The Elzevir Homer


Greek text. Homeri Ilias & Odyssea, Et in easdem scholia, sive interpretatio Didymi. Cum Latina versione accuratissima, Indiceque Graeco locupletissimo Rerum ac variantium lection. Accurante Corn. Schrevelio.

Amsterdam: Ex Officina Elzeviriana, 1656


Quarto. 24.5 x 20.3 cm. Two volumes bound as one: *4, **4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Vvvv4, Xxxx2; a-z4, aa-zz4, aaa-xxx4, aaaa-eeee4, ffff2


An extremely large copy with very broad margins. A school prize, bound in contemporary stiff vellum ornately tooled in gold. The text is in excellent condition throughout. With an added engraved title page featuring a medallion portrait of Homer and flanking figures of Achilles and Odysseus. A divisional title page precedes the Odyssey.

This edition contains the Greek texts of the Homeric epics, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey"; as well as the Homeric Hymns and the mock epic "Batrachomyomachia". With the Latin translation of the classical scholar Cornelius Schrevelius (1608-1661) and the Greek commentary of Pseudo Didymus.

"Whatever our views may be on the authorship of the Homeric poems, there is no doubt of their astonishing quality. They combine legends of a very distant past with a lively sense of the living scene, and though their characters are heroes and heroines, they are remarkably real. The story is told with a great simplicity, but this makes its episodes more dramatic, and in their greatest moments they contain some of the greatest poetry in the world. The plot moves with an unusual speed and the climaxes in both poems make an overwhelming impact. The rich, traditional language is ready for every occasion and, despite its richness, helps to maintain the essential simplicity. The poems are variously exciting, humorous, pathetic, and dramatic, and despite their fantastic elements, never far from common humanity. The similes present a whole world of contemporary people and things that lie outside the actual heroic tale, and the description of the shield of Achilles is surely the poet’s vision of his own world, as he knew it in war and peace. The poet or poets fully deserve their place at the beginning of European literature, since they have marked out for succeeding generations what the poetry of action and suffering ought to be." (OCD)

Willems 1202; Dibdin II, 53; Brunet III, 272; Graesse III, 328; Schweiger I, 158; Bibliotheca Philologica Classica et Archaeologica (1913), 2087 ('Cette belle édition est recherchée à cause des commentaires')