Chapman Iliad

Library of Ancient Authors

Hooper’s Introduction
Advertisement to Third Edition vii
Advertisement to Second Edition viii
Introduction ix
George Chapman xxiii
Addenda and Corrigenda (Hooper) lxi
Chapman’s Introduction
Homer’s Iliads lxiii
Verses to Henry Prince of Wales lxv
Epistle Dedicatory lxvii
Anagram lxxiii
To Queen Anne lxxiv
To the Reader lxxv
Preface to the Reader lxxxv
Of Homer xcii
Transcriber’s Notes
Corrections to Introduction (transcriber)
Frontispiece Text
Title Page Text
Moved Decorations

Portrait of Chapman, with surrounding text

text closeup

















t is with sincere pleasure that the Editor has been informed that a third issue of his Edition of Chapman’s Homer’s Iliads is required. The steady and continued demand for this fine old book is very gratifying, and no slight proof of the hold that it has obtained on the public mind. In the present edition the sheets have been carefully read through, but as some had been printed off before they came under the editor’s eye, he has thrown his Additional and Corrected Notes, and the very few typographical errors, into a page of Addenda et Corrigenda, which the reader is requested to peruse. The Introduction, corrected in a few places, remains as it stood in the last edition (1865), and the editor believes that, with that prefixed to the last edition of the Odyssey (1874), it contains the fullest account of Chapman and his works extant.

R. H.

Upton, Berks, March 7, 1888.




aving been informed by my respected publisher that the former impression of these volumes has been entirely exhausted and long out of print, I have had much pleasure in acceding to his request to superintend a new edition. The text has been thoroughly revised by a collation with a fine copy of the first folio, and great care has been bestowed upon the punctuation. The Life of Chapman has, to a great extent, been rewritten, though it is to be regretted that little additional information could be procured. Since the former publication much attention has been turned to the study of Homer, probably through the influence of the writings of Mr. Gladstone; and some good versions of the Homeric Poems have been added to our literature. Among these the translations of the Iliad by Lord Derby and Mr. I. C. Wright, and one of the Odyssey, in the Spenserian stanza, by Mr. Philip Stanhope Worsley, have been deservedly commended. The noble version of George Chapman, however, has an independent value and interest. It is to be prized for its fine old language and the sweetness of its epithets, as much as its representation (however imperfect all such representations may be) of the original. The contem­porary and friend of Shakespeare has left us a work worthy of the great age in which he lived; and I hope I may not be accused of the undue partiality of an advocate, if I express my conviction that Chapman’s Homer is (to use Mr. Godwin’s words) “one of the greatest treasures the English language has to boast.”

R. H.

Aston Upthorpe,

March, 1865.





he increasing interest in the sterling literature of the Elizabethan age is too obvious to need remark. The new era of criticism in the writings of Shakespeare has caused the dust which had accumulated upon the works of many of his less-known contem­poraries to be shaken off, and the result has proved by no means disadvan­tageous to their reputation. “He, indeed, overlooks and commands the admiration of posterity, but he does it from the table-land of the age in which he lived. He towered above his fellows ‘in shape and gesture proudly eminent,’ but he was one of a race of giants, the tallest, the strongest, the most graceful and beautiful of them; but it was a common and a noble brood.”1 One branch, however, of this “giant family” has not hitherto met with that attention to which it is justly entitled; a branch which contributed in no slight degree to enrich the language, and enlighten and enlarge the national mind—I mean the sturdy race of our old Translators. While Shakespeare and Spenser, Bacon, Sydney, Hooker, Ben Jonson, and a host of others, poets, philosophers, divines, and statesmen, “men whom Fame has eternised in her long and lasting scroll, and who, by their words and acts, were benefactors of their country and ornaments of human nature,” were giving to the world the imperishable monuments x of their genius, there was a hardly-to-be-less honoured race employed in culling from the rich and fascinating stores of the Greek and Latin Classics, in exploring the romantic poetry of Spain and Italy, and throwing open their treasures in noble and stately Trans­lations. When James ascended the throne, himself no mean scholar, he found his people in possession of versions in their own language of most of the great writers of Classical Antiquity. And though it is true the rage for Trans­lation had been so great that many of these were of mushroom growth, and have meritedly sunk into oblivion, yet there were others which were of too genuine worth to be merely ephemeral, which have stood the test of ages, and which, having done good service in their day, are now undeservedly laid aside, and sought after only by the scholar and the philologer, or, may be, the curious, yet to every true lover of his native language are they precious heir-looms of the genius and learning of a past and a glorious age.

It is not to be supposed that in the following remarks on some of these old Trans­lations I specify all that could be enumerated, but I would wish to mention a few, which obtained no slight popularity in their time, and which seem to me still worth the attention of the lover of old literature. Virgil, as might be imagined, was an early favourite. The version by Thomas Phaier, first published in Queen Mary’s reign, is no mean specimen of the art of Trans­lation, and, though now supplanted by the great work of the “glorious John,” contains much to admire. A late critic indeed has passed a very high eulogium upon it which may seem a little too laudatory, though I can add my sincere testimony to the worth of “Thomas Phaier, Doctour of Phisicke.” Mr. Godwin describes it “as the most wonderful depository of living description and fervent feeling, that is to be found perhaps in all the circle of literature.”2

Ovid, besides numerous translations of his other poems by various authors, was nobly “converted” in his Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding, a name of no faint lustre amongst our old Translators. In xi 1567 Golding produced his charming work complete. Warton confesses that “his style is poetical, and spirited, and his versification clear, his manner ornamental and diffuse, yet with a sufficient observance of the original.”3 After such testimony it would seem hardly necessary to add an observation; but I can assure the reader he would be much pleased by the smoothness and sweetness of diction in this fine version. Golding gave us several other translations; and one in particular may be mentioned, namely Philip Mornay’s Treatise “On the Truth of the Christian Religion,” executed in conjunction with Sir Philip Sydney.

Sir Thomas North’s Translation of Plutarch’s Lives, 1579, though avowedly taken from the French of Amyot, has a claim to our veneration from the use that Shakespeare made of it. The popularity of this work may be estimated from the fact that it was a household book during the whole of the seventeenth century, and we have no less than six folio editions of it, viz., 1579, 1595, 1602, 1631, 1657, 1676. The edition of 1657 was published at the instance of the lately deceased Selden. I may be pardoned for giving Mr. Godwin’s opinion of it. “I must confess that till this book fell into my hands, I had no genuine feeling of Plutarch’s merits, or knowledge of what sort of writer he was. The philosopher of Cheronæa subjects himself in his biographical sketches to none of the rules of fine writing; he has not digested the laws and ordonnance of composition, and the dignified and measured step of an historian; but rambles just as his fancy suggests, and always tells you without scruple or remorse what comes next in his mind. How beautiful does all this show in the simplicity of the old English! How aptly does this dress correspond to the tone and manner of thinking in the author! While I read Plutarch in Sir Thomas North, methinks I see the grey-headed philosopher, full of information and anecdote, a veteran in reflection and experience, and smitten with the love of all that is most exalted in our nature, pouring out without restraint the collections of his wisdom, as he reclines in his easy chair before a cheerful winter’s blaze. How different does all this xii appear in the translation of the Langhornes! All that was beautiful and graceful before becomes deformity in the finical and exact spruceness with which they have attired it.”4

And ungrateful should I be if I passed over the labours of old Philemon Holland, that “Translator general,” as Fuller styled him. His “Plinie’s Natural Historie” has wiled away many a weary hour, and his “Livy” and “Plutarch’s Morals” were noble efforts in their day. They contain a mine of wealth to the philologer. Pope’s ill-natured sneer that

“here the groaning shelves Philemon bends”

would be vain now, his works have become so scarce, and are too precious to “bend the shelves” of the every-day collector. The student would do well to avail himself of every opportunity to secure them. Philemon Holland was no ordinary scholar.5

But, while attention was thus being turned to Classical lore, Foreign literature was not neglected. Edward Fairfax had given us his splendid version of Tasso. Ariosto, through Sir John Harington, had, upon the admission of Warton, “enriched our poetry by a communication xiii of new stores of fiction and imagination, both of the romantic and comic species, of Gothic machinery, and familiar manner.”6 In 1566-7 William Paynter displayed in his “Palace of Pleasure” the wealthy mine of Boccaccio, fertilizing the imagination of even Shakespeare himself. Geffray Fenton’s “Historie of Guicciardin, containing the Warres of Italie,” is a fine old book. Nor can we forget that Milton, in common with his age, is said to have been very partial to the translations from Du Bartas by that “famous philomusus” Joshua Sylvester. One work more, reader, and I have done—William Shelton’s translation of “Don Quixote,” 2 vols. 4to. 1612-20. Jarvis, it is true, thinks Shelton translated through the Italian, but, be this as it may, the version is most spirited, and, in my humble opinion, still the best in our language.

All, and each, of these grand old authors contain much, very much, for us to venerate and admire. In them the reader will find a vigour and a freshness, a grasp of the spirit of the originals, a stately flow of language, which we in vain look for in the more modern and finished Trans­lations. In a word, it was essentially the age of Trans­lation, and we might point triumphantly to the Bible, and ask, what period in all our literary annals could have produced such a version? A writer in the Edinburgh Review (vol. LVII. 112) observes: “The lovers of the English language owe the Church of England an obligation which they can never repay. Only let them think, what would have been our loss, if the translation of the Bible had been delayed to the present age!”

I will conclude by citing some very able remarks, which fully embody my own sentiments on this subject, and which contain pleasing testimony to the merits of George Chapman.

“Translation,” says Mr. Godwin, “ought to be considered in a very different light by scholars, and men to whom literature is their chosen occupation, than that in which it is regarded by persons to whom books are an amusement only. Trans­lation is the parent, or more accurately speaking, the nurse of all modern languages, from whose fostering xiv breast they derive their soundness, the vigour, and the health, that renders them at once the delight and accomplished ministers of all by whom they are spoken and written. To Trans­lation we are indebted for much of what is most excellent and important in our vernacular speech; and Trans­lation, considered in this point of view, is a fundamental branch of true learning. Chaucer, Lydgate, Skelton, and Surrey, the fathers of our literature, were all eminent Translators; and it is to our version of the Bible that we are above all things indebted for the sober, majestic, and copious, flow of our English tongue. Trans­lation, merely as Trans­lation, would form no branch of reading to a scholar, merely in as far as he was a scholar; but, considered as the faithful repository of the history of a language, it is of inexpressible importance. Trans­lation in itself is a dim and obscure medium, through which we become feebly acquainted with the merits of an original work. No man therefore would almost deign to look upon a Trans­lation, except so far as he had no other way in which to obtain a knowledge of the original it pretends to represent.

“This character may be considered as applicable to all Trans­lations at the time they are presented to the world. But an obsolete Trans­lation is a very different thing. It is an object avoided by the fop and the fine lady; but it is precious to the man of taste, the man of feeling, and the philosopher. In the old English Homer, for example, I have some pleasure, inasmuch as I find Homer himself there; but I have also an inestimable pleasure added to this, while I remark, and feel in my inmost heart, the venerable and illustrious garb in which he is thus brought before me. This further pleasure I have which I could not find even in the original itself. The Trans­lation of Homer, published by George Chapman in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James, is one of the greatest treasures the English language has to boast. This man had a deep and true feeling of what a poet is, when he appears, as Milton styles it, ‘soaring in the high region of his fancies, with his garland and singing robes about him.’ This is conspicuously shown in his Preface, Notes, and Dedication.”7


Mr. Godwin proceeds to illustrate this by a comparison of passages from the Odyssey with Pope’s version, in which the superiority of the elder poet is obvious. It will be unnecessary to pursue a similar course, for it is generally admitted at the present day, that, of all the versions of Homer in our language, that of Chapman approaches the nearest to the original in spirit and grandeur, and, from a most attentive perusal, I think faithfulness. Whether Homer has ever been really translated is a question which must be discussed elsewhere, but of the existing representations of him, there can be no doubt as to which the palm must be given. It may be pleasing to give a few testimonies of competent judges to the worth of this noble work. Dryden, in the Dedication to the third volume of his Miscellanies, says, “The Earl of Mulgrave and Mr. Waller, two of the best judges of our age, have assured me that they never could read over the translation of Chapman without incredible transport.” Dryden himself translated the First Book of the Iliad, and Pope declares that, had he completed the work, he would not have ventured on his own translation. Pope, in a subsequent passage of his Preface, accuses Dryden of having “had too much regard to Chapman, whose words he sometimes copies, and has unhappily followed him in passages where he wanders from the original.” This comes with an ill grace from Pope, for Dr. Johnson asserts that “with Chapman Pope had frequent consultations, and perhaps never translated any passage till he had read his version; which indeed he has been sometimes suspected of using instead of the Greek.” Pope has however done Chapman the justice to say that “he covers his defects by a daring fiery spirit that animates his translation; which is something like what one might imagine Homer himself to have writ before he arrived to years of discretion.” “He (Pope) might have added,” says Mr. Hallam, “that Chapman’s Trans­lation, with all its defects, is often exceedingly Homeric; a praise which Pope himself seldom attained. Chapman deals abundantly in compound epithets, some of which have retained their place; his verse is rhymed, of fourteen syllables, which corresponds to the hexameter better than the decasyllable xvi couplet; he is often uncouth, and often low, but the spirited and rapid flow of his metre makes him respectable to lovers of poetry.”8 In the Retrospective Review, vol. III. will be found an admirable article on the merits of Chapman, Pope and Cowper; and there are several interesting critiques on Sotheby’s Homer in Blackwood’s Magazine for 1830, 1832,9 which do ample justice to Chapman. Coleridge, in sending a copy of Chapman’s volume to Wordsworth (1807) says, “Chapman I have sent in order that you might read the Odyssey; the Iliad is fine, but less equal in the translation, as well as less interesting in itself. What is stupidly said of Shakespeare is really true and appropriate of Chapman: ‘mighty faults counterpoised by mighty beauties.’ Excepting his quaint epithets, which he affects to render literally from the Greek, a language above all others blest in the happy marriage of sweet words, and which in our language are mere printer’s compound epithets—such as divine joy-in-the-heart-of-man-infusing wine (the undermarked is to be one word, because one sweet mellifluous word expresses it in Homer); excepting this it has no look, no air, of a translation. It is as truly an original poem as the Faery Queen;—it will give you small idea of Homer, though a far truer one than Pope’s epigrams, or Cowper’s cumbersome most anti-Homeric Miltonism. For Chapman writes and feels as a poet,—as Homer might have written had he lived in England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In short, it is an exquisite poem, in spite of its frequent and perverse quaintnesses and harshnesses, which are, however, amply repaid by almost unexampled sweetness and beauty of language, all over spirit and feeling.”10 It is not improbable that Coleridge’s attention had been called to Chapman by Charles Lamb, who writes to him in 1802, “I have just finished Chapman’s Homer. Did you ever read it?—it has the most continuous power of interesting you all along, like a rapid original, of any; and in the uncommon excellence xvii of the more finished parts goes beyond Fairfax or any of ’em. The metre is fourteen syllables, and capable of all sweetness and grandeur. Cowper’s ponderous blank verse detains you every step with some heavy Miltonism; Chapman gallops off with you his own free pace, &c.”11

It would be unpardonable to omit Lamb’s well-known criticism on Chapman in his “Specimens of English Dramatic Poets,” first published in 1808. “The selections which I have made from this poet are sufficient to give an idea, of ‘that full and heightened style’ which Webster makes characteristic of Chapman. Of all the English play-writers, Chapman perhaps approaches nearest to Shakespeare in the descriptive and didactic, in passages which are less purely dramatic. Dramatic imitation was not his talent. He could not go out of himself, as Shakespeare could shift at pleasure, to inform and animate other existences; but in himself he had an eye to perceive, and a soul to embrace, all forms. He would have made a great epic poet, if indeed he has not abundantly shown himself to be one; for his Homer is not so properly a translation as the stories of Achilles and Ulysses re-written. The earnestness and passion which he has put into every part of these poems would be incredible to a reader of mere modern translations. His almost Greek zeal for the honour of his heroes is only paralleled by that fierce spirit of Hebrew bigotry with which Milton, as if personating one of the zealots of the old law, clothed himself when he sat down to paint the acts of Samson against the Uncircumcised. The great obstacle to Chapman’s translations being read is their unconquerable quaintness. He pours out in the same breath the most just and natural, and the most violent and forced, expressions. He seems to grasp whatever words come first to hand during the impetus of inspiration, as if all other must be inadequate to the divine meaning. But passion (the all in all in poetry) is everywhere present, raising the low, dignifying the mean, and putting sense into the absurd. He makes his readers glow, weep, tremble, take any affection which he pleases, be xviii moved by words, or in spite of them be disgusted, and overcome their disgust. I have often thought that the vulgar misconception of Shakespeare as of a wild irregular genius, ‘in whom great faults are compensated by great beauties,’ would be true of Chapman.”

