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Homer in the French Renaissance*.


It is difficult for us to imagine a world without Homer. The story of the Trojan War and the wanderings of Odysseus have fared rather better in the popular imagination than Aeneas's parallel adventures, and many aspects of the Homeric style--epithets such as "rosy-fingered dawn" and "wine-dark sea," (1) extended similes (of which the comparison of the generations of man to falling leaves is just one of the most beautiful (2)), and its formulaic nature--have appealed to the sensibilities of many readers over the years. Yet it was not always so. For centuries, Homer's poetry was lost to Western Europe, even though the name Homer was a byword for the inspired poet, and it was not until Petrarch, the father of Renaissance humanism, turned his attention to Homer that the stage was set for a return. Since his youth, Petrarch had wanted to be able to read the Homeric epics, but it was not until the end of 1353 or early 1354 that he obtained a Greek manuscript of Homer, thanks to the Byzantine ambassador in Italy, Nikolaos Sygeros. As he did not know any Greek, the text of Homer remained silent for him--"Your Homer is dumb as far as I am concerned, or rather I am deaf as far as he is concerned" (3)--until he met Leontius Pilatus in the winter of 1358-59. Pilatus came from Calabria, though he passed himself off as a Greek. Petrarch persuaded him to translate the first five books of the Iliad, and a few months later, at the request of Boccaccio, Pilatus went to Florence, where he spent two years (1360-62) completing his translation of the two epics. (4) The two manuscripts prepared for Petrarch are now in the Bibliotheque nationale de France, ms lat. 7880(1) and 7880(2), beautifully illuminated and bearing some of Petrarch's own annotations. (5)

However, it would not be until the end of the fifteenth century that French humanists turned their minds to Homer, stimulated by the works of Florentine humanists such as Angelo Poliziano and by contacts with the Byzantine scholar Janus Lascaris (1445-1534). (6) In the early days, would-be Hellenists in France, like those elsewhere, relied on Italian texts, at a time when only a few presses were beginning to come to terms with the complexities of printing Greek. The editio princeps of Homer, which appeared in Florence in 1488, would have offered little assistance to those who were struggling to understand the Greek text, at a time when there were few teachers or dictionaries. While it contains, in addition to all the texts attributed to Homer at the time--the Homeric Hymns and the Battle of the Frogs and Mice as well as the Iliad and the Odyssey--the lives of Homer thought to be by Herodotus and Plutarch, and an essay by Dio Chrysostom, there is barely a word of explanation in Latin other than an epistle by the editor Bernardo Nerlio to Piero de' Medici. (7) Those early readers who could understand something of the Greek were put off precisely by many of the things which we now prize in the Homeric style: the use of epithets, formulaic expressions, and repetition. At the same time, there was an admiration, based to a large extent on classical doxa, of Homer's knowledge--the Iliad and the Odyssey were considered to be the source of all the arts and sciences as well as the philosophical schools--of the moral wisdom contained in the two epics, and, for some readers, of the hidden allegorical meanings which the poems were thought to contain. (8) Appreciating Homer was a complex process.


There can be no doubt of Italy's preeminence in the early publishing history of Homer. Of the eighteen editions, translations, and ancient commentaries that I have identified, twelve are from Italy, and only two from France, three from Germany, and one from Switzerland. (9)

The first Homeric work to be printed in France, the 1510 edition of Niccolo della Valle's Latin verse translation of the Iliad, illustrates the importance of the Italian connection in the early days of Homeric scholarship in France. The editor, Josse Bade (1461/2-1535), writes in his liminary epistle to Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples (mid-fifteenth century-1536) in June 1510, "I am particularly moved to recognize your poetic judgement (not to mention many other reasons) from the fact that you have had Homer's Iliad (would that it were the complete work), which Niccolo della Valle translated into Latin, brought all the way from Latium, Rome to be precise, to be published by us one day." (10) Lefevre d'Etaples had visited Italy in 1492, when he met, among others, Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and appears to have maintained contact with his Italian counterparts. He returned in 1507, which is when he brought back the Iliad text. (11)

However, unlike England--where no edition of Homer was printed until the 1591 Greek edition of the Iliad by George Bishop--France, and particularly Paris, was not slow to provide its own Homeric texts. This is particularly noticeable after the founding of the College des lecteurs royaux by Francois Ier in 1530. (12) This progressive institution, which to a large extent owed its existence to the lobbying of Guillaume Bude (1468-1540), was established to teach the three ancient languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and to provide its students with texts. The Paris presses were soon printing partial or complete editions of the Iliad and the Odyssey: Chretien Wechel in the 1530s, his son Andre in the 1550s, and Guillaume Morel and his heirs from the 1560s onwards. These editions of set texts were meant to be annotated by students during their lectures, and there survive a reasonable number of works bearing students' notes and providing us with a good idea of the content of these lectures. (13) The following table gives an idea of the popularity of these editions:

However, student editions were not the only texts being printed, and Paris, like other important humanist centers in Europe, saw its fair share of other editions. The first complete edition of the Odyssey in France dates from 1541, while the Iliad was not printed in its entirety until the 1554 edition of Adrien Turnebe (1512-65), acknowledged as one of the most elegant and carefully produced Homeric texts of the period. However, it is the Parisian printer Henri Estienne (1531-98) who published in 1566 what is undoubtedly the landmark text for Homer (though it appeared in Geneva).

In 1551 Henri Estienne joined his father, Robert, in Geneva, where he set up his own printing business. (14). After his father's death in 1559, he joined the two businesses together, and it is this printing house which published in 1566 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Poetae Graeci principes heroici carminis, & alii nonnulli. This fine folio edition contains the works of fifteen other Greek poets.

For the first time, the emendations to the Homeric text are based on a clearly thought out set of philological principles. In his "Introduction to this Edition" Estienne explains that he has compared eighteen editions of Homer, as well as an ancient manuscript, Genevensis 44, and the text in Eustathius's commentary--a work dating from twelfth-century Byzantium and first published between 1542 and 1550--in order to resolve the textual problems posed by the Homeric epics. (15) In doing so he establishes certain problem areas in earlier editions, and creates, for the first time, something resembling a critical apparatus. The scholar and printer points out that the position of the apostrophe is intimately bound up with the problem of establishing an accurate text, as is the Homeric use of tmesis, normally involving the separation of a prepositional prefix from its verb. Estienne gives a number of examples of these various errors and, in virtually all cases, modern critical editions agree with his emendations. (16) There can be no doubt that his edition was a success: the text he established so carefully was followed until 1788, the date of the publication by Jean-Baptiste Gaspard d'Ansse de Villoisin of MS Venetus Marcianus A of the Iliad, with its numerous scholia which had remained undiscovered until then.

The other area of printing which it is worth mentioning concerns the various commentaries on Homer which appeared in France. Of particular interest, because it is a relatively early work, is Melchior Wolmar's edition of the first two books of the Iliad--Homeri Iliados libri duo: una cum annotatiunculis Volmarij, passim suis locis positis--published in 1523. Wolmar was born in Rottweil, Germany; he was educated in Bern and later at the University of Tubingen before going in 1521 to Paris, where he studied Greek with Nicolas Berault. The future teacher of Calvin and Beze makes it clear in his preface to the Neo-Latin poet Pierre Rosset that his commentary is aimed at the young. (17)

Wolmar devotes fourteen pages to book 1 and ten pages to book 2 of the Iliad. There is a great deal of linguistic commentary, especially on the Homeric verb forms, a necessary aid at a time when dictionaries would not have offered much assistance. He also includes moral commentary on the conduct of the Greek heroes Agamemnon, Achilles, and Odysseus in the first two books, and is by no means hostile to an allegorical interpretation of certain events: for example, Apollo's punishment of the Greeks' impiety in not returning the captured Chryseis to her father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, in which the god's plague-inducing arrows are interpreted by Wolmar as referring to a pestilence caused by the sun's rays. Wolmar also comments on the dispositio of the epic poem, emphasizing its nonlinear, in medias res structure. (18) This commentary no doubt reflects quite closely the kind of teaching which was available in the 1520s, and is also significant because it illustrates the other main influence on the reception of Homer in France, the Protestant humanists associated with Philipp Melanchthon (1487-1560). Melanchthon's staunch championing of classical scholarship at the University of Wittenberg helped nurture a whole generation of Homeric scholars such as Joachim Camerarius (1500-74) and Vincentius Opsopoeus (d. 1539), who each made a distinctive and early contribution in the areas of teaching and publishing. They would offer a rather different view of Homer from the Italian one, with greater emphasis on the moral lessons to be derived from the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Later commentaries printed in France or written by Frenchmen include the Meditationes in librum primum Iliados (1566) by Nicolaus Girardus, the Apologeme pour le grand Homere, contre la reprehension du divin Platon sur aucuns passages d'iceluy (Lyon, 1577) by Guillaume Paquelin, and Jean de Sponde's (1557-95) precocious commentary on the works of Homer (Basel, 1583). We shall return to these works later.

In general terms, Homer fares well in France in three areas of publication: partial editions of the epics for university use; French translations; (19) and Latin translations, especially Eobanus Hessus's (1488-1540) highly popular verse translation of the Iliad. (20) On the other hand, there are relatively few complete French editions of the epics, and no examples of the bilingual editions (Greek text with literal Latin translation) which would dominate the market in the second half of the sixteenth century, supplied to a large extent by the presses of Basel and Geneva. In this context, Jean Crespin and his heirs came up with the most successful format: the 16[degrees] edition aimed, as he said, at students with keen eyesight. (21)


There can be no doubt, then, about the interest in Homer during the French Renaissance. However, a more important issue concerns how readers approached the epics and how they interpreted the texts. In order to examine these questions, I propose to consider the sixteenth century in three main periods, each with its own emblematic figure. The first period, from the beginning of the century until 1540, will be characterized by the work of Guillaume Bude; the second, from 1541 to 1570, by Jean Dorat (1508-88); and the third, from 1571 till the end of the century, by J. C. Scaliger, whose influence--even though he died in 1558--only really became established in the closing decades of the century.

A. 1500-40: BUDE

In the early years of the sixteenth century you had to be something of an autodidact if you wanted to get anywhere with Greek in northern Europe. Anthony Grafton has charted in some detail the steps that Guillaume Bude took in order to master Greek and to make progress with Homer. (22) Before looking at Bude's approach to interpreting Homer and the legacy which he left the next generation of scholars, I should like to highlight one or two of the points which emerge from Professor Grafton's study. As is well known, Bude used the 1488 Florence edition of the works of Homer, and his copy, quite heavily annoted, is in the Firestone Library at Princeton. The first point I wish to make concerns the assistance which Bude would have had in tackling the text. I have already alluded to the paucity of Greek dictionaries at this time, and this was a particular problem for Homer, because of the unusual, dialectal, and archaic forms of many of the words to be found in the Iliad and the Odyssey. To some extent, this issue was dealt with by the so-called Didymus or D scholia, a commentary that does little more than gloss words which would have proved difficult for a Greek-speaking Byzantine schoolboy of the fifth or sixth century CE. However, it would have been invaluable to anyone struggling with the text in the early sixteenth century, and although the scholia were not published until 1517 by Janus Lascaris, this Greek scholar and friend of Bude appears to have made them available to him during one of his sojourns at the French court. (23) This was a start.

The other important aid was actually part of the paratext of the editio princeps: the life of Homer attributed to Plutarch. In fact, unlike the life attributed to Herodotus, which is largely anecdotal and frequently fanciful, Pseudo-Plutarch provides some valuable information on all aspects of the Homeric texts, and Bude's notes in the Princeton Homer confirm this. He finds little to highlight in Pseudo-Herodotus (nineteen notes for thirteen pages of text), and relatively little in the shorter essay by Dio Chrysostom (twenty-four brief annotations for four pages of text), but the Life of Pseudo-Plutarch contains the same kind of detailed marginal notes and cross-references that we see in the text of Homer itself. Thanks to this text, he would have developed a sense of the privileged position which Homer occupied in the ancient world as the source of all the sciences and all the philosophical schools, as well as being an unparalleled poet and adored by Alexander the Great. (24). Most of the topoi which appear in the sixteenth-century laus Homeri (praise of Homer) can be traced back to Pseudo-Plutarch.

One of the questions addressed by Pseudo-Plutarch concerns the allegorical nature of the epics, and this is something which was not lost on Bude. In his treatise De studio literarum recte et commode instituendo (1532), he clearly champions the position which Dorat and Ronsard would later occupy on the hidden meanings to be found in ancient myths: "The most ancient poets too, as far as their times allowed, borrowed the seeds of a theology which is by no means entirely reprehensible from the sanctuaries of a more holy philosophy, indeed from those of wisdom itself. Besides, they regarded their inextricably complicated fables, which display considerable impiety, as the covering of truth, which they thought, following an ancient custom, should be hidden from view and kept far away from the profane mob." (25) Bude himself set out to discover Homer's hidden truths on a number of occasions. For example, many years before the publication of the De studio in the De asse, Bude emphasized the moral interpretation of the epics. Thus, he sees the conduct of Achilles in book 1 of the Iliad as a memorable image of human psychology. (26) In his quarrel with Agamemnon, Achilles is about to draw his sword when Athena descends from heaven, grabs his blond hair, and restrains him. For Bude, this incident, in which Athena is a symbol of wisdom, points to the dual nature of the mind: "What else do we think the poet meant other than the notion that anger and reason are two parts of the soul? For he thinks that the frenzy of anger and proudness of heart lurk around the breast, and that the source of reason and the conduct of the soul are situated in the upper part of the head, like a guard formed by nature, who keeps an eye out for everything and, like the rider of a chariot, controls the passion and impetuosity of the mind." (27) Elsewhere in the De asse he sees the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite as a warning to public figures concerning the risk of ridicule which they run if their vices are brought to light; (28) "ingenious Circe" represents the dangers of the royal court. (29) In his reading of Homer Bude seems to show a clear preference for moral interpretations, which he uses often in his own works to illustrate his ideas.

It is in one of his last works, the De transitu Hellenismi ad Christianismum, libri tres (1535), that we find Homer's presence particularly striking. (30) Here, for example, he compares "the chain in the Iliad, [which] raises up and attracts heavenwards the earth and the sea, that is mortals who inhabit the mainland and the islands" to the Word of God; (31) he interprets the moly offered by Hermes to Odysseus as protection against the charms of Circe as a symbol of philosophy; (32) ingenious Circe this time represents secular dangers in a more general, Christian sense. (33) In another passage he associates these dangers more precisely with the greed present in royal courts. (34) But it is the Sirens that he concentrates on most in this book. Taking up once more the image of the return to the homeland used in the De asse, Bude states that "of the sea-monsters of this world ... the Sirens are the most dangerous and the most difficult to avoid"; (35) his interpretation of this incident remains resolutely religious. Circe's advice is quite simply "sacred philosophy": "Let Odysseus therefore listen, a pupil not of the ancient, secular philosophy, but rather of contemplative philosophy which the Greeks call uranoscopos [contemplating the heavens]; a man entirely wise in things concerning salvation, expert in divine law, concerned for his salvation and that of his neighbours and his crewmen, desiring also the happiness of a most joyful return to his homeland." (36) This tendency to see Homer in ethical terms is typical of the approach to the epics in this early period.

As for the situation more generally in Paris at this time, we have few details about the teaching and interpretation of Homer, though it is clear that from 1530, the official start of the College royal, Homer was part of the curriculum. (37) The two chairs in Greek were offered to Pierre Danes (1497-1557) and Jacques Toussain (end of fifteenth century-1547), and in 1535 Jean Strazel replaced Danes. Danes had learnt Greek under Janus Lascaris before becoming a pupil of Guillaume Bude and, later, the teacher of Jean Dorat and Henri Estienne. But given his preference for Greek prose writers--Aristotle, Aeschines, Demosthenes, Diodorus Siculus, whom he lectured on in the 1530s (38)--it seems unlikely that he had much impact on Homeric studies at the College royal.

Jacques Toussain, on the other hand, was clearly attracted to Greek poetry. A pupil, like Danes, of Bude and Lascaris, he numbered amongst his students Theodore de Beze (1519-1605), Robert Breton (ca. 1510-after 1551), Jean Cheradame (fl. 1517-43), Jean Dorat, Henri Estienne, Conrad Neobar, and Jacques Bogard. (39) In addition, Toussain had links with Melchior Wolmar, who thanks him at the end of his commentary on book 2 of the Iliad: "In the singular Hellas refers to the Greek language, as Jacques Toussain has recently pointed out to me, a man who is enormously learned in Greek and Latin." (40) Although we have few details about the courses available at the College royal for the study of Greek, it is striking that the vogue for partial editions of Homer in Paris coincides with the institution of the chairs in Greek: Book 1 of the Odyssey as well as the Batrachomyomachia (The Battle between the Mice and Frogs) and the Homeric Hymns edited by Jean Cheradame in 1530 and published by Gilles de Gourmont, and books 1-3 and 4-6 of the Iliad and books 1-2 of the Odyssey, published by Chretien Wechel the same year. 1530 also saw the first French edition of the D scholia on the Odyssey, published "at the College of the Sorbonne." (41) Judging by these and other texts, Homer was well represented in the university curriculum in the 1530s. Unfortunately, as neither Toussain nor Strazel published much, it is hard to know precisely what their contribution was to Homeric studies.

What we can say, however, is that their pupils showed considerable interest in Homer, as editors (Cheradame, Henri Estienne, Neobar, and Bogard), teachers (Dorat), or admirers of the poems (Beze and Breton). Breton composed two epic fragments--"Achillis atque Hectoris certamen ex Homero" and "Nestoris ad conciliandos Agamemnonem atque Achillem Oratio ex Homero"--inspired by the Iliad in his Carminum liber unus, first published in Toulouse in 1536. (42) In both cases we are not dealing with a mere Latin verse translation, but with a lively and original reinterpretation.

In general, during this first period Homer remains resolutely within the domain of the humanists. There is one bad French translation of the Iliad (based on Valla's Latin version) by one Jehan Samxon in 1530, while Jean Lemaire de Belges (ca. 1473-ca. 1516) adapted part of book 3 of the Iliad in the second book of his Illustrations de Gaule et singularitez de Troie, first published in 1512. (43) Possibly the only vernacular writer to have a close interest in Homer is Rabelais, and apart from his highly contentious remarks on Homeric allegory in the prologue to Gargantua, it is in the books he wrote in the 1540s, the Tiers Livre and the Quart Livre, that we find the most precise textual allusions to Homer. (44) Similarly, although we can probably see the glimmerings of an interest in Homer on the part of artists towards the end of the 1530s, it would take several more years before Homeric cycles became a significant feature of French Renaissance art.


If the opening decades of the sixteenth century witnessed the gradual assimilation of Homer into humanist culture, the period from 1540 to 1570 represents the high point of the Homeric epics in Renaissance France. Various factors were responsible for this, not the least of which was the availability of teaching on the Homeric texts by the lecteurs royaux. Moreover, we know that they needed to adapt their teaching to two quite different audiences. In a public lecture of 1562 given to advertise a course he was giving on book 1 of the Iliad, Denis Lambin (1519-72), recently appointed lecteur royal in Greek, told his audience:
 For, in explaining this divine poet, I have decided both to
 accommodate those students who are somewhat wet behind the ears, and
 also to look to the interests of those with a moderate education, that
 is, those who are only looking in Homer for an explanation of the
 words and some knowledge of the language, as well as those who, thanks
 to a subtler, more refined discernment, wish to understand not only
 what Homer says, but also how he says it, to what sources it should be
 referred, and its usefulness for everyday life. So, I am confident
 that I will satisfy both groups if I explain carefully and accurately
 to the first group the force and etymology of individual words, the
 reason for the use of cases and tenses, and the similarities and
 differences between the dialects, as they are called; and if I expound
 succinctly and clearly to the second group everything concerning the
 art of poetry, eloquence, citizenship, morals, emotions,
 appropriateness in characterization, knowledge about places and
 countries, history, myths, and all the branches of philosophy. (45)

In other words, he would be offering both a linguistic commentary as well as a fuller literary and cultural explanation of the Iliad. This dual approach is borne out by the annotated editions which we have from the period, in which students would write an interlinear Latin translation of the text while using the margins for more advanced comments. (46)

Another factor in the more general awareness of the Homeric epics was the French translation of the Iliad begun by Hugues Salel (1504-53). After a pirated edition of the first two books in Lyon in 1542, the first ten books were published in an authorized edition in 1545. By 1554 another two books had been added. As for the Odyssey, Jacques Peletier (1517-82) published his translation of the first two books in his CEuvres poetiques of 1547, and they were reprinted in the 1570 edition of the Iliad mentioned above. Both versions, in decasyllabic rhyming couplets, take account of the Greek text, with Peletier, in particular, succeeding both from the point of view of accuracy and poetry. Unlike the Samxon version, these works were well received by the public. Just as importantly, Salel was producing his version at the request of Francois Ier, and it is in the opening years of the 1540s, as we shall see, that paintings which draw on Homeric themes make their appearance at Fontainebleau, also, of course, with the benefit of royal patronage.

However, the single figure in this period who did most to bring Homer to prominence was the teacher and mentor of the early members of the Pleiade, Jean Dorat. A pupil of the first two lecteurs royaux, Pierre Danes and Jacques Toussain, he gained his MA in 1539, and taught between 1542 and 1544/45 at the College de Chenac. (47) In June 1544 he was hired as tutor to Jean-Antoine de Baif (1532-89) and Pierre de Ronsard, and after the death of his employer, Lazare de Baif, in 1547, he moved to a teaching post at the College de Coqueret, where Joachim Du Bellay also became one of his pupils. Dorat remained at Coqueret until 1556, when he succeeded Jean Strazel as lecteur royal in Greek. He remained at his post more than eleven years, and was replaced by his son-in-law, Nicolas Goulu, in 1567, the year in which he became poet laureate and interprete du roi. He continued to teach in his own home. (48)

Compared with other Homeric commentators, Dorat's approach was revolutionary, and was recognized as such by his pupils. We have had a glimpse of the approach of Lambin, his colleague at the College royal, in the passage cited above. The advanced teaching Lambin gave was concerned with explaining the rhetorical force of Homer's writing, its moral and political implications, and the philosophical ideas it contained. In this sense, he was following the practice of most of his colleagues at the time. Dorat's view of Homer was radically different. For him, the Iliad and the Odyssey were sacred texts, divinely inspired and containing metaphysical truths which went beyond the moral teaching expounded by Bude and others.

I shall try to sum up in a few words the basis of Dorat's approach. In the first place, he believed that, as well as being a divinely inspired mediator between God and man--Saint Augustine refers in the City of God to "theological poets" such as Orpheus, Linus, and Musaeus (49)--Homer also received from the sibylls prophecies, of which there are traces in the poems, about the coming of the Messiah. In order to pierce through the veil of myth in which these truths are enveloped, it is necessary to interpret the texts allegorically. Obviously this was nothing new in itself, but Dorat, unlike Bude, was able to benefit from a whole range of ancient and Byzantine texts--of which Heraclitus, Proclus, Porphyry, and Eustathius would have been of particular interest--that suggested various allegorical approaches. However, there were two key points for Dorat. In the first place, an allegorical interpretation had to be coherent, taking into account the whole work, and not just individual incidents: quite a radical departure from standard medieval or humanist practice. In the second place, etymology and, in some cases, numerology were central tools in decoding the ancient texts, since Dorat believed that our names encapsulate our fates: the nomen omen idea so popular in the Renaissance. (50)

Based on these principles, Dorat suggested that the whole of the Odyssey had a single, coherent explanation: the passage of the human soul from life through death to the afterlife. For Dorat, then, when Odysseus falls asleep at the end of book 5, having been cast up on the shore of the Phaeacians, he is in fact dying: in Homer's words "And Athena shed sleep upon his eyes, that so it might soon release him from his weary travail, overshadowing his eyelids." (51) The subsequent welcome by the Phaeacians, the feasting, and their transportation of the Greek hero to Ithaca--again, Homer insists that he is sleeping--is an allegory of the funeral rites which he receives: "For the Phaeacians mean phaioi, 'dressed in mourning,' and they take away his corpse after the funeral feast and the funeral address, which stretches over four books. Indeed, since the ship is a symbol for the tomb, eventually it is turned into stone." (52) But what about the events when Odysseus returns to Ithaca: his reunion with Penelope and his killing of the suitors and his servants? Penelope and Ithaca stand for "wisdom and happiness," (53) while the slaying of the suitors and the servants symbolizes the subjection by the dead man of the passions and emotions that troubled him in life. For Dorat the importance of this interpretation is that it demonstrates Homer's knowledge of the principles of Christianity: the notion of the survival of the soul after death and the reward for the virtuous soul of eternal bliss in heaven.

Dorat's teaching on Homer had a profound effect on his pupils. The account of the Odyssey I have just given is based on a chapter in a book by one such pupil, Willem Canter (1542-75), who finishes it by writing, "If anyone asks from which genius these ideas originated, I will praise Jean Dorat as their author, without any doubt the greatest of men, and a unique and preeminent interpreter of Homer." (54) Ronsard and Du Bellay likewise never failed to acknowledge their debt to him, and their works are profoundly marked not only by his enthusiasm for Homer, but also by his particular allegorical approach, as I have shown elsewhere. (55) At the same time, Dorat is more sensitive than many of his contemporaries to some of the more tender moments of the epics, alluding, for example, in an ode to Henri de Mesmes (1532-96) to the scene in book 6 of the Iliad where Hector makes his farewells to Andromache and his little son Astyanax. (56)

We can also see Dorat's effect at court. The period from 1540 to 1570 saw Homer making an appearance in the visual arts in France. One of the first cycles to be produced (1546-49) was painted by a relatively unknown artist, Noel Jaillier, at the chateau d'Oiron, not far from Rabelais's birthplace just outside Chinon. This cycle, which has a range of classical sources, recounts the events of the Trojan War from its origins in the Judgement of Paris through to the sack of Troy and the wanderings of Aeneas, alluding, no doubt, to the foundation myth of the Trojan origins of the French. (57) Although it is clear that the author of the program drew in part on the Iliad--the small painting of the funeral pyre of Patroclus can only have come from that source--the overall intention of the paintings is nationalistic and self-promotional, rather than in any way mysterious. The owner of the chateau, Claude Gouffier, had been Master of the King's Horse, and as such clearly wanted a theme in which horses might play a significant role (as indeed they do).

In contrast, the decoration of the no-longer-extant Galerie d'Ulysse at Fontainebleau, which covered the whole of the period from 1541 to 1570, points to a far more allegorical intention. (58) The original idea for the gallery probably came too early for any input by Dorat, but as the decoration proceeded it would have been surprising if the future poete royal and interprete du roi did not have some influence. The elaborate decorative scheme for the ceiling, with the dance of the Hours and the chariot of the sun at its center, suggests a more transcendental significance. Moreover, an early set of engravings of the Odysseus frescoes includes allegorical interpretations, mostly of a moral nature. In the case of the painting which depicts the arrival of the sleeping hero in Ithaca, however, we read, "Phaeacian women accompany Odysseus to his country, where they gently lower him, fast asleep as he was. These courtly ladies are the true symbol of the Virtues, who after death (which the most contemplative men have compared to sleep) transport us imperceptibly to heaven, from where we originate" (fig. 1). Dorat's ideas had certainly had some impact on the more general artistic climate of Renaissance France.


The last three decades of the sixteenth century are marked by a less-intense interest in Homer than that of the middle years. It is true that Homer's place in the university curriculum was now assured, with a steady stream of partial editions attesting to this fact. It is also true that the verse translation of Homer initiated by Hugues Salel was continued by Ronsard's friend and secretary, Amadis Jamyn (1540-93). The year 1577 saw the first edition of all twenty-four books of the Iliad (Paris, Lucas Brayer); three years later Jamyn's version of books 1-2 of the Odyssey were added in an edition by the same printer. Brayer's widow was responsible for yet another edition in 1584, to which Jamyn's version of book 3 of the Odyssey was added. A final edition of this appeared with the Abel L'Angelier press in 1599. It seems, then, that there was a demand for a relatively accurate vernacular poetic version of Homer, a sign that he was no longer considered to be the reserve of academe. Compared with other countries, Homer fares well in France as far as translations are concerned: the first complete translation of the Odyssey into the vernacular is the German prose version by Simon Schaidenreisser in 1538, followed in 1556 by the Spanish translation by Gonzalo Perez. (59) Finally, in 1573 there appeared an Italian version, L'Ulisse di M. Lodovico Dolce, da lui tratto dall' Odissea d'Homero et ridotto in ottava rima (Venice, Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari). As for the Iliad, no complete translation into the vernacular was published in the sixteenth century outside of France. (60)


Another sign of a more widespread interest in Homer is a vernacular commentary dating from 1577, the Apologeme pour le grand Homere, contre la reprehension du divin Platon. This work by Guillaume Paquelin sets out to deal with Plato's objections to Homer (in book 6 of the Republic) in the order in which they appear in the epics themselves. They tend towards a fairly simple form of moral interpretation. Thus, the scandalous love-making of Zeus and Hera on Mount Ida represents what happens when political leaders give in to their baser instincts: "For in saying that, while Jupiter was amusing himself with his outrageous pleasures with Juno, the fate of the Trojans, which he had forgotten about, went awry, he is simply showing that when rulers give in to leachery, the common people suffer and receive great harm, and that destructive vice of this kind, from which such great disasters flow, must be expelled from the commom-wealth. He also intends to make it clear to everyone that when women are at their most enticing, that is when they are least to be trusted." (61) This obvious, not to say misogynistic, kind of allegory is far removed from Dorat's approach.

Another, rather more scholarly, commentary also dates from this period. The young French Protestant writer Jean de Sponde went to study at the University of Basel in 1582, at the age of twenty-five, and published the following year his commentary on the whole of the Iliad and the Odyssey, in a bilingual edition of Homer printed by Eusebius Episcopus (Bischof). (62) He too adopts a generally moral attitude to the interpretation of Homer, rejecting for the most part the kind of allegorical approach which Dorat had espoused. In the case of the love-making of Zeus and Hera, he prefers to pass the whole episode in silence rather than offer an explanation, and he rejects Dorat's allegorical interpretation of Odysseus's return to Ithaca as related by Canter (though he does refer to the chapter in question in some detail). For him the description of the cave of the nymphs is simply poetic: "I prefer to interpret this simply and without frills, so that the Poet composed his description of the port not in order to suggest something else or as an allegory, but to exercise his poetic freedom of expression by devising and imagining unusual things." (63) Nevertheless, Sponde does believe that Homer had some sense of religious truth--possibly as a result of a journey to Egypt--but as a Protestant writer publishing in Switzerland his impact in France is likely to have been limited.

The man who had probably the greatest influence on critical attitudes to Homer in the closing decades of the sixteenth century in fact died in 1558. Julius Caesar Scaliger's Poetices libri septem (published posthumously in Lyon in 1561) took some time before its opinions reached literary critics and scholars, but when they did they had a profound effect on the esthetic values of the late sixteenth century, and prepared the way for French neoclassicism in the next century. With regard to Homer, it is book 5 of the Poetice, entitled "Criticus," which was particularly telling. "Criticus" consists of a comparison between Greek and Roman poetry, much of which centers on Homer and Virgil. For Scaliger, the more polished, sophisticated writing of Virgil is incontestably superior to the "natural facility"--as Ronsard had described it (64)--of Homer, who is criticized both for the content and the style of the epics. And we see opinion turning full circle with respect to the way in which Homer should be read. In particular, Scaliger has no place for the merveilleux, no place for what lacks decorum in Homer; as a forerunner of the French classical approach to writing, he emphasizes the importance of verisimilitude. Typical of his reading of Homer is this passage taken from chapter 2 of the "Criticus":
 It is not without reason that many learned men of properly educated
 taste have justly criticized certain aspects of Homer and have invited
 us to avoid them. What dreadful infamies did he not reveal amongst the
 gods: adultery, incest, mutual hatred. If you want to see allegories
 of nature in them, it is impossible to imagine an explanation showing
 us in the world of nature Venus and Mercury caught in the act by
 Vulcan. What about Leucothea daring to save Odysseus despite the will
 of her sovereign lord Neptune? Who would not consider this to be
 childish? Odysseus's crewmen kill and eat the cattle of the Sun; the
 Sun only hears about this from a messenger, and if Lampetie had not
 told him, he would still not know about it, and his wretched cows
 would be wandering around unavenged in the Elysian Fields. However,
 elsewhere he rightly speaks of 'the Sun, who sees and hears
 everything....' As for the port of Ithaca, what nonsense Porphyty
 speaks on this subject! (65)

It is in this coolly logical, culturally-determined manner that Scaliger approaches reading the content of the Homeric epics, and in an equally logical way that he approaches style: "Homer's epithets," he writes, "are often cold or puerile or inappropriate to their context. What is the point of saying of Achilles when he is weeping that he is swift-footed?" (66) Throughout the "Criticus" Scaliger demonstrates the appropriateness of Virgil in contrast to the carelessness of Homer. Despite the defensive tone which he often assumes, it is clear that he is the spokesman for an anti-Platonic, scholastic school of criticism which, with the advent of Malherbe and his followers in France, would see not only a privileging of Latin over Greek models, but also a sweeping aside of the achievements of Ronsard and the Pleiade, who would have to wait until the nineteenth century and the arrival of Sainte-Beuve before witnessing any literary rehabilitation. (67) In banishing Homer, it is the entire esthetic of the Pleiade which Scaliger's treatise is undermining.


In the course of this paper it has only been possible to touch upon a few of the areas in which Homer played a central role in Renaissance France. I am aware that I have said little about the poems' considerable presence in Renaissance poets such as Ronsard and Du Bellay, and nothing about their influence on court entertainments, such as Balthazar de Beaujoyeux's Balet comique of 1581. (68) What I hope to have done is to give a little of the background that led up to the appearance of the Homeric epics in French literature and culture.

It is nevertheless possible to suggest a few conclusions from this treatment. First, it is interesting to note the way in which the early popularity of the Iliad, considered to be the more serious of the two works because of its military, forensic, and moral content, ultimately gives way to the Odyssey, which, thanks to Dorat's interpretation, was reevaluated as a religious and metaphysical text, reinforcing Homer's reputation as a divinely inspired poet and partaker in the truths of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Second, the century-long cultural rivalry between France and Italy can be seen to have played out in the differing reactions of each nation to classical epic. In the end, despite an early favoring of Homer in Renaissance Florence, it was the Mantuan Virgil who was presented in Italy as the supreme poetic model, something which is apparent in Vida's De arte poetica (1527) long before Scaliger embodied it in his Poetice. France, on the other hand, saw in Homer a non-Italian model to follow, which echoed with the claims frequently made by scholars, including Henri Estienne, that the French language was derived from Greek rather than Latin. (69)

Finally, it is the sheer difficulty of Homer and the sense of the elusive nature of Homeric hermeneutics that attracted Dorat and the Pleiade poets whom he educated. The Homeric epics were like an archaeological site from which could be discovered not only information about the societies that they appeared to portray, but also the metaphysical and religious beliefs that underpinned these societies and which were revealed by Homer in the poems. Inspired by a syncretist view of the past, these views reinforced the Pseudo-Plutarchan view of Homer as originator of all the arts and sciences, supreme poet, and unsurpassed genius. The following centuries would see this view of Homer contested, particularly at the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth when the Querelle d'Homere was at its height. But for a brief period in the French Renaissance, the legendary Homer was held in the highest possible esteem by France's intellectual and cultural elite.




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Young, Philip H. The Printed Homer: A 3,000 Year Publishing and Translation History of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Jefferson, NC and London, 2003.

*I should like to thank the British Academy for their support in the form of a Research Readership (2003-05), which allowed me to carry out much of the research which has gone into this paper. Unless otherwise indicated, all translations in this article are my own.

(1) The two epithets can be found at Homer, 1995, 46, 190 (Odyssey 2.1 and 5.132, respectively).

(2) The extended simile is at Homer, 1999, 284 (Iliad 6.146-49).

(3) Rerum familiarum liber 18.2: "Homerus tuus apud me mutus, imo vero ego apud illum surdus sum."

(4) For more details on the role of Pilatus, see Pertusi, 1-25.

(5) Ms lat. 7880(1) bears the legend on the front endpaper "This manuscript was written in the year 1369" ("Is codex anno 1369. exaratus est"), while another note on the first page reads "written at home, begun in Padua, completed in Ticino, illuminated and bound in Milan in 1369" ("domi scriptus, pataui ceptus ticini perfectus mediolani illuminatus & ligatus anno 1369").

(6) See Grafton on the early contacts between Guillaume Bude and Lascaris; Hepp for the development of interest in Homer throughout the sixteenth century.

(7) The life attributed to Herodotus starts vol. 1, fol. AIIIr; the Pseudo-Plutarch treatise on the life and works of Homer starts fol. BIr; Dio Chrysostom begins fol. EVIIv; the text of the Iliad begins fol. AI. In vol. 2 the Odyssey begins fol. AAIr; the Batrachomyomachia fol. XXIIr; the Hymns fol. XXVIr.

(8) Ultimately, it is the Pseudo-Plutarchan Essay on the Life and Poetry of Homer which provides the material for Homer's reputation as originator of all knowledge; see Pseudo-Plutarch, especially 74-199. Poliziano's Oratio in expositione Homeri, published in the 1498 Opera omnia, repeats in Latin much of what Pseudo-Plutarch had written.

(9) See the Bibliography for details of all these editions. Strasbourg, of course, was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the sixteenth century, and only became part of France in 1681. For details of other editions of Homer in France, see Hepp, 504-09; for editions throughout Europe in this period, see Young, 176-88 (though the list is not always reliable: books printed in Lyon, for example, are attributed to Leiden because the author fails to distinguish between Lugdunum and Lugdunum Batavorum).

(10) Homer, 1510c, aijr: "Quod [iudicium] (vt alia taceam quam plurima) ex eo maxime profiteri admoneor: quod Iliada Homericam (vtinam totam) ab Nicolao Valla tralatam atque latinam factam: e Latio vsque atque adeo Roma ipsa ad nos ut praelo aliquando librario multiplicetur aduehendam curasti."

(11) See Rice, 215, n. 4, for details of the Frenchman's travels in Italy.

(12) For further details on the founding and early history of the College royal, see Fumaroli.

(13) On the use of these student editions and what we can learn from them, see Letrouit.

(14) On the Estienne presses, see Armstrong.

(15) For a recent edition of the introduction, see Kecskemeti, Boudou, and Cazes, 145-61. For details of Genevensis 44, see Nicole; Bouvier.

(16) For example, in relation to the misplacing of the apostrophe, he cites [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 21.221) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Odyssey 3.123, 4.75, 141, 6.161, 8.384) which should read [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. On the failure to recognize the use of tmesis, he gives the following examples, where modern editions all agree with his judgment: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 24.38), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 18.218), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 23.108, 153, 24.507; Odyssey 4.113, 183, 23.231), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 5.862, 11.117, 14.506), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 21.57), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Odyssey 9.245, 309, 342), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Odyssey 20.33), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Odyssey 19.599), and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Iliad 20.221).

(17) Homer, [1523?], a2r: "in gratiam adulescentulorum."

(18) For the use of the Iliad as an example of nonlinear narration, see Genette, 78-121.

(19) The verse translation of the Iliad started by Hugues Salel and completed by Amadis Jamyn had a number of editions, some of the most important of which are 1545 (bks. 1-10), 1554 (bks. 11-12), and 1577 (the complete poem). The Odyssey fared less well in the vernacular, with Jacques Peletier du Mans translating the first two books in his (Euvres poetiques of 1547, and Amadis Jamyn translating the first three books in an edition of 1599. For further discussion of the translations, see Ferguson, 125-32.

(20) First published in Basel in 1540, this Virgilian translation was printed in Paris in 1543 by Jacques Bogard, and again in 1545 by Bogard for Jacques Gazeau and Charlotte Guillard.

(21) Crespin, 1560, a.2r, where the editor speaks of the difficulty of printing Greek in such a small format, but which he has accomplished "for the benefit of the studious young, whose sight is sharp" ("in gratiam studiosae iuuentutis, quae [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]/valet").

(22) Grafton, 145-61.

(23) Ibid., 179.

(24) The admiration expressed by Alexander the Great was crucial in reinforcing Homer's reputation in Renaissance France as a military strategist, since it countered Plato's assertion in book 10 of the Republic that the poet had no expertise in this field. This was particularly important in the first half of the century, when Homer's poetry was often justified in noble circles because of its utility in military matters.

(25) Bude, 1988, 20r: "Antiquissimi etiam poetae, semina theologiae, vt tum erant tempora, non admodum improbandae, ab adytis illi quidem sanctioris philosophiae atque adeo sapientiae mutuati sunt. caeterum inextricabiles fabularum griphos, impietatemque luculenram praeferentes, pro integumentis veritatis ipsi excogitauere, quam ab oculis profanae multitudinis abdendam esse censebant longeque retinendam, instituto veteri." This modern edition contains a facsimile of the text of the first edition (Paris: Josse Bade, 1532).

(26) Bude, 1516, xiiiv: "memorabile figmentum."

(27) Ibid.: "quid aliud poetam significasse arbitremur: quam animae duas partes iram & rationem? siquidem ille irae furorem ac ferociam animi ratus circa praecordia grassari: rationis principatum ac moderamen animi in parte summa capitis sedere censuit velut speculatorem a natura perfectum: qui omnia circumspectaret: & vt auriga quadrigis: sic feruori animi atque alacritati moderatur." Bude appears to have in mind here Plato's image of the charioteer at Phaedrus 246b.

(28) Ibid., clxxxir: "sometimes we see men caught in these invisible nets, who had previously been of the highest repute, not only being the butt of the jests of ribald jokers, but also earning the condemnation of worthy and serious men" ("in caecis illis interdum laqueis videmus homines antea existimatissimos: non modo satyriscorum iocis ludibrio haberi: sed etiam bonorum grauiumque virorum calculum atrum mereri").

(29) Ibid.: "Circe Daedala."

(30) See Bude, 1993, for a modern edition and translation of the text. See also Jourde.

(31) Bude, 1993, 3, referring to Iliad 8.19.

(32) Ibid., 191: "According to them [the greatest scholars], this mortal, who is more ingenious than any other, thought that the strength of this discipline and its virtue were such that they would finally restore to their former state and to human nature the mores of men who had become degenerate and wild or similar to beasts of burden and cattle" ("Cuius vim eam esse [ut volunt] arbitratus est ille vir mortalium ingeniosissimus eamque facultatem, mores ut hominum degeneres et efferatos aut veterinarios factos, atque pecuarios, sibi tandem illa, naturaeque humanae restitueret").

(33) Ibid., 144-45: "I here attribute the name of Circe to wandering error and common wisdom which has been imbued with false opinion in relation to happiness and desirable goods, which the Scriptures, if I am not mistaken, refer to as the 'world'" ("Circen autem nunc appello errorem vulgivagum, et prudentiam communem, opinione falsa beatae vitae imbutam, rerumque expetendarum, qui mundus, ut opinor, a scriptura dicitur").

(34) Ibid., 191: "As for me, I believe that these philters correspond nowadays to the profit accumulated through immoderate greed, to the wages of ambition, as well as to the excessive, blind extravagance of fortune. Nobody is unaware that it is mainly in the assemblies of royal palaces that there is to be found a rich and abundant pharmacopia of these things" ("Haec ego nunc veneficia referenda esse censeo ad cupiditatis immodicae quaestum, stipen-diaque ambitus, tum ad fortunae ingentiores caecasque largitiones. Quarum rerum pharmacopolium, in conventibus esse praecipue regiarum, luculentum et copiosum, nemo est quin nesciat").

(35) Ibid., 160: "Inter monstra enim maris huius saeculi ... Sirenes plenissimae sunt periculi, vitatuque difficillimae."

(36) Ibid.: "Auscultet igitur Ulyxes, philosophiae non priscae terrenaeque discipulus, sed theoricae potius, de caeloque servantis quam Graeci vocant [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Vir prudens utique rerum salutarium, ac divini iuris consultus, de sua salute propinquorumque et sociorum anxius, tum appulsus in patriam suavissimi cupidissimus."

(37) See Fumaroli, 391-404.

(38) See Maillard et al., 97.

(39) See the entry on Toussain by M.-J. Beaud in Renouard, 76, where the author suggests that Toussain was the editor of the edition of the Odyssey published in 1541 by his niece Emonde Tousan, the widow of Conrad Neobar.

(40) Homer, [1523?], liijrv: "Singulare illud [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], id est graeca siue graecanica lingua. Cuius nos nuper admonebat Iacobus Tusanus homo graece & latine impense doctus."

(41) Homer, 1530e, title page: "apud Collegium Sorbonae." This Paris edition follows the text of the 1528 Aldine edition of the D Scholia.

(42) The colophon of this edition indicates that it was published ".x. Calen. Ianuarij Anno a Natiuitate domini. Millesimo Quingentesimo Trigesimo Sexto": 23 December 1536. A native, like Jean Crespin, of Arras, Robert studied in Paris before becoming a teacher at the College de Guyenne (Bordeaux) in 1534 and in Toulouse in 1536.

(43) Events from the Iliad appear in chapters 15-19. See Hepp, 464-69.

(44) For the prologue to Gargantua, see Rabelais, 7. For texual allusions to Homer, see Tiers Livre, 355-56 (ch. 1), 380 (ch. 10), 389, 391 (ch. 13), 402 (ch. 17), 424 (ch. 23), 430 (ch. 25), and Quart Livre, 593 (ch. 22).

