Trojan hero gets Hollywood spin in new Virgil translation

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Robert Fagles, a retired professor of comparative literature at Princeton University, feels he has come to know the poet Virgil as well as anyone in history after spending 10 years translating his epic, The Aeneid. His hope now - shared by his publisher - is that many of us will want to share that familiarity.

Judging by Fagles' past success with two of the other great tomes of ancient literature - The Iliad and then The Odyssey - he can be excused his optimism. Both translations became unexpected best-sellers, helped greatly by audio-book versions narrated respectively by Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen.

Due to hit American book-shops tomorrow, Fagles' rendering of The Aeneid, the sweeping story of the toils of the warrior Aeneas, who goes on to found the Roman Empire after the fall of Troy, is expected to make a similar impact, replacing fustier versions that go all the way back to John Dryden's 17th-century version. Once more an audio version is in the works, with Simon Callow enlivening the text.

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