Volume IV : page 410
Chapter XXXIII


. . . I think the Greeks & Romans have left us the purest models which exist of fine composition, whether we examine them as works of reason, or of style & fancy; and to them we probably owe these chracteristics [ sic -- Ed. ] of modern composition. I know of no composition of any other antient people which merits the least regard as a model for it’s matter or style. to all this I add that to read the Latin & Greek authors in their original is a sublime luxury; and I deem luxury in science to be at least as justifiable as in architecture, painting, gardening or the other arts. I enjoy Homer in his own language infinitely beyond Pope’s translation of him, & both beyond the dull narrative of the same events by Dares Phrygius, & it is an innocent enjoyment. I thank on my knees him who directed my early education for having put into my possession this rich source of delight: and I would not exchange it for any thing which I could then have acquired & have not since acquired . . .
letter from Thomas Jefferson to joseph priestley, january 27, 1800.
Homeri Ilias. Gr. 2. v. in 1. fol. Foulis.
1815 Catalogue, page 135, no. 34, as above, but reading Foul.
Της του ‛Ομήρον ’Ιλιάδος (‘ο) τόμος πρότερος [Εδεύτερος] . . . Glasguae: In Aedibus Academicis, Excudebant Robertus et Andreas Foulis, Academiae Typographi, m dcc lvi . [1756.]
PA4018 .A2 1756
2 vol. folio, 162 and 170 leaves, engraved frontispiece in vol. I, dedication and introduction in roman letter, text in Greek letter throughout, half-title in both volumes.
This edition not in Brunet, Graesse or Ebert.
Dibdin II, page 58.
Murray, page 26.
Jefferson ordered a copy of this work, and of the Odyssey in the same edition, q.v., from Stockdale in a letter dated from Paris, July 24, 1786, the volumes to be sent unbound.
In his Thoughts on English prosody , originally composed for the Marquis de Chastellux (written with his left hand, probably after breaking his wrist in September 1786), Jefferson quoted a long passage from the Iliad. Jefferson’s original autograph draft of this article is in the Jefferson Papers in the Library of Congress, and occupies 28 pages in his hand. The passage quoted occurs under the heading Of the length of verse: for what is a Verse? this question naturally occurs, and it is not sufficiently answered by saying it is a whole line. should the printer think proper to print the following passage in this manner (`Ώ)ς ε(’ι)πων, ο(`υ) παιδος (’ο)ρεξατο φαίδιμος ‛Εκτωρ, άψ δ’ (‘ο) παϊς προς κολπον ε(’ύ)ζωνοιο τεθηνης εκλινθη ιαχων, πατρος φιλου αψιν ατυχθεις, ταρβησας χαλκον τε, ιδε λοφον (‘ι)ππιοχαιτην, δεινον απ’ ακροτατης κορυθος νευοντα νοησας εκ δ’ εγελασσε πατηρ τε φιλος και ποτνια μητηρ. αυτικ’ απο κρατος κορυθ’ ε(‛ι)λετο φαιδιμος Εκτωρ, και την μεν κατεθηκεν επι χθονι παμφανοωσαν αυταρ (‛ό) γ’ (‛ό)ν φιλον υ(‛ι)ον επει κυσε, πηλε τε χερσιν, ειπεν επευξαμενος Διϊ τ’ αλλοισιν τε (’θ)εοισι. Ζευ, αλλοι τε θεοι, δοτε δη και τονδε γενεσθαι παιδ’ (’ε)μον, (ˇω)ς και εγω περαριπρεπεα Τρωεσσιν, (’ω)δε βιην τ’ αγαθον, και Ιλιου ιφι ανασσειν. και ποτε τις ειπησι πατρος δ’ (‛ο)γε πολλον αμεινων, εκ πολεμου ανιοντα· φεροι δ’ εναρα βροτοεντα, κτεινας δηϊον ανδρα, χαρειη δε φρενα ματηρ. (’ω)ς ειπων, αλοχοιο φιλης εν χερσιν εθηκε παιδ’ εον· η δ’ αρα μιν κηωδεϊ δεξατο κολπ(¸ω) δακρυοεν γελασας ποσις δ’ ελεησε νοησας, χειρι τε μιν κατερεξεν it would still be verse; it would still immortalise it’s author were every other syllable of his compositions lost . . .
The two works are the first entries in Stockdale’s bill to Jefferson, dated August 18th, 1786, the price (bound) £ 2.4.
Volume IV : page 410
back to top