Gavin Douglas

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Gavin Douglas (c. 1474 – 1522) represented, along with William Dunbar and Robert Henryson, the flowering of the golden age of the Northern Renaissance in Scotland. Douglas studied for the priesthood and traveled widely, absorbing both contemporary and classical virtues and resources. Completed in 1513, his monumental translation of Virgil’s Aeneid was the first complete verse rendition of a classical text to be produced in Scotland. Later in life, Douglas became Bishop of Dunkeld and tutor to the young James V, involving himself entirely in political rather than literary affairs and intrigues. He concluded his years in exile in England, where he died of the plague. The excerpt given here from Book 7 of Eneados lavishly demonstrates Douglas’ capacity for elaborating upon the details and designs glossed or implied within Virgil’s text while still remaining true to the letter and spirit of the original; a master of the microcosm within the macrocosm, Douglas expands rather than exaggerates upon the Virgilian base.