McKay Book Prize, 2019

The President and Board of Trustees of the Vergilian Society and the McKay Prize Committee are pleased to present the 2019 Alexander G. McKay Prize for Vergilian Studies to Sergio Casali for his book Virgilio, Eneide 2. Introduzione, traduzione e commento.

Few books of poetry are more iconic than Aeneid 2. Daring to give the sequel to the Iliad, Vergil crafted a narrative so powerful and so enduring, that it has eclipsed every other rendition of the conclusion of the Trojan war in literature or art: indelible scenes such as Laocoon and his sons devoured by snakes; the deluded Trojans bring the Horse into their city and joyously dance around it; the Greeks’ stealthy attack on the sleeping, exhausted Trojans; Aeneas’ flight from the burning city carrying Anchises on his shoulders; or Venus saving him from killing Helen. No reader of Vergil is surprised that Dido is madly in love with Aeneas by the story’s end. Not many people in this room would not confess that they, too, have fallen in love with this book.

Taking on a new commentary on—to use Aeneas’ words—Troiae supremum laborem, especially relatively soon after the late Nicholas Horsfall’s extensive volume, would be a daunting task to say the least. But Sergio Casali, the winner of this year’s Alexander McKay prize for Vergilian Studies, like Vergil’s hero, successfully completes his mission while carrying on his shoulders the work of previous generations. His commentary, at once thorough and succinct, informative and original, sets out to meet the needs of a diverse audience—students of Vergil but also seasoned scholars. Casali admirably succeeds in delivering something for everyone: the students will find valuable information on rhetorical figures, textual problems, motifs and themes; the scholar will benefit from the plethora of original interpretations on the book’s famous episodes alongside judicial information on textual problems, intertextuality, and literary analysis. And both will enjoy Casali’s lucid and elegant translation of Vergil’s Latin.

In a world where information is both abundant and ephemeral, Casali’s erudite, careful opus will be of enduring value as it expertly guides a new generation of students and scholars through Vergil’s masterful text.