Reviving Virgil in Turkish

Öyken E., Dürüşken Ç.

in: Virgil and His Translators, Braund S.,Torlone Z.M., Editor, Oxford University Press, London , London, pp.183-194, 2018

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, London 
  • City: London
  • Page Numbers: pp.183-194
  • Editors: Braund S.,Torlone Z.M., Editor
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The Turkish reception of Virgil has a colourful history that started mainly during the decline of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth century. This may seem typical of Virgil’s initial reception by a culture, usually European, that relates primarily to his perceived idealism. However, closer study of this first period alone, which relies largely on French scholarship, reveals that factors other than cultural politics are at play. Right after the 1897 politico-literary ‘classics debate’ over the need for a literary canon for the new Turkish culture and its most suitable source, Öyken and Dürüşken observe a focus on Virgil’s poetics rather than on the political value of his work. Similarly, the first complete translation of Virgil (through an intermediary translation in French), published in 1929 as one of the first books in the newly adopted Latin alphabet, represents the beginning of a new era in more than one sense.