11 Introduction


Brendan Michael Small

This section emphasizes the importance of how images and imagery may affect one’s interpretation and understanding of the Homeric text. The authors in this section have worked through an exegesis of the visual material in order to examine how authorial and editorial decisions shape reader experience. The essays vary from ideas related to authorial persona and authorial intrusion, to publication practices.

Tali Winkler, in her chapter “Illustrating the Classics and the Self: John Ogilby and His Self-Fashioning Portraits,” explores the visual and material sensibilities of John Ogilby. Winkler underscores Ogilby’s sensitivity to the importance of the visual material within printed texts, noting his extensive use of quality illustrations as a determining factor of his success in the English printing industry. Winkler expands her analysis of the visual images within Ogilby’s publications to examine the evolution of the four frontispiece portraits that he commissioned throughout his career. Winkler uses the portraits as evidence to argue that Ogilby was actively trying to enhance his own public image while simultaneously declaring himself, as translator, the true author of the Homeric texts.

Hilary Barker also examines the use of illustrations in her chapter, “Expectation and Image(-ination): The Purpose and Reuse of Woodcuts in the Books of Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari.” Barker considers the role of chapter heading images in several publications of Gabriel Giolito de Ferrari, including an Italian epic, Italian translations of the Odyssey, and a combined edition of the Iliad and Aeneid rendered into ottava rima: Orlando Furioso (1544), L’Achille et l’Enea di Messer Lodovico Dolce (1570), and L’Ulisse di M. Lodovico Dolce (1573). The woodcut illustrations were reused from Orlando Furioso to illustrate the later editions of the classical epics. Barker’s close analysis of the illustrations reveals the major role they had in framing the reader’s experience, and argues that the decision to recycle the illustrations created specifically for Orlando Furioso disrupted the dynamic of reader expectation and fulfillment, resulting in a more complex relationship between image and text.

Javier Ibáñez explores the theme of authorial intrusion in his chapter, “In Chapman’s Forge: Mistranslation as Ekphrastic Resistance.” Ibáñez considers how the needs, conventions, and expectations of a written culture impose themselves onto a work rooted in an oral tradition. His essay relies on the contemporary understanding of ekphrasis to assess George Chapman’s treatment of Achilles’ shield in his translation of the Iliad, published in 1616. Ibáñez argues that Chapman works against the conventional reading of Book 18, which tends to move away from considering the shield as an object to thinking about the art depicted on the shield and the narrative episodes that it represents. Chapman actively works against this textual imagery to concretize the shield through frequent insertions and alterations, which are all closely considered in Ibáñez’s analysis.

The final chapter in this section, Goda Thangada’s “Henri Estienne’s Concepts of History and Poetry,” illustrates the broader social and cultural climate around which Estienne constructed his 1566 anthology of Greek poetry. The compendium of poems includes, as Thangada characterizes it, “a motley assortment of partner poets: the archaic hexameter poet Hesiod; the archaic elegists Theognis and Solon; the didactic poet Aratus; the Hellenistic poets Callimachus, Theocritus, and Bion; the work attributed to the mythical poets Orpheus and Musaeus; and others.” Thangada’s close reading of Estienne’s approach to textual criticism, which was informed as much by his interpretation of history as of poetry, underscores why Estienne’s volume reigned for centuries as the standard Greek edition of Homer.

The chapters in this section provide insight into the various ways that texts and images interact, and how authors’, translators’, and publishers’ contemplation of self and the society around them helped to influence their work on Homer. All four of these essays grapple with the mediation of ideologies and interpretations, but they are designed to create new bridges between author and reader and offer a framework to approach this diverse group of Homeric texts.


Keywords: Aratus, Bion, Callimachus, George Chapman, University of Chicago, Lodovico Dolce, ekphrasis, Henri Estienne, Gabriele Giolito de’Ferrari, France, epic genre, Greek, Hesiod, illustration, interpretation, Italian, Musaeus, John Ogilby, Orpheus, frontispiece, Solon, Theocritus, Theognis, Aeneid, woodcuts


Homer Among the Moderns Copyright © by Brendan Michael Small. All Rights Reserved.

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