In 1598, Chapman published a translation of Seauen Books of the Iliades and most of book 18 of the Iliad under the title, Achilles Shield. In 1609, the first twelve books were published, followed by the translation of the entire poem in the edition of 1611, of which our copy is an example. In an introductory letter, “To the Reader,” Chapman rejects verbatim translation on the grounds of inelegance:
Their word-for-word traductions (where they lose
The free grace of their natural Dialect
And shame their Authors, with a forced Glose)
In fact, to embellish the English version, Chapman often took poetic license, going as far as adding words and phrases not in the original. For instance, “Hades” is “the invisible cave that no light comforts.” And, as it was fairly typical of the early-modern translator, Chapman also made use of annotated Latin versions, such as the edition of Jean de Sponde published in Basel in 1583, which included a Latin translation paralleling the original Greek.