Review by: Dunstan Lowe, Bryn Mawr Classical Review - January 22, 2007
Barbara Weiden Boyd, Vergil's Aeneid 8 & 11: Italy & Rome. Wauconda,
IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2006. Pp. 102. ISBN 978-0-86516-580-9.
Reviewed by Dunstan Lowe, University of Reading (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Word count: 1178 words
To read a print-formatted version of this review, see
This edition of selections from Vergil's Aeneid (the Shield of Aeneas
from Book 8 (8.608-731) and the Camilla sequence from Book 11
(11.498-596, 664-835), totaling 394 lines) is designed for high school
and undergraduate use. It follows the special format of Clyde Pharr's
widely-used edition of Books 1-6,[] like Boyd's recent volume of
selections from 1-6, 10 and 12,[] namely the provision of vocabulary
(and commentary) on the same page as the text. Boyd's larger volume
included all passages on the syllabus for the Advanced Placement course
'Latin: Vergil',[] whereas the book under review, designed as a
supplement (p.vii), is for use in other teaching and reading situations
by fans of Pharr's presentation style. Whether teachers of Latin choose
this edition will depend mainly on their opinion of this pedagogic
strategy, but the commentary is well-pitched to its target audience,
explaining difficult constructions and never specifically citing other
scholarship. Bibliographies by theme offer further reading for studious
teachers or students.
Pharr's invention of putting text, vocabulary and commentary in
parallel on the same page was, and is, intended to save the time spent
-- and concentration lost -- in flicking back and forth between pages.
He criticized the 'antiquated methods' in use by the majority of
editions, believing that parallel vocabulary accelerated acquisition
and provided earlier, better access to genuine Latin literature.
Pharr's determination to minimize page-turning even extended to the
novelty of a fold-out 'extensible sheet' of core vocabulary at the back
of the book. The text under review, being far shorter, has a single
vocabulary at the back where all page-by-page glosses are collected
(and printed with macrons, which are kept out of the main part of the
book to allow for scansion practice).
A highly experienced teacher of Latin at college level, as well as a
Vergilian and Ovidian scholar (whose publications include an article on
Aeneid 8), Boyd is eminently qualified to write this book.[] In
1930, Pharr expected high school students to read the entire first half
of the Aeneid. Repackaging the poem in smaller pieces is more practical
for classes aiming to cover specific passages. If, like Boyd, editors
can provide selections which as far as possible contain their own
self-contained 'stories', so much the better. The decision to pair
passages from Books 8 and 11 in this volume seems arbitrary, worthy
though it may be to 'invite scrutiny of the relationship, both strained
and intimate, between Italy and Rome' (pvii) by juxtaposing the Shield
of Aeneas with the life and death of Camilla. The explanation is
probably as follows: selections from 1-6 were already a unit due to
Pharr. In order to complete the Advanced Placement syllabus, selections
from 10 and 12 were edited in one volume[] and subsequently
republished (as mentioned above) with the relevant selections from 1-6.
Now that the AP goal has been achieved, two more editions covering 8
plus 11 and (presumably) 7 plus 9 will complete a larger project of
editing selections from all twelve books for high school and
Boyd's editions offer several advantages over Pharr's popular but dated
textbook. In his Foreword to the 1996 reprint of Pharr,[] Ward W.
