Unlike other modern translators of Vergil, who forgo meter entirely or use iambic pentameter (the meter of Shakespeare and other English poets), Patricia A. Johnston uses dactylic hexameter, the meter used by Vergil and by all ancient writers of epic poetry, beginning with Homer. Johnston also avoids elaborate or esoteric language and instead uses clear, unadorned diction to capture Vergil’s masterful simplicity.
This volume is unique as well in addressing the needs of students and other readers who may be encountering Vergil’s work for the first time. In her introduction to the poem, Johnston traces the life of Vergil, describes his other works, and provides a brief plot summary of the Aeneid. Her lucid explanation of poetic meters in English and Latin is useful even for readers who thought they understood the difference between a dactyl and a spondee. Throughout the poem itself, she provides ample footnotes to explain the meaning of unfamiliar references. The volume concludes with a glossary of names and a select bibliography.