The Oregonian reviews a brand new book by Ursula K. Le Guin that explores the perspective of Lavinia (daughter of Latinus, wife of Aeneas) from Virgil’s “Aeneid”. Giving a feminine perspective to the male-centric Roman epic.
“Lavinia, an 18-year-old princess in “The Aeneid,” Vergil’s 2,000-year-old epic poem about the origins of Rome, gets little attention from Vergil as a background figure. He gives her not a single speech in his shimmeringly melodious, 10,000-line poem, despite that she is daughter to King Latinus, who rules the region; that multitudes of men die over who should marry her; and that her eventual marriage is crucial to the founding of Rome. The book “Lavinia” (Le Guin’s 56th!) repairs Vergil’s lapse and is also a loving tribute to the poet. It’s an earthy retelling of the last six books of the 12-book poem, told from the point of view of Lavinia herself.”
According to the review, Le Guin explores her “rich, pagan life”, and brings a feminine “balance” to Virgil’s work while avoiding outright revisionism. A work on par with Robert Graves’s “I, Claudius”, according to Publishers Weekly.
In an interview with Le Guin about the work, the author explains that she isn’t trying to improve on Virgil, merely telling tales he didn’t have time to get to.
“Virgil didn’t have time for little Lavinia,” Ms. Le Guin says. Virgil died in 19 B.C. and many scholars believe he still planned to do some work on the Aeneid. “I didn’t feel I was correcting Virgil, but here was something he didn’t have the time to do, and I did.”