John Ogilby

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Fortune assists the bold; the valiant man
Oft conqueror proves, because he thinks he can.

John Ogilby (17 November 16004 September 1676) was a Scottish translator, impresario and cartographer.



The Works of Publius Virgilius Maro (2nd ed. 1654)


Virgil's Bucolicks

Eclogue I
Britany, from all the world disjoined.
  • The hope of my poor Flock.
  • Great things to compare with Small.
  • Britany, from all the World disjoyn'd.
Eclogue II
  • Sweet Youth, in Colour no such trust repose.
  • Thus every one pursue their own delights.
Eclogue III
Ambushed in grass, a deadly serpent lies.
  • Now fields are green, and trees bear silver buds.
  • Ambush'd in grass, a deadly Serpent lyes.
Eclogue IV
Begin, sweet babe, with smiles thy mother know.
  • Begin, sweet Babe, with smiles thy Mother know.
Eclogue V
  • O Divine Poet, me thy Verses please
    More than soft slumber laid in quiet ease.
Eclogue VII
  • Arcadians both, in youth both flourishing,
    Both match'd to sing, to answer both prepar'd.
Eclogue VIII
  • Now know I what Love is.
  • The Gods most pleasure in od numbers take.
Eclogue IX
  • But them I'm not so foolish to believe.
  • Age all things wasts.
  • Singing let's go, the way shall better please.
Eclogue X
Love conquers all, let us submit to love.
  • Here sweet Meads, cool Fountains be,
    Here Groves where I could spend my Age with thee.
  • Love Conquers all, let us submit to Love.

Virgil's Georgicks

Book I
  • Whence Men, a hard Race, sprung.
  • Pray for wet Summers, Winters wanting Rain.
Fierce toil through all things breaks.
  • Various Arts by study might be wrought
    Up to their height.
  • Then Arts began; fierce toyl through all things breaks,
    And urgent Want strange Projects undertakes.
  • Each thing by Destiny
    So hastens to grow worse, and backward goes;
    As one against a stream his Vessel rowes,
    Who if by chance his arm a little slack,
    The Boat in the swift Chanel hurries back.
  • First the Gods adore.
Book II
  • Bacchus loves the Sunny hills.
  • Such strength hath Custome in each tender Soul.
Happy is he that hidden causes knows.
  • Happy is he that hidden causes knowes.
Book III
  • Yet I a way to raise my self have found,
    Shall make my Name through all the World renown'd.
  • No stop, no stay.
  • The same Love works in all.
But time irreparable hastes away.
  • But time irreparable hasts away.
Book IV
  • If I may great things compare with Small.
  • They say the Deity
    Is mix'd through Earth, the Sea, and lofty Skie.
  • Nor is there place for Death.
  • Farewell, farewel, Night shades my Body o're,
    Stretching my hands, t'embrace thee, thine no more.

