- Virgil, Aeneid 3: A Commentary
This is the third Aeneid commentary by Horsfall, now working some 200 miles north of Edinburgh, and making full use of long-distance resources, e.g. on-line access to La Cerda’s commentary, and photocopies mailed from friends in many distant places. Once again he has produced a fundamental research tool: it is more user-friendly than his book 7, and richer than his book 11. His next project will be book 2, which is a slight disappointment simply because there is a greater need for orientation on the Italic books of the poem (e.g. 5, 6, 8 and 12). Yet the author may be setting his sights on the booming literature on ancient Ilion and its many reinventions, so it will be an exciting commentary anyway.
A great merit of the present work is that Horsfall is interested not only in current tendencies of Vergilian studies but also in blind spots of current research: he is often reluctant to grasp arguments based on literary criticism and on poetic reception, but has instinctive flair for forgotten interpretations and neglected approaches, and registers contributions from all epochs and languages. His commentary is therefore a convenient port of call for future research, and is intended for serious students of the poem, especially for people who already have access to some of the major literary interpretations and want to multiply their range of questions. There is also much help for those intending to teach the poem at every level of sophistication, thanks especially to the rich prefatory notes to every important episode. As was to be expected (after Horsfall’s landmark paper “Aeneas the colonist” of 1989 and much else), one focal point of the volume is the attention to the traditions of Mediterranean colonization (cf. the English index s.v. colonies, colonisation): this feature will repay attention from scholars of history and those who fear that literary studies are losing contact with research on society, on landscape, and on material culture. Of course, given the pace of developments in archaeological research, it is just possible that the update offered here is not complete, but it is already a healthy corrective to available Vergilian commentaries. [End Page 85]