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London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1697
First edition
PA6807 .A1 D7 1697

Translated into English verse by John Dryden. Alexander Pope called Dryden’s translation “the most noble and spirited translation I know in any language.” The book was published by subscription, a method of publishing by which the subscriber’s patronage enabled the production of particularly lavish books. In all, one hundred and one persons subscribed. For five guineas they would each have a full-page illustration in their copy with their names and coat of arms. A second subscription list went out after Dryden had completed half the translation. These subscribers paid two guineas for their copy, which did not include plates dedicated to them. Two hundred and fifty copies were added for this list. Correspondence between Dryden and Jacob Tonson reveal several arguments during the publication process. One such quarrel evolved over the desire of Tonson to dedicate the book to William III and Dryden’s refusal to do so. Tonson made sure that the engravings were adapted so that Aeneas sported a hooked nose a la William. Illustrated with one hundred and one engraved plates by Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677) as well as an engraved title-page and a full-page engraving of Virgil reciting the Marcellus passage in Aeneid Bk VI to Augustus and Octavia. Hollar, born in Prague, studied engraving in Frankfurt in 1627 with publisher Matthaus Merian. In 1633, he was working in Cologne. Under the patronage of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, he moved to England in 1637, where he taught drawing to the Prince of Wales. He fought in the ranks of the King, was captured by Parliament and escaped to Antwerp in 1644. He returned to London in 1652, where he died in poverty. A master etcher he was recognized in his own time and to this day for his work, producing nearly three thousand plates, many of which illustrated books such as this. He is best known for his etchings of London after the Great Fire of 1666. He married and had a daughter, described by a contemporary as “one of the greatest beauties I have seen.” A son died in the plague. He had several children by a second wife. Bound in contemporary speckled calf, the spine tooled in gold.