In an article entitled “Remarks on Translation” in the Classical Museum (vol. I. p. 400) the writer, Mr. R. H. Home, observes “The name of George Chapman I mention with reverence and admiration; but his truly grand version of Homer must nevertheless be declared no translation. Chapman’s version of Homer is a paraphrase by a kindred spirit; that of Pope is a paraphrase in his own12 spirit. The works might be appropriately contradistinguished as ‘Homer’s Chapman,’ and ‘Pope’s Homer.’ By his in-door modern life, his drawing-room associates, his mechanical refinements and polished grace, his tasteful timidities and general misgivings, Pope was the natural opposite to Homer, and one of the very last men who should have meddled with his works; but Chapman, by his commanding energies, fulness of faith in his author’s genius, and in his own inspired sympathies, his primitive power, and rough truthfulness of description, was the very man for the purpose, had he not been misled by the common notions of translation. He gives Homer’s narrative as he feels it. Pope produced his own idea of Homer, and in his own (Pope’s) peculiar words, with little reference to the words of the original: and this has been read to an immense extent; destroying the ears of the schoolboys and men, of at least two generations, for any sense of the varied harmonies of rhythm: Chapman produced in his own words, and often in his own images, a glorious adumbration of the effect of Homer upon the energies of his soul. When we consider the subtle influence of poetry upon the rising spirits of the age, it tempts me to hazard the speculation, that if Chapman’s noble paraphrase had been read instead of Pope’s enervating monotony, and as extensively, the present class of general readers would not only have been a more poetical class—as the fountain-head xix from the rock is above the artificial cascade in a pleasure ground—but a finer order of human beings in respect of energy, love of nature at first-hand, and faith in their own impulses and aspirations.” The reader, perhaps, will pardon one more extract, in which is an interesting tribute to what may be styled the practical effect of Chapman’s work. Mr. Monckton Milnes, in his “Life and Letters of John Keats,” (vol. I. p. 18. ed. 1848,) says, “Unable as he was to read the original Greek, Homer had as yet been to him a name of solemn significance and nothing more. His friend and literary counsellor, Mr. Clarke, happened to borrow Chapman’s translation, and having invited Keats to read it with him one evening, they continued their study till daylight. He describes Keats’ delight as intense, even to shouting aloud, as some passages of especial energy struck his imagination. It was fortunate that he was introduced to that heroic company through an interpretation which preserves so much of the ancient simplicity, and in a metre that, after all various attempts, including that of the hexameter, still appears the best adapted, from its pauses and its length, to represent in English, the Greek epic verse   *   *   *   The Sonnet, in which these his first impressions are concentrated, was left the following day on Mr. Clarke’s table.”


“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been,

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”


The opinions of Coleridge, Lamb, and Mr. R. H. Horne, might lead the reader to infer that Chapman’s noble work, of which they speak in such raptures, is in reality only a paraphrase. If however he will be at the pains to compare it with the original Greek, he will not fail to be struck with its closeness on the whole. He should remember the principles upon which Chapman translated, as expressed in his Preface:— “It is the part of every knowing and judicial interpreter, not to follow the number and order of words, but the material things themselves, and sentences to weigh diligently; and to clothe and adorn them with words and such a style and form of oration, as are most apt for the language into which they are converted.” He tells us, in the noble poem “To the Reader,”

“Custom hath made even th’ ablest agents err

In these translations; all so much apply

Their pains and cunnings word for word to render

Their patient authors, when they may as well

Make fish with fowl, camels with whales, engender,

Or their tongue’s speech in other mouths compell.”

And again, though he “laughs to see”

——“the brake

That those translators stick in, that affect

Their word-for-word traductions,”

yet he as much abbors

“More license from the words than may express

Their full compression, and make clear the author;”

and he says of the various translators of Homer in other languages,

“They failed to search his deep and treasurous heart.

The cause was, since they wanted the fit key

Of Nature, in their down-right strength of Art

With Poesy to open Poesy.”

This is the real secret of the success and beauty of Chapman’s work. He has perfectly identified himself with Homer, and from his search of that ‘treasurous heart,’ from his thorough knowledge of its depths, with the ‘fit key’ of true natural poesy, with his own innative Homeric xxi genius, he has opened to us (to use his own words) “the mysteries revealed in Homer.”

It may not be too much to say that perhaps no man ever felt the Homeric inspiration to the same extent as Chapman. We pardon him even for his digressions, for they are such as we feel Homer himself would have written. Chapman conceived that our language was adapted to rythmical poetry above all others, on account of its numerous monosyllables:

——“I can prove it clear

That no tongue hath the Muses’ utterance heired

For verse, and that sweet music to the ear

Struck out of rhyme, so naturally as this.

Our monosyllables so kindly fall,

And meet oppos’d in rhyme as they did kiss.

French and Italian most immetrical;

Their many syllables in harsh collision

Fall as they break their necks, their bastard rhymes

Saluting as they justled in transition,

And set our teeth on edge; nor tunes, nor times

Kept in their falls.”

Warton accuses him of “labouring with the inconvenience of an awkward, inharmonious, and unheroic measure, imposed by custom, but disgustful to modern ears.” The judgment, however, of the present day would reverse this decision, for it is confessed that the fourteen-syllable verse is peculiarly fitting for Homeric translation. Chapman had met with a similar objection in his own time, but he defends himself with the observation that

——“this long poem asks this length of verse.”

However in the translation of the Odyssey, the Hymns, and the Georgics of Hesiod, at a subsequent period, he has adopted the ordinary heroic (or decasyllable) measure, in which he displays equal vigour.

“One of the peculiarities of Chapman’s versification,” says Mr. Singer,13 “is the interlacing of the verses, or the running of the lines xxii one into the other, so that the sense does not close with the couplet; this is what the French critics object to under the name of enjambement des vers, and is what made Ben Jonson say, ‘that the translations of Homer and Virgil in long Alexandrines were but prose.’ The practice, however, when not injudiciously excessive in its use, gives freedom and spirit to long compositions, while the strict observance of confining the sense to terminate with the couplet gives a stiff and formal air, and makes one rather seem to be reading a string of epigrams, than a poem. The following judicious reflections of an excellent old poet and critic, in which our author’s custom is defended, will place this subject in a just point of view:

“‘I must confess that, to mine own ear, those continual cadences in couplets used in long continued poems are very tiresome and unpleasing, by reason that still methinks they run on with a sound of one nature, and a kind of certainty which stuffs the delight rather than entertains it. But yet, notwithstanding, I must not but of my own daintiness condemn this kind of writing, which peradventure to another may seem most delightful; and many worthy compositions we see to have passed with commendation in that kind. Besides methinks sometimes to beguile the ear with a running out and passing over the rhyme, as no bound to stay us in the line where the violence of the matter will break through, rather graceful than otherwise. Wherein I find my Homer-Lucan, as if he gloried to seem to have no bounds albeit he were confined within his measures, to be in my conceit most happy; for so thereby they who care not for verse or rhyme may pass over it without taking any notice thereof, and please themselves with a well-measured prose.’”14 Lamb’s charge of “unconquerable quaintness” in Chapman is too sweeping. He is undoubtedly quaint, and too fond of silly quibbling on words. He is often low, and uses forced expressions; but it should be borne in mind that he wrote with great rapidity, and paid little regard to correcting and polishing his work. xxiii The reader must not expect to be pleased at once. Chapman, like most of the writers of his day, requires patience and study. It has been well said of him that he is “a rough nut externally, but contains a most sweet kernel.”



ntony Wood says that George Chapman was born in 1557, and conjectures that he might have been of a family seated at Stone Castle in Kent. But he is in error both as to the date and place of the poet’s birth. That Chapman was born at, or in the neighbourhood of, Hitchin in Hertfordshire, and that he there translated at least the earlier portions of his Homer, we have the evidence of his own writings. In a small poem entitled, “Euthymiæ Raptus, or the Teares of Peace,” 4to. 1609, he introduces himself in a reverie, when the Shade of Homer appears, and in reply to the Poet’s enquiry—

“What may I reckon thee,

Whose heav’nly look showes not, nor voice sounds, man?

‘I am,’ sayd he, ‘that spirit Elysian

That in thy native ayre, and on the Hill

Next Hitchin’s left hand, did thy bosome fill

With such a floode of soule that thou wert faine

(With acclamations of her rapture then)

To vent it to the echoes of the vale;

When meditating of me, a sweet gale

Brought me upon thee; and thou didst inherit

My true sense (for the time then) in my spirit,

And I invisible went prompting thee

To those fayre greenes where thou didst English me.’”

His friend and contemporary, William Browne, in his “Britannia’s Pastorals” (Book I. Song 5) also styles him

“The learned shepherd of fair Hitching Hill.”


The date of his birth we fix by inference in 1559, as round the portrait affixed to the title of the Complete Homer is the legend, “Georgius Chapmanus Homeri Metaphrastes Æta. LVII. M.DC.XVI.” The Hitchin Registers unfortunately only commence with the year 1562, so we are unable to arrive at any facts relative to his parentage. There are, however, several entries relating to the families of John and Thomas Chapman, who were possibly the poet’s brothers. In 1593, Aug. 5, was baptized George, the son of John Chapman; and from Easter 1603 to Easter 1605 the same John Chapman was one of the Churchwardens, and has signed the Parish Registers in a bold and scholarlike hand. Amongst the Additional MSS. in the British Museum (No. 16,273) is a “Survey of the King’s timber and woods in Hertfordshire and Essex in 1608,” and under the “Manēr de Hutchin” (Hitchin) is “Upon the Copyhold of Thomas Chapman, in Longe Close 27 Saplings £4. In Beerton closes 260 Elmes £18, Fire wood £35.” This Thomas Chapman was probably a man of respectability and substance, for in the Harleian MSS. No. 781, p. 28, is a petition to Prince Charles from Thomas Chapman, in 1619, for the bailiwick of Hitchin, which he formerly held under the Exchequer Seal, but of which the Earl of Salisbury had deprived him. On November 30 of the same year the claim was referred to the Commissioners of the Revenue of the Prince of Wales. The relationship, however, to the poet is mere conjecture, as we have no positive proof of any facts connected with his family. We have carefully examined the various Heraldic visitations of Hertfordshire, and the County Histories, but have been unable to discover any traces of him. Nothing is known of his youth, or where he was educated.

“In 1574, or thereabouts,” says Antony Wood,15 “he, being well-grounded in school-learning, was sent to the university, but whether first to this of Oxon, or that of Cambridge, is to me unknown. Sure I xxv am that he spent some time in Oxon, where he was observed to be most excellent in the Latin and Greek tongues, but not in logic or philosophy, and therefore I presume that that was the reason why he took no degree here.” Warton also says (from the information of Mr. Wise, late Radcliffe’s Librarian, and Keeper of the Archives at Oxford) “that he passed two years at Trinity College, with a contempt of philosophy, but in a close attention to the Greek and Roman Classics.” The present Keeper of the Archives,16 however, has been unable to discover Chapman’s name. It is probable from the date of his birth (1559) that he would have been matriculated before the year 1581, when Subscription to the Articles began. Before that date (Mr. Griffiths says) the Matriculation Register is very incomplete. Mr. Wise’s communication to Warton seems merely a repetition of Wood’s information with the addition of the name of the College (Trinity) of which Chapman is supposed to have been a member. But this point cannot be satisfactorily ascertained. The present learned President of Trinity College17 writes, “I am sorry to discover that the records of our Admissions, at the period when Chapman would have entered, are either lost or destroyed; which is a great disappointment to me.” We must be content then with Antony Wood’s assurance “that he spent some time in Oxon.” Researches as to his residence or admission at Cambridge would probably be equally fruitless, as he is not mentioned in that admirable and accurate work, Cooper’s “Athenæ Cantabrigienses.”

Quitting the University without a degree, he afterwards settled, says Wood, in the metropolis, and associated with Shakespeare, Spenser, Marlowe, Daniel, and other celebrated persons of the day. Though he undoubtedly knew Marlowe, it is not very probable, as Mr. Dyce well observes, that they were very intimate, as their dispositions and characters were very dissimilar. He early acquired the patronage and friendship of Sir Thomas Walsingham, and his son, “whom Chapman loved from his birth.” The date of Chapman’s first acknowledged publication in 1594 is such a long interval from the time of his quitting xxvi Oxford in 1576 (or 1578) that Mr. Singer conjectured that he probably appeared as a writer anonymously,18 although we have no clue to his earlier performances. But though, upon the authority of Wood, we have said he settled immediately in London, his time seems to have been occasionally spent at Hitchin, from his informing us that he there translated Homer. In 1594, however, he published two fine poems “The Shadow of Night: containing two poetical Hymnes, devised by G. C. Gent,” and dedicated to his “deare and most worthy friend Master Mathew Roydon.” They have been reprinted by Mr. Singer in his edition of “Chapman’s Hymns of Homer,” (Chiswick, 1818). In the following year (1595) appeared “Ovid’s Banquet of Sence, a Coronet for his Mistresse Philosophie, and his amorous Zodiacke: with a translation of a Latine Copie (sc. of verses) written by a fryer, Anno Dom. 1400.” 4to. This was also dedicated to Matthew Roydon, with Commendatory Verses by Richard Stapilton, Thomas Williams, and I. D. of the Middle Temple. It was reprinted in 1639, 12mo. without the dedication and verses. John Davis of Hereford has an epigram “To the right-well-deserving Mr. Matthew Roydon.”

Chapman was now in London, and employed in writing for the stage. From an entry in “Henslowe’s Diary,” p. 64, we learn that his comedy of the “Blind Beggar of Alexandria” was first brought out and acted by the Lord Admiral’s (the Earl of Nottingham’s) servants, on the 12th of February, 1595. It seems to have been very successful, and to have attracted large houses, from the receipts being always considerable. It continued to be acted till April 1597, xxvii when it was withdrawn, and published in the following year, 1598. It was revived in 1601. “There is a coincidence,” says Mr. Payne Collier, “between a line in it and Marlowe’s Paraphrase of Hero and Leander. Marlowe’s line is correctly cited, with acknowledgment to the ‘dead Shepherd,’ by Shakespeare in ‘As you like it,’ Act. III. Sc. 5.

‘Who ever lov’d that lov’d not at first sight?’

Which Chapman, near the close of his ‘Blind Beggar of Alexandria,’ gives thus:

‘None ever lov’d but at first sight they lov’d.’

The circumstance might have been passed over without notice, if Chapman’s play and Marlowe’s poem had not been printed in the same year, and if Chapman, at a subsequent date, had not finished the poem which Marlowe left incomplete. Marlowe’s portion having been published in 1598, Chapman immediately continued the subject, and the six sestiads appeared together in 1600.”19 The coincidence of the date of the publications is all that is remarkable. Marlowe’s poem, though only printed in 1598, was entered in the Stationers’ Registers as early as September 28, 1593, and again in 1597. It had probably been handed about in MS. as was not infrequently the case. Chapman, perhaps, had seen the line, and adopted the idea. It is equally possible that Marlowe might have been present at the representation of Chapman’s play, and transferred the sentiment to his own poem, though the evidence of priority would seem to be in his favour. An allusion in Chapman’s subsequent portion of the poem has led to the inference that Marlowe had at some time or other expressed a wish that he should conclude it. The reader will find an able criticism on Chapman’s plays in the fourth and fifth volume of the “Retrospective Review.”

The rapidity with which Chapman now issued his publications is astonishing. In this same year (1598) appeared his “Seaven Bookes xxviii of the Iliades of Homere, Prince of Poetes, &c.,” and the “Shield of Achilles” from Homer, both small 4tos. “printed by John Windet, and are to be sold at the signe of the Crosse-Keyes neare Paules Wharffe.” The “Seaven Bookes of the Iliades” are dedicated to Lord Essex, who is described as “the most honoured now living instance of the Achilleian virtues.” They are not the first seven books continuously, but the first and second, and then the seventh to the eleventh inclusive. In explaining this circumstance, Chapman denies that Homer set the books together, but they were collected into an entire poem at a subsequent period. “In the next edition,” he adds, “when they come out by the dozen, I will reserve the ancient and common received forme. In the meane time do me the encouragement to confer that which I have translated with the same in Homer, and according to the worth of that, let this edition passe: so shall you do me but lawfull favor, and make me take paines to give you this Emperor of all wisdome (for so Plato will allow him) in your owne language, which will more honor it (if my part bee worthily discharged) than anything else can be translated. In the meane time peruse the pamphlet of errors in the impression, and helpe to pointe the rest with your judgement; wherein, and in purchase of the whole seaven, if you be quicke and acceptive, you shall in the next edition have the life of Homer, a table, a prettie comment, true printing, the due praise of your mother tongue above all others for Poesie, and such demonstrative proofe of our English wits above beyond-sea Muses (if he would use them) that a proficient wit should be the better to heare it.”

These books are written in the fourteen-syllable measure. The copy of them in the British Museum has the autograph, “Sum Ben Jonsonii.” “The Shield of Achilles,” taken from the XVIIIth Book of the Iliad, was published later in the year. It is in the ordinary heroic measure of ten syllables, and is also dedicated to Lord Essex, “The most honored Earle Marshall.” In the “Epistle Dedicatorie” is the following amusing invective against Scaliger, who seems to have xxix been the object of Chapman’s special aversion: “But thou soul-blind Scaliger, that never hadst anything but place, time, and terms, to paint thy proficiency in learning, nor ever writest anything of thine own impotent brain, but thy only impalsied diminution of Homer (which I may swear was the absolute inspiration of thine own ridiculous genius) never didst thou more palpably damn thy drossy spirit in all thy all-countries-exploded filcheries, which are so grossly illiterate that no man will vouchsafe their refutation, than in thy senseless reprehensions of Homer, whose spirit flew as much above thy grovelling capacity as Heaven moves above Barathrum.” The Preface is “To the Understander,” and Chapman commences, “You are not everybody: to you (as to one of my very few friends) I may be bold to utter my mind.” He alludes to his already published “Seven Books.” “My Epistle dedicatory before my Seven Books is accounted dark and too much laboured.” He declares that it could only be dark “to ranke riders or readers, that have no more soules than burbolts.” As for the labour—“I protest two mornings both ended it, and the Reader’s Epistle.” I regret that space prevents my giving more extracts from this interesting Preface, in which would be shown Chapman’s thorough enthusiasm for Homer. He also alludes to the new words and epithets with which he has enriched our language from Homer. At the conclusion is a poetical address “To my admired and soule-loved friend, mayster of all essentiall and true knowledge, M. Harriots.”

