Alexander Pope's Illiad


  • Intro

    Alexander Pope was probably the most influential author of his generation. His work continued to influence other writers more than 100 years after his death. Shown here is an extract from his draft translation of Homer’s Iliad, with a sketch of the Shield of Achilles, completed in 1720. The first volume of Pope’s translation, or rather reinterpretation, appeared in 1715, at the same time as a rival version by Thomas Tickell. It had for the most part been composed at a steady 30 to 50 verses a day, written out on the backs of letters addressed to Pope’s mother and himself at Twickenham. The genius of Pope’s Iliad was widely acknowledged, although it actually bore little resemblance to the original Greek text. The pages shown here, in an autograph draft, are the final verses of Achilles’s lament for Patroclus in Book XIX. Opposite is a rough sketch of the shield forged by Hephaestus for the Greek hero.


    Shelfmark: Add. MS 4808, ff.81v-82

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