Lee T. Pearcy

An exploration into the elusive, and sometimes unlikable, hero of Rome’s most important poem


The central character of Vergil’s "Aeneid" seems to elude readers. To some, he is unlikable; to others, he seems unreal, a figure on which to hang a plot. "Aeneas" discovers a tragic figure whose defining virtue depends on a past that has been stripped from him, and whose destiny blocks him from the knowledge of the future that gives meaning to his life. His choices, silences, tears, and anger reflect an existential struggle that, in the end, he loses. Aeneas is a hero of the Trojan War, a time as distant from Vergil as Vergil is from us, but he is also a literary character created in response to political chaos and civil strife as the Roman Republic gave way to the Augustan empire. Lee T. Pearcy’s book creates an Aeneas for our time: an age of liquid modernity, when identities seem fungible and precarious, amid a moment of political conflict and collapsing institutions. This volume gives readers new translations and close readings of important passages, and it restores Aeneas to the center of Rome’s most important poem.

Lee T. Pearcy retired from the Lounsbery Chair in Classics at the Episcopal Academy, Newtown Square, PA, in 2013. He is Research Associate in Classics at Bryn Mawr College.

Praise / Awards

  • "...Aeneas fills a niche, introducing readers to important scholarly contexts while remaining approachable. Recommended."
  • "This is an idiosyncratic book distilled from literally magisterial experience. ...As promised, P. delivers a thoughtful work that will help curious recreational readers to appreciate the poem’s irresolvable complexity."
    The Journal of Roman Studies

Product Details

  • 236 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2021
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12903-4

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  • $34.95 U.S.

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  • Vergil, Virgil, Horace, Aeneid, Aeneas, Dido, Turnus, literary characters, literary characterization, Rome, Troy, Trojan War, Augustus, Caesar, Pompey, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, civil war, Lacan, Freud, memory, liquid modernity, fate, Stoics, Epicureans, ancient philosophy