London: Printed by J[ohn] L[egat] for Andrew Hebb, and are to be sold at the signe of the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1640.
Folio: 31.4 x 22.2 cm. , 303,  p. Collation: π2 (engraved port., engraved t.p.), A4 (-A1, blank), B-Z4, Aa-Qq4, Rrr6, Ttt6 (-Tt6 blank). Leaf A2 is the printed title page and the “Minde of the Frontispiece”. With 17 added engravings, as called for, and 59 additional engravings (see below).
SECOND ILLUSTRATED EDITION (1st 1632) of Sandys’ landmark translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”.
Bound in 18th c. speckled calf, worn at the corners and extremities, re-backed. In addition to the engraved title, there is a full-paged engraving (with a medallion portrait) of Ovid, and fifteen full-page engravings by Salomon Savery (1594-1665) after drawings by Francis Clein (1582-1658). This copy is EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with the complete suite of 59 plates from Michel de Marolles’ “Tableaux du Temple des Muses” (Paris 1655), comprising a portrait of Marolles and 58 plates of emblematic engravings after Abraham van Diepenbeeck (with two after Pierre Brébiette). A number of the engravings depict scenes from Ovid. A very good copy, engraved portrait frontispiece engraved title-page lightly soiled and with light marginal staining, title with short marginal tears; 18th c. inscription (a quotation from a letter by Boxhorn to Peter Scriverius) at head of engraved t.p. signed “Delaporte 1722” (inscription slightly shaved). Occasional minor stains or marginal blemishes. Small oval bookplate, “JKS”. Contemporary pen & ink cupid figure on verso of one plate pointing at the facing plate.
I. Sandys and the translation of Ovid:
“In 1621 Sandys came to Virginia, and during his residence there as secretary of the Colony he occupied his leisure time in completing his translation of Ovid [on his estate in present day Sury -across the James River from Williamsburg], publishing it on his return to England in 1626. His stay in this country was short, but his translation of Ovid is considered “the first utterance of the conscious literary spirit articulated in America”. (Quoted from Wither to Prior).
"Sandys was the youngest son of Edwin Sandys, archbishop of York. He entered St. Mary hall, Oxford, in 1589; but nothing further is known of him until, in 1610, he began his travels in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Armenia, and, of course, all of the major sites in the Holy Land. In August, 1621, he went to America, as treasurer of the English company for the colony of Virginia, with the governor of the colony, his brother-in-law, Sir Francis Wyatt. There can be no doubt that, before he went, the first five books of his translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses had appeared in print. No copy of this publication has been traced; and Sandys, in his preface to the whole translation, published in 1626, implies that the work was done during his residence in Virginia. However, there is an elegy by Drayton addressed to Sandys, which was written very soon after Sandys’ departure, and contains historical allusions to events in the Thirty Years’ war which show that it was composed in the winter of 1621–2. Drayton praises the first five books of the Metamorphoses already translated, and begs his correspondent to "let’s see what lines Virginia will produce." Aided by such encouragement, Sandys persevered, dedicating the day, as he tells Charles I, "to the service of your Great Father, and your Selfe, that unperfect light, which was snatcht from the houres of night and repose" to the completion of his translation, and, probably, the polishing of its earlier books.
“Sandys returned from Virginia about 1626, when the first complete edition of his Ovid was published. He was appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber to Charles I, and was able to spend the remainder of his life in long intervals of leisure, living at the country houses of his relations and consorting with the poets and wits whom Falkland attracted round him.” ("The Cambridge History of English and American Literature" Volume VII)
Sandys’ accompanying commentaries and explanations, based on Sandys' reading and personal experiences, contain frequent reminders that the work and its translator were intimately connected with the New World. These references are of two kinds; those to Florida, Mexico, and the West Indies were the product of his reading, those to Virginia stem directly from his personal experiences. There are also several references to the Indians of South America, particularly of Peru (Book IX, I75, i82; Book XI, 2I2). Sandys quotes ‘Acosta’ as the source for some of these Indian references; Jose de Acosta, who first published two books of his Natural History of the Indies in 1588 (See Richard Beal Davis. America in George Sandy's "Ovid", 1947.)
II. Sandys in Virginia:
“In 1621 the Virginia Company found it necessary to set up a new office -a resident treasurer- in the colony to look after financial matters and to direct and to supervise the development of staple commodities.
“While in Virginia, George Sandys had a plantation and a well-fortified stockade with 30 guns, a "peece" of ordnance, 20 swords, "powder, lead and shott” and included armor “Steele Coats and Coats of Male." In 1624, there were only about 450-500 people in Virginia, and most of these were men and boys. Twenty-four people lived on the plantation of George Sandys. On the plantation there were only three heads of household: George Sandys, Robert Sheppard, and Zachary Cripps. We