Virgil's Æneis

Book I
  • Arms, and the Man I sing, who first did land,
    Fate-forc'd from Troy, on the Lavinian Strand;
    Whom angry Gods at Sea and Land engage,
    And cruel Juno's persecuting Rage.
    Much suffer'd he by War, whilst Walls he rear'd,
    And Trojan Gods to Latian Realms transferr'd;
    Whence Latins, and the Alban Princes come,
    And lofty Tow'rs of all-commanding Rome.
  • Can in Celestial minds such Passion reign?
  • So great the Task to raise the Roman State!
  • Dear Friends, for we have many Dangers past,
    And greater, God these too will end at last.
But who art thou? That voice, and beauteous face,
Not mortal is; thou art of heavenly race.
  • This Story may
    Delightful be to tell another day.
  • Live, and with Hope such happy Dayes expect.
    This said, although opprest with weighty Care,
    He shews glad Looks, and hides his deep Despair.
  • Having drown'd her sparkling Eyes in tears.
  • How could my Son so highly thee incense
    What was the wasted Trojans great offence?
    • Compare John Dryden's translation:
      How could my pious son thy pow'r incense?
      Or what, alas! is vanish'd Troy's offense?
  • But who art thou? that Voyce, and beauteous Face,
    Not Mortal is; thou art of Heavenly Race.
  • She all the Goddesses excels.
  • If Men, and Mortal Powers you not regard,
    Yet know, the Gods both Right and Wrong record.
  • Taught by my Woes, to succour the distrest.
Book II
Trojans beware, within some mischief lies;
Be what it will, Greeks bringing gifts I fear.
Dear father, get upon my shoulders straight,
Nor shall your burden be to me a weight.
Ascanius ... followed with no equal pace.
  • Trojans beware, within some Mischief lyes;
    Be what it will, Greeks bringing Gifts I fear.
  • Fury our Judgement charms,
    And we conceive it brave to dye in Arms.
  • Vanquisht men's safety is to hope for none.
  • In all parts cruel Grief, in all parts Fear,
    And Death in various Shapes seen every where.
  • Ah! who may hope, when Heaven hath Help deni'd!
  • Th' Old Man a feeble Javelin threw,
    Which could not pierce his sounding Target through,
    But on the Margin hung the harmless Spear.
  • Arm, arm, bring Arms, the last day bids us go;
    Dear Countreymen, let's once more charge the Foe;
    Let us renew the Fight, on bravely fall,
    We shall not perish unrevenged all.
  • Dear Father, get upon my shoulders streight,
    Nor shall your Burthen be to me a Weight.
    What ever chance, one common Danger we
    Shall equal share, to both one safety be:
    I shall Ascanius my Companion chuse;
    My Wife must follow, but some distance use.
  • Ascanius did embrace
    My hand, and follow'd with no equal pace.
  • Speechless I was, upright did stand my Hair.
  • Three times I strove to cling about her Neck,
    Thrice her in vain my circling Arms entwin'd
    She like a swift Dream flyes, or nimble Wind.
  • I the Mountain take,
    Bearing my aged Father on my Back.
Book III
May you live happy, you whose woes are done.
Stern fates, to fates more cruel, us constrain.
  • What dares not impious man for cursed Gold!
  • A Prophetess inspir'd thou shalt behold
    Down in a Cave, who long hath Fate foretold;
    Which writ in Leaves, the Maid in order puts,
    And to secure, in hollow Marble shuts.
    They keep their Stations just as she design'd:
    But the Door op'ning, with the smallest Wind,
    The slender leaves do every way disperse.
  • Suffer thou with patience this delay.
  • Go, raise great Troy by prowess to the Skies.
  • May you live happy, you whose Woes are done.
    Stern Fates, to Fates more cruel, us constrain.
  • On high Backs mounted of the swelling Flood,
    At Heaven we tilt, then suddenly we fell,
    Watry Foundations sinking low as Hell.
  • A horrid Monster, huge, deform'd, and blind.
Book IV
I feel the sparks of my old flame revive.
Whilst a soul supports this mortal frame,
I never shall forget Eliza's name.
  • Mean time the Queen wounded with deep desire,
    Bleeds inward, and consumes in hidden Fire.
  • What strange Dreams disturb my rest?
  • Fear speaks degenerate minds.
  • Ah, by what Fates
    Hath he been toss'd? what Battles he relates!
    Were I not fix'd, did not my changeless Vow
    All thoughts of second Marriage dis-allow,
    Since my first Love by Death deceiv'd me...
    I had perhaps with this one Crime comply'd.
  • I feel the Sparks of my old Flame revive.
  • But may the Earth first swallow me alive,
    Or Jove's dire Thunder sink me down to Hell,
    Where Shades, pale Shades, of Night eternal dwell,
    E're I with Shame, and those dear Ties dispense:
    He who my first Love had, hath born it hence,
    And in his Grave for ever let it rest.
  • This, think'st thou Dust intomb'd, or Ghosts regard?
  • Stupendious Works unfinish'd lye.
  • The Queen neglected Fame for Love.
  • Fame far out-strips all Mischiefs in her course,
    Which grows by Motion, gains, by flying, Force;
    Kept under first by Fear, soon after shrouds,
    Stalking or Earth, her Head amongst the Clouds.
  • He must hoyst Sail, and fly.
  • His active Soul a thousand waies divides,
    And swift through all imaginations glides.
  • Who a Lover can deceive?
  • And could'st thou hope, perfidious, to deceive
    Me thus? and secretly our Kingdom leave?
  • Fliest thou me?
    Now by these Tears, by this Right hand I thee
    (Who now unfortunate can boast no more)
    By our late Vows, our Nuptial Rites implore;
    If e're I did oblige, if ever please,
    Take pitie on a falling House; And these
    Designes, if Praier may yet find rome, lay by.
  • Whilst a Soul supports this mortal Frame,
    I never shall forget Eliza's name.

