Commentaries on the Exhibit’s Works




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A brief commentary prepared by Fred W. Jenkins, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Collections and Operations, University Libraries, on the following work:

Works in Greek
Florence, 1488; editio princeps; bookplates of Labouchère and Duke of Sussex


Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεά, Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος (“Wrath, Goddess, sing the wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus.”)Thus begins the Iliad, and thus begins Western literature. From the time the Homeric epics were first written down in the eighth century BC to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, they formed the core of Greek education. In the West, until well into the twentieth century, reading Homer in Greek remained an important part of a liberal education. In recent years, the Homeric epics have influenced writers such as James Joyce, Nikos Kazantzakis, and Derek Walcott, as well as films such as John Ford’s The Searchers and Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? The volumes on display, edited by Demetrius Chalcondyles in 1488, represent both the first printed edition of the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek and the first collected edition of Homer’s works.

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Fred Jenkins, associate dean of University Libraries, discusses the controversy among ancient scholars, asking, “Were all Homeric works written by a single author?”

Homer: ‘Works in Greek’


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