Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Seamus Heaney and the ClassicsBann Valley Muses$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Stephen Harrison, Fiona Macintosh, and Helen Eastman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805656.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2019

Heaney and Virgil’s Underworld Journey

Heaney and Virgil’s Underworld Journey

(p.180) 12 Heaney and Virgil’s Underworld Journey
Seamus Heaney and the Classics

Rachel Falconer

Oxford University Press

Tracing echoes, allusions to, and transformations of three motifs—the golden bough, Charon’s boat, and Aeneas’ three attempts to embrace his father—this chapter aims to assess the developing significance of Virgil’s presence in Heaney’s writing. Initially filtered through his response to Dante’s Commedia, Heaney’s early reading of the Virgilian underworld journey seems best encapsulated in the image of gravitas—the image of a man (both Aeneas, and Virgil the poet) who has shouldered the weight of his people’s history, and who bears a sense of irreparable loss into the future. By the time we reach his last volume, Human Chain, however, this image of Virgil has been astonishingly and lovingly transformed so that the poet of melancholy gravitas becomes the harbinger of a sense of a light-winged or delicately unfurling new life. The transformation of Virgil in Heaney, from Seeing Things (1991) and District and Circle (2006), to Human Chain (2010), is on one level also a story about the process of translation itself: how the very sense of losing the body of the original text gives birth to a new shape, a possible new world. The chapter concludes with consideration of Heaney’s posthumous translation of Aeneid VI (2016).

Keywords:   Heaney, Virgil, Dante, burden, translation

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .