London: Nathaniell Butter, 1611-1624. First Edition. 4to (254 x 173 mm). Three works in one volume, bound in late 19th- or early 20th-century reddish-brown hardgrain morocco, turn-ins gilt, marbled pastedowns and endleaves, a.e.g. (lower corner of front cover inexplicably worn, minor wear to other extremities). Blank leaves in all three works are lacking. Engraved title-pages to Iliad and Odyssey trimmed within image and laid down. Iliad lacks dedication leaf to Prince Henry and final leaf of dedications (Gg8); fol. B1 soiled and abraided at the top with some loss to blank margin. Odyssey fol. A3 tipped in. Batrachomyomachia lacks engraved title-page and two final leaves (Aa1-2) containing the author's valediction and Latin prayer; fol V1 with repaired tear affecting text on recto. Final leaves to both the Iliad and the Odyssey somewhat soiled suggesting that they had been bound individually at an early date (see below); scattered minor staining here and there (notably G4v-G5r of the Iliad). A crisp copy. Item #3554
Inspiring Keats's justly famous sonnet and more than four hundred years of English readership, Chapman's enduring translations of Homer are the most famous in the English language and have never gone out of print. This remarkable volume contains all three of Chapman's authoritative translations of Homer, enumerated thusly:
1. First complete edition in English of the Iliad (1611);
2. First edition in English, first impression, of the Odyssey Books 1-12 (1614);
3. First edition in English of Batrachomyomachia (1624).
NB: this is NOT the 1616 reissue of the Iliad and the Odyssey sheets with a new general title page ("The Whole Works of Homer, Prince of Poets") to which was added the first appearance of Books 13-24 of the Odyssey. In the combined reissue the engraved title-pages to the Iliad and Odyssey were usually canceled; both are present here.
Chapman spent twenty-five years translating Homer, a task he believed he was born to do. According to DNB, the completion of his "sleepless" labor represent "one of the great achievements of the Elizabethan age, a monument of skill and devotion." Chapman's translation of Homer belongs in the triumvirate of the English Renaissance language alongside ith the so-called King James Bible of 1611 and the so-called First Folio of 1623.
Volumes containing Chapman's Iliad (Books 1-24) and the Odyssey (Books 1-12) were certainly bound up and sold in 1614 before Chapman had completed translating the Odyssey. While uncommon, they are certainly not unknown: most recently there was such a copy in the Macclesfield Library (sold at Sotheby's London, 3/13/2008, lot 4061), preceded by examples at Forum in 2017, Sotheby's London in 1991, and the Sion College copy which sold at Sotheby's London in 1977. It is important to note that NONE of the above volumes contained the first edition of the Batrachomyomachia.
Chapman's Iliad, like his Odyssey, was published incrementally. In 1598 Books 1-2 and 7-11 of the Iliad appeared; in ca. 1611 the complete Iliad (Books 1-24) was assembled and printed in the present edition. Our copy has the uncorrected reading on A3r "differ farre from" instead of "defie fire, iron" (the Garden presentation copy had a printed overslip).
Provenance: early ownership inscription of "Tymothy Hartton" on final leaf of the Odyssey Book 12. -- Messrs. Quaritch (handwritten slip identifying this volume as "BQ Stock" loosely inserted) -- Manchester physician John A. Knowles Renshaw (1871-1926), originally of Ashton-on-Mersey, Cheshire, with his armorial bookplate (sale at Hodgson's 11/23/1956, lot 638); the sale catalogue lists a number of rarities by Shakespeare (e.g. a Second Folio), Chaucer, Plutarch, Bacon, Dickens, and Dibdin -- Private collection (USA).
References: Iliad = Pforzheimer 169; ESTC S119234. Odyssey = Pforzheimer 170; ESTC S119235. Batrachomyomachia = Pforzheimer 165; ESTC S119240.