Briggs Jr. wrote that 'the somewhat simplistic notes must be abetted by
a commentary like those of R.D. Williams or R.G. Austin, especially in
preparation for the Advanced Placement examination.' Boyd's editions
benefit from a more up-to-date text (Mynors' OCT of 1969 rather than
Hirtzel's of 1900) and fuller notes than Pharr's, with more comments on
stylistic and emotional effects, and brief glosses for all allusions to
Roman myth, religion and history, providing much-needed background for
passages such as the shield-ecphrasis. All other changes are a matter
of taste but generally conform to contemporary trends. Pharr's two
typographic innovations are removed. First is the marking of all 'first
occurrences' in the vocabulary with daggers (in only four hundred
hexameters that would thrust daggers on considerably more than half the
words listed). Second is the italicization of all 'extensible sheet'
vocabulary (which created a patchwork of regular and italic type
resembling the King James Bible). Boyd also banishes the consonantal
'j', which has fallen out of favor, while preserving the still-popular
The supporting material requires little more from the student than a
solid grasp of grammar and grammatical terminology. Such a reader could
easily survive outside the classroom, with only a translation to resort
to in emergencies. The vocabulary definitions themselves nicely tread
the line between being full and being specific to the text. This
follows Pharr's policy on vocabulary, which was 'to preserve some mean
between a poverty which is barren and a wealth which is confusing to
the student who is trying...both to read Vergil and to learn
Latin.'[] In practice, this means (briefly) listing the principal
meanings, but giving first the meaning in that particular context. The
result sometimes looks a little odd, with first definitions given
including 'celestial' for caerul(e)us (p.3 & p.15), 'stroke' for
fingere (p.7) and 'harden by heat' for coquere (p.35), and, since the
vocabulary at the back includes latrator but not latrare and pavitare
but not pavidus, the book clearly aims to teach the Latin of these 392
lines first and Latin as a language second. But this method is on the
whole highly successful, giving exactly the same range of meanings
wherever the same word is glossed.[]
This book will of course require a teacher to bring out its full
benefits. Touches of contextualizing color, for example the comparison
of Romulus' hut(s) to the humble monument of President Lincoln's log
cabin (p.11), are only occasional. Perhaps because it is a supplement,
it assumes a working knowledge of grammatical, syntactical and prosodic
terms (e.g. p.39 'proclitic', p.39 'apodosis', p.44 'syncopated'),
though a glossary of stylistic terms is provided. Stylistic flourishes
are indeed a favored point of comment, and sometimes the commentator
seems at pains to work them in (11.583 is 'an unusual four-word
hexameter' if we discount et, p.39; 11.589 is 'a virtual Golden Line',
p.40; incumbens eminus (11.674) is 'almost an oxymoron', p.43). Boyd's
intention is to point out Vergil's art but only in an 'open' and
'suggestive' way (p.xi). The duty of the teacher -- apart from using
tests to make sure that students actually learn vocabulary, instead of
looking at the bottom of the page most of the time -- is to encourage
the habit of explaining e.g. how and why stylistic features are
'striking' (e.g. p.5 on 6.626-8, p.9 on 6.649). Otherwise they will
think that identifying figures of speech and rhetorical terms, in which
Boyd is so helpful, is an end rather than a means. The commentary is
well-balanced, and the pettiness of my quibbles attests to its
This is an inexpensive and user-friendly edition designed to get
students reading the Aeneid as early and rapidly as possible, with few
errors[] and plenty of contextualizing information about the poem
as a whole and its culture. It is bound to prove popular as part of
Boyd's range of selections from the Aeneid, which revive Pharr's method
for contemporary use.
1. Pharr, Clyde, Vergil's Aeneid (Books I-VI). Boston, MA: D.C. Heath
& Company, 1930.
2. Boyd, Barbara Weiden, Vergil's Aeneid: Selections from Books 1, 2,
4, 6, 10, and 12. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2003. ISBN
3. For more information on the Advanced Placement scheme, in which
Canadian and North-American high school students can earn college and
university credit, see the AP website
students and parents (accessed August 27th 2006). Boyd has nine years'
experience serving on the AP Latin Test Development Committee.
4. Boyd, Barbara Weiden, 'Virgil's Camilla and the Traditions of
Catalogue and Ecphrasis (Aeneid 7.803-17)', American Journal of
Philology 113 (1992) 213-34.
5. Boyd, Barbara Weiden, Vergil's Aeneid 10 & 12: Pallas & Turnus.
Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1998. ISBN 0-86516-415-0.
6. Pharr, Clyde, Vergil's Aeneid (Books I-VI). Wauconda, IL:
Bolchazy-Carducci, 1996. pp.vi-vii.
7. Pharr (1930) p.x.
8. The only exception I found was a slightly abbreviated definition
of deicio on p39 compared to that of p.41 & p.83. In fact, repeating
vocabulary (e.g. caerul(e)us: p.3, p.15, p.22; caedes: p.19, p.21,
p.52) is relatively rare.
9. Very minor complaints: the definition of anastrophe on p.31 is
unnecessary since it has already appeared on p.15. versat at 11.669
(p.42) is oddly interpreted to mean that Eunaeus 'turns over' to
conceal his woman-inflicted wound, whereas the frequentative versare
must mean 'roll' or 'writhe'. It seems redundant on p.43 to gloss
Amastrus, Chromis, Demophoon, Harpalycus, Iapyx and Tereus each
individually as 'an ally of Aeneas' since they are collectively called
Phrygii viri at 11.677. Finally, while no expert, I think the account
of why contorquere is an appropriate verb for launching arrows on p.43
is inaccurate: arrows spin as they fly not because they are twisted by
the action of the hand, but because they are fletched.
10. I found only the following: on p.1 read 'white' for 'whiter';
p.21 'pass. inf.' for 'act. inf.'; p.42 'more than a superficial' for
'more that a superficial'; p.69 'onomatopoeia' for 'onomatopoiea'; p.69
'a symmetrical' for 'asymmetrical'; and p.85 'rust color' for