The Iliad of Homer & The Odyssey of Homer.

Rare Subscribers Issue: First editions of the celebrated translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey by Alexander Pope in Rare Contemporary Calf Binding

The Iliad of Homer & The Odyssey of Homer.



Item Number: 140656

London: Bernard Lintot, 1715-26.

First editions of Alexander Pope’s monumental illustrated translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Quarto, 11 volumes, uniformly bound in full contemporary calf, gilt tooling to the spine with red morocco labels. In very good condition with some usual rubbing to the extremities and joints. Scarce and desirable in bound contemporary calf.

The subscribers list for the Iliad lists 575 subscribers, including Addison, Congreve, Newton, Steele and others; that for The Odyssey are 610 (including those in the supplementary list appended to the final volume). For the Odyssey, Pope was assisted by Elijah Fenton and William Broome, and pencil notes in the texts identify the responsible party for the specific Books and Notes. That those pencil annotations and incidental others in pencil in the same hand scattered elsewhere are Hobhouse's seems probable, as a pencil note in a quite similar (or same) hand appears at the conclusion of the Postscript to the final volume (14 Dec. 1843 J.H.), suggesting either the date of his acquisition of the set, or more likely, his completion of reading. Editions in folio (large and small) to benefit the publisher followed the appearance of each new volume in a timely fashion, the proceeds from Subscriber's quarto edition having been Pope's exclusively. Encouraged by Swift, Addison and Steele, among others, Pope began translating Homer in 1713. The arduous undertaking would prove to be the most laborious literary enterprise of his life, but one to which he was well-suited. "Idolatry of classical models was an essential part of the religion of men of letters of the day But a Homer in modern English was still wanting. Pope’s rising fame and his familiarity with the literary and social leaders made him the man for the opportunity The ‘Homer’ was long regarded as a masterpiece, and for a century was the source from which clever schoolboys like Byron learnt that Homer was not a mere instrument of torture invented by their masters. No translation of profane literature has ever occupied such a position" (DNB).

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