George Chapman

George Chapman

Overview
George Chapman was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 dramatist, translator, and poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet
Rival Poet
The Rival Poet is one of several 'characters,' either fictional or real persons, featured in William Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnets most commonly identified as the Rival Poet group exist within the Fair Youth group in sonnets 78-86...

 of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto
William Minto
William Minto , Scottish man of letters, was born at Auchintoul, Aberdeenshire.He was educated at the University of Aberdeen, and spent a year at Merton College, Oxford...

, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets
Metaphysical poets
The metaphysical poets is a term coined by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in metaphysical concerns and a common way of investigating them, and whose work was characterized by inventiveness of metaphor...

. Chapman is best remembered for his translations of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

,
Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

,
and Batrachomyomachia
Batrachomyomachia
Batrachomyomachia or the Battle of Frogs and Mice is a comic epic or parody on the Iliad, definitely attributed to Homer by the Romans, but according to Plutarch the work of Pigres of Halicarnassus, the brother of Artemisia, queen of Caria and ally of Xerxes...

.


Chapman was born at Hitchin
Hitchin
Hitchin is a town in Hertfordshire, England, with an estimated population of 30,360.-History:Hitchin is first noted as the central place of the Hicce people mentioned in a 7th century document, the Tribal Hidage. The tribal name is Brittonic rather than Old English and derives from *siccā, meaning...

 in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

. There is conjecture that he studied at Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 but did not take a degree, though no reliable evidence affirms this.
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Quotations

Great Goddesse to whose throne in Cynthian fires,This earthlie Alter endlesse fumes expires,Therefore, in fumes of sighes and fires of griefe,To fearefull chances thou sendst bold reliefe,Happie, thrise happie, Type, and nurse of death,Who breathlesse, feedes on nothing but our breath,In whom must vertue and her issue liue,Or dye for euer.

Line 1

Musicke, and moode, she loues, but loue she hates,(As curious Ladies do, their publique cates)This traine, with meteors, comets, lightenings,The dreadfull presence of our Empresse sings:Which grant for euer (ô eternall Night)Till vertue flourish in the light of light.

Line 398

Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee. Light gains make heavy purses. 'Tis good to be merry and wise.

Eastward Ho., Act I. Sc. I
Encyclopedia
George Chapman was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 dramatist, translator, and poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet
Rival Poet
The Rival Poet is one of several 'characters,' either fictional or real persons, featured in William Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnets most commonly identified as the Rival Poet group exist within the Fair Youth group in sonnets 78-86...

 of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto
William Minto
William Minto , Scottish man of letters, was born at Auchintoul, Aberdeenshire.He was educated at the University of Aberdeen, and spent a year at Merton College, Oxford...

, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets
Metaphysical poets
The metaphysical poets is a term coined by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in metaphysical concerns and a common way of investigating them, and whose work was characterized by inventiveness of metaphor...

. Chapman is best remembered for his translations of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

,
Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

,
and Batrachomyomachia
Batrachomyomachia
Batrachomyomachia or the Battle of Frogs and Mice is a comic epic or parody on the Iliad, definitely attributed to Homer by the Romans, but according to Plutarch the work of Pigres of Halicarnassus, the brother of Artemisia, queen of Caria and ally of Xerxes...

.

Life and work


Chapman was born at Hitchin
Hitchin
Hitchin is a town in Hertfordshire, England, with an estimated population of 30,360.-History:Hitchin is first noted as the central place of the Hicce people mentioned in a 7th century document, the Tribal Hidage. The tribal name is Brittonic rather than Old English and derives from *siccā, meaning...

 in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

. There is conjecture that he studied at Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 but did not take a degree, though no reliable evidence affirms this. We know very little about Chapman's early life, but Mark Eccles uncovered records that reveal much about Chapman's difficulties and expectations. In 1585 Chapman was approached in a friendly fashion by John Wolfall, Sr., who offered to supply a bond of surety for a loan to furnish Chapman money "for his proper use in Attendance upon the then Right Honorable Sir Rafe Sadler Knight." Chapman's courtly ambitions led him into a trap. He apparently never received any money, but he would be plagued for many years by the papers he had signed. Wolfall had the poet arrested for debt in 1600, and when in 1608 Wolfall's son, having inherited his father's papers, sued yet again, Chapman's only resort was to petition the Court of Chancery for equity. As Sadler died in 1587 this gives Chapman little time to have trained under him, it seems more likely that he was in Sadler's household from 1577-83 as he dedicates all his Homerical translations to Sadler. He spent the early 1590s abroad, seeing military action in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. His earliest published works were the obscure philosophical poems The Shadow of Night
The Shadow of Night
The Shadow of Night is a long poem written by George Chapman; it was first published in 1594, in an edition printed by Richard Field for William Ponsonby, the prestigious publisher of Edmund Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney....

(1594) and Ovid's Banquet of Sense (1595). The latter has been taken as a response to the erotic poems of the age such as Phillip Sydney's Astrophel and Stella
Astrophel and Stella
Likely composed in the 1580s, Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella is an English sonnet sequence containing 108 sonnets and 11 songs. The name derives from the two Greek words, 'aster' and 'phil' , and the Latin word 'stella' meaning star. Thus Astrophel is the star lover, and Stella is his star...

and Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis
Venus and Adonis
Venus and Adonis, a classical myth, was a common subject for art during the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Some works which have been titled Venus and Adonis are:-Literary works:...

.
Chapman's life was troubled by debt and his inability to find a patron
Patrón
Patrón is a luxury brand of tequila produced in Mexico and sold in hand-blown, individually numbered bottles.Made entirely from Blue Agave "piñas" , Patrón comes in five varieties: Silver, Añejo, Reposado, Gran Patrón Platinum and Gran Patrón Burdeos. Patrón also sells a tequila-coffee blend known...

 whose fortunes did not decline. Chapman's erstwhile patrons Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599...

 and the Prince of Wales, Prince Henry
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince of Wales was the elder son of King James I & VI and Anne of Denmark. His name derives from his grandfathers: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Frederick II of Denmark. Prince Henry was widely seen as a bright and promising heir to his father's throne...

, each met their ends prematurely; the former was executed for treason by Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 (1601), and the latter died of typhoid fever at the age of eighteen (1612). Chapman's resultant poverty did not diminish his ability or his standing among his fellow Elizabethan poets and dramatists.

Chapman died in London, having lived his latter years in poverty and debt.

Plays


Comedies

By the end of the 1590s, Chapman had become a successful playwright, working for Philip Henslowe
Philip Henslowe
Philip Henslowe was an Elizabethan theatrical entrepreneur and impresario. Henslowe's modern reputation rests on the survival of his diary, a primary source for information about the theatrical world of Renaissance London...

 and later for the Children of the Chapel
Children of the Chapel
The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so....

. Among his comedies are The Blind Beggar of Alexandria
The Blind Beggar of Alexandria
The Blind Beggar of Alexandria is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy written by George Chapman. It was the first of Chapman's plays to be produced on the stage; its success inaugurated his career as a dramatist.-Performance and publication:...

(1596; printed 1598), An Humorous Day's Mirth
An Humorous Day's Mirth
An Humorous Day's Mirth is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by George Chapman, first acted in 1597 and published in 1599.Algernon Charles Swinburne called Chapman's play one of the finest comedies in English...

(1597; printed 1599), All Fools
All Fools
All Fools is an early Jacobean era stage play, a comedy by George Chapman that was first published in 1605. The play has often been considered Chapman's highest achievement in comedy: "not only Chapman's most flawless, perfectly balanced play," but "also his most human and large-minded." "Chapman...

(printed 1605), Monsieur D'Olive
Monsieur D'Olive
Monsier D'Olive is an early Jacobean era stage play, a comedy written by George Chapman.The play was first published in 1606, in a quarto printed by Thomas Creede for the bookseller William Holmes. This was the drama's sole edition before the 19th century...

(1605; printed 1606), The Gentleman Usher
The Gentleman Usher
The Gentleman Usher is an early 17th-century stage play, a comedy written by George Chapman that was first published in 1606. It is noted as the only play in which Chapman takes a positive view of women.-Date and publication:...

(printed 1606) May Day
May Day (play)
May Day is an early seventeenth-century stage play, a comedy written by George Chapman that was first published in 1611.May Day enters the historical record when it was printed in a quarto edition by the stationer John Browne. This was the sole edition of the play prior to the nineteenth century...

(printed 1611), and The Widow's Tears
The Widow's Tears
The Widow's Tears is an early Jacobean era play, a comedy written by George Chapman. It is often considered the last of Chapman's comedies, and sometimes his most problematic, "the most provocative and the most paradoxical of any of his dramatic works."...

(printed 1612). His plays show a willingness to experiment with dramatic form: An Humorous Day's Mirth was one of the first plays to be written in the style of 'humours comedy' which Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 later used in Every Man in his Humour and Every Man Out of his Humour. With The Widow's Tears he was also one of the first writers to meld comedy with more serious themes, creating the tragicomedy later made famous by Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher
Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I ....

.
He also wrote one noteworthy play in collaboration. Eastward Ho
Eastward Hoe
Eastward Hoe or Eastward Ho, is an early Jacobean era stage play, a satire and city comedy written by George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and John Marston, printed in 1605. The play was written in response to Westward Ho, an earlier satire by Thomas Dekker and John Webster...

(1605), written with Jonson and John Marston
John Marston
John Marston was an English poet, playwright and satirist during the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods...

, contained satirical references to the Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 which landed Chapman and Jonson in jail. Various of their letters to the king and other nobleman survive in a manuscript in the Folger Library known as the Dobell MS, and published by A.R. Braunmuller as A Seventeenth Century Letterbook. In the letters, both men renounced the offending line, implying that Marston was responsible for the injurious remark. Jonson's 'Conversations With Drummond' refers to the imprisonment, and suggests there was a possibility that both authors would have their 'ears and noses slit' as a punishment, but this may have been Jonson elaborating on the story in retrospect.

Chapman's friendship with Jonson, however, broke down, perhaps as a result of Jonson's public feud with Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones
Inigo Jones is the first significant British architect of the modern period, and the first to bring Italianate Renaissance architecture to England...

, and some satiric, scathing lines, written sometime after the burning of Jonson's desk and papers, provide evidence of the rift. The poem lampooning Jonson's aggressive behaviour and self-believed superiority remained unpublished during Chapman's lifetime, and exists only in documents collected after his death.

Tragedies

His greatest tragedies took their subject matter from recent French history, the French ambassador taking offence on at least one occasion. These include Bussy D'Ambois
Bussy D'Ambois
The Tragedy of Bussy D'Ambois is a Jacobean stage play written by George Chapman. Classified as either a tragedy or "contemporary history," Bussy D'Ambois is widely considered Chapman's greatest play, and is the earliest in a series of plays that Chapman wrote about the French political scene in...

(1607), The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron
The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron
The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, Marshall of France is a Jacobean tragedy by George Chapman, a two-part play or double play first performed and published in 1608...

(1608), The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois
The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois
The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois is a Jacobean revenge tragedy written by George Chapman. The Revenge is a sequel to his earlier Bussy D'Ambois, and was first published in 1613.-Genre and source:...

(1613) and The Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France
The Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France
The Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France is an early seventeenth-century play, generally judged to be a work of George Chapman, later revised by James Shirley...

(published 1639). The two Byron plays were banned from the stage—though when the Court left London the plays were performed in their original and unexpurgated forms by the Children of the Chapel. The French ambassador probably took offence to a scene which portrays Henry IV's wife and mistress arguing and physically fighting. On publication, the offending material was excised, and Chapman refers to the play in his dedication to Sir Thomas Walsingham
Thomas Walsingham (literary patron)
Sir Thomas Walsingham was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I and literary patron to such poets as Thomas Watson, Thomas Nashe, George Chapman and Christopher Marlowe. He was related to Elizabeth's spymaster Francis Walsingham and the employer of Marlowe's murderer Ingram Frizer...

 as 'poore dismembered Poems'. His only work of classical tragedy, Caesar and Pompey
Caesar and Pompey
Caesar and Pompey is a Jacobean era stage play, a classical tragedy written by George Chapman. Arguably Chapman's most obscure play, it is also one of the more problematic works of English Renaissance drama.-Date:...

(ca. 1613?) is generally regarded as his most modest achievement in the genre.

Other plays

Chapman wrote one of the most successful masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

s of the Jacobean era
Jacobean era
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James VI of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I...

, The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn
The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn
The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn was a Jacobean era masque, written by George Chapman, and with costumes, sets, and stage effects designed by Inigo Jones...

,
performed on 15 February 1613.

Chapman's authorship has been argued in connection with a number of anonymous plays of his era. F. G. Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay was an influential and prolific nineteenth-century Shakespeare scholar.Fleay, the son of a linen draper, graduated from King's College London and Trinity College, Cambridge , where he received mathematical training that was key to his later achievements...

 proposed that his first play was The Disguises. He has been put forward as the author, in whole or in part, of Sir Giles Goosecap
Sir Giles Goosecap
Sir Giles Goosecap is an early 17th-century stage play, a comedy first published, anonymously, in 1606. Consensus scholarship attributes the play's authorship to George Chapman.-Date, performance, publication:...

