Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John Ogilby's Translation of Homer's Odyssey

    [John Ogilby, translator]. Homer. Homer His Odysses Translated, Adorn'd with Sculpture, and Illustrated with Annotations, by John Ogilby, Esq; Master of His Majesties Revells in the Kingdom of Ireland. London: Printed by James Flesher, for the Authour, 1669. Second edition of John Ogilby's translation of Homer's Odyssey (first published in 1665). Large folio (14.5 x 8.125 inches; 368 x 244 mm.). [4], 358 pages. Pages 344 and 345 misnumbered 342 and 343. Signatures: A-Z4 Aa-Xx4 Yy5. Title-page printed in red and black. Engraved frontispiece by R. White and twenty-four engraved plates by David Loggan, Cornelis Caukercken, and I. Meyssens, after P. Willems, Abraham van Diepenbeeck. Engraved head-piece and initial on page 1; decorative head-pieces and initials.
    Contemporary mottled sheep. Spine elaborately tooled in gilt with six slightly raised bands and two light brown morocco labels ruled and lettered in gilt; board edges with gilt diagonals at corners; edges sprinkled brown. The front cover is detached and there are several areas of surface loss to both covers. Endpapers browned at edges from turn-ins. First few leaves (including frontispiece and title) browned and chipped at edges; some additional browning, soiling, and spotting or staining; dampstaining to upper portion of text throughout; upper corner of textblock lost to rodents; minor worming in upper gutter margin. Tape residue to recto of frontispiece; staining, with adhesion, to page 1 and facing plate; offsetting from some plates to text. Short tear to lower blank margin of plate facing page 289, just reaching lower plate mark, with small triangular piece torn away. A good copy, overall, although the plates are good impressions and generally clean. Armorial bookplate of the Garnons Library on front pastedown.
    Please visit for an extended description of this lot.

    More Information:

    "In 1649 Ogilby published his first translation, of Virgil. It was initially circulated privately to members of the Merchant Taylors' Company, which rewarded him with a gift of £10, in advance of the general edition. This was followed in 1651 by Aesop's Fables and further translations of Virgil in 1654 and 1658. His translations, particularly the 1654 folio, were magnificent productions: his style was direct and he paid great attention to paper quality, clear type, and the illustrations. Later translations-of Homer's Iliad (1660) and Odyssey (1665), of Aesop's Fables and Aesopics (in 1665 and 1668, respectively), and of Virgil in 1666-are splendid examples of seventeenth-century printing and of the patronage networks through which men like Ogilby promoted both themselves and polite learning" (Charles W. J. Withers, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online).


    "Ogilby printed many splendid books, mostly in folio; several were illustrated, or, as he expressed it, 'adorned with sculpture,' by Hollar and other eminent engravers. On 25 May 1665 the king, on his petition, issued a proclamation forbidding any one for fifteen years to reprint or 'counterfeit the sculpture in them,' an injunction renewed on 20 March 1667...To facilitate the sale of them Ogilby established about 1664, under royal patronage, a lottery in which all the prizes were books of his own editing and printing or publishing. The plague and the great fire of London seriously interfered with the working of this scheme, and he subsequently opened a new 'standing lottery'...wherein he quaintly complains that his subscribers do not pay. Pepys, who collected Ogilby's publications, relates his success in this lottery (Diary, ed. 1849, iii. 159)...Of his translation of Homer the 'Iliad' appeared in 1660, and the 'Odyssey' in 1665, both on imperial paper, and with plates by Hollar and others. According to Spence (Anecdotes, p. 276) it was this illustrated edition which first allured Pope to read the 'Iliad' when he was a boy at school...Though Pope sneered at Ogilby, he did not disdain to borrow from his version of Virgil's 'Eclogues' and translation of Homer" (Gordon Goodwin, in D.N.B.).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 961

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 19 days left to consign to the 2020 June 7 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search