Synopsis[ edit ] Lavinia, daughter of the king of the Latins of Laurentum , is sought after by neighbouring kings, but knows she is destined to marry a stranger. This is Aeneas from the Trojan War, who arrives with a large body of Trojans. An agreement is made but then breaks down and there is war, which is won by the outnumbered Trojans. They found a new city called Lavinium , but Aeneas is killed after three years.
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Jul 22, Jake rated it it was amazing Recommended to Jake by: jsteinmann gmail. LeGuin is one of my all time favorite authors, and I cant think of time when shes written something that has somehow failed to engage, entertain, or intrigue me. The fact that she was, apparently, riffing off Virgils Aeneid was just icing on the cake for this poor excuse for a classical studies major.
When the book arrived, I found myself looking at the cover and suddenly wondering what the heck this book was about. As much as I tried, I could not remember the character of Lavinia from my previous readings of the Aeneid in the slightest the best I could do was to temporarily confuse her with Dido. My guilt at my poor powers of memory was a bit assuaged when, after some checking, I realized that Lavinia only barely appears within the Aeneid, and never speaks at all.
It is a sub-genre that seems potentially filled with a lot of anger; how easy would it be for Lavinia or any of these voiceless women to rage against the world that so long ignored them? How simple would it be to tell a story about how the men screwed everything up, and the women were doing everything right? Her Lavinia who is curiously aware of her meta-fictional existence is very, well, ancient Roman.
She is strong, but conscious of her duty. She has a strong sense of the importance of family. She genuinely loves Aeneas, and her insights into Aeneas are interesting, and very much in line with what I remember of the Aeneid which I confess is precious little.
The entire story is told by Lavinia herself, a decision that allows LeGuin to really get into her protagonists mind, and produce a very different, interesting, and very real vision of a part of the Aeneid that Virgil did not get to. Not a refutation, or an attack, but merely another side of part of the story. A side as compelling, powerful, and insightful as the original itself.
Unquestionably worth the read. Next time: I have no idea.
Ursula K. Le Guin