While browsing for an ebook version of the Latin epic poem The Aeneid by Virgil, I happened across The Aeneid for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church. The ebook was a free download so, thinking it could be a future read-aloud for my daughter, I thought I’d give it a try.
Title: The Aeneid for Boys and Girls
Author: Alfred J. Church
Publisher: The Macmillan Company
Source: Barnes & Noble (free Nook Book)
Synopsis:Relates in vigorous prose the tale of Aeneas, the legendary ancestor of Romulus, who escaped from the burning city of Troy and wandered the Mediterranean for years before settling in Italy. Patterned after the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Aeneid was composed as an epic poem by Virgil, to glorify the imperial city of Rome. Ages 8-12, 162 pages
“Vigorous” prose is very accurate. The subtitle of the book is “Told from Virgil in Simple Language.” While it is certainly simpler than translations of the original, this is not dumbed down in any way. It is certainly not, as Charlotte Mason would say, “the sort of diluted twaddle which is commonly thrust upon children” (from Volume 1: Home Education).
The ePub version of this book, however, is riddled with errors and poor formatting. It’s bad. The book title and chapter titles appear in random places throughout, interrupting the text. Any footnotes (thankfully there weren’t many) were placed in the middle of sentences. Aeneas is usually spelled iEneas or ^neas. There were errors such as “Hps” instead of “lips” or “hsten” instead of “listen.” I wish I’d thought to go to the Internet Archive and grab the PDF (you can do that here). That version seems to be fine. Avoid the ePub!
That being said, I did enjoy reading it. The writing is beautiful, descriptive, and accessible. Here are some of my favorite examples:
So Mercury put his sandals on his feet, the sandals which have wings wherewith to fly, and he took his wand in his hand, and flew down from heaven.
Acestes ran, and would have helped the old man to rise. But he got up of himself, for shame and anger, as it were, made him young again.
…from him shall come a race which shall raise the name of Italy even to the stars of heaven.
I [a water nymph] and my companions whom you see were once your ships, the ships which you built with the pines of Mount Ida.
Under the shower of spears he stood, as a traveler stands when a storm falls upon him in the road.
It was nice to read the familiar stories of Daedalus and Icarus, Dido and Aeneas, and of course, the Trojan Horse. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Roman or Greek mythology, and I’d forgotten how fickle the behavior of the gods and goddesses could be.
I look forward to sharing The Aeneid for Boys and Girls (in physical form rather than the ebook) with my daughter when she’s older.