,
Two Wise Men And All The Rest Fools, The Fountain Of New Fashions, and The Second Maiden's Tragedy
The Second Maiden's Tragedy
The Second Maiden's Tragedy is a Jacobean play that survives only in manuscript. It was written in 1611, and performed in the same year by the King's Men. The manuscript that survives is the copy that was sent to the censor, and therefore includes his notes and deletions...

.
Of these, only 'Sir Gyles Goosecap' is generally accepted by scholars to have been written by Chapman (The Plays of George Chapman: The Tragedies, with Sir Giles Goosecap, edited by Allan Holaday, University of Illinois Press, 1987).

In 1654, bookseller Richard Marriot
John and Richard Marriot
John Marriot and his son Richard Marriot were prominent London publishers and booksellers in the seventeenth century. For a portion of their careers, the 1645–57 period, they were partners in a family business....

 published the play Revenge for Honour as the work of Chapman. Scholars have rejected the attribution; the play may have been written by Henry Glapthorne
Henry Glapthorne
Henry Glapthorne was a Caroline era dramatist.Glapthorne was baptized in Cambridgeshire, the son of Thomas Glapthorne and Faith nee Hatcliff. His father was a bailiff of Lady Hatton, the wife of Sir Edward Coke...

. Alphonsus Emperor of Germany (also printed 1654) is generally considered another false Chapman attribution.

The lost plays The Fatal Love and A Yorkshire Gentlewoman And Her Son were assigned to Chapman in Stationers' Register
Stationers' Register
The Stationers' Register was a record book maintained by the Stationers' Company of London. The company is a trade guild given a royal charter in 1557 to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry, including printers, bookbinders, booksellers, and publishers in England...

 entries in 1660. Both of these plays were among the ones destroyed in the famous kitchen burnings by John Warburton
John Warburton (officer of arms)
John Warburton was Somerset Herald of Arms in Ordinary at the College of Arms in the early 18th century. Warburton was a collector of old drama manuscripts, who is perhaps most notable because of his carelessness. On one occasion, he left a pile of manuscripts in the kitchen. When he came looking...

's cook. The lost play Christianetta (registered 1640) may have been a collaboration between Chapman and Richard Brome
Richard Brome
Richard Brome was an English dramatist of the Caroline era.-Life:Virtually nothing is known about Brome's private life. Repeated allusions in contemporary works, like Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, indicate that Brome started out as a servant of Jonson, in some capacity...

, or a revision by Brome of a Chapman work.

Poet and translator


Other poems by Chapman include: De Guiana, Carmen Epicum (1596), on the exploits of Sir Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

; a continuation of Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

's unfinished Hero and Leander (1598); and Euthymiae Raptus; or the Tears of Peace (1609). Some have considered Chapman to be the "rival poet
Rival Poet
The Rival Poet is one of several 'characters,' either fictional or real persons, featured in William Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnets most commonly identified as the Rival Poet group exist within the Fair Youth group in sonnets 78-86...

" of Shakespeare's Sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets are 154 poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare, dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. All but two of the poems were first published in a 1609 quarto entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.: Never before imprinted. Sonnets 138 and 144...

.

From 1598 he published his translation of the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

in installments. (Shakespeare apparently was able to learn enough about the content of the "Iliad," whether directly from Chapman's translation, or from an acquaintance with what Chapman was working on acquired otherwise, to enable him to put forth "Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. It was also described by Frederick S. Boas as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. The play ends on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus...

" in 1601-2; that play is remarkable for interweaving the Iliadic story of the deaths of Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

 and Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

 with the quite un-Iliadic story of love betrayed as told first in English by Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

 in his masterpiece "Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it...

.") In 1616 the complete Iliad and Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

appeared in The Whole Works of Homer, the first complete English translation, which until Pope's was the most popular in the English language and was the way most English speakers encountered these poems. The endeavour was to have been profitable: his patron, Prince Henry, had promised him £300 on its completion plus a pension. However, Henry died in 1612 and his household neglected the commitment, leaving Chapman without either a patron or an income. In an extant letter, Chapman petitions for the money owed him; his petition was ineffective. Chapman's translation of the Odyssey is written in iambic pentameter
Iambic pentameter
Iambic pentameter is a commonly used metrical line in traditional verse and verse drama. The term describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in that line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called "feet"...