The publication of his Homer gained him great reputation. Meres, in his “Wit’s Treasury,” p. 156 (edit. Haslewood—Meres’ first edit. was in 1598), speaks of Chapman’s “inchoate Homer,” for which he ranks him amongst the learned translators. As a proof that he was now in high fame, the same writer says: “As the Greeke tongue is made famous and eloquent by Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, Æschylus, Sophocles, Pindarus, Phocylides, and Aristophanes; and the Latine tongue by Virgill, Ouid, Horace, Silius Italicus, Lucanus, Lucretius, Ausonius, and Claudianus; so the English tongue is mightilie xxx enriched, and gorgeouslie inuested in rare ornaments, and resplendent abiliments by Sir Philip Sydney, Spenser, Daniel, Drayton, Warner, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Chapman,” (p. 150). In the next page he mentions Chapman as one of the best of our Tragedians, and, in the following, as a Comedian. This latter assertion is remarkable, as at this time Chapman had published but one drama. He had probably, therefore, written others which had been acted, though never published, and the authorship of which cannot now be determined. At this period are frequent entries in Henslowe’s Diary relating to advances of money made to him. In p. 123 we have, “Lent unto Mr Chapmane, the 16 of Maye 1598, in earneste of a boocke for the companye xxxxs Wittnes, Wm Birde.” Again, “Lent unto Wm Birde, the 23 of Maye 1598, which he lent unto Mr Chappmann, upon his boocke, which he promised us: xxs.” “Lent unto the companey, the 10 of June 1598, to lend unto Mr Chapman xs.” And again, “Lent unto Robart Shawe and Edward Jube, the 15 of June 1598, to geve Mr Chapman, in earneste of his boocke called the Wylle of a Woman . . xxs.” It would seem, then, that this is the name of the “boocke” for the Company so often alluded to. Mr. Payne Collier, in a note on this passage, thinks that it was only the same play mentioned by Henslowe, in pp. 119-122, as “A Woman will have her Wille,” and which is there given to Harton (William Haughton), and that Chapman may have added to it, or assisted him in it, as it would seem unlikely that two plays, so resembling in title, would have been produced at the same time. This may be true; but it is equally improbable that Chapman should have received such considerable and frequent sums for merely assisting in writing a play, which is, moreover, constantly styled his book. An entry is made on the 31st of September, 1598, of £3 to buy a “Boocke” of Mr. Chapman entitled “The Fountain of New Fashions;” and on the 12th of October he received xxs. in full payment for the same play. On the 23rd20 of the same xxxi month is an advance of £3 to Mr. Chapman on “his playe boocke and ij ectes of a tragedie of bengemen’s plotte.” We have no farther information respecting this “tragedy of Benjamin’s Plot.” In November, 1598, Henslowe records the expenses incurred for the production of “The Fountain of New Fashions,” and in December an advance of xs. to Chapman. On the 4th and 8th of January 1598/9, Chapman received the respective sums of £3 for a tragedy, the name of which is not given. But though these plays were not printed,21 in 1599 was published “An Humorous Day’s Mirth,” a comedy, which had been frequently acted by the Lord Admiral’s company. We are inclined to think that this is the play referred to by Henslowe under the entry of May 11, 1597, and elsewhere, where he says “Rd at the Comodey of Umers.” Malone was of opinion that this piece was Ben Jonson’s “Every Man in his Humour;” but this is absurd, as Ben Jonson himself tells us (folio edit. 1616) that his comedy was first acted by the Lord Chamberlain’s servants in 1598. See Collier’s Life of Shakespeare, p. CLXV. Notwithstanding his labours for the stage, Chapman found time to continue and publish, in 1600, Marlowe’s Hero and Leander, a poem of great beauty. We have seen that it is supposed Marlowe had at some time or other expressed a wish that Chapman should continue this work. From, this fact is alleged the intimacy between Chapman and Marlowe; yet it proves nothing, whereas the extreme dissimilarity of their lives would tend to negative the supposition. Warton and others are in error in supposing it to be a translation xxxii from the Greek. It is a story founded on Musæus. Chapman subsequently translated Musæus, as we shall see. Chapman divided the work into its present form of Sestyads, and published it in 1600 (4to.) without his name, which was first attached to the edition of 1606.22

The year 1605 was marked by the publication of “Eastward Hoe,” which Chapman had written conjointly with Ben Jonson and Marston. This play had been acted by the Children of the Revels. “The play was well received,” says Mr. Gifford, “as indeed it deserved to be, for it is exceedingly pleasant; but there was a passage in it reflecting on the Scotch, which gave offence to Sir James Murray, who represented it to the King in so strong a light that orders were given to arrest the authors.” They do not seem to have been long in prison. “When they were first committed, a report had been propagated, Jonson says, that they should have their ears and noses cut, i.e. slit. This had reached his mother, and at an entertainment which he made on his deliverance, she drank to him, and showed him a paper which she designed, if the sentence had taken effect, to have mixed with his drink, and it was strong and lusty poison. To show that she was no churl, she designed to have first drunk it herself.” Mr. Gifford, ever zealous for the honour of Jonson, says that he disclaimed to Drummond having anything to do with the offensive passage, but that “Chapman and Marston had written it amongst them;” having, however, had a share in the play, from a high sense of honour, he voluntarily accompanied his friends to prison. The play has an additional interest, as it is supposed to have suggested to Hogarth the plan of his set of prints of the “Idle and Industrious Apprentices.” It was revived at Drury Lane in 1751. This alteration was published 12mo. n.d. with the additional title of “The Prentices,” but it did not succeed. Mrs. Charlotte Lennox altered it; and it was once more revived at Drury xxxiii Lane in 1775, with the title of “Old City Manners,” when it met with a more favourable reception. It will be found in Dodsley’s Old Plays. It appears that Chapman underwent a second imprisonment with Jonson, shortly after their release, in consequence of supposed reflections upon some individual in a play of their joint composition. A letter was found by Dr. Birch amongst the Hatfield State Papers, inscribed “Ben Jonson to the Earl of Salisbury, praying his lordship’s protection against some evil reports.” It is dated 1605, and contains the following passage: “I am here, my most honoured Lord, unexamined and unheard, committed to a vile prison, and with me a gentleman (whose name may, perhaps, have come to your lordship) one Mr. George Chapman,23 a learned and honest man.” The whole letter is interesting, and will be found in the “Memoirs of Ben Jonson,” prefixed to the one volume edition of Gifford’s Jonson, 1838. It is gratifying to know that it met with instant success. In this year (1605) also was published “All Fools,” a comedy, the plot of which is taken from Terence’s “Heautontimorumenos.” It does not appear when this play was acted, but there are several curious entries in Henslowe’s Diary, which all seem to refer to it. “Lent unto Thomas Downton, the 22 of Janewary 1598, to lend unto Mr Chapman, in earneste of a boocke called the world rones a whelles, the some of iijli.” “Lent unto Mr Chapman the 13 of febreary 1598, in pt of payment of his boocke called the world ronnes on whelles, xxs.” Similar advances of xxs and xxxxs are made on the 2nd and 21st of June, 1599; and on the 2nd of July, 1599, is “Lent unto Thomas Downton to paye Mr Chapman in full paymente for his boocke called the world rones on whelles, and now all foolles, but the foolle, some of xxxs.” Mr. Payne Collier, in a note on this passage, thinks we have a notice of three separate works by Chapman, “The World runs on Wheels,” “All Fools,” and “The Fool;” yet he doubts “whether Henslowe does not mean that the title of ‘All Fools’ was substituted for the ‘World runs on xxxiv Wheels.’” There seems little doubt on the subject, and all three names meant the same play. We may observe that in the same page Henslowe enters, “Lent unto Thomas Downton the 17th of Julye 1599 to lend unto Mr Chapman in earneste of a pastrall tragedie, the some of xxxxs.” What this Pastoral Tragedy was it is impossible to say, as we have no further notice of it. “All Fools,” though not published till 1605, had evidently been completed, and probably acted in 1599. It is an excellent play; and a writer in the Edinburgh Review (April, 1841, vol. 73. p. 226) considers it Chapman’s best—“a piece in which the situations are devised with an infinity of comic and histrionic effect.” The Retrospective Review24 says: “The characters in general are well sustained; the dialogue is spirited; and the incidents interesting and agreeable; added to which the versification is rich and musical, and many passages of considerable merit are scattered over it. The talents of Chapman nowhere appear to so great advantage.” To one or two copies only was prefixed a sonnet to Sir Thomas Walsingham, in which Chapman says that “he was marked by age for aims of greater weight.” As this sonnet, from its rarity, may be esteemed a literary curiosity, it is here inserted, through the kindness of my friend Mr. Payne Collier. It is printed verbatim.


Should I expose to euery common eye,

The least allow’d birth of my shaken braine;

And not entitle it perticulerly

To your acceptance, I were wurse than vaine.

And though I am most loth to passe your sight

with any such light marke of vanitie,

Being markt with Age for Aimes of greater weight,

and drownd in darke Death-vshering melancholy,

Yet least by others stealth it be imprest,

without my pasport, patcht with others wit,

Of two enforst ills I elect the least;

and so desire your loue will censure it;

Though my old fortune keepe me still obscure,

The light shall still bewray my ould loue sure.


Mr. Collier25 has also shewn that a very beautiful passage in the play is taken from an Italian Madrigal by Andrea Navagero, Venice, 1546. “All Fools” was reprinted in Dodsley’s Collection, and in the “Ancient British Drama,” Vol. II. 1810. In 1606, Chapman published two comedies, “Monsieur D’Olive,” and “The Gentleman Usher,” the former of which had been frequently acted with great success at the Blackfriars. It is one of his happier efforts; and has been reprinted in “Old Plays” vol. III. 1816. In 1607 appeared the first tragedy of “Bussy d’Ambois.” It had been frequently represented “at Paules.” Though the most popular of Chapman’s tragedies, it is on the whole but a poor performance. Dryden tells us, in the dedication to his “Spanish Fryer,” he had resolved to burn a copy of it “annually to the memory of Jonson,” as “a famous modern poet used to sacrifice every year a Statius to the manes of Virgil.” It had pleased him however, at its representation, for he says, “I have sometimes wondered in the reading what was become of those glaring colours which amazed me in Bussy d’Ambois upon the theatre; but when I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star, I found I had been cozened with a jelly, &c.” “Bussy d’Ambois” was reprinted in 4to. 1608, 1616, 1641, 1657; and was altered and revived by T. D’Urfey in 1691. It was also reprinted in “Old Plays,” 1816. The following year (1608) produced “The Conspiracie and Tragedie of Charles Duke of Byron, Marshall of France,” acted in two plays, and dedicated to Sir Thomas Walsingham. These two plays, we are told, have not come down to us as they were originally written, in consequence of the remonstrance of the French Ambassador. (Collier’s Shakespeare, vol. I. p. 218.) They are fine, and are styled by Mr. Collier “noble poems, full of fine thoughts, and rich in diversity and strength of expression.” The Edinburgh Reviewer (ut suprà) calls the latter play “the finest tragic composition Chapman has left.” “Euthymiæ Raptus, or the Teares of Peace, with interlocutions,” a small poem dedicated to Prince Henry, appeared in 1609, 4to. This work is chiefly interesting from the allusion xxxvi to Chapman’s birth-place, and the spot where he translated Homer. In 1611 we have “May Day,” a comedy, reprinted in “Old Plays;” and the “Widow’s Tears,” another comedy in 1612. This last play is very fine in parts, but the plot, taken from the story of the Ephesian matron in Petronius, is objectionable. But, while enumerating Chapman’s dramatic efforts, we have omitted to mention that in 1609 appeared the long promised Twelve Books of the Iliad. Warton is in error in saying that Fifteen Books were printed in 1600 in a thin folio. Chapman had mentioned, in his Preface to the Seven Books of 1598, that his next issue should be of Twelve Books; and consequently appeared in this year (1609) a small thin folio, the title of which is “Homer, Prince of Poets, translated according to the Greeke in Twelve Books of his Iliads, by George Chapman. At London, printed for Samuel Matcham.” This work is printed in Italic type, and has (in a smaller size) the engraved title by William Hole, which was used in an enlarged form for the subsequent editions of the Complete Iliad, and the Whole Works, and a facsimile of which accompanies our present volumes. It contains the epistle Dedicatory to Prince Henry, the Poem to the Reader, and the Sonnet to Queen Anne. The version is the same as that of the edition of 1598, with the addition of the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Twelfth Books. The volume is closed with fourteen Sonnets. The date may be inferred from the following facts. In the Stationers’ Register is the entry of the “Seven Bookes of Homer’s Iliades, translated into English by George Chapman, to Samuel Matcham, by assignment from Mr Windet, November 14, 1608.” Now one of the Sonnets is addressed to the Earl of Salisbury, who is styled Lord Treasurer, which office was conferred on him on May 4, 1609. The volume, therefore, was published, probably, a little later in that year. Mr. Payne Collier possesses an interesting copy with Chapman’s autograph. “For Love to the true Love of Virtue in ye worthye Knighte, and his constant friende, Sr Henrye Crofts: Geo. Chapman gives this as testimonie of his true inclination, wth this most affectionate inscription.” The complete version of the Iliad appeared xxxvii in 1611, and will be noticed hereafter. In 1612, Chapman published “Petrarch’s Seven Penitentiall Psalms, paraphrastically translated: with other philosophical poems, and a Hymne to Christ upon the Crosse,” a small 12mo. dedicated to Sir Edward Philips, Master of the Rolls. This is a very rare volume, and the only copy I have seen (or even heard of) is in the Bodleian Library. From an examination of this little book, I find that I was misled in my information that Chapman speaks in it of his yet unfinished translation of Homer, which the Prince of Wales had commanded him to conclude. There is no mention whatever of his Homer.

In November 1612 died Henry Prince of Wales, and in him, to whom he had dedicated his “Iliad,” Chapman lost his best patron. He deeply lamented the young prince, and published on the occasion “An Epicede, or Funerall Song,” 4to. 1614, dedicated to Mr. Henry Jones. It is a beautiful poem, and was reprinted at the Lee Priory Press, 4to. 1818. In the early part of 1613, he wrote the poetry for the masque performed at Whitehall by the Societies of Lincoln’s Inn and the Middle Temple, in honour of the nuptials of the Princess Elizabeth and the Palsgrave. Inigo Jones designed the machinery. The magnificence displayed by these learned Societies may be estimated from the fact that, according to Dugdale, the expenses incurred amounted to the then enormous sum of £1086 8s. 11d. Ben Jonson told Drummond that, “next himself (i.e. Jonson) only Fletcher and Chapman could make a mask.” Chapman published this mask (4to. 1614), and dedicated it to Sir Edward Philips, Master of the Rolls, from whose house the masquers proceeded to Whitehall. At the close of the volume is an Epithalamium. Mr. Payne Collier is in possession of a copy corrected by Chapman in his own handwriting. It has been reprinted in Nichols’ Progresses of K. James I. In this year (1613) he printed his tragedy of “Bussy d’Ambois his Revenge.” In 1614 appeared “Andromeda Liberata, or the Nuptials of Perseus and Andromeda,” a poem with a long dedicatory epistle to Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, and Frances his Countess. According to Wood, xxxviii “this being not rightly understood, and carped at by many, came out soon after a pamphlet written in prose and poetry, entitled, ‘A free and offenceless justification of a late published and most maliciously misinterpreted Poem, &c. London 1614,’ 4to. in two sheets, pen’d I presume by Chapman.” We may readily suppose that a dedication to such persons would be cavilled at, but Chapman (as is generally the case in his Prefaces) had anticipated objections, and had therefore addressed one preface of this work to “the prejudicate and peremptory reader,” to whom he says, “’twill be most ridiculous and pleasing, to sit in a corner, and spend your teeth to the stumps in mumbling an old sparrow till your lips bleed and your eyes water: when all the faults you can find are first in yourselves, ’tis no Herculean labour to cracke what you breede.” According to Mr. Payne Collier, Somerset himself had conceived that “Andromeda Liberata” was a covert attack upon him, and from this notion Chapman was anxious to relieve himself. It does not appear when Carr became Chapman’s patron, but in the early part of this year (1614) appeared the first Twelve Books of the Odyssey also dedicated to him. It is to be feared Chapman was suffering under the pressure of poverty at this period, for in this Dedication he says:—

“Twelve labours of your Thespian Hercules

I now present your Lordship; do but please

To lend life means, till th’ other twelve receive

Equal achievement.”

Somerset’s patronage of Chapman, whatever it may have been, met with no unworthy return: for the distressed poet of 1614, when the royal favourite was still basking in the declining sunshine of his career, did not forget him when that sun had set. On November 2, 1614, is an entry in the Stationers’ Register to Nathaniel Butter of “Twenty-four Bookes of Homer’s Odisses by George Chapman,” and the complete translation appeared with the old dedication. Besides which, some years after, when the Earl was living in obscurity, the Hymns and Batrachomyomachia are inscribed to him in a noble strain, which xxxix reflects great credit on Chapman’s goodness of heart, however we may lament the unworthiness of the subject of his panegyric. In this same year (1614) also appeared “Eugenia; or True Nobilities Trance, For the memorable death of the thrice noble and religious William Lord Russel, &c. Divided into foure vigils of the nighte.” 4to. pp. 44, not numbered. (See Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. II. p. 57.)

