Virgil's Aeneid. A Critical Description.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, London (...), 1968. 1st ed. XII,448p. Cloth wrps. Wrps worn. Signature on free endpaper. 'Quinn assumes that the 'Aeneid' was intended to have contemporary reference, that it was designed not only to celebrate the victory of Actium but also to supply a comment on the civil wars that had come to an end with that victory. According to his interpretation, though superficially a work of propaganda it is essentially an anti-militarist poem, one which shows the dehumanising effects of war and the way in which it 'can corrupt the character and motives of even the most high-minded of leaders.' (...) 'The Aeneas of Book xii,' to quote Quinn again, 'points clearly to Augustus; and the portrait is hardly a flattering one.' This seems to imply an intended, though surreptitious, attack on the 'princeps'which, so far as we know, was unrecognised by contemporaries, including its victim, who took a keen interest in the progress of the work and was responsible for its publication. This is not easy to believe. Quinn is perhaps too ready to read into Virgil's text the sentiments of the mid-twentieth century. (...) Quinn's treatment of characterisation is interesting and valuable. He rejects the notion that the Virginian characters are mere puppets of fate or of the gods; nor does he, like some modern scholars, think of them primarily as symbols of certain forces or ideas. For him they are essentially human beings, whose character and motives Virgil displays through dialogue and situation, and sometimes as much by what he does not say as by explicit comment. (...) With his interest in the psychology of the human actors Quinn is inclined to play down the importance of Virgil's gods. The embody 'those genuinely mysterious forces in the world of which the Roman mind possessed a profound if confused consciousness.' (...) The book contains a number of valuable observations on structure, style, and narrative technique. (...) The author's close attention to the text and his sensitiveness to style and nuance, to both what is said and how it is said (and to what is left unsaid), are admirable qualities. (...) Not the last of his merits is that he is not afraid to exercise the critic's function of judgement, and that while he sometimes censures he can also express warm admiration.' (M.L. CLARKE in The Classical Review (New Series), 1968, pp.306-308).