Greco-Roman Classics in China: The Case of Virgil

Jinyu Liu poster

Jinyu Liu, Professor and Chair of Classics at DePauw University

April 10, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Dickinson College, Stern Center 103

Vergil has never incurred any serious scholarly or popular attention in China until the end of the twentieth century. The sporadic and limited translations of Virgil’s works in China are in sharp contrast to his enduring influence in the West and the general popularity of the Homeric epics in China. What factors, then, might have hindered Virgil,who was proclaimed as the “Father of the West” (Theodor Haecker) and “classic of all Europe” (T. S. Eliot), to gain some stature in China in the periods of intense Westernization? What led to the small surge of interest in Virgil in China in the last few decades?  Stepping out of the Euro-centric approaches to Virgil, this paper uses Virgil in China as a case study to tap into the broader issues of the Chinese selection of Western classics and the viability of Western classics in a non-Western context.