HOMER. Les dix premiers livres de l’Iliade … traduictz en vers françois par M. Hugues Salel. Paris: [Jehan Loys for] Vincent Sertenas, 1545.
2º (279 x 187mm). 11 large woodcuts including the title cut, large woodcut criblé initials, woodcut device on verso of final leaf. (Title soiled and with several closed marginal tears, some light soiling of text margins, a few other closed tears, final leaf shorter and with corner repairs.) Brown morocco janseniste by Chambolle-Duru, Marius Michel doreur, gilt-lettered spine with raised bands, red morocco doublures tooled in gilt à la fanfare, gilt and marbled edges (light scuff-marks to upper cover).
FIRST EDITION OF SALEL'S TRANSLATION OF BOOKS I-XI AND 'ONE OF THE HANDSOMEST BOOKS PRINTED AT PARIS' (Fairfax Murray).
The Lyons poet Hugues Salel died in 1553 before finishing his translation of the Iliad: the remaining books, XII-XXIV, were completed by Amadis Jamyn. Ezra Pound in his essay on Salel calls this translation of Homer 'delightful… he has authenticity of conversation as would be demanded by an intelligent audience not yet laminated with aesthetics; capable of recognizing reality. He has the repetitions of the chanson de gestes. Of all the French and English versions, I think Salel alone gives any hint of some of these characteristics' (Grolier Club, Homer: Printed editions of the Iliad and Odyssey in Greek and in Translations and Landmarks in Homeric Scholarship, 2001).
'The first serious attempts at a modern verse rendering (of the Iliad and Odyssey) were made in France by Hugues Salel, with his 1545 version of the Iliad' (Gilbert Highet, The Classical tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature, p. 114).
The 10 woodcuts, at the beginning of each book, harmonise perfectly with their borders. They are clearly influenced by Geoffroy Tory, with their lack of shading and outline depiction of the figures, and may be the work of the 'Maître à l’F gothique' (as Brun names him), sometimes identified as the Lyons printer Francois Fradin. 'The italianate style introduced into the French book by Tory, and continued in volumes from the press of Denis Janot, reaches its height in these illustrations' (Mortimer). The title-page is illustrated with a magnificent woodcut representing Homer as the fountain of poetry.
Brun, p. 223; Brunet III, 290; Davies, Fairfax Murray French 250; Mortimer, Harvard French 293.