Review: Lavinia by Ursula Le GuinLe Guin has taken a character from Virgil and breathed new life into her, says Charlotte Ursula K Le Guin. Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin: A Review by Guy Haley from Death Ray Magazine, reprinted with the kind permission of the author at the web site of author Ursula. An excerpt from Lavinia, at the web site of author Ursula K. Le Guin.

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The transitions between those phases is beautifully narrated. This was no doing of the poet’s.

Her mother had died soon after her birth, and she had no sisters. She feels terrible guilt over being the cause of a war she never wanted, and she’s conflicted because she knows she should support her fellow Latins, but she is also destined for Aeneas.

The princess with flaming hair

And so she tells us what Vergil did not: The city was a great grove, a forest. I really like and identify with this Lavinia, and I support her choices, whereas in the Aeneid I simply pitied her for not having any choices. My poor teacher tried again and again to calm me down, to remind me of the historical context and cultural differences that should have been informing my reading of the poem, to point out the elegance of the scansion or the cleverness of various poetic devices, but I just didn’t buy it.

She eschews Virgil’s humanlike gods for dead that speak through sacred places, which allows for the well-executed meta-conceit of having a dying Virgil learn how egregiously he mistreated Lavinia in his unfinished masterpiece, which Le Guin suggests as a fanciful reason for Virgil’s request that the incomplete “Aeneid” be burned upon his death. After we have gone, all that is left of an individual is a story — maybe that is enough.


After Aeneas’ death, Ascanius becomes King of Latium and Lavinia is forced to raise her son, Silvius, in the forest because she is afraid Ascanius means to harm him. This is a story narrated by the story itself. Distant mooing from the valleys and the murmur of mourning doves and wood doves in the oak groves near the house made a continuous softness of sound into which other noises sank away and were lost. Upriver at Seven Hills there used to be two little fortified places with dirt walls, Janiculum and Saturnia; then some Greek settlers came, rebuilt on the hillside, and called their fort and town Pallanteum.

When young Lavina gets a message from a dying poet of the future Virgilshe realizes she is part of an epic fate. Even a poet cannot get everything right. Return to Book Page. It was not the wisest thing perhaps for two children to stand at the mouth of her den, for she had cubs, and she was there.

You think it’s going somewhere, then it’s just over. But it vuin does deserve credit for the overall period accuracy, as accurate as a novel about basically purely legendary characters from a time that’s too remote has to have clear records can be. Here’s what I learned: Lavinia no spoilers 26 24 Dec 28, Latinus has received a prophecy instructing him that Lavinia must be married to a foreigner.

They were not large, but they were the only images in human form in Laurentum, except the little clay Penates, and they filled me with fear. Not even a poet can speak the whole truth. Tales from Earthsea The Books of Earthsea I wonder if LeGuin had that in mind? Ok, updating and rating 4 stars! And more time with Aeneas!

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Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin | U-M Library

The farm was a place of endless industry, people working everywhere all day; but unless the forge was lit and the guib clanging, or a drove of cattle was penned in close by for castration or for market, it was deeply quiet. He simply was not paying attention: And the pace wasn’t great for me. Le Guin Beauty by Sheri S. There were plenty of deer for her in those hills.

The late Ursula K. He had an explosive temper but was just with his people; he kept every feast day generously, with observance and sacrifice to the local spirits and sacred places. In her notes, Le Guin laments that “Aeneid” is rarely taught in its entirety or original language nowadays.

Meanwhile, Lavinia does not get along with Ascanius, Aeneas’ son by his first marriage with Creusa of Troy. Every house stood among oak trees, fig trees, elms, slender poplars and spreading laurels. We are so grateful. Feb 01, Susana rated it really liked it Shelves: Lavinia is the daughter of King Latinus of Latium, and in Virgil’s epic she is destined to marry the Trojan hero Aeneas. There was no one in all that country of our girlhood who wished us any harm. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Aeneas feels terrible guilt about killing Turnus and, not to give too much away, but this guilt is what eventually leads to his death.