april 2021

29apr4:00 pm6:15 pmVergil's Aeneid—New translation by Shadi Bartsch4:00 pm - 6:15 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:LiteratureFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Nine weeks


Event Details

Aeneas departs from Dido and Carthage (Aeneid, Book IV)

“My song is of war and a man: a refugee by fate,
the first from Troy to Italy’s Lavinian shores,
battered much on land and sea by blows from gods
obliging brutal Juno’s unforgetting rage. . . ”

More than Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey, Vergil’s Aeneid is probably the one text from classical antiquity that has had the longest continuous influence over the European literary and cultural imagination. Taking both of Homer’s great epics as his models, Vergil created a hero and a poem that are uniquely his own—and that are distinctly Roman.

Achilles and Odysseus are essentially private heroes: their struggles and conflicts are personal, internal, centred on their own desires and goals. Vergil’s Aeneas journeys through the complicated world of personal, familial, and civic responsibility. A widowed father, a devoted son, and the appointed leader of refugees from the Trojan War, Aeneas struggles with—and against—his duty to lead survivors from the fallen city of Troy to find a new home in a distant land. The Aeneid is a poem of adventure, violence, heroism, duty, and love, recounting along the way the famous tale of the Trojan horse and the fall of Troy, Aeneas’ love affair with the doomed Queen Dido of Carthage, his journey into the underworld, and ultimate arrival of Aeneas and the survivors of Troy in Italian lands.

In his poem, Vergil engages in the conscious creation of a foundation myth for what became the vast empire of Rome. He crafts a nuanced exploration of the price paid for empire in lives lost, relationships broken, blood spilled, and peoples displaced and destroyed. As Shadi Bartsch puts it in her introduction, “Rather than being simple propaganda, the Aeneid is in many ways a story about stories and how they work. It is an epic that tells the story of foundation but puts on display the fault lines at the base of its own edifice, revealing the mechanisms at work in wholesome origin-stories and justifications of imperial aggression.”

This study will be read-as-we-go, covering one to two books of the Aeneid per week. The study will take place on Zoom. Each session will last 2 1/4 hours, with a short break mid-session.


  • Facilitated by Mark Cwik
  • Nine-meeting study
  • Thursday afternoons 4:00 pm – 6:15 pm.
  • 29 April, 2021 to 24 June, 2021
  • Online discussions using Zoom meeting interface. Zoom is free for participants, instructions will be sent upon registration.
  • This study will use the new translation of the Aeneid by Shadi Bartsch. Please be sure to obtain this translation:
    • The Aeneid: A New Translation, by Vergil, translated by Shadi Bartsch
      (Profile Books, 2020)
      ISBN-13: 978-1788162678
  • £200 for nine-week study, includes notes and questions for preparation.

TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £200. If you would prefer to pay by bank transfer, please email facilitator Mark Cwik to arrange payment.

ABOUT THE FACILITATOR: Mark Cwik has been organizing and leading discussions of great literature for over twenty years in London, Chicago and Toronto. He specializes in works from the ancient, mythic and religious world. He was trained as a discussion facilitator while at the Great Books Foundation in Chicago and has been a passionate advocate for great books education since attending St. John’s College, Santa Fe and the University of Chicago Basic Program in Liberal Education.

“I’ve been coming to Mark’s discussion groups for about 15 years . . . Mark is amazing in his ability to keep the group functioning smoothly. He asks questions that get to the heart of the piece and he keeps the group focused on those questions. You don’t feel that he’s trying to steer us to any conclusion; he’s in it with us to figure out what the author is saying. He makes everyone feel welcome and their opinions are respectfully heard. He’s always prepared and totally dedicated to advancing our understanding of the great books.” — group participant.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact facilitator Mark Cwik.