Homer His Iliads Translated (1660)

  • Achilles Peleus Son's destructive Rage,
    Great Goddess, sing, which did the Greeks engage
    In many Woes, and mighty Hero's Ghosts
    Sent down untimely to the Stygian Coasts:
    Devouring Vultures on their Bodies prey'd,
    And greedy Dogs, (so was Jove's Will obey'd;)
    Because Great Agamemnon fell at odds
    With stern Achilles, Off-spring of the Gods.
    • Book I, opening lines
Him here he found preparing for the field
His bow, his breastplate, and his glittering shield.
With cruel tusks a savage boar employs,
Who all king Oeneus' fertile fields destroys:
The stately trees tore from their fibered roots,
Silvered with blossoms of delicious fruits.
Wilt thou, dear daughter, grant me one request,
Or still old grudges foster in thy breast,
Because thou Troy, and I the Grecians aid?
  • Him here he found preparing for the field
    His bow, his breast-plate, and his glittering shield:
    Whilst beauteous Helen 'mongst her maids in state
    Their several works and tasks disposing sate.
    • Book IV
  • Ah! much those ancient heroes were of old
    As patterns of benignity extoll'd:
    Whom, though their bosoms did with anger boil;
    Rich gifts and softer words would reconcile.
    • Book IX
  • With cruell tusks a savage boar imploys,
    Who all king Œneus' fertile fields destroys:
    The stately trees tore from their fiber'd roots,
    Silver'd with blossoms of delicious fruits.
    • Book IX
  • Come, let us arm with speed; and let us two
    Try, what our forces may united do.
    • Book XIII
  • Like a burnt stake, half stuck upon his shield;
    The other half lay broken in the field.
    • Book XIII
  • Wilt thou, dear daughter, grant me one request,
    Or still old grudges foster in thy breast,
    Because thou Troy, and I the Grecians aid?
    • Book XIV
  • But Ajax now no longer thought it good
    To keep his post, and stand where others stood.
    • Book XV
  • Why com'st thou like a girl with blubber'd eyes,
    Who running by her busie mother cries
    To be ta'en up, and by her garments holds,
    Till she the fondling in her arms infolds.
    • Book XVI
  • Then let him swear he ne'er the lady knew,
    And did with her as men with women do.
    • Book XIX
  • Why prattle we like children at their play,
    Spending thus idle breath, enough to freight
    An able vessel of the primer rate?
    Our tongues are voluble, and store of words
    Invention on all arguments affords,
    Scatter'd on fresh occasions here and there,
    And what thou say'st thou shalt from others hear.
    Let us no longer vainly thus contend,
    Like fenceless women, railing to no end.
    • Book XX
  • Who, dearest daughter! thus unkindly used,
    And like a malefactor thee abused?
    She sighing then replied; Juno thy wife,
    Who still foments contention here and strife.
    • Book XXI
  • When they and Venus to his cottage came,
    For lust-rewards prefer'd the Cyprian dame.

Homer His Odysses Translated (1665)

  • That prudent Hero's wandering, Muse, rehearse,
    Who (Troy b'ing sack'd) coasting the Universe,
    Saw many Cities, and their various Modes;
    Much suffering, tost by Storms on raging Floods,
    His Friends conducting to their Native Coast:
    But all in vain, for he his Navy lost,
    And they their Lives, prophanely feasting on
    Herds consecrated to the glorious Sun;
    Who much incens'd obstructed so their way,
    They ne'er return'd: Jove's Daughter this display.
    • Book I, opening lines
  • Then in a chair, with a rich cushion grac'd
    And a carv'd foot-stool, he Minerva plac'd.
    There 'gainst a column sets her lance, where stood
    Ulysses' javelins, planted like a wood.
    • Book I. Compare Pope's translation:
      The spear receiving from her hand, he plac'd
      Against a column, fair with sculpture grac'd;
      Where seemly rang'd in peaceful order stood
      Ulysses' arms, now long disus'd to blood.
Their oars I bid them ply, their lives to save,
Death at their heels: they brush the briny wave,
And soon our ship the open sea enjoyed;
But all the rest the Laestrigons destroyed.
  • There had his flesh been rent, fractur'd his bones,
    'Mongst rowling pebbles, and sharp pointed stones.
    • Book V
  • At last a pleasant river's mouth he finds,
    Free from rough clifts, safe from disturbing winds.
    • Book V
  • Their oars I bid them ply, their lives to save,
    Death at their heels: they brush the briny wave,
    And soon our ship the open sea enjoy'd;
    But all the rest the Læstrigons destroy'd.
    • Book X
  • These Heaven decrees, and ever-fixed Fate.
    But say, blest prophet, and the truth relate;
    I see my mother's shade, who not her son
    Will speak to, nor so much as look upon:
    Silent she sits by sacred blood: ah, how
    May she, poor shadow! her dear offspring know?
    • Book X