In 1616 he published his Translation of Musæus. He informs us in the Preface that it is a different work to the continuation of Marlowe’s poem. This extremely rare volume, not two inches long and scarcely one broad, is fully described by Dr. Bliss in vol. II. col. 9, of his admirable edition of Wood’s “Athenæ Oxonienses.” The only known copy is in the Bodleian. It is dedicated to his “Auncient poore friende” Inigo Jones. I had the great gratification of reprinting it in the fifth volume of the present edition of Chapman’s Trans­lations. In 1616 he also published the Iliad and Odyssey collected into one volume, which will be noticed hereafter. “The Georgics of Hesiod, translated elaborately out of the Greek,” appeared in a thin 4to. London, 1618. This volume is so rare that Warton was not aware of its existence. It is amusing to see how pertinaciously he refused to believe that it had been printed, although he discovered its entry in the Stationers’ Registers (Hist. English Poetry, III. 360. ed. 1840). Elton, who, from his own noble version of Hesiod, was a competent judge, pronounces it “close, vigorous, and elegant.” (Habington’s “Castara,” p. 155. ed. Elton, Bristol, 1812.) It has commendatory verse by Ben Jonson and Drayton, and is dedicated to Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor, who had been a student of Gray’s Inn, which gave Chapman the opportunity of punning: “All judgments of this season (savouring anything the truth) preferring to the wisdom of all other nations these most wise, learned, and circularly-spoken Grecians; according to that of the poet



And why may not this Romane elogie of the Graians extend in praisefull xl intention (by waie of prophetick poesie) to Graies-Inne wits and orators?” From the extreme rarity of Chapman’s Hesiod,26 its price is usually great. It has been reprinted, however, in our fifth volume above mentioned, with a facsimile of the original title.

In 1619 was printed “Two Wise Men, and all the rest Fooles,” a comedy, or as the title styles it, “A Comical Moral, censuring the Follies of this Age.” There is a peculiarity about this play, if it may be so called, which is remarkable. It is extended to seven acts, instead of five. “It is, however, on tradition only that this piece is ranked among Chapman’s writings; it being published without any author’s name, or even so much as a mention of the place where it was printed.” (Biograph. Dramat.) In 1622 we have a small poem, “Pro Vere Autumni Lachrymæ” to the memory of Sir Horatio Vere. In 1629 appeared “A justification of a strange action of Nero in burying with a solemne Funerall one of the cast hayres of his Mistress Poppæa; also a just reproofe of a Roman Smellfeast, being the fifth Satyre of Juvenall.” The version of Juvenal is spirited, and will be found reprinted in our above-mentioned fifth volume. At what time he published “The Crowne of all Homer’s Workes; Batracho­myomachia; or the Battaile of Frogs and Mise. Translated according to the originall by George Chapman. London. Printed by John Bill, his Maiesties Printer,” cannot now be precisely determined. Mr. Singer (who printed an elegant edition of it in 1818, Chiswick) says it would seem to have been after 1624, by comparing it with other books by the same printer. The volume, a thin folio, very rare, containing also the Hymns of Homer, will be noticed hereafter. In 1631, Chapman printed “Cæsar and Pompey, a Roman Tragedy, concerning their Warres. Out of whose events is evicted this Proposition: xli Only a just Man is a free Man.” This play is dedicated to the Earl of Middlesex, and does not seem to have been intended for the stage.27 This was the last of Chapman’s works that appeared in his lifetime.

“At length,” says old Anthony Wood, “this most eminent and reverend poet, having lived 77 years28 in this vain and transitory world, made his last exit in the Parish of St. Giles’ in the Fields, near London, on the twelfth day of May, in sixteen hundred and thirty four, and was buried in the yard on the south side of the Church of St. Giles. Soon after was a monument erected over his grave, built after the way of the old Romans, by the care and charge of his most beloved friend Inigo Jones; whereon is engraven, Georgius Chapmanus, poeta Homericus, Philosophus verus (etsi Christianus poeta) plusquam Celebris, &c.” Le Neve also gives us the inscription on the monument: “D.O.M. Here lyes George Chapman, a Christian Philosopher and Homericall Poett; he liv’d 77 yeeres, and died ye 12 of May 1634, for whose worth and memory to posterity, Inigo Jones Architect to the King, for antient friendshipp made this.” Le Neve’s information was from Peter Le Neve’s (Norroy’s) MSS. Misled by a letter from “Myrtilla Glovestring” to Sylvanus Urban in 1737 (Gentleman’s Magazine vol. VII.), and by the assertion of Sir Egerton Brydges, in the first edition I stated that this monument was destroyed with the old church. It is, however, still standing on the south side of the present church, and the inscription, which had been effaced by time, was recut under the direction of the rector (the Rev. J. Endell Tyler, ὁ μακαρίτης) xlii and churchwardens some years since. The present inscription does not tally with that recorded by Wood and Le Neve, and if their account be true, contains a strange anachronism.29



MDCXX (sic)







D. S. P. F. C.

The monument is a small upright stone, similar to many Roman monumental remains. Habington, who published his “Castara” in the year of Chapman’s death, has the following lines (p. 155. ed. Elton):—

Tis true that Chapman’s reverend ashes must

Lye rudely mingled with the vulgar dust,

’Cause carefull heyers the wealthy only have,

To build a glorious trouble o’re the grave.

Yet doe I not despaire some one may be

So seriously devout to poesie,

As to translate his reliques, and find roome

In the warme church to build him up a tombe,

Since Spenser hath a stone, &c.”

Habington’s pious wish, we are sure, will find an echo in many a breast. The great Translator of Homer deserves a record in the aisles of Westminster, as his respectable character forms a happy contrast to many less-deserving recipients of that honour.

After Chapman’s death appeared, in 1639, “The Tragedy of Chalot, Admiral of France,” written conjointly with Shirley. The reviewer of Mr. Dyce’s edition of Shirley’s works (Quarterly Review, xliii vol. XLIX. p. 29) says: “In the fine and eloquent tragedy of Chabot, the obscurity of Chapman’s manner, the hardness of which his contem­poraries call his ‘full and heightened style,’ is greatly increased by the incorrectness of the press.30 This play, as bearing the name of Shirley in its title-page conjoined with that of Chapman, ought not to have been omitted; yet it is very difficult to assign any part of it to Shirley; even the comic scenes are more in Chapman’s close and pregnant manner, than in the light and airy style of Shirley.” In the same year (1639) was published “The Ball,” a comedy, by Chapman and Shirley. “Revenge for Honour,” a tragedy, by Chapman alone, was published in 1654, 1659, 4to.; and in the same year “The Tragedy of Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany.” Dr. Bliss mentions five plays in MS. which were in the library of the late Richard Heber, Esq., “The Fountain of New Fashions,” 1598; “The Will of a Woman,” 1598; “The Fatal Love,” a tragedy; “Tragedy of a Yorkshire Gentleman;” and “The Second Maiden’s Tragedy.” This last was published as No. I. of “The Old English Drama,” London, 1825. From the same authority (and from Sir Egerton Brydges’ “Restitut”) we are informed that there are poems by Chapman in “Poetical Essays on the Turtle and Phœnix,” published, with others on the same subject, by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Marston, at the end of “Love’s Martyr, or Rosalind’s Complaint,” 4to. 1601; a volume of exquisite rarity.

Such are the few details of Chapman’s long and laborious life, consisting, after all, of a mere catalogue of his works—and what do we know more of many of his great contem­poraries? The editions of his Homer will be considered by themselves. From the writings of his contem­poraries, and from the gossip of Antony Wood, as well as from incidental allusions in his own works, we are enabled to gather a few unconnected circumstances, which only make us desire to know more of him. As a dramatic writer, he has been frequently criticised, and xliv cannot be placed in the foremost rank. But we should not forget he was one of the earliest purveyors for the public taste. His style, in his original works, is intensely crabbed and confused, yet “as a poetical imaginer and thinker, far too little attention has been paid to him.” (Edinb. Rev. vol. LXXII. p. 226.) Even as a writer for the stage, he attained great popularity in his day. The writings of his contem­poraries are full of allusions to him. He is much quoted in “England’s Parnassus,” by R. Allott, 12mo. 1600. In Thomas Freeman’s Epigrams (4to. 1616, Pt. 2nd, Epig. 87) is the following:


George, it is thy genius innated,

Thou pick’st not flowers from another’s field,

Stol’n similes, or sentences translated,

Nor seekest but what thine owne soile doth yielde:

Let barren wits go borrow what to write,

’Tis bred and born with thee what thou inditest,

And our Comedians thou outstrippest quite,

And all the hearers more than all delightest,

With unaffected style and sweetest strain.

Thy inambitious pen keeps on her pace,

And cometh near’st the ancient comic vein.

Thou hast beguil’d us all of that sweet grace;

And were Thalia to be sold and bought,

No Chapman but thyself were to be sought.”

The following verses too, cited by Mr. Singer from “The Scourge of Folly, by John Davies of Hereford,” supposed to be printed about the year 1611, contain pleasing testimony to the estimation in which he was held, and also evidence of his straitened circumstances; but, if the date of the book be correct, both his patrons could then have assisted him, as the death of Prince Henry did not occur till the close of the following year, and Somerset was then in the zenith of favour.


“I know thee not, good George, but by thy pen,

For which I rank thee with the rarest men.

And in that rank I put thee in the front,

Especially of Poets of account,


Who art the treasurer of that company,

But in thy hand too little coin doth lie.

For of all arts that now in London are,

Poets get least in uttering their ware.

But thou hast in thy head and heart and hand

Treasures of art that treasures can command.

Ah! would they could! then should thy wealth and wit

Be equal; and a lofty fortune fit.

But, George, thou wert accurst, and so was I,

To be of that most blessed company.

For if the most are blest that most are crost,

Then Poets, I am sure, are blessed most.

Yet we with rhyme and reason trim the times,

Though they give little reason for our rhymes.

The reason is (else error blinds my wits)

They reason want to do what honour fits.

But let them do as please them, we must do

What Phœbus, sire of Art, moves Nature to.”

It is to his Homer, however, we must look for his greatest reputation. Immediately on the publication of his “Seven Books,” in 1598, were his praises resounded. In Fitz-Geffrey’s “Affaniæ,” Oxon, 1601, p. 88, are two Epigrams, “Ad Homerum e Græciâ in Britanniam a Georgia Chapmanno traductum;” and in “The Passionate Poet; with a description of the Thracian Ismarus.” By T. P. (Thomas Powell) we read—

“Out on thee, foole! blind of thy impotence,

Thou dost admire but in a popular sense,

Esteeming more a Pasquil’s harsher lines

Than Iliad’s worth, which Chapman’s hand refines.”

(See Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. iii. p. 169). Bolton, in his “Hypercritica” (p. 246, ed. Haslewood), mentions Chapman’s “first seaven bookes of Iliades” amongst good writers of English style; and again (p. 250) he says, “brave language are Chapman’s Iliades, those I mean which are translated into tessara-decasyllabons, or lines of fourteen syllables.” Ben Jonson, Drayton, William Browne, and others, contributed their testimonies; and Samuel Sheppard, in his “Six Bookes of Epigrams,” London, 1651, 12mo., has one which we will transcribe:—



What none before durst ever venture on

Unto our wonder is by Chapman done,

Who by his skill hath made Great Homer’s song

To vaile its bonnet to our English tongue,

So that the learned well may question it

Whether in Greek or English Homer writ?

O happy Homer, such an able pen

To have for thy translator, happier then

Ovid31 or Virgil,32 who beyond their strength

Are stretch’d, each sentence neare a mile in length.

But our renowned Chapman, worthy praise,

And meriting the never-blasted bayes,

Hath render’d Homer in a genuine sence,

Yea, and hath added to his eloquence:

And in his comments his true sence doth show,

Telling Spondanus what he ought to know.

Eustathius, and all that on them take

Great Homer’s misticke meaning plain to make,

Yeeld him more dark with farr-fetcht allegories,

Sometimes mistaking clean his learned stories:

As ’bout the flie Menelaus did inspire,

Juno’s retreate, Achilles’ strange desire;

But he to his own sence doth him restore,

And comments on him better than before

Any could do, for which (with Homer) wee

Will yeeld all honour to his memory.”

But it is needless to multiply quotations. Chapman’s personal character stood very high. Antony Wood describes him as “a person of most reverend aspect, religious and temperate, qualities rarely meeting in a poet.” Oldys in his MS. notes on Langbaine’s Dramatic Poets (British Museum) says, “Indeed his head was a poetical Treasury, Magazine, or Chronicle, of whatsoever was memorable amongst the poets of his time, which made him latterly much resorted to by young gentlemen of good taste and education. But he was choice of his company, shy of loose, shallow, and sordid associates, and preserved in his own conduct the true dignity of Poetry, which he compared to the Flower of the Sun, that disdains to open its leaves to the eye of a smoking taper.”


Wood thinks he had some small appointment in the household of King James, or his consort Queen Anne; but researches in the State Paper Office and other sources have failed to throw any light on this point. With all the respect and admiration that Chapman enjoyed from his contem­poraries, it is clear, from many passages in his writings, that he could not escape the breath of envy. In the Preface to Homer we find the following: “But there is a certain envious windsucker, that hovers up and down, laboriously engrossing all the air with his luxurious ambition; and buzzing into every ear my detraction, affirming I turn Homer out of the Latin only, &c. I have stricken, single him as you can.” It is generally supposed that this allusion is to Ben Jonson. Mr. Gifford of course zealously defends Jonson, and with great show of reason. It is certain that if Jonson and Chapman had quarrelled at this period (1611) they were subsequently on terms again in 1618, for Jonson wrote the following commendatory verses in the translation of “Hesiod,” published in that year:—

“If all the vulgar tongues, that speak this day,

Were ask’d of thy discoveries, they must say

To the Greek coast thine only knew the way.

Such passage hast thou found, such returns made,

As now of all men it is call’d thy trade,

And who make thither else rob, or invade.”

Jonson in his conversations with Drummond declared that “he loved Chapman!” It cannot however be denied that Jonson was generally reputed to be envious of his successful contem­poraries, and there is a tradition that Chapman was one of those marked out for his special envy. That there had been a quarrel at some period between him and Chapman is evident from some lines by the latter cited by Mr. Gifford from a MS. in the Ashmole Collection, with the following title, “An Invective against Ben Jonson by Mr. George Chapman.”

“Greate-learned wittie Ben, be pleased to light

The world with that three-forked fire; nor fright

All us, the sublearn’d, with Luciferus’ boast

That thou art most great, learn’d, of all the earth


As being a thing betwixt a humane birth

And an infernal; no humanitye

Of the divine soule shewing man in thee, &c.”

“Chapman,” adds Mr. Gifford, “(whom I am unwilling to believe guilty of this malicious trash) died, I fear, poor and neglected.” In another poem among the Ashmole Papers, inscribed “The Genius of the Stage deploring the death of Ben Jonson,” after noticing the general sorrow, the writer says:—

——“Why do Apollo’s sons

Meet in such throngs, and whisper as they go?

There are no more by sad affliction hurl’d,

And friends’ neglect, from this inconstant world!

Chapman alone went so; he that’s now gone

Commands him tomb; he, scarce a grave or stone.”

This does not, however, agree with the fact of Inigo Jones placing a monument “built after the way of the old Romans” over his friend. With the exception of the “envious windsucker” (whoever he may have been) it has been seen that Chapman was universally esteemed by his contem­poraries, and he well deserved it, not only for the fame of his talents, but from the admirable character Wood and Langbaine have given of him, a character which seems borne out by Drayton, who speaks of him

“As reverend Chapman, who hath brought to us

Musæus, Homer, and Hesiodus.”

I trust that this fact may give additional pleasure to the reader as he peruses “Old George’s” fine Trans­lations.

But I cannot conclude without citing a rather unexpected testimony to the fame of “mine ancient friend,” praise which, I am sure, amply repays him for the envy of that “castrill, with too hot a liver and lust after his own glory, who, to devour all himself, discourageth all appetites to the fame of another.” Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the well-known American writer, during the past year33 (1856) published a work xlix entitled “English Traits,” in which the merits and failings of this our native country are freely discussed.

In p. 26, under the Chapter on “Race,” I find the following— “How came such men as King Alfred and Roger Bacon, William of Wykeham, Walter Raleigh, Philip Sydney, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, George Chapman, Francis Bacon, George Herbert, Henry Vane, to exist here?” Reader, little did I think to introduce Master Chapman to you in such company, but there he is walking arm in arm with Shakespeare and Bacon! Mr. Emerson asks of these great men “what food they ate, what nursing, school, and exercises they had, which resulted in this mother-wit, delicacy of thought, and robust wisdom?” Alas! poor George’s “robust wisdom,” as we have seen, was not produced by quantity or quality of food. Again, in p. 144, we have a criticism on English Poetry—“Pope and his school wrote poetry fit to put round frosted cake. What did Walter Scott write without stint?—a rhymed traveller’s guide to Scotland. And the libraries of verses they print have this Birmingham character. How many volumes of well-bred metre we must jingle through before we can be filled, taught, renewed! We want the miraculous; the beauty which we can manufacture at no mill—can give no account of; the beauty of which Chaucer and Chapman had the secret!” O! reverend Chapman, full well did thy prophetic spirit foresee this two-fold tribute of “brother Jonathan” when thou didst put on the title of “Homer’s Odysseys,”

At mihi quod vivo detraxerit Invida Turba,

Post obitum duplici fœnore reddet Honos.

