

  • Jo R.

    Is there one translation that we should be using? I'm reading the John Dryden one.

    February 25, 2014

  • Kinneret

    Good question! I wondered that myself. There are at least a couple of version out there.

    February 25, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I think this is a very good idea and hopefully will make things more manageable for the organizers and perhaps create a core group that is truly committed to the meetup.

    February 20, 2014

  • James H.

    Its been a while since I have read an Epic poem. How transporting this poem is !

    February 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just received an e-mail stating that the venue had changed for the Aeneid. Yet when I went to the site, it was still the James Street Pub. Anyone understand why I got this?

    February 16, 2014

    • Robert ("Robaire") N.

      No change of venue. It's a quirk of meetup. I had not as yet confirmed the venue. I did yesterday. Meetup interpreted this as a "change". James Street Pub it is (until further notice).

      February 16, 2014

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