, whereas his Iliad is written in iambic heptameter. (The Greek original is in dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

.) Chapman often extends and elaborates on Homer's original contents to add descriptive detail or moral and philosophical interpretation and emphasis. Chapman's translation of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 was much admired by John Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

, notably in his famous poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told...

,
and also drew attention from Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

 and T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

.

Chapman also translated the Homeric Hymns
Homeric Hymns
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect...

,
the Georgics
Georgics
The Georgics is a poem in four books, likely published in 29 BC. It is the second major work by the Latin poet Virgil, following his Eclogues and preceding the Aeneid. It is a poem that draws on many prior sources and influenced many later authors from antiquity to the present...

of Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

, The Works of Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

(1618, dedicated to Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

), the Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander is a Byzantine myth, relating the story of Hērō and like "hero" in English), a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Dardanelles, and Leander , a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero...

of Musaeus
Musaeus
Musaeus or Musaios was the name of three Greek poets.-Musaeus of Athens:Musaeus was a legendary polymath, philosopher, historian, prophet, seer, priest, poet, and musician, said to have been the founder of priestly poetry in Attica...

 (1618), and the Fifth Satire of Juvenal
Juvenal
The Satires are a collection of satirical poems by the Latin author Juvenal written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.Juvenal is credited with sixteen known poems divided among five books; all are in the Roman genre of satire, which, at its most basic in the time of the author, comprised a...

 (1624).

Chapman's poetry, though not widely influential on the subsequent development of English poetry, did have a noteworthy effect on the work of T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

.

Homage


In Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron...

's poem, The Revolt of Islam
The Revolt of Islam
The Revolt of Islam is a poem in twelve cantos composed by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1817. The poem was originally published under the title Laon and Cythna; or, The Revolution of the Golden City: A Vision of the Nineteenth Century by Charles and James Ollier in December, 1817...

, Shelley quotes a verse of Chapman's as homage
Homage
Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic....

 within his dedication "to Mary__ __", presumably his wife Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

:

There is no danger to a man, that knows

What life and death is: there's not any law

Exceeds his knowledge; neither is it lawful

That he should stoop to any other law.



Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, quoted the same verse in his part fiction, part literary criticism, "The Portrait of Mr. W.H.".

The English poet Keats wrote "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told...

" for his friend Charles Cowden Clarke
Charles Cowden Clarke
Charles Cowden Clarke , English author and Shakespearian scholar, was born in Enfield, Middlesex.-Life:His father, John Clarke, was a schoolmaster in Clarke's Academy in Enfield Town, among whose pupils was John Keats. Charles Clarke taught Keats his letters, and encouraged his love of poetry...

 in October 1816. The poem begins "Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold" and is much quoted. For example, P.G. Wodehouse in his review of the first Flashman novel that came to his attention: "Now I understand what that ‘when a new planet swims into his ken’ excitement is all about." Arthur Ransome
Arthur Ransome
Arthur Michell Ransome was an English author and journalist, best known for writing the Swallows and Amazons series of children's books. These tell of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects...

 uses two references from it in his children's books, the Swallows and Amazons
Swallows and Amazons
Swallows and Amazons is the first book in the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome; it was first published in 1930, with the action taking place in the summer of 1929 in the Lake District...

series.

Quotes



From All Fooles, II.1.170-178, by George Chapman:
I could have written as good prose and verse
As the most beggarly poet of 'em all,
Either Accrostique, Exordion,
Epithalamions, Satyres, Epigrams,
Sonnets in Doozens, or your Quatorzanies,
In any rhyme, Masculine, Feminine,
Or Sdrucciola, or cooplets, Blancke Verse:
Y'are but bench-whistlers now a dayes to them
That were in our times....

See also


  • Rival Poet
    Rival Poet
    The Rival Poet is one of several 'characters,' either fictional or real persons, featured in William Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnets most commonly identified as the Rival Poet group exist within the Fair Youth group in sonnets 78-86...

  • The School of Night
    The School of Night
    The School of Night is a modern name for a group of men centred on Sir Walter Raleigh that was once referred to in 1592 as the "School of Atheism." The group supposedly included poets and scientists such as Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman and Thomas Harriot...

  • Thomas Marc Parrott
    Thomas Marc Parrott
    Thomas Marc Parrott was a prominent twentieth-century American literary scholar, long a member of the faculty of Princeton University in New Jersey....

  • Louis de Bussy d'Amboise
  • Philippe Chabot
  • Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron

External links