It only remains for us to give an account of Chapman’s various Trans­lations of Homer.

Though Chapman claims the merit of being the first who gave an original and complete version of Homer, he had been anticipated in the honour of introducing him to the English reader. In 1581 Ten Books of the Iliad were translated from the French metrical version of l M. Salel (1555) by A. H. or Arthur Hall, Esq. of Grantham, and a Member of Parliament, and printed by Ralph Newberie at London. It is in the fourteen-syllable metre; and, in the Dedication to Sir Thomas Cecil, Hall compliments the distinguished translators of the day, Phaier, Golding, and others. He mentions that he began the work about 1563, under the advice of Roger Ascham. It is a small 4to. in black letter, and exceedingly rare.

Chapman’s first essay towards his version was in 1598, when he printed “Seaven Bookes of the Iliades of Homere, &c.” 4to. “printed by John Windet, and are to be sold at the signe of the Cross Keyes neare Paules Wharffe.” This volume has already been described above (p. xxviii). It rarely occurs for sale. Mr. Joseph Lilley, of New Street, Covent Garden, in his interesting catalogue of 1863, marks a copy, bound in olive morocco by C. Lewis, at £7 7s.Achilles’ Shield, translated as the other Seven Bookes of Homer, out of his Eighteenth booke of Iliades. By George Chapman, Gent.” 4to. 1598, also printed by Windet. This small and rare volume has also been described above. The version is in the ordinary ten-syllable metre. “Homer, Prince of Poets, translated according to the Greeke in Twelve Books of his Iliads, by George Chapman. At London, printed for Samuel Matcham,” folio. It has been shewn (p. xxxvi) that this small folio must have been published in 1609, as Windet transferred to Matcham the copyright of the Seven Books on November 14, 1608, and one of the Sonnets in the folio is addressed to Lord Treasurer Salisbury, which office was conferred on him May 4, 1609. It is a rare volume. Mr. Payne Collier’s copy with Chapman’s autograph has already been described.

The complete version of the Iliad appeared without date, “printed for Nathaniell Butter,” but from an entry in the Stationers’ Books, and internal evidence, it must have been published in 1611, or early in 1612. The entry in the Stationers’ Registers is “Nathl Butter, April 8, 1611. A booke called Homer’s Iliades in Englishe, containing 24 Bookes.” Chapman tells us, in the Commentary on the li First Book, that he had entirely rewritten the two first Books, but had left the VIIth, VIIIth, IXth, and Xth untouched. I do not find much correction, except a few verbal alterations, in the others. He mentions that he had translated the last twelve in less than fifteen weeks, and considers these the best portion of his work. To this edition he added the Prose Preface to the Reader, and the Commentaries on various Books, to obviate the accusation that had been made against him that he did not translate direct from the original Greek, but through the medium of the Latin. These Commentaries do not tend to raise the estimate of his scholarship; yet I think it evident from his version that he really did understand and thoroughly feel the Greek. Three of the Sonnets (those to the Lady Arabella, who had fallen into disgrace in 1609, to the Lord Wotton, and to Lord Arundel) were withdrawn, and five newly added. The volume (though not mentioned in the title) was printed by Richard Field, and is upon a fine paper, with good clear type, and very antiquated ortho­graphy. This is the first folio so often mentioned in the following pages. The fine engraved title, by William Hole, was the same as that of the folio of 1609, on an enlarged scale.

The Twelve First Books of the Odyssey appeared in 1614, with a dedication to Carr, Earl of Somerset. It is a thin folio. In the Douce Collection is a copy with Chapman’s autograph: “For my righte worthie Knighte, my exceeding noble friende, Sir Henry Fanshawe. A pore Homericall new yeare’s gift.” At the end of the Twelfth Book is “Finis duodecimi libri Horn. Odyss. Opus novem dierum. Σὺν Θεῷ.” I can hardly imagine that Chapman meant by this that he had translated the Twelve Books in nine days; which would be incredible, and as Coleridge observes (in a MS. note to his copy mentioned below) would “indeed be a nine days’ wonder,” but probably the poet meant that the last book was the work of nine days. Chapman, however, in the Douce copy has run his pen through the words. The remaining Twelve Books were finished in the same year, and published probably in 1615, as the entry in the Stationers’ lii Register is “November 2. 1614 Twenty-four Bookes of Homer’s Odisses by George Chapman to Nathaniell Butter.” When the last twelve Books were printed they were united with the previous twelve, a blank page being inserted between them, and the pagination was continued to give the volume the appearance of being printed at one and the same time. There is an observable difference, however, which we have preserved in our edition; the conclusions of the first twelve books are in Latin, while those of the latter part of the volume are in English. I presume the complete volume of the Odyssey appeared in a separate form, although I have never met with a copy which was not united with the Iliad, to form “The Whole Works of Homer, &c.”

The engraved title to the Odyssey, reproduced in our edition, is very rare. To some copies a printed title is given. Coleridge, in his letter to Wordsworth (suprà, p. xvi.) thought Chapman’s version of the Odyssey finer than his Iliad; but then it must be remembered he also generally preferred the Odyssey in the original. “He told us,” says Mr. Payne Collier, “that he liked the Odyssey, as a mere story, better than the Iliad; the Odyssey was the oldest and the finest romance that has ever been written.”34 The same authority informs us that he preferred the ordinary ten-syllable heroic measure to the longer fourteen-syllable line, employed by Chapman in his translation of the Iliad, and wished that he had always used it, as “it would have been more readable, and might have saved us from Pope.” “Chapman had failed,” added Coleridge, “where he had not succeeded, by endeavouring to write English as Homer had written Greek; Chapman’s was Greekified English,—it did not want vigour or variety, but smoothness and facility. Detached passages could not be improved; they were Homer writing English.” The late Dr. Maginn, whose Homeric Ballads have caught the true spirit of the old bard, says: “I am sorry that Chapman, whose version must be considered the most Homeric ever attempted in our language, did not apply to the Odyssey liii the fourteen-syllable verse, which had succeeded so well in the Iliad. There appears to me greater opportunity for its flowing use in the more discursive poem; and Chapman had by no means the same command of the ten-syllable distich.” There is some truth in this; and perhaps many readers will share in Dr. Maginn’s disappointment. Chapman, however, probably yielded to the objections made against the length of his lines, to which he alludes in his Introductory Poem to the Iliad. But it is surely a mistake to say he had not command over the ordinary heroic couplet! He has certainly not the epigrammatic smoothness of Pope and his school, but his verse has great vigour and terseness. It should be borne in mind that his Odyssey is the first and only considerable specimen of a poem of this measure in the Elizabethan age, and as such claims our interest and attention. “It is like the heroic measure only in its rhyme and its number of syllables. In all other respects, in the hands of Chapman, it has the freedom of blank verse. And in reading it, as well as the Iliad, the reader must not depend for aid too much on the melody of the verse.”35 Again, let it be remembered that “Chapman did not perform his task, as Pope was in the habit of doing, by small portions at a time, which were, each in order, burnished up to the highest polish by unremitting care and labour; but drinking in deep draughts of his author at a time, he became over-informed with his subject, and then breathed his spirit forth again with the enthusiasm of an original creator.”36 And if this be true of the liberties he takes with his original in expanding and contracting the text as suited his vein, it is not less true of his versification. He paid little regard to the polishing of his work; nay, perhaps, too little. He poured forth his sentiments as the poetic phrenzy seized him, and consequently, if we be disappointed at not finding the rich melody of a Dryden, we cannot but be struck with his unwonted freshness and freedom. When once the ear has become habituated to the rhythm, there is a dramatic power about Chapman’s Odyssey that has never been attained by any subsequent translator. It may be said that this was liv not required in a simple ballad-poem like the Odyssey; but it is surely far preferable to the diluted weakness passing under Pope’s name, or Cowper’s abrupt lines. Gilbert Wakefield has said that “the bee of Twickenham” sipped the honey from the flowers of Chapman’s garden; but a close examination will show that this was merely another phrase for simple plagiarism. Pope was indebted to Chapman for more than he was willing to acknowledge. It must not be disguised, however, that in his version of the Odyssey, Chapman has too frequently wandered from his original, and not seldom curtailed passages.

In 1616 the Iliad and Odyssey were united in one volume. The Title-page by Hole, which had previously served for the edition of the Iliad, was altered to The Whole Works of Homer, &c. as accompanies this our edition. At the back of the title was affixed the fine portrait of Chapman, and another engraved plate (which was not worth reproducing) was added, “To the immortall memorye of Henrye Prince of Wales, &c.” In some copies of “The Whole Works,” the Iliad is found of a later impression. The paper is thin and poor, the type bleared and inelegant, and the ortho­graphy somewhat modernized; it is, moreover, disfigured by many misprints; judging from the general appearance of the volume, it is considerably later in date than 1616.37 I have never yet met with a copy which was separate from the Odyssey. This Edition, if I may so term it, differs in some few places from the first complete Iliad. I have called it in the following pages the second folio. I hazard the conjecture that it may have been printed to bind up with the surplus copies of the Odyssey, as the Iliad had been in circulation for the five preceding years. Dr. Cooke Taylor printed from this copy, but whether he was aware that it differed from the first folio is uncertain; he simply says he had adopted the “third Edition, in which were many valuable corrections.” The two folios have been most accurately collated, and the chief variations noted by me, and the reader will judge of the lv value of this third impression. I must apologize for using the terms first and second folios, but could not well apply the word Edition, as I refer solely to the complete version, there having been two previous editions of portions of the Iliad. The folios may be easily distinguished, from their general appearance; and from the vignettes or headings to the books, those of Richard Field’s (or the best copy) being cornucopiæ of flowers, &c. while the inferior impression has a sort of Gothic ornament. The Grenville copy, in the British Museum, is the second folio, while that in the General Library is of the first impression. The portrait of Chapman is usually affixed to the back of the title of the “Whole Works of Homer,” &c. but this is not always the case. At first I suspected that the copies of Chapman’s Homer were corrected as the press was kept standing (as is well known to have been the case with early-printed books) as there are several minute differences, and that the portrait was added to the later worked-off copies; on second consideration, however, I am of opinion that there was no new impression of either the Iliad or Odyssey in 1616 (the date of the portrait), but the editions of the Iliad, 1611, and the Odyssey, 1614-15, were bound up in one volume with a new and general title. The titles without the portrait are far rarer than those with it.

In the Heber Catalogue, part iv. lot 1445, was a copy of the Iliad. It had belonged to George Steevens, and was bought at Heber’s sale by the late Mr. Rodd. Park, in a note to vol. iii. of Warton’s History of English Poetry, p. 358 (ed. 1840), says that “Chapman’s own copy of his translation of Homer, corrected by him throughout for a future edition, was purchased for five shillings from the shop of Edwards by Mr. Steevens, and at the sale of his books in 1800 was transferred to the invaluable library of Mr. Heber.” This is, however, not quite correct; I have traced the volume, and it is now in the magnificent library of Robert Holford, Esq. M.P. of Dorchester House; it is a fine volume of the Iliad of 1611, in red morocco of the period. At the back of the title is in Chapman’s autograph, “In witness of his best love so borne to his best deserving friende Mr. Henrye Jones: lvi George Chapman gives him theise fruites of his best labors, and desires love betwixt us as long-lived as Homer.” The corrections are merely three or four in the Preface, which may be here specified. In page lxxxvi of this present edition, lines 6, 7, the words “how could they differ far from, and be combined with eternity” are pasted over, and “how could they defie fire, iron, and &c.” substituted in a printed slip. In p. xc, line 13, “to cast any rubs or plasters,” Chapman has run his pen through this word and substituted plashes. In the same page, in the last line, “and therefore may my poor self put up with motion,” is corrected to “without motion.” In book VIII, line 437,

“And all did wilfully expect the silver-throned morn.”

George Steevens remarks that the 4to. of 1598 reads “wishfully,” a variation which we have adopted. Thus we see upon what slight grounds Mr. Park asserted that it was “Chapman’s own copy, corrected by him throughout for a future edition!” The volume has three additional Sonnets (see “Sonnets” at the end of vol. ii. of this edition). Though this is a fine volume, it is not unique; I was fortunate enough to purchase a similar copy (though not in morocco), with the same corrections in the Preface and the additional Sonnets, but without Chapman’s presentation autograph. Mr. Aldis Wright informs me that there is a copy in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, with the corrections in the Preface entirely in MS. (i.e. without the printed slip, “defie fire, iron,” &c.) and with the three Sonnets. When this Introduction was originally written Pope’s copy of the Iliad was in the possession of my friend, the late Rev. John Mitford; it was a most interesting volume, having Pope’s autograph, “Ex libris Alexandri Popei, Pret. 3s.” and marked in the margins by him. It subsequently belonged to Bishop Warburton, who gave it to Thomas Warton. It was shown to me lately by Mr. Joseph Lilly, who marked it at the very moderate price of £16 16s. Mr. Lilly also showed me, marked at £15 15s. the identical copy of the Whole Works—Iliad, Odyssey, and Hymns,—which Coleridge sent to Wordsworth, and which I have mentioned in this Introduction; lvii it was full of Coleridge’s MS. Notes. Surely such precious volumes ought to be deposited in the British Museum, or in one of our University Libraries.

Having completed the Iliad and Odyssey, Chapman seems to have been determined to translate every possible or probable portion of Homer. Hence he published, “The Crowne of all Homer’s Workes, Batrachomyomachia; or, the Battaile of Frogs and Mise. His Hymnes and Epigrams. Translated according to the Originall, by George Chapman. London: Printed by John Bill, his Maiestie’s Printer.”38 This very rare volume is a thin folio; it has an exquisitely engraved title, by William Pass, which is very spirited, and called forth Coleridge’s admiration.39 Of this folio a singularly large copy is in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth; the finest I have seen.

Messrs. Boone of Bond Street, whose collection of fine books is as well known as the liberality with which they communicate information on them, have permitted me to transcribe a dedication, in Chapman’s autograph, from a beautiful copy in their possession (since sold). It is as follows:—“In love & honor of ye Righte virtuouse and worthie Gent: Mr Henry Reynolds, and to crowne all his deservings with eternall memorie, Geo. Chapman formes this Crowne conclusion of all the Homericall meritts wth his accomplisht Improvements; advising that if at first sighte he seeme darcke or too fierie, He will yet holde him fast (like Proteus) till he appere in his propper similitude, and he will then shewe himselfe

—vatem egregium, cui non sit publica vena,

Qui nihil expositum soleat deducere; nec qui

Communi feriat carmen triviale monetâ.”40

Chapman has with his pen made an alteration in his portrait, as possessing too much beard; and in the Preface, in the passage “all for lviii devouring a mouse,” he writes drowning; and in the final Poem (line 17) for

All is extuberance and excretion all,

he reads “and tumor all.”

The date of the folio is probably about 1624. In the year 1818, my friend the late Mr. Singer published an elegant edition of these Hymns, &c. at Chiswick. It contained two fine original poems by Chapman (first printed 1594) entitled “The Shadowe of Night: containing two poetical hymnes, devised by G. C. Gent.” It formed one of Mr. Singer’s series of “Select Early English Poets,” and has long since been numbered amongst scarce books, as but a limited impression was given. The original edition of “The Shadowe of Night” is very rare.

After the lapse of more than two centuries appeared an edition of Chapman’s Iliad in two volumes, 8vo. London, 1843. It was elegantly printed, adorned with the beautiful designs of Flaxman, and edited by Dr. William Cooke Taylor. The Preface, Prefatory Poems, and Sonnets were omitted. I have no wish to criticise this book, but will merely observe that the editor followed, as will be seen, an inferior copy, and has paid little or no regard to the punctuation, which is almost as confused as that of the original folios. The Life of Chapman is full of the most patent errors. Nevertheless Dr. Taylor deserves our sincere thanks for being the first to bring this noble work before the public since the days of the Author.

The leading features of the present edition are these. The text of the first folio of 1611 has been adopted, and the variations of the second folio, and Dr. Taylor’s edition, duly noted. The lines have been numbered for facility of reference, the speeches placed between inverted commas, and the punctuation throughout the whole work most carefully amended. The original folios of Chapman’s Homer are so falsely printed as frequently to render the sense absolutely unintel­ligible. In correcting the punctuation the Editor carefully read the lix text through with the original Greek, and chiefly in the old folio edition of Spondanus, as Chapman used that copy. The ortho­graphy has been modernized, but great care has been taken not to lose sight of the original forms, the landmarks as it were, of our language. Wherever a word appears in its more etymo­logical form it is preserved, e.g. renowm, nosthril; but Chapman does not adhere to one rule, and he more frequently spells the words renown, nostril. A few explanatory notes have been given, but the chief aim has been to set before the reader as correct a text as possible. The Sonnets at the end of the second volume have been illustrated by brief biographical notices, and their number increased by the restoration of three from the small folio of 1609, and the insertion of three others from choice copies of the first folio of 1611.

The reader is requested to correct with a pen the “Addenda et Corrigenda,” on the following page.




This page is included for completeness; all listed corrections have been made in the text. The final column shows what was originally printed, where it isn’t clear from Hooper’s wording. In some cases, the printed page was already correct.

The Addenda and Corrigenda page was printed as a single run-in paragraph, except for the two verse additions. Each correction ended with a semicolon or full stop, and each page or line reference ended with a comma. To avoid ambiguity, I have omitted this punctuation.

