Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Boos, Florence

First Committee Member

Greteman, Blaine

Second Committee Member

Robertson, Maureen

Third Committee Member

Aji, Aron

Fourth Committee Member

Cox, Jeffrey


The purpose of this study of William Morris’s 1875 translation of Vergil’s Aeneid is to rehabilitate this translation after more than a century of almost total critical neglect. Following an introductory chapter that situates Morris within the context of emerging theories that seek to characterise the problems that are unique to classical translation activity and the nature of “retranslation” as promulgated by Laurence Venuti and others, I examine Morris’s preparation for this massive classical task, interrogating the extent and character of his classical education at Marlborough College and Oxford University in the 1850s. I then examine his “two Aeneids” – an illumination on vellum of Vergil’s epic in Latin, begun in 1874 with Edward Burne-Jones but never completed, and his subsequent unadorned translation of the Aeneid into English, which he completed in 1875 and which was published by the end of that same year – in a third chapter that engages what little criticism is available on the illuminations, before describing and interpreting them for the reader (plates are also provided as an Appendix.) My fourth chapter, the centrepiece of the dissertation, constitutes a close critical reading of Morris’s translation alongside the Latin original, and the final chapter rounds out the discussion by way of addressing the spotty critical treatment of this lengthy work of classical translation, after which I situate Morris within the history of English translations of the Roman epic by means of theory: namely, Antoine Berman’s “retranslation hypothesis”, Lawrence Venuti’s concept of “doubly-abusive fidelity”, and Siobhan Brownlie’s proposal for a post-structuralist retranslation theory. I conclude that a just interpretation of Morris’s achievement will begin with an understanding of his aesthetic, ethnic, and political motivations, and I conclude that his Aeneids are a unique and valuable contribution to late Victorian classical translation praxis.


Aeneid, Classical Translation, Translation, Vergil, William Morris


viii, 248 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 244-248).


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Copyright © 2016 Sean de Vega