Book Discussion – Virgil’s Epic Poem "The Aeneid": A Three Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi
What makes Virgil’s Aeneid one of the most influential and remarkable works in Western literature? How does it continue—as well as depart from—such earlier epics as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey? And what makes this ancient poem about the mythical founding of the Roman empire relevant to our lives today?
During this three-part course, led by award-winning author, scholar, and professor Joseph Luzzi, we will discover what makes Virgil’s great work “tick” by exploring the brilliant formal and thematic qualities that give The Aeneid its unusual force, even now, two millennia after it was composed.
We invite you to explore the lecture outlines below for additional details. And to experience additional seminars and courses being led by Dr. Luzzi, please click here.
Lecture One: War, Empire—and Doomed Love Our first session will introduce us to the major issues and concerns of Virgil’s epic poem, especially the character of its protagonist, Aeneas “the pious,” his struggle to find a “new Rome,” and his star-crossed love with the Carthaginian Queen Dido, as we focus on the Aeneid, Books 1–4.
Lecture Two: From the Underworld to the Battlefield Our second session will take us through the dramatic visit of Aeneas to the Underworld, where he meets the spirit of his father—and the ghost of his lost love Dido—and will also discuss the contentious arrival of Aeneas at the site of the future Roman Empire, as we focus on Aeneid, Books 5–8.
Lecture Three: Triumph and Disaster Our third and final session will explore the mix of “triumph” and “disaster” in the series of conclusive battles between Aeneas’s Trojan armies and the Latin tribes, culminating in the bloody encounter between Aeneas and Turnus, a character modeled on Homer’s Achilles, as we focus on Aeneid, Books 9–12.
Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.
How does it work?
This is a three-part course held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.
When will I receive the Zoom link?
Your link to enter the Zoom room will be the same for all three sessions. It will be sent to the email address used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each lecture's start time.
Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. Professor Luzzi recommends this edition of Virgil's epic: Virgil, The Aeneid (Trans. Robert Fagles; Penguin, 2008)
How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.
How much is the course?
The course is $105 USD for three lectures.
Is a recording available?
Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording link within 48 hours of each session's conclusion.