The Fables of Aesop (2nd ed. 1668)

Small help may bring great aid.
They that have power to do, may, when they will,
Pick quarrels, and, pretending justice, kill.
Loud threatening make men stubborn...
... but kind words
Pierce gentle breasts sooner than sharpest swords.
  • He is too blest that his own Happiness knows,
    And Mortals to themselves are greatest Foes.
    • Fab. II: Of the Dog and Shadow
  • He that loves Gold, starves more, the more he's fed.
    • Fab. II: Of the Dog and Shadow, Moral
  • Great Expectations oft to nothing come.
    • Fab. VIII: Of the Mountain in Labour
  • True Valour best is without Witness shown.
    • Fab. IX: Of the Lyon and the Mouse
  • Mercy makes Princes Gods.
    • Fab. IX: Of the Lyon and the Mouse, Moral
  • Small Help may bring great Aid.
    • Fab. IX: Of the Lyon and the Mouse, Moral
  • This cruel Prince that made his Will a Law.
    • Fab. XII: Of the Frogs desiring a King
  • They that have Power to do, may, when they will,
    Pick Quarrels, and, pretending Justice, kill.
    • Fab. XIV: Of the Wolf and the Lamb
  • Who Weapons put into a Mad-Man's Hands,
    May be the first the Error understands.
    • Fab. XXXVI: Of the Husband-man and the Wood
  • None can Protect themselves with their own Shade.
    None for themselves are born.
    • Fab. XLVII: Of the Rebellion of the Hands and Feet
  • No Beast is half so False as Man.
    • Fab. XLIX: Of the Fox and the Cock
  • Fortune assists the Bold, the Valiant Man
    Oft Conqueror proves, because he thinks he can.
    • Fab. LII: Of the Forrester, the Skinner, and a Bear, Moral
  • Thus at Home happy, oft fond Youth complain,
    And Peace and Plenty with soft Beds disdain.
    But when in Forrein War Death seals his Eys,
    His Birth-place he remembers e'r he Dies.
    • Fab. LIII: Of the Tortoise and the Frogs, Moral
  • Rich Cloaths, nor Cost, nor Education can
    Change Nature, nor transform and Ape into a Man.
    • Fab. LV: Of an Ægyptian King and his Apes
  • Those that can Help, to Hurt may find a way.
    • Fab. LVI: Of the Eagle and the Beetle
  • One good Art's better than a thousand bad.
    • Fab. LVII: Of the Fox and the Cat
  • Lost Reputation hard is to be found.
    • Fab. LXI: Of Cupid, Death, and Reputation
  • Of Pride in thy Prosperity beware,
    Vicissitudes of Fortune Constant are.
    • Fab. LXII: Of the Gourd, and the Pine
  • Loud Threatnings make men stubborn, but kind Words
    Pierce gentle Breasts sooner than sharpest Swords.
    • Fab. LXV: Of the Sun and Wind, Moral
  • Though Strong, Resist not a too Potent Foe;
    Madmen against a violent Torrent row.
    Thou mayst hereafter serve the Common-weal;
    Then yield till Time shall later Acts repeal.
    • Fab. LXVII: Of the Oke and the Reed, Moral

