Description

    First Collected Edition of Chapman's Celebrated Translation of Homer

    [Homer]. [George Chapman, translator]. The Whole Works of Homer; Prince of Poetts. In his Iliads, and Odysses. Translated according to the Greeke, By Geo: Chapman. London: Printed for Nathaniell Butter, [1616?]. First collected edition of Chapman's celebrated translation of Homer, first issue, with "HOMERS" in recto headlines. A reissue of both the twenty-four books of the Iliad of ca. 1611, and the twenty-four books of the Odyssey of ca. 1615. Approximately 11 x 7 inches. [22], 341, [1], [8], [2, blank], [8], 349, 352-376, [2] pages. Engraved architectural title by William Hole with bust of Homer at head and full-length figures of Achilles and Hector as supporters, engraved portrait of Chapman on verso of title, engraved dedication to the memory of Prince Henry, but lacking the engraved title to the Odyssey (not always present in this title), and one of its two initial blank leaves and its final blank leaf. Contemporary paneled calf, neatly rebacked with nineteenth-century calf. Covers paneled and ruled in blind, with blind floral cornerpieces, spine tooled in gilt in compartments, brown gilt morocco lettering label, blind board edges. Spine a bit sunned and rubbed, some fairly minor wear to boards, hinges starting (yet solid), minor worm damage to lower corner of text from title-page to first eight pages of Odyssey, text a bit toned and slightly soiled, especially in Odyssey, minor occasional dampstaining to top margin of text. Neat ink notation on final page. Bookplate of Australian surveyor George Goyder. Still, an excellent copy. Housed in quarter morocco clamshell case.

    "Of Chapman's translations, the most famous, not least because of a much-quoted sonnet by John Keats, are Homeric. Seven Books of the Iliad (1598) and Achilles' Shield (1598) announced the beginning of what Chapman called 'The Worke that I was borne to doe'" (The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English). "The first installment towards the complete translation of Homer was published in 1598, with the title 'Seaven Bookes of the Iliades of Homere, Prince of Poets...' It...comprises the first, second, and seventh to eleventh books inclusive...Later in 1598 Chapman published 'Achilles Shield. Translated as the other seven Bookes of Homer, out of his eighteenth booke of Iliades', 4to...Some years elapsed before the publication of 'Homer, Prince of Poets: translated according to the Greeke in twelve Bookes of his Iliads,' fol., which bears no date on the title-page, but was certainly not issued before 1609...On 8 April 1611 the complete translation of the 'Iliad' was entered on the Stationers' register. The book was published (doubtless in the same year) under the title 'The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets. Never before in any language truely translated. With a Comment upon some of his chiefe places,' n. d., fol. In this edition Chapman gave a fresh translation of books i. and ii. (down to the catalogue of the ships)...After completing the translation of the 'Iliad' he set himself to translate the 'Odyssey.' On 2 Nov. 1614 there is an entry in the Stationers' register to Nathaniel Butter of 'Twenty-four Bookes of Homer's Odisses by George Chapman.' The first twelve books had been previously published, but few copies of this separate impression are found. When the translation was completed the last twelve books were united with the previous impression of the first twelve...Finally the translations of the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' were united in one folio volume, and issued under the title of 'The Whole Works of Homer, Prince of Poets, in his Iliads and Odysses'...At length, circ. 1624, Chapman concluded his Homeric labours by issuing 'The Crowne of all Homer's Workes, Batrachomyomachia or the Battaile of Frogs and Mise. His Hymn's and Epigrams'...Chapman's Homer is one of the great achievements of the Elizabethan age, a monument of skill and devotion. The mistranslations are many and grievous, and it is clear that Chapman's knowledge of Greek was not profound; but through the whole work there breathes a spirit of sleepless energy that amply atones for all crudities and conceits. Among Chapman's contemporaries the translation was received with applause...Pope acknowledges the merits of his predecessor's labours; and Dr. Johnson affirms that Pope never translated any passage of Homer without consulting Chapman's version. Coleridge said that Chapman's Homer was as truly an original poem as the 'Faerie Queene;' Lamb was a fervid admirer of the rough old translation; and Keats has a noble sonnet 'On first looking into Chapman's Homer'" (D.N.B.). Lowndes, page 1099. STC 13624. See Grolier, Langland to Wither, 35 and 36, Harris, First English Translations, page 75, and Pforzheimer 169 and 170.


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