In the Quarterly Review, Steve Donoghue offers a review of Virgil’s lesser known work in
a new edition by John Van Sickle.
Students today know him for his exquisite, tightly controlled booster-epic The Aeneid (in which a fleeing hero of Troy itself makes his way to Italy in order to found the only city, naturally, great enough to be Troy’s successor), but for centuries prior to our vociferously secular age, he was more readily known for one little poem: the fourth of his ten Eclogues (which together form his precocious debut work, the Bucolics). This poem—infinitely translated, infinitely annotated—hails the birth of a marvelous Boy who will bring peace and justice to all the world. It was written no later than 40 BC and was seen by generations of early commentators as a pagan presentiment of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, Donoghue concludes this to be the best edition of the Eclogues in English…ever.