FIRST TRANSLATION OF SOPHOCLES INTO ENGLISHSOPHOCLES.
Electra of Sophocles: Presented to Her Highnesse The Lady Elizabeth; With an Epilogue, Shewing the Parallell in two Poems, The Return, and The Restauration. By C.[hristopher] W.[ase].
The Hague: for Sam. Brown, 1649.
12mo, 18th-century full calf gilt rebacked, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $4800.First edition of the first English translation of Sophocles, with engraved portraits of Charles II and Princess Elizabeth.
Christopher Wase’s Electra
was the first English translation of any play by Sophocles. Published in 1649, just after the execution of King Charles I, the translation and notes are strongly inflected by Wase’s Royalist sympathies. The parallel between the ruined house of Stuart and the ruined house of Agamemnon is apt enough, and was not appreciated by the Parliamentary government. Without subtlety, Wase appended two original political poems to the end of the volume, “The Return” and “The Restauration.” He was subsequently deprived of his fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge, and captured at sea while fleeing England. He escaped from imprisonment but returned after a few years’ service in the Spanish army. Despite the imprint, the Electra
was almost certainly printed in London.
Engraved frontispiece portrait of Princess Elizabeth by Francis Barlow (cropped very closely, as usual) and oval portrait of Prince Charles, the variant with scroll title reading “Jersey” (where the Prince was in 1649). With woodcut diagrams on page 19, illustrating Wase’s distinctly odd footnote on how to make an axe (“Take a plate of iron infinite…”). Titles printed in red and black.
Greg 683. Wing S4690.
Interior generally clean. A very good copy.