For text of changed or deleted linenotes, see below.

Place Change As Printed
page xxiv line 2 r. is the legend in the legend
page xli line 19 r. Misled Mislead
page lxix line 5 insert comma after attending
page lxxxviii line 22 seu ceu
page xciii last line r. ἄριστον ἄρισον
Book I 146 r. Peleüs Pelëus
261 r. Theseüs Thesëus
373 r. Atreüs Atreus
411 destroy comma after thrall already gone
586 r. ev’ry every
page 23 line 6 destroy all commas after opinion (lest I be prejudiced with opinion, to dissent, of ignorance, or singularity)
page 24 line 18 r. round-coming round coming
Book II 14 r. pow’rs powers
43 r. begun began
422 these r. those
423 r. Peleüs see below
440 r. ev’ry every
page 56 last line r. ἀπόδοσις ἀπόδσις
Book III
Argument line 5 for and r. with
13 r. for him still still for him
81 for and r. the
page 64 line 60 destroy note see below
page 67 [161n.] Spiny. This word is frequently used by Sandys in his Ovid, who seems to have read Chapman carefully.
127 r. ev’ry every
224 r. ev’ry every
Book IV 24 r. Heav’n’s Heav’ns
33 r. chariot-horse chariot horse
85 add to note:
Perhaps we should read exhall in a neuter sense, i.e., a thousand sparks exhall from his brand
528 add note—

“Like to a stepdame or a dowager,

Long withering out a young man’s revenue.”

Shakespeare, Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Act i. sc. 1.

533 r. prease press
Book V 307 r. prease press
361 r. him he
612 r. lighten’d light’ned
793 outray. Substitute for note:
The Old Anglo-Norman word used by Chaucer outraye, to fly out, display passion. See XXIII. 413.
out-ray and see below
Book VI 214 destroy this Alone through this his Aleian field
420 r. advertis’d advertís’d
Book VII 247 add note—

“O murd’rous slumber!

Lay’st thou thy leaden mace upon my boy,

That plays thee music?”

Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, Act iv. sc. 3.

Book VIII 136 for hast r. hadst
319 r. Eurystheüs Eurysthëus
Book IX 495 r. with wth
Book X 106 place ” after inur’d already present
Book XI 55 r. pow’r already correct
64 destroy this note, and substitute:
Opposed—striving with one another, pitted against one another. The original is ἐναντίοι ἀλλήλοισιν, which the Scholiast explains ἐρίζοντες ἀλλήλοις.
286 r. thicken’d already correct
299 r. even debates already correct
466 r. Disperpled = sprinkled. Od. X. 473. Dispurpled
Book XII 5 r. unras’d unrac’t
98 r. Paris and Alcathous Paris, Alcathous
Book XIII 619 destroy comma after Menestheus already gone
page 32 line 17 r. εὔστροφος εὒστροφος
Book XXII 341 note:
Whitleather, i.e., white leather; leather dressed with alum to give it toughness.
Book XXIII 538 note:
George Sandys in a marginal note to his Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Bk. V. p. 174 (ed. 1632), says a hurl-bat is “a weapon with plummets of lead hung at the end of a staff.” Again in Bk. VIII. p. 272, is a similar note, where he says “whorl-bats, plummets of lead hung at the end staves: weapons used in their solemn games.”
581 To the nail—exactly, accurately. Like the ad unguem of Horace (Sat. I. v. 32), and the in unguem of Virgil (Georg. II. 277).
Corrigenda to the Corrigenda

Like all good Addenda and Corrigenda sections, this one contains errors of its own. In a few places Hooper seems to have forgotten that there is already a note on the line in question.

page xciii, last line, r. ἄριστον:
printed r, with comma for full stop

II.423 r. Peleüs
The text says Penelëus, with the right number of syllables, so I corrected it to Peneleüs. Besides, the Greek—II.494—has Πηνέλεως.

III.60 deleted linenote:
A coat of tombstone— The expression to put on a coat of stone was a Greek mode of speaking of those who were stoned. Similarly to put on the earth (γαῖαν ἐφέσσασθαι) was a term for burial.

III.161 (page 67) linenote:
Hooper doesn’t say whether he wants the new text to come before, after or instead of the existing note, so I added it to the end.

Corrections for book XI were printed as two groups, each with its own book number; 64 came before all others including 55. Original linenote:
Opposed—standing opposite to one another for expedition’s sake.

The correction is printed in the right place, but labeled “XIII”; the next item is separately (and correctly) labeled “XII”.

XXII.341 original linenote in full:
Whitleather—i.e. white leather.

The book number is given twice, for lines 538 and 581.

XXIII.538 linenote:
As with III.161, it isn’t clear whether this note is meant to be an addition or a replacement, so I put it at the end of the existing note.


Footnotes to Hooper’s Introduction

1. Hazlitt’s “Lectures on the Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth” p. 12.

2. “Lives of Edward and John Philips,” p. 247. (London, 4to. 1815.)

3. Warton’s Hist. Engl. Poetry, vol. III. p. 332, ed. 1840.

4. Godwin, ut suprà, p. 245.

5. Fuller, in his “Worthies,” styles Philemon Holland “the Translator General of his age, so that those books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library for Historians, insomuch that one saith

Holland with translations doth so fill us

He will not let Suetonius be Tranquillus.”

Poor Philemon seems to have been in much distress in his old age. (See a very interesting extract from various MSS. in Sir E. Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. iii. p. 41.) The dates of his Trans­lations are as follows: Pliny, fol. 1601, fol. 1634; Plutarch’s Morals, fol. 1603, fol. 1657; Livy, fol. 1600, fol. 1659, fol. 1686; Suetonius, fol. 1606; Ammianus Marcellinus, fol. 1609; Xenophon’s Cyropædia, fol. 1632; Camden’s Britannia, fol. 1610, fol. 1637. Sir John Harington’s Ariosto was published fol. 1591; fol. 1607; fol. 1634. Paynter’s Palace of Pleasure was reprinted by Haslewood, 3 vols. 4to. 1813. Fenton’s Guicciardin was published fol. 1579, fol. 1599, and fol. 1618. The two first editions, I think, are identical, the title being merely altered. The editions of Fairfax’s Tasso I have met with are fol. 1600; fol. 1624; 8vo. 1687; 2 vols. 8vo. Dublin, 1726; 8vo. London, 1749; 8vo. 1817, 2 vols. by Knight, also in Knight’s shilling volumes; and a most beautiful edition in the original ortho­graphy by Mr. Singer, 2 vols. small 8vo. 1817.

6. Warton, ut suprà, p. 391.

7. Ut suprà, p. 240.

8. Literature of Europe, II. p. 130, ed. 1843.

9. By Professor Wilson.

10. Coleridge’s Literary Remains by Henry Nelson Coleridge, 4 vols. 8vo. 1836, vol. I. pp. 259-60-61.

11. The letters of Charles Lamb, by T. N. Talfourd, 2 vols. 8vo. 1837, vol. I. p. 236.

12. i.e. Pope’s own.

13. Preface to Chapman’s “Hymns of Homer” (Chiswick, 1818) p. xxi.

14. Samuel Daniel’s “Defence of Rhyme,” 1602.

15. The account of Chapman in Bliss’s Edition of Antony Wood is in inverted commas, which would lead one to suppose that it was a communication; but it seems to be generally quoted as Wood’s.

16. Rev. John Griffiths.

17. Rev. John Wilson, D.D.

18. In a small 4to. tract of thirty-two leaves, published in 1596, entitled “A relation of the Second Voyage to Guiana, perfourmed and written in the yeare 1596. By Lawrence Keymis, Gent.” is an English poem in blank verse, “De Guianâ Carmen Epicum, by G. C.” George Steevens, writing to Bishop Percy (Nicholl’s “Literary Illustrations,” vol. VII. p. 121) assigned this to Chapman, and it bears evidence of his style. It is interesting as an early specimen of blank verse. In the same volume is a short Latin poem, “Ad Thomam Hariotum Matheseos et universæ philosophiæ peritissimum, by L. K.” This was, doubtless, the M. Harriots to whom Chapman addressed a poem at the end of his translation of the “Shield of Achilles,” and who is mentioned in the Preface to the Iliad. Keymis’s Tract was reprinted by Hakluyt.

19. Henslowe’s Diary, p. 65 (Shakespeare Society).

20. Of this date also is the following memorandum in Henslowe, p. 191. “Be it knowen unto all men by thes presentes, that I George Chapman of London, gentleman, doe owe unto Mr Phillip Henslowe, of the parishe of St Saviours, gentleman, the some of xli xs of lawfull money of England. In witnesse whereof I have hereunto sett my hand, this xxiiijth of Octobr. 1598. Geo. Chapman.” The signature only is in the handwriting of Chapman.

21.The Fountain of New Fashions,” and “The Will of a Woman,” were in MS. in the late Mr. Heber’s library. Where are they now? If the “Will of a Woman” could be discovered, it would settle the question as to Haughton’s play, which was printed, in 1616, under the title, “Englishmen for my Money, or a Woman will have her Will,” and several times reprinted. Mr. Collier says it is an extremely good comedy. In the last old edition, 4to. 1631, the printer dropped the first part of the title, and reverted to the name it bears in Henslowe’s Diary. It was not given to any author till the discovery of Henslowe’s MS.

22. Reprinted, 4to. 1609, 4to. 1613, 4to. 1629, 4to. 1637; in Sir Egerton Brydges’ “Restituta,” vol. II.; in Mr. Singer’s “Select Early English Poets,” Chiswick, 1821; in Mr. Bell’s “Annotated Poets,” 1856; and in Mr. Dyce’s edition of Marlowe’s works.

23. Chapman’s name might have been known to Lord Salisbury not only from his literary fame, but from his connection with Hertfordshire.

24. Vol. V. p. 316.

25. Hist. of Dramatic Poetry, III. p. 257.

26. There are two copies in the Bodleian Library; that in the Malone Collection being large, though somewhat stained. There is also a fair one in the General Library of the British Museum. That in the Grenville has been much injured (as has my own) by the binder cutting into the notes, which are in the margin.

27. In the Biograph. Dram. “Cæsar and Pompey” is said to have been published in 4to. 1607, and to have been acted at the Blackfriars. This is probably a mistake.

28. Wood erroneously says Chapman was born in 1557. If the date of his death be true, he was only 75. The Rev. A. W. Thorold, the present Rector of St. Giles’ in the Fields, informs me that there is no Register of the Burials in that Parish between the years 1610 and 1637, so here again we are baffled in verifying a fact by the loss of records, a fatality which has attended all my enquiries into Chapman’s life.

29. In a late examination of the monument, I find that the stone slab, upon which the inscription is cut, is a late insertion, so probably the above is not a copy of the original inscription.

30. This remark applies equally to the original editions of his Homer, Hesiod, and all his works.

31. By Golding.

32. By Phaier.

33. This Introduction was originally written in 1857.

34. Coleridge’s “Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton,” by J. Payne Collier, Esq. p. xxxi.

35. Retrospective Review, vol. iii. p. 184.

36. Ibid. p. 173.

37. A writer in the “Gentleman’s Magazine,” vol. lvii. p. 300, states, I know not upon what authority, that “Chapman’s translation of Homer was likewise published 1620.” He does not mention what portion of Homer; probably it was the folio of the Hymns.

38. He considers it his destiny,—

“The work that I was born to do is done.”

39. It is reproduced in our fifth volume.

40. Juvenal, Sat. VII. 53.







The following verses are on an engraving of Two Corinthian Columns, on the dexter of which is Ilias, and on the sinister Odyssæa. On a scroll connecting the columns are the words


The whole surmounted by the Prince of Wales’s Plume and Motto.

This plate was added on the death of the Prince, and is found in most copies of the Iliad and Odyssey united. The design being inelegant, it was not thought worth re-engraving for this edition.



hy tomb, arms, statue, all things fit to fall

At foot of Death, and worship funeral,

Form hath bestow’d; for form is nought too dear

Thy solid virtues yet, eterniz’d here,

My blood and wasted spirits have only found

Commanded cost, and broke so rich a ground,

Not to inter, but make thee ever spring,

As arms, tombs, statues, ev’ry earthy thing,

Shall fade and vanish into fume before.

What lasts thrives least; yet wealth of soul is poor,

And so ’tis kept. Not thy thrice-sacred will,

Sign’d with thy death, moves any to fulfill

Thy just bequests to me. Thou dead, then I

Live dead, for giving thee eternity.

Ad Famam.

To all times future this time’s mark extend,

Homer no patron found, nor Chapman friend.

Ignotus nimis omnibus,

Sat notus moritur sibi.





ince perfect happiness, by Princes sought,

Is not with birth born, nor exchequers bought,

Nor follows in great trains, nor is possest

With any outward state, but makes him blest

5 That governs inward, and beholdeth there

All his affections stand about him bare,

That by his pow’r can send to Tower and death

All traitorous passions, marshalling beneath

His justice his mere will, and in his mind

10 Holds such a sceptre as can keep confin’d

His whole life’s actions in the royal bounds

Of virtue and religion, and their grounds

Takes in to sow his honours, his delights,

And complete empire; you should learn these rights,

15 Great Prince of men, by princely precedents,

Which here, in all kinds, my true zeal presents

To furnish your youth’s groundwork and first state,

And let you see one godlike man create


All sorts of worthiest men, to be contriv’d

20 In your worth only, giving him reviv’d

For whose life Alexander would have given

One of his kingdoms; who (as sent from heav’n,

And thinking well that so divine a creature

Would never more enrich the race of nature)

25 Kept as his crown his works, and thought them still

His angels, in all pow’r to rule his will;

And would affirm that Homer’s poesy

Did more advance his Asian victory,

29 Coleridge styles the lines from this to 61 “sublime.”

Than all his armies. O! ’tis wond’rous much,

30 Though nothing priz’d, that the right virtuous touch

Of a well written soul to virtue moves;

Nor have we souls to purpose, if their loves

Of fitting objects be not so inflam’d.

How much then were this kingdom’s main soul maim’d,

35 To want this great inflamer of all pow’rs

That move in human souls! All realms but yours

Are honour’d with him, and hold blest that state

That have his works to read and contemplate:

In which humanity to her height is rais’d,

40 Which all the world, yet none enough, hath prais’d;

Seas, earth, and heav’n, he did in verse comprise,

Out-sung the Muses, and did equalize

Their king Apollo; being so far from cause

Of Princes’ light thoughts, that their gravest laws

45 May find stuff to be fashion’d by his lines.

Through all the pomp of kingdoms still he shines,

And graceth all his gracers. Then let lie

Your lutes and viols, and more loftily

Make the heroics of your Homer sung,

50 To drums and trumpets set his angel’s tongue,


And, with the princely sport of hawks you use,

Behold the kingly flight of his high muse,

And see how, like the phœnix, she renews

Her age and starry feathers in your sun,

55 Thousands of years attending, ev’ry one

Blowing the holy fire, and throwing in

Their seasons, kingdoms, nations, that have been

Subverted in them; laws, religions, all

Offer’d to change and greedy funeral;

60 Yet still your Homer, lasting, living, reigning,

And proves how firm truth builds in poet’s feigning.

A prince’s statue, or in marble carv’d,

Or steel, or gold, and shrin’d, to be preserv’d,

Aloft on pillars or pyramides,

65 Time into lowest ruins may depress;

But drawn with all his virtues in learn’d verse,

Fame shall resound them on oblivion’s hearse,

Till graves gasp with her blasts, and dead men rise.

No gold can follow where true Poesy flies.

70 Then let not this divinity in earth,

Dear Prince, be slighted as she were the birth

Of idle fancy, since she works so high;

Nor let her poor disposer, Learning, lie

Still bed-rid. Both which being in men defac’d,

75 In men with them is God’s bright image ras’d;

For as the Sun and Moon are figures giv’n

Of his refulgent Deity in heav’n,

So Learning, and, her light’ner, Poesy,

In earth present His fiery Majesty.

80 Nor are kings like Him, since their diadems

Thunder and lighten and project brave beams,

But since they His clear virtues emulate,

In truth and justice imaging His state,


In bounty and humanity since they shine,

85 Than which is nothing like Him more divine;

Not fire, not light, the sun’s admiréd course,

The rise nor set of stars, nor all their force

In us and all this cope beneath the sky,

Nor great existence, term’d His treasury;

90 Since not for being greatest He is blest,

But being just, and in all virtues best.

What sets His justice and His truth best forth,

Best Prince, then use best, which is Poesy’s worth;

For, as great princes, well inform’d and deck’d

95 With gracious virtue, give more sure effect

To her persuasions, pleasures, real worth,

Than all th’ inferior subjects she sets forth;

Since there she shines at full, hath birth, wealth, state,

Pow’r, fortune, honour, fit to elevate

100 Her heav’nly merits, and so fit they are,

Since she was made for them, and they for her;

So Truth, with Poesy grac’d, is fairer far,

More proper, moving, chaste, and regular,

Than when she runs away with untruss’d Prose;

105 Proportion, that doth orderly dispose

Her virtuous treasure, and is queen of graces;

In Poesy decking her with choicest phrases,

Figures and numbers; when loose Prose puts on

Plain letter-habits, makes her trot upon

110 Dull earthly business, she being mere divine;

Holds her to homely cates and harsh hedge-wine,

That should drink Poesy’s nectar; ev’ry way

One made for other, as the sun and day,

Princes and virtues. And, as in a spring,

115 The pliant water, mov’d with anything


Let fall into it, puts her motion out

In perfect circles, that move round about

The gentle fountain, one another raising;

So Truth and Poesy work; so Poesy, blazing

120 All subjects fall’n in her exhaustless fount,

Works most exactly, makes a true account

Of all things to her high discharges giv’n,

Till all be circular and round as heav’n.