Quotes about Ogilby

But why without annotations? Because I had no hope to do it better than it is already done by Mr. Ogilby.
~ Thomas Hobbes
John Ogilby was one who, from a late initiation into literature, made such a progress therein, as might well style him to be the prodigy of his time, sending into the world so many large and learned volumes, as well in verse as in prose, as will make posterity much indebted to his memory.
~ William Winstanley
  • He had such an excellent inventive and prudentiall witt, and master of so good addresse, that when he was undon he could not only shift handsomely (which is a great mastery), but he would make such rationall proposalls that would be embraced by rich and great men, that in a short time he could gaine a good estate again, and never failed in any thing he ever undertooke but allwayes went through with profits and honour.
  • Ogilby, the favourite of Pope's schoolboy days, and the banker on whom he not unfrequently drew for rhymes while composing his own translation, though a faithful interpreter of the Greek, ranks as an epic poet below Sir Richard Blackmore.
  • John Ogilby, the well-known translator of Homer, was originally a dancing-master. He had apprenticed himself to that profession on finding himself reduced to depend upon his own resources, by the imprisonment of his father for debt in the King's Bench. Having succeeded in this pursuit, he was very soon able to release his father, which he did, very much to his credit, with the first money he procured. An accident, however, put an end to his dancing, and he was left again without any permanent means of subsistence. In these circumstances, the first thing he did was to open a small theatre in Dublin; but just when he had fairly established it, and had reason to hope that it would succeed, the rebellion of 1641 broke out, and not only swept away all his little property, but repeatedly put even his life in jeopardy. He at last found his way back to London, in a state of complete destitution: but, although he had never received any regular education, he had before this made a few attempts at verse-making, and in his extremity he bethought him of turning his talent in this way, which certainly was not great, to some account. He immediately commenced his studies, which he was enabled to pursue chiefly, it is said, through the liberal assistance of some members of the university of Cambridge; and although then considerably above forty years of age, he made such progress in Latin that he was soon considered in a condition to undertake a poetical translation of Virgil. This work was published in the year 1650. In a very few years a second edition of it was brought out with great pomp of typography and embellishments. Such was its success that the industrious and enterprising translator actually proceeded, although now in his fifty-fourth year, to commence the study of Greek, in order that he might match his version of the Æneid by others of the Iliad and the Odyssey. In due time both appeared; and Ogilby, who had in the meanwhile established himself a second time in Dublin in the management of a new theatre, was in the enjoyment of greater prosperity than ever, when, having unfortunately disposed of his Irish property, and returned to take up his residence in London, just before the great fire of 1666, he was left by that dreadful event once more entirely destitute. With unconquerable courage and perseverance, however, he set to work afresh with his translations and other literary enterprises; and was again so successful as to be eventually enabled to rebuild his house, which had been burned down, and to establish a printing-press; in the employment of which he took every opportunity of indulging that taste for splendid typography to which his first works had owed so much of their success. He was now also appointed cosmographer and geographic printer to Charles II.; and at last, at the age of seventy-six, terminated a life remarkable for its vicissitudes, and not uninstructive as an evidence both of the respectable proficiency in literature which may be acquired by those who begin their education late in life, and also of what may be done by a stout heart and indefatigable activity in repairing the worst injuries of fortune. Ogilby was no great poet, although his translations were very popular when they first appeared; but his Homer, we ought to mention, had the honour of being one of the first books that kindled the young imagination of Pope, who, however, in the preface to his own translation of the Iliad, describes the poetry of his predecessor and early favourite as "too mean for criticism."
    • George Lillie Craik, The Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties: Illustrated by Anecdotes (1830), Chapter IV, pp. 68–70. Quoted in The Monthly Review (September, 1829), Art. XII: "The Library of Entertaining Knowledge", pp. 143–144. Also in Biography of Self Taught Men (1832) by Bela Bates Edwards, pp. xlii–xliii.
  • It is a curious co-incidence of circumstances, that Pope was initiated in poetry at eight years of age by the perusal of Ogilby's Homer. A friend having presented Dr. Beattie, in the latter part of his life, with a copy of Ogilby's Virgil, made him very happy, in thus recalling to his imagination all the ideas with which his favourite author had at first inspired him, even through the medium of a translation.
  • But why without Annotations? Because I had no hope to do it better than it is already done by Mr. Ogilby.
  • Ogilby's translation of Homer was one of the first large poems that ever Mr. Pope read; and he still spoke of the pleasure it then gave him with a sort of rapture, only on reflecting on it.
    • Joseph Spence, Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters, of Books and Men (1820), pp. 46–47
  • [Alexander Pope] treads in the steps of Ogilby; below criticism, perhaps, but not imitation.
  • John Ogilby was one, who from a late Initiation into Literature, made such a Progress therein, as might well stile him to be the Prodigy of his time, sending into the world so many large and learned Volumes, as well in Verse as in Prose, as will make posterity much indebted to his Memory.
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