(45) Lambin, 27-28: "Constitui enim in hoc diuino poeta explicando & rudioribus commodare, & mediocriter eruditis consulere: hoc est, & iis, qui ex Homero nihil praeter verborum interpretationem, linguaeque scientiam petunt, & iis qui subtiliore quodam, ac politiore iudicio praediti, ea, quae ab Homero dicuntur, tum quomodo dicantur, tum ad quos veluti fonteis sint referenda, tum quam vtilitatem ad hanc vitam quotidianam afferant, intelligere volunt. Vtrisque igitur ita me satisfacturum esse confido, si illis singularum vocum vim, atque originem: casuum, & temporum rationem: analogiam, dialectorum, quas appellant, varietatem diligenter, & accurate explanaro: his, si quae ad artificium poeticum, quae ad artem dicendi, quae ad prudentiam ciuilem, quae ad mores, quae ad affectus, quae ad decorum personarum, quae ad locorum, & regionum cognitionem, quae ad historiam, quae ad fabulas, quae ad omneis philosophiae parteis denique pertinent, breuiter, & enucleate declararo."

(46) Compare, for example, the copy of Homer, 1558 in the British Library, C.1.a.8, which has annotations on pp. 2-14, and, more importantly, British Library 834.g.29, a collection of various texts, including the first four books of the Iliad (in the Paris, 1562 edition), with notes by Giovanni Matteo Toscano taken from Denis Lambin's lectures.

(47) See Dupebe, 707, 711.

(48) On all aspects of Dorat's life and career, see Demerson. For an edition of his lecture notes on the Odyssey, see Dorat, 2000.

(49) Augustine, 6 (18.37).

(50) On the importance of the etymology of proper nouns, see Demerson, 206-30.

(51) Homer, 1879, 91.

(52) Canter, 262.

(53) Ibid., 261, 263: "sapientia ac felicitas."

(54) For this and the foregoing quotations, see ibid., 263.

(55) See Ford, 2001 and 2002.

(56) Dorat, 1979, 173 (ode 23, "Ad Henricum Memmium genethliacon," lines 13-24).

(57) For a study of the decoration of the gallery with reproductions of all the paintings, see Guillaume.

(58) See Beguin, Guillaume, and Roy.

(59) See Homer, 1538 and 1556, respectively. Editions of the first thirteen books had appeared in Salamanca (Portonaris) and Antwerp (Steels) in 1550, and in 1553 in Venice (Gabriel Giolito de Ferrariis y sus hermanos). The complete translation was reprinted in Venice in 1562 (F. Rampazeto).

(60) In 1581, however, there appeared a partial English translation of Ten Books of Homers Iliades, translated out of French by Arthur Hall, Esquire (London, Ralph Newberie), but this was based, as the title indicates, on the French version by Hugues Salel.

(61) Paquelin, 81: "Car en disant que pendant que Iupiter s'amusoit a prendre ses plaisirs desordonnes auec Iunon, les affaires des Troyens per luy oublies allerent tout a reculon, ce n'est que pour monstrer, que quand les magistrats s'en donnent a la paillardise, le public va mal, & en recoit grands dommages, & qu'il faut chasser de la republique tel vice pernicieux, d'ou procedent si grands malheurs. Aussi veut il faire entendre a tous, que quand les femmes blandissent le plus, c'est alors qu'on s'y doibt moins fier."

(62) For a study of Sponde's commentary, see Deloince-Louette.

(63) Homer, 1583, 187: "Rem itaque simpliciter & nude interpretari malo, ut hunc portum ita finxerit Poeta, non aliud innuendi gratia, neque [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: sed ad exercendam libertatem illam Poeticam in rebus inauditis comminiscendis ac fingendis."

(64) Ronsard, 5: "naive facilite."

(65) Scaliger, 216: "Neque vero temere multi docti, sanaeque eruditionis viri extitere, qui merito notarint quaedam, a quibus nos iuberent abstinere. Nam quae ille de suis diis infamia, infandaque prodidit? Adulteria, incestus, odia inter se. Quod si allegorias trahunt ad Physica: nunquam quicquam comminisci queant, quo Venus atque Mercurius a Vulcano in natura rerum comprehendantur. Quae sit Leucothea, quae invito Neptuno rege suo Ulyssem servare audeat? Quis putet non esse puerile illud? Solis boves interficiunt Ulyssis socii, ac vorant: hoc Sol ipse nonnisi per nuntium resciscit. & nisi dixisset Lampetie, etiam nunc ignoraret ille: misellae boves inultae errarent in Elysiis. Ast alibi sane recte dictum est, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].... De portu vero in Ithaca, quot nugas Porphyrius?" It was not, of course, Venus and Mercury, but Venus and Mars, who were caught in the toils of Vulcan.

(66) Ibid.: "Homeri epitheta saepe frigida, aut puerilia, aut locis inepta. Quid enim conuenit Achilli flenti, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]."

(67) On this vast and important topic, see Faisant.

(68) Circe and the Sirens appear in this entertainment, designed to celebrate the wedding of Henri III's favorite, the Duc de Joyeuse, and his wife's sister, Marguerite de Lorraine.

(69) See Estienne.
Year Greek text Latin translation Commentary

1474 Rome (part of Iliad)
 Brescia (Valla's Iliad)
1488 Florence (complete)
1497 Brescia (Valla's Iliad)
1502 Venice (Valla's Iliad)
1504 Venice (complete)
1505 Venice (Heraclitus)
1510 Strasbourg (Odyssey)
 Rome (Odyssey)
 Paris (della Valle's
1512 Leipzig (Valla's Iliad)
1517 Venice (complete) Rome (D scholia
1518 Rome (Porphyry)
1519 Florence (complete)
1520 Wittenberg
 (Odyssey 1-4)
 Basel (Odyssey 1-2)
 Paris (Iliad 1-7)

Gerard Morrhy Odyssey 1-2 (1530)
Chretien Wechel Iliad 1-3 (1530)
 Iliad 4-6 (1530)
 Iliad 7-10 (1535)
 Odyssey 1-5 (1535; reprinted
 Iliad 1-3 (1537)
Andre Wechel Iliad 1 (1555)
 Odyssey 1-8 (1558)
Guillaume Morel Iliad 1-4 (1562)
veuve Morel Odyssey (1566)
Jean Bienne (married veuve Morel) Iliad 1-3 (1575)
Stephane Prevosteau (son-in-law of Bienne) Odyssey (1566 edition)
Federic Morel Odyssey 1-3 (1584)
Stephane Prevosteau Iliad 2 (1596)
 Iliad 9 (1598)
 Iliad 3 (1600)
 Iliad 4 (1603)
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Date:Mar 22, 2006
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