And lastly, great Prince, mark and pardon me:—

125 As in a flourishing and ripe fruit-tree,

Nature hath made the bark to save the bole,

The bole the sap, the sap to deck the whole

With leaves and branches, they to bear and shield

The useful fruit, the fruit itself to yield

130 Guard to the kernel, and for that all those,

Since out of that again the whole tree grows;

So in our tree of man, whose nervy root

Springs in his top, from thence ev’n to his foot

There runs a mutual aid through all his parts,

135Queen of arts—the soul.” —Chapman.

135 All join’d in one to serve his queen of arts,

In which doth Poesy like the kernel lie

Obscur’d, though her Promethean faculty

Can create men, and make ev’n death to live,

For which she should live honour’d, kings should give

140 Comfort and help to her that she might still

Hold up their spirits in virtue, make the will

That governs in them to the pow’r conform’d,

The pow’r to justice, that the scandals, storm’d

Against the poor dame, clear’d by your fair grace,

145 Your grace may shine the clearer. Her low place,

Not showing her, the highest leaves obscure.

Who raise her raise themselves, and he sits sure


Whom her wing’d hand advanceth, since on it

Eternity doth, crowning virtue, sit.

150 All whose poor seed, like violets in their beds,

Now grow with bosom-hung and hidden heads;

For whom I must speak, though their fate convinces

Me worst of poets, to you best of princes.

By the most humble and faithful implorer for all
the graces to your highness eternized
by your divine Homer.

Geo. Chapman.





e to us, as thy great name doth import,

Prince of the people, nor suppose it vain

That in this secret and prophetic sort

Thy name and noblest title doth contain

So much right to us, and as great a good.

Nature doth nothing vainly; much less Art

Perfecting Nature. No spirit in our blood

But in our soul’s discourses bears a part;

What nature gives at random in the one,

In th’ other order’d our divine part serves.

Thou art not Heyr then to our State alone,

But Svnn, Peace, Life; and, what thy pow’r deserves

Of us and our good in thy utmost strife,

Shall make thee to thyself Heyr, Svnn, Peace, Life.





ith whatsoever honour we adorn

Your royal issue, we must gratulate you,

Imperial Sovereign; who of you is born

Is you, one tree make both the bole and bow.

If it be honour then to join you both

To such a pow’rful work as shall defend

Both from foul death and age’s ugly moth,

This is an honour that shall never end.

They know not virtue then, that know not what

The virtue of defending virtue is;

It comprehends the guard of all your State,

And joins your greatness to as great a bliss.

Shield virtue and advance her then, great Queen,

And make this book your glass to make it seen.

Your Majesty’s in all subjection most
humbly consecrate,

Geo. Chapman.

Anne, daughter of Frederick II. of Denmark, Married King James Ist 20 Aug. 1590, and died 2 March, 1619.




Lest with foul hands you touch these holy rites,

And with prejudicacies too profane,

Pass Homer in your other poets’ slights,

Wash here. In this porch to his num’rous fane,

Hear ancient oracles speak, and tell you whom

You have to censure. First then Silius hear,

Who thrice was consul in renowned Rome,

Whose verse, saith Martial, nothing shall out-wear.

Silius Italicus, Lib. xiii. 777.


e, in Elysium having cast his eye

Upon the figure of a youth, whose hair,

With purple ribands braided curiously,

Hung on his shoulders wond’rous bright and fair,

5 Said: ‘Virgin, what is he whose heav’nly face

Shines past all others, as the morn the night;

Whom many marvelling souls, from place to place,

Pursue and haunt with sounds of such delight;

Whose count’nance (were’t not in the Stygian shade)

10 Would make me, questionless, believe he were

A very God?’ The learned virgin made

This answer: ‘If thou shouldst believe it here,

Thou shouldst not err. He well deserv’d to be

Esteem’d a God; nor held his so-much breast


15 A little presence of the Deity,

His verse compris’d earth, seas, stars, souls at rest;

In song the Muses he did equalize,

In honour Phœbus. He was only soul,

Saw all things spher’d in nature, without eyes,

20 And rais’d your Troy up to the starry pole.’

Glad Scipio, viewing well this prince of ghosts,

Said: ‘O if Fates would give this poet leave

To sing the acts done by the Roman hosts,

How much beyond would future times receive

25 The same facts made by any other known!

O blest Æacides, to have the grace

That out of such a mouth thou shouldst be shown

To wond’ring nations, as enrich’d the race

Of all times future with what he did know!

30 Thy virtue with his verse shall ever grow.’

Now hear an Angel sing our poet’s fame,

Whom fate, for his divine song, gave that name.

Angelus Politianus, in Nutricia.1

More living than in old Demodocus,

Fame glories to wax young in Homer’s verse.

And as when bright Hyperion, holds to us

His golden torch, we see the stars disperse,

35 And ev’ry way fly heav’n, the pallid moon

Ev’n almost vanishing before his sight;

So, with the dazzling beams of Homer’s sun,

All other ancient poets lose their light.

Whom when Apollo heard, out of his star,

40 Singing the godlike acts of honour’d men,


And equalling the actual rage of war,

With only the divine strains of his pen,

He stood amaz’d and freely did confess

Himself was equall’d in Mæonides.

Next hear the grave and learned Pliny use

His censure of our sacred poet’s muse.

Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 7. cap. 29.

Turned into verse, that no prose may come near Homer.

45 Whom shall we choose the glory of all wits,

Held through so many sorts of discipline

And such variety of works and spirits,

But Grecian Homer, like whom none did shine

For form of work and matter? And because

50 Our proud doom of him may stand justified

By noblest judgments, and receive applause

In spite of envy and illiterate pride,

Great Macedon, amongst his matchless spoils

Took from rich Persia, on his fortunes cast,

55 A casket finding, full of precious oils,

Form’d all of gold, with wealthy stones enchas’d,

He took the oils out, and his nearest friends

Ask’d in what better guard it might be us’d?

All giving their conceits to sev’ral ends,

60 He answer’d: ‘His affections rather choos’d

An use quite opposite to all their kinds,

And Homer’s books should with that guard be serv’d,

That the most precious work of all men’s minds

In the most precious place might be preserv’d.

65 The Fount of Wit2 was Homer, Learning’s Sire,3

And gave antiquity her living fire.’


olumes of like praise I could heap on this,

Of men more ancient and more learn’d than these,


But since true virtue enough lovely is

70 With her own beauties, all the suffrages

Of others I omit, and would more fain

That Homer for himself should be belov’d,

Who ev’ry sort of love-worth did contain.

Which how I have in my conversion prov’d

75 I must confess I hardly dare refer

To reading judgments, since, so gen’rally,

77 “Of Translation, and the natural difference of Dialects necessarily to be observed in it.” —Chapman.

Custom hath made ev’n th’ ablest agents err

In these translations; all so much apply

Their pains and cunnings word for word to render

80 Their patient authors, when they may as well

Make fish with fowl, camels with whales, engender,

Or their tongues’ speech in other mouths compell.

For, ev’n as diff’rent a production

As Greek and English, since as they in sounds

85 And letters shun one form and unison;

So have their sense and elegancy bounds

In their distinguish’d natures, and require

Only a judgment to make both consent

In sense and elocution; and aspire,

90 As well to reach the spirit that was spent

In his example, as with art to pierce

His grammar, and etymology of words.

93 “Ironicè.” —Chapman.

But as great clerks can write no English verse,

Because, alas, great clerks! English affords,

95 Say they, no height nor copy; a rude tongue,

Since ’tis their native; but in Greek or Latin

Their writs are rare, for thence true Poesy sprung;

Though them (truth knows) they have but skill to chat in,


Compar’d with that they might say in their own;

100 Since thither th’ other’s full soul cannot make

The ample transmigration to be shown

In nature-loving Poesy; so the brake

That those translators stick in, that affect

Their word-for-word traductions (where they lose

105 The free grace of their natural dialect,

And shame their authors with a forcéd gloss)

107 “The necessary nearness of Translation to the example.” —Chapman.

I laugh to see; and yet as much abhor

More license from the words than may express

Their full compression, and make clear the author;

110 From whose truth, if you think my feet digress,

Because I use needful periphrases,

Read Valla, Hessus, that in Latin prose,

And verse, convert him; read the Messines

That into Tuscan turns him; and the gloss

115 Grave Salel makes in French, as he translates;

Which, for th’ aforesaid reasons, all must do;

And see that my conversion much abates

The license they take, and more shows him too,

Whose right not all those great learn’d men have done,

120 In some main parts, that were his commentors.

But, as the illustration of the sun

Should be attempted by the erring stars,

They fail’d to search his deep and treasurous heart;

The cause was, since they wanted the fit key

125 “The power of Nature above Art in Poesy.” —Chapman.

125 Of Nature, in their downright strength of Art,

With Poesy to open Poesy:

Which, in my poem of the mysteries

Reveal’d in Homer, I will clearly prove;


Till whose near birth, suspend your calumnies,

130 And far-wide imputations of self-love.

’Tis further from me than the worst that reads,

Professing me the worst of all that write;

Yet what, in following one that bravely leads,

The worst may show, let this proof hold the light.

135 But grant it clear; yet hath detraction got

My blind side in the form my verse puts on;

Much like a dung-hill mastiff, that dares not

Assault the man he barks at, but the stone

He throws at him takes in his eager jaws,

140 And spoils his teeth because they cannot spoil.

The long verse hath by proof receiv’d applause

Beyond each other number; and the foil,

That squint-ey’d Envy takes, is censur’d plain;

For this long poem asks this length of verse,

145 Which I myself ingenuously maintain

Too long our shorter authors to rehearse.

147 “Our English language above all others for Rhythmical Poesy.” —Chapman.

And, for our tongue that still is so impaired

By travelling linguists, I can prove it clear,

That no tongue hath the Muse’s utt’rance heir’d

150 For verse, and that sweet music to the ear

Strook out of rhyme, so naturally as this;

Our monosyllables so kindly fall,

And meet oppos’d in rhyme as they did kiss;

French and Italian most immetrical,

155 Their many syllables in harsh collision

Fall as they break their necks; their bastard rhymes

Saluting as they justled in transition,

And set our teeth on edge; nor tunes, nor times

Kept in their falls; and, methinks, their long words

160 Shew in short verse as in a narrow place


Two opposites should meet with two-hand swords

Unwieldily, without or use or grace.

Thus having rid the rubs, and strow’d these flow’rs

In our thrice-sacred Homer’s English way,

165 What rests to make him yet more worthy yours?

To cite more praise of him were mere delay

To your glad searches for what those men found

That gave his praise, past all, so high a place;

Whose virtues were so many, and so crown’d

170 By all consents divine, that, not to grace

Or add increase to them, the world doth need

Another Homer, but ev’n to rehearse

And number them, they did so much exceed.

Men thought him not a man; but that his verse

175 Some mere celestial nature did adorn;

And all may well conclude it could not be,

That for the place where any man was born,

So long and mortally could disagree

So many nations as for Homer striv’d,

180 Unless his spur in them had been divine.

Then end their strife and love him, thus receiv’d,

As born in England; see him over-shine

All other-country poets; and trust this,

That whosesoever Muse dares use her wing

185 When his Muse flies, she will be truss’d by his,

And show as if a bernacle should spring

Beneath an eagle. In none since was seen

A soul so full of heav’n as earth’s in him.

O! if our modern Poesy had been

190 As lovely as the lady he did limn,

What barbarous worldling, grovelling after gain,

Could use her lovely parts with such rude hate,


As now she suffers under ev’ry swain?

Since then ’tis nought but her abuse and Fate,

195 That thus impairs her, what is this to her

As she is real, or in natural right?

But since in true Religion men should err

As much as Poesy, should the abuse excite

The like contempt of her divinity,

200 And that her truth, and right saint-sacred merits,

In most lives breed but rev’rence formally,

What wonder is’t if Poesy inherits

Much less observance, being but agent for her,

And singer of her laws, that others say?

205 Forth then, ye moles, sons of the earth, abhor her,

Keep still on in the dirty vulgar way,

Till dirt receive your souls, to which ye vow,

And with your poison’d spirits bewitch our thrifts.

Ye cannot so despise us as we you;

210 Not one of you above his mole-hill lifts

His earthy mind, but, as a sort of beasts,

Kept by their guardians, never care to hear

Their manly voices, but when in their fists

They breathe wild whistles, and the beasts’ rude ear

215 Hears their curs barking, then by heaps they fly

Headlong together; so men, beastly giv’n,

The manly soul’s voice, sacred Poesy,

Whose hymns the angels ever sing in heav’n,

Contemn and hear not; but when brutish noises,

220 For gain, lust, honour, in litigious prose

Are bellow’d out, and crack the barbarous voices

Of Turkish stentors, O, ye lean to those,

Like itching horse to blocks or high may-poles;

And break nought but the wind of wealth, wealth, all


225 In all your documents; your asinine souls,

Proud of their burthens, feel not how they gall.

But as an ass, that in a field of weeds

Affects a thistle, and falls fiercely to it,

That pricks and galls him, yet he feeds, and bleeds,

230 Forbears a while, and licks, but cannot woo it

To leave the sharpness; when, to wreak his smart,

He beats it with his foot, then backward kicks,

Because the thistle gall’d his forward part;

Nor leaves till all be eat, for all the pricks,

235 Then falls to others with as hot a strife,

And in that honourable war doth waste

The tall heat of his stomach, and his life;

So in this world of weeds you worldlings taste

Your most-lov’d dainties, with such war buy peace,

240 Hunger for torment, virtue kick for vice,

Cares for your states do with your states increase,

And though ye dream ye feast in Paradise,

Yet reason’s daylight shews ye at your meat

Asses at thistles, bleeding as ye eat.






f all books extant in all kinds, Homer is the first and best. No one before his, Josephus affirms; nor before him, saith Velleius Paterculus, was there any whom he imitated, nor after him any that could imitate him. And that Poesy may be no cause of detraction from all the eminence we give him, Spondanus (preferring it to all arts and sciences) unanswerably argues and proves; for to the glory of God, and the singing of His glories, no man dares deny, man was chiefly made. And what art performs this chief end of man with so much excitation and expression as Poesy; Moses, David, Solomon, Job, Esay, Jeremy, &c. chiefly using that to the end abovesaid? And since the excellence of it cannot be obtained by the labour and art of man, as all easily confess it, it must needs be acknowledged a Divine infusion. To prove which in a word, this distich, in my estimation, serves something nearly:

Great Poesy, blind Homer, makes all see

Thee capable of all arts, none of thee.

For out of him, according to our most grave and judicial Plutarch, are all Arts deduced, confirmed, or illustrated. It is not therefore the world’s vilifying of it that can make it vile; for so we might argue, and blaspheme the most incomparably sacred. It is not of the world indeed, but, like truth, hides itself from it. Nor is there any such reality of lxxxvi wisdom’s truth in all human excellence, as in Poets’ fictions. That most vulgar and foolish receipt of poetical licence being of all knowing men to be exploded, accepting it, as if Poets had a tale-telling privilege above others, no Artist being so strictly and inextricably confined to all the laws of learning, wisdom, and truth, as a Poet. For were not his fictions composed of the sinews and souls of all those, how could they defy fire, iron, and be combined with eternity? To all sciences therefore, I must still, with our learned and ingenious Spondanus, prefer it, as having a perpetual commerce with the Divine Majesty, embracing and illustrating all His most holy precepts, and enjoying continual discourse with His thrice perfect and most comfortable Spirit. And as the contemplative life is most worthily and divinely preferred by Plato to the active, as much as the head to the foot, the eye to the hand, reason to sense, the soul to the body, the end itself to all things directed to the end, quiet to motion, and eternity to time; so much prefer I divine Poesy to all worldly wisdom. To the only shadow of whose worth, yet, I entitle not the bold rhymes of every apish and impudent braggart, though he dares assume anything; such I turn over to the weaving of cobwebs, and shall but chatter on molehills (far under the hill of the Muses) when their fortunatest self-love and ambition hath advanced them highest. Poesy is the flower of the Sun, and disdains to open to the eye of a candle. So kings hide their treasures and counsels from the vulgar, ne evilescant (saith our Spond.). We have example sacred enough, that true Poesy’s humility, poverty, and contempt, are badges of divinity, not vanity. Bray then, and bark against it, ye wolf-faced worldlings, that nothing but honours, riches, and magistracy, nescio quos turgidè spiratis (that I may use the words of our friend still) qui solas leges Justinianas crepatis; paragraphum unum aut alterum, pluris quàm vos ipsos facitis, &c. I (for my part) shall ever esteem it much more manly and sacred, in this harmless and pious study, to sit till I sink into my grave, than shine in your vainglorious bubbles and impieties; all your poor policies, wisdoms, and their trappings, at no more valuing than a musty nut. And much less I weigh the frontless lxxxvii detractions of some stupid ignorants, that, no more knowing me than their own beastly ends, and I ever (to my knowledge) blest from their sight, whisper behind me vilifyings of my translation, out of the French affirming them, when, both in French, and all other languages but his own, our with-all-skill-enriched Poet is so poor and unpleasing that no man can discern from whence flowed his so generally given eminence and admiration. And therefore (by any reasonable creature’s conference of my slight comment and conversion) it will easily appear how I shun them, and whether the original be my rule or not. In which he shall easily see, I understand the understandings of all other interpreters and commentors in places of his most depth, importance, and rapture. In whose exposition and illustration, if I abhor from the sense that others wrest and wrack out of him, let my best detractor examine how the Greek word warrants me. For my other fresh fry, let them fry in their foolish galls, nothing so much weighed as the barkings of puppies, or foisting hounds, too vile to think of our sacred Homer, or set their profane feet within their lives’ length of his thresholds. If I fail in something, let my full performance in other some restore me; haste spurring me on with other necessities. For as at my conclusion I protest, so here at my entrance, less than fifteen weeks was the time in which all the last twelve books were entirely new translated. No conference had with any one living in all the novelties I presume I have found. Only some one or two places I have showed to my worthy and most learned friend, M. Harriots, for his censure how much mine own weighed; whose judgment and knowledge in all kinds, I know to be incomparable and bottomless, yea, to be admired as much, as his most blameless life, and the right sacred expense of his time, is to be honoured and reverenced. Which affirmation of his clear unmatchedness in all manner of learning I make in contempt of that nasty objection often thrust upon me,—that he that will judge must know more than he of whom he judgeth; for so a man should know neither God nor himself. Another right learned, honest, and entirely loved friend of mine, M. Robert Hews, I must needs put into my confess’d conference touching lxxxviii Homer, though very little more than that I had with M. Harriots. Which two, I protest, are all, and preferred to all. Nor charge I their authorities with any allowance of my general labour, but only of those one or two places, which for instances of my innovation, and how it showed to them, I imparted. If any tax me for too much periphrasis or circumlocution in some places, let them read Laurentius Valla, and Eobanus Hessus, who either use such shortness as cometh nothing home to Homer, or, where they shun that fault, are ten parts more paraphrastical than I. As for example, one place I will trouble you (if you please) to confer with the original, and one interpreter for all. It is in the end of the third book, and is Helen’s speech to Venus fetching her to Paris from seeing his cowardly combat with Menelaus; part of which speech I will here cite:

Οὔνεκα δὴ νῦν δῖον Ἀλέξανδρον Μενέλαος

Νικήσας, &c.

For avoiding the common reader’s trouble here, I must refer the more Greekish to the rest of the speech in Homer, whose translation ad verbum by Spondanus I will here cite, and then pray you to confer it with that which followeth of Valla.

Quoniam verò nunc Alexandrum Menelaus

Postquam vicit, vult odiosam me domum abducere,

Propterea verò nunc dolum (seu dolos) cogitans advenisti?

Sede apud ipsum vadens, deorum abnega vias,

Neque unquam tuis pedibus revertaris in cœlum,

Sed semper circa eum ærumnas perfer, et ipsum serva

Donec te vel uxorem faciat, vel hic servam, &c.

Valla thus:

Quoniam victo Paride, Menelaus me miseram est reportaturus ad lares, ideo tu, ideo falsâ sub imagine venisti, ut me deciperes ob tuam nimiam in Paridem benevolentiam: eò dum illi ades, dum illi studes, dum pro illo satagis, dum illum observas atque custodis, deorum commercium reliquisti, nec ad eos reversura es ampliùs; adeò (quantum suspicor) aut uxor ejus efficieris, aut ancilla, &c.

Wherein note if there be any such thing as most of this in Homer; yet lxxxix only to express, as he thinks, Homer’s conceit, for the more pleasure of the reader, he useth this overplus, dum illi ades, dum illi studes, dum pro illo satagis, dum illum observas, atque custodis, deorum commercium reliquisti. Which (besides his superfluity) is utterly false. For where he saith reliquisti deorum commercium, Helen saith, Θεῶν δ’ ἀπόειπε κελεύθους, deorum autem abnega, or abnue, vias, ἀπείπειν (vel ἀποείπειν as it is used poetically) signifying denegare, or abnuere; and Helen (in contempt of her too much observing men) bids her renounce heaven, and come live with Paris till he make her his wife or servant; sceptically or scornfully speaking it; which both Valla, Eobanus, and all other interpreters (but these ad verbum) have utterly missed. And this one example I thought necessary to insert here, to show my detractors that they have no reason to vilify my circumlocution sometimes, when their most approved Grecians, Homer’s interpreters generally, hold him fit to be so converted. Yet how much I differ, and with what authority, let my impartial and judicial reader judge. Always conceiving how pedantical and absurd an affectation it is in the interpretation of any author (much more of Homer) to turn him word for word, when (according to Horace and other best lawgivers to translators) it is the part of every knowing and judicial interpreter, not to follow the number and order of words, but the material things themselves, and sentences to weigh diligently, and to clothe and adorn them with words, and such a style and form of oration, as are most apt for the language in which they are converted. If I have not turned him in any place falsely (as all other his interpreters have in many, and most of his chief places) if I have not left behind me any of his sentences, elegancy, height, intention, and invention, if in some few places (especially in my first edition, being done so long since, and following the common tract) I be something paraphrastical and faulty, is it justice in that poor fault (if they will needs have it so) to drown all the rest of my labour? But there is a certain envious windsucker,4 that hovers up and down, laboriously engrossing all the air with his luxurious xc ambition, and buzzing into every ear my detraction, affirming I turn Homer out of the Latin only, &c. that sets all his associates, and the whole rabble of my maligners on their wings with him, to bear about my impair, and poison my reputation. One that, as he thinks, whatsoever he gives to others, he takes from himself; so whatsoever he takes from others, he adds to himself. One that in this kind of robbery doth like Mercury, that stole good and supplied it with counterfeit bad still. One like the two gluttons, Philoxenus and Gnatho, that would still empty their noses in the dishes they loved, that no man might eat but themselves. For so this castrill,5 with too hot a liver, and lust after his own glory, and to devour all himself, discourageth all appetites to the fame of another. I have stricken, single him as you can. Nor note I this, to cast any rubs or plashes out of the particular way of mine own estimation with the world; for I resolve this with the wilfully obscure:

Sine honore vivam, nulloque numero ero.

Without men’s honours I will live, and make

No number in the manless course they take.

But, to discourage (if it might be) the general detraction of industrious and well-meaning virtue, I know I cannot too much diminish and deject myself; yet that passing little that I am, God only knows, to Whose ever-implored respect and comfort I only submit me. If any further edition of these my silly endeavours shall chance, I will mend what is amiss (God assisting me) and amplify my harsh Comment to Homer’s far more right, and mine own earnest and ingenious love of him. Notwithstanding, I know, the curious and envious will never sit down satisfied. A man may go over and over, till he come over and over, and his pains be only his recompense, every man is so loaded with his particular head, and nothing in all respects perfect, but what is perceived by few. Homer himself hath met with my fortune, in many maligners; and therefore may my poor self put up without motion. xci And so little I will respect malignity, and so much encourage myself with mine own known strength, and what I find within me of comfort and confirmance (examining myself throughout with a far more jealous and severe eye than my greatest enemy, imitating this:

Judex ipse sui totum se explorat ad unguem, &c).

that after these Iliads, I will (God lending me life and any meanest means) with more labour than I have lost here, and all unchecked alacrity, dive through his Odysseys. Nor can I forget here (but with all hearty gratitude remember) my most ancient, learned, and right noble friend, M. Richard Stapilton, first most desertful mover in the frame of our Homer. For which (and much other most ingenious and utterly undeserved desert) God make me amply his requiter; and be his honourable family’s speedy and full restorer. In the mean space, I entreat my impartial and judicial Reader, that all things to the quick he will not pare, but humanely and nobly pardon defects, and, if he find anything perfect, receive it unenvied.





f his country and time, the difference is so infinite amongst all writers, that there is no question, in my conjecture, of his antiquity beyond all. To which opinion, the nearest I will cite, Adam Cedrenus placeth him under David’s and Solomon’s rule; and the Destruction of Troy under Saul’s. And of one age with Solomon, Michael Glycas Siculus affirmeth him. Aristotle (in tertio de Poeticâ) affirms he was born in the isle of Io, begot of a Genius, one of them that used to dance with the Muses, and a virgin of that isle compressed by that Genius, who being quick with child (for shame of the deed) came into a place called Ægina, and there was taken of thieves, and brought to Smyrna, to Mæon king of the Lydians, who for her beauty married her. After which, she walking near the flood Meletes, on that shore being overtaken with the throes of her delivery, she brought forth Homer, and instantly died. The infant was received by Mæon, and brought up as his own till his death, which was not long after. And, according to this, when the Lydians in Smyrna were afflicted by the Æolians, and thought fit to leave the city, the captains by a herald willing all to go out that would, and follow them, Homer, being a little child, said he would also ὁμηρεῖν (that is, sequi); and of that, for Melesigenes, which was his first name, he was called Homer. These Plutarch.

The varieties of other reports touching this I omit for length; and in place thereof think it not unfit to insert something of his praise and honour amongst the greatest of all ages; not that our most absolute of himself needs it, but that such authentical testimonies of his splendour and excellence may the better convince the malice of his maligners.


First, what kind of person Homer was, saith Spondanus, his statue teacheth, which Cedrenus describeth. The whole place we will describe that our relation may hold the better coherence, as Xylander converts it. “Then was the Octagonon at Constan­tinople consumed with fire; and the bath of Severus, that bore the name of Zeuxippus, in which there was much variety of spectacle, and splendour of arts; the works of all ages being conferred and preserved there, of marble, rocks, stones, and images of brass; to which this only wanted, that the souls of the persons they presented were not in them. Amongst these master-pieces and all-wit-exceeding workmanships stood Homer, as he was in his age, thoughtful and musing, his hands folded beneath his bosom, his beard untrimmed and hanging down, the hair of his head in like sort thin on both sides before, his face with age and cares of the world, as these imagine, wrinkled and austere, his nose propor­tioned to his other parts, his eyes fixed or turned up to his eyebrows, like one blind, as it is reported he was.” (Not born blind, saith Vell. Paterculus, which he that imagines, saith he, is blind of all senses.) “Upon his under-coat he was attired with a loose robe, and at the base beneath his feet a brazen chain hung.”6 This was the statue of Homer, which, in that conflagration perished. Another renowned statue of his, saith Lucian in his Encomion of Demosthenes, stood in the temple of Ptolemy, on the upper hand of his own statue. Cedrenus likewise remembereth a library in the palace of the king, at Constan­tinople, that contained a thousand a hundred and twenty books, amongst which there was the gut of a dragon of an hundred and twenty foot long, in which, in letters of gold, the Iliads and Odysseys of Homer were inscribed;7 which miracle, in Basiliscus the Emperor’s time, was consumed with fire.

For his respect amongst the most learned, Plato in Ione calleth him ἄριστον καὶ θειότατον τῶν ποιητῶν, Poetarum omnium et præstantissimum xciv et divinissimum; in Phædone, θεῖον ποιητὴν, divinum Poetam; and in Theætetus, Socrates citing divers of the most wise and learned for confirmation of his there held opinion, as Prota­goras, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Epicharmus, and Homer, who, saith Socrates, against such an army, being all led by such a captain as Homer, dares fight or resist, but he will be held ridiculous? This for Scaliger and all Homer’s envious and ignorant detractors. Why therefore Plato in another place banisheth him with all other poets out of his Common-wealth, dealing with them like a Politician indeed, use men, and then cast them off, though Homer he thinks fit to send out crowned and anointed, I see not, since he maketh still such honourable mention of him, and with his verses, as with precious gems, everywhere enchaceth his writings. So Aristotle continually celebrateth him. Nay, even amongst the barbarous, not only Homer’s name, but his poems have been recorded and reverenced. The Indians, saith Ælianus (Var. Hist. lib. XII. cap. 48.) in their own tongue had Homer’s Poems translated and sung. Nor those Indians alone, but the kings of Persia. And amongst the Indians, of all the Greek poets, Homer being ever first in estimation; whensoever they used any divine duties according to the custom of their households and hospitalities, they invited ever Apollo and Homer. Lucian in his Encomion of Demosth. affirmeth all Poets celebrated Homer’s birthday, and sacrificed to him the first fruits of their verses. So Thersa­goras answereth Lucian, he used to do himself. Alex. Paphius, saith Eustathius, delivers Homer as born of Egyptian parents, Dmasa­gorass, being his father, and Æthra his mother, his nurse being a certain prophetess and the daughter of Oris, Isis’ priest, from whose breasts, oftentimes, honey flowed in the mouth of the infant. After which, in the night, he uttered nine several notes or voices of fowls, viz. of a swallow, a peacock, a dove, a crow, a partridge, a redshank, a stare, a blackbird, and a nightingale; and, being a little boy, was found playing in his bed with nine cloves. Sibylla being at a feast of his parents was taken with sudden fury, and sung verses whose beginning was Δμασαγόρα πολύνικε: polynice, signifying xcv much victory, in which song also she called him μεγάκλεα, great in glory, and στεφανίτην, signifying garland-seller, and commanded him to build a temple to the Pegridarij, that is, to the Muses. Herodotus affirms that Phæmius, teaching a public school at Smyrna, was his master; and Dionysius in his 56th Oration saith, Socrates was Homer’s scholar. In short, what he was, his works show most truly; to which, if you please, go on and examine him.

Footnotes to Chapman’s Introduction

1. The lines begin,

——“nam Demodoci vivacior ævo

*   *   *   *   *   *

Obstrepuit, prorsusque parem confessus Apollo est.”

2. Plin. Nat. Hist. XVII. 5.

3. Idem, XXV. 3.

4. Windsucker—the kestrel, or kite, hovering hawk; called also a windhover.

5. Castrill—kestrel, or hovering hawk.

6. Georgii Cedreni Historiarum Compendium, vol. I. p. 369 (ed. Paris, 2 vols. fol. 1647).

7. Cedrenus, ut suprà, p. 351.


Corrections for Introduction

This list doesn’t include Hooper’s Addenda and Corrigenda (his own listed changes and any errors within the Addenda page itself).

[xix] Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
[It was really Balboa, but if Hooper doesn’t care, why should we?]

[xx] with the ‘fit key’ of true natural poesy
close quote invisible

[xxi] our language was adapted to rythmical poetry above all others
spelling unchanged

[xxii] “‘I must confess that, to mine own ear
open double quote missing

[xxiv] In Beerton closes 260 Elmes £18, Fire wood £35.”
close quote missing

[xxv] The date of Chapman’s first acknowledged publication in 1594
hyphen invisible at line break: pub /lication

[xxviii] the Iliades of Homere, Prince of Poetes, &c.,” and
close quote missing

[xxix] (edit. Haslewood—Meres’ first edit. was in 1598)
text has Mere’s

[xxx] An entry is made on the 31st of September, 1598,
text unchanged

[xxxi] 1598/9
Divided dates were always printed as fractions:
page image

[xxxiii] but the foolle, some of xxxs.”
close quote missing

[xxxiv] [Poem to Thomas Walsingham]
each line of poem capitalized as shown

[xl] The Crowne of all Homer’s Workes
apostrophe invisible

[xlii] “Tis true that Chapman’s reverend ashes must
expected form “’Tis with apostrophe (open quote is correct)

[lxv] The following verses are on an engraving
text has versus

[lxxiv] Married King James Ist
printed as shown (capitalization after comma, and anomalous “Ist”)

[lxxv] Silius Italicus, Lib. xiii. 777.
[The line is: Dives apud superos; sed mors æquarat egenis.]

[lxxviii] As Greek and English, since as they in sounds
text has Ask Greek

[xciii] Poetarum omnium et præstantissimum
text has Poeta rum

[xciii-xciv] in Ione ... in Phædone ... in Theætetus
inconsistent references unchanged (Latin “in” with ablative vs. English “in” with nominative)

Transcriber’s Notes

Text of Chapman PortraitText of Title PageMoved Decorations

Text Around Portrait

Hæc est Laurigeri facies diuina Georgi
Hic Phœbi Decus est; Phœbinum[que] Deus

Text Below Portrait

Optimus hic sese, qui nouit cuncta Magistro,
Prospiciens rerum fines Meliora sequutus
De Homero Rediuius Hes

Seven kingdoms stroue, which theyrs should Homer call,
And now one Chapman, ownes him, from them all. Scotiæ Nobilis.

Eruditorum Poetarum huius Æui, facile Principi Dno Georgio Chapman Homero (velit nolit Inuidia) Rediuius. J. M. Tessellam hanc Χαριστήριον. D.D.

Ille simul Musas et Homerum scripserit ipsum,
Qui scribit Nomen, (Magne Poeta) Tuum

Portrait (Frontispiece)

Text of Title Page

Mulciber in Troiam, pro Troia stabat Apollo


In his Iliads, and

Translated according to the Greeke,
Geo: Chapman.

De Ili: et Odiss:

Omnia ab his; et in his sunt omnia: siue beati
Te decor eloquij, seu rerũ pondera tangunt
Angel: Pol:

At London printed for Nathaniell Butter.
William Hole sculp:

Qui Nil mo:
litur Ineptè


Title Page

Moved Decorations

Except for Chapman’s title page, each of these was originally printed on an even-numbered (left-hand) page. I moved each one to where it would do the most good visually.

Original Location Location in ebook
first title page: before Hooper’s title page (facing portrait) main page of this text
p. lx (before Corrigenda) end of p. lxi (after Corrigenda)
p. lxii bottom of p. 303, after Sonnets
p. lxvi bottom of p. 273, after Chapman’s closing comments
p. lxxxiv p. lxxiv, between the Anagram and the verses to Queen Anne

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.