In the belief that a classic is a book that “never finishes saying what it has to say”, Piero Boitani focuses once again on the literature of the ancient world, helping the reader explore the inviolate charm and beauty of its poetry. When one returns to the classics one discovers a lot of interesting things. For example, the Iliad is a poem about strength and war, indeed about a cosmic conflict (the true “first world war”), but it also deals with the compassion that civilizes humanity. Or that the Odyssey is the world’s first and most fascinating novel. Or that, although the Greeks discovered wonder, thought and science, it was Lucretius, a Roman, who transformed them into extraordinary poetry. And the journey continues in Rome, where Virgil enshrines the story of a small village that becomes the capital of the world; Tacitus strongly condemns the imperialist nature of Roman power; and Ovid – with the Metamorphoses, the poem of flux and continuous transformation – creates the first great postmodern classic. The author has written a magisterial text, animated by his inexhaustible passion for the masterpieces of ancient culture.
Piero Boitani teaches Comparative Literature at the Sapienza University in Rome.
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