In truth, though, the Lane professor of the classics—whose freshman seminar “Bob Dylan” always fills up fall-semester classrooms—has been working on this book for a very long time. In 2001, he listened to Love and Theft a few days after the album was released and heard Virgil’s words singing back to him in Dylan’s voice. “I’m gonna spare the defeated—I’m gonna speak to the crowd,” Dylan rasps in “Lonesome Day Blues,” the fifth track. “I’m gonna teach peace to the conquered, I’m gonna tame the proud.” This was the Aeneid. The language was unmistakable. Virgil’s lines, translated from book six of his epic, read like this: “Remember Roman, these will be your arts: / to teach the ways of peace to those you conquer, / to spare the defeated peoples, tame the proud.” It turned out that Thomas’s two lifelong obsessions—Bob Dylan and the classics—were intertwined.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
… Harvard classicist Richard Thomas on Bob Dylan | Harvard Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)