Basic Virgil Paperbacks Georgics
The Georgics (Penguin translation)
The Georgics
Tr. L. P. Wilkinson
Penguin, 1982. 160pp.
ISBN 0140444149.

"Although Dryden's comment that it was 'the best poem by the best poet' was possibly extravagant, it has been admired and imitated through the ages and at one time was part of the reading of every educated man. A eulogy to Italy as the temperate land of perpetual spring, and a celebration of the values of rustic piety, the ideal of the chaste family and the simplicity and hardiness of the Italian people, The Georgics is probably the supreme achievement of Latin poetry," says the publisher's blurb on the back of this handsome but inexpensive volume. "With this verse translation," it continues, "L. P. Wilkinson provides full annotation, a general introduction and detailed introductions to each of the four books."

The introductions and notes are good, and Wilkinson's rhythms please without drawing attention to themselves. This is the ideal starting-place for the student who wants to explore this beautiful but difficult poem. Click here to order.

Virgil's Georgics: A Critical Survey
The Georgics of Virgil: A Critical Survey
L. P. Wilkinson
1969. Revised. ed. University of Oklahoma Press, 1997. 376pp.
ISBN 0806129670.

Although it was published almost thirty years ago, Wilkinson's Critical Survey is still the best introduction to the poem, distilling vast amounts of material--from agricultural practices to religion to political history to philosophy to aesthetics--into a single, very readable volume. Nicholas Horsfall recently called the work "exemplary," observing that "you need to know the Georgics very well before you recognize where the years reveal its weaknesses." When it appeared, the American Journal of Philology hailed the work as "Definitive... a model for all who would attempt a critical survey of any classical work."

For the student of reception history, the book includes a long chapter on the poem's influence and readership in aftertimes. A new (1997) bibliography has been provided for the revised edition, and all citations are translated into English for the benefit of the non-specialist. Click here to order.

Virgil's Georgics (Latin text and translation)
Also useful is the text and commentary by Richard F. Thomas (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics, 1988). A pessimistic but influential interpretation of the poem. Mynors and Thomas are, as Nicholas Horsfall observes, "to some extent complementary... Mynors is indispensable for style, language and agricultural detail, Thomas for use of sources and allusion." In two volumes: books I-II and books III-IV.
Virgil's Georgics
Ed. R. A. B. Mynors
Oxford University Press, 1990. 345pp.
ISBN 0198149786.

Although it lacks an introduction, this is the standard commentary on the Latin text of Virgil's poem. Here's what reviewers said about it:

"an event in Virgilian scholarship... this commentary contains the best literary criticism that we have of the poem." - Richard Jenkyns, Times Literary Supplement

"grounded on a profundity of philological and technical learning that most of can merely envy... it will obviously be indispensable to everyone seriously interested in the Georgics." - Joseph Farrell, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"No commentator is better on the ancient sources, both poetic and agricultural... in this great and glowing commentary he has given us a sunlit view of one the richest poems ever written." - David West, The Times

"It is a model of what I think a commentary should be. M. has no axe to grind, no hobbyhorse to ride, his aim seems to be to help readers understand the poem in all its variety rather than to urge a particular interpretation of it... And he writes with wit and charm." - Sara Mack, American Journal of Philology

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