The pseudo-Virgilian Aetna poem has fascinated textual critics for centuries on account of its badly corrupted state. But it is fascinating for its content as well. It appears to date from the first half of the first century AD sometime prior to 79, for it describes Vesuvius as extinct. The highly original account of a volcano with scientific, if eccentric, views of volcanic activity, is enlivened by vivid imagery and digressions such as a section in praise of physical science and the tale of two brothers who rescued their parents from an eruption. A vigorous and enthusiastic poem, it repays further study within the didactic tradition. Robinson Ellis, according to The Times the 'greatest English Latinist' of his age, worked on the poem for decades, and his 1901 edition, which includes a translation and full commentary, constitutes a significant contribution to the study of the poem. His work remains of interest today, both to scholars working on the poem and to historians of classical scholarship.In her new introduction to this reissue of the complete Latin text and translation of the poem with Ellis's commentary, Katharina Volk discusses Ellis’s achievement in the context of his career and as part of the history of critical engagement with the Aetna. She also provides an overview of work on the poem since Ellis's edition, and a bibliography.
Robinson Ellis (1834-1913) was fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and Corpus Christi, where he eventually succeeded Henry Nettleship as Corpus Professor of Latin (1893). He also produced a major edition of Catullus. Katharina Volk is Assistant Professor of Classics at Columbia University, New York and author of The Poetics of Latin Didactic: Lucretius, Vergil, Ovid and Manilius (2002).
The introduction to this volume is ably provided by Katharina Volk ...this reprinting of Ellis’ edition is to be welcomed.
Harry Hine Aestimatio
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