In Classical Literature: An Epic Journey from Homer to Virgil and Beyond, Richard Jenkyns displays his extensive knowledge of the classics. He surveys 1,000 years of classical Greek and Roman literature. Jenkyns brings the greatest thinkers of classical literature to life through lively, engaging, and informed discussions of their work. He sprints from one figure to the next, evaluating their work, expressing his opinions, challenging outworn interpretations while simultaneously dropping gems of insight. He discusses the plays of the great tragedian Aeschylus in new and thought-provoking ways. His sentences can take unexpected turns. His views can be somewhat unorthodox as when, for example, he describes Sophocles’ Ajax as leaving us “in a state of appalled wonderment.” Or when he says of the Romans that their original achievement was to “invent imitation."
Throughout the work, Jenkyns peppers his analysis oughout the work, Jenkyns peppers his analysis with humor and tongue-in-cheek irony, which makes for a thoroughly engaging and informative read. The breadth and scope of his knowledge is impressive. This book is highly recommended for those with an interest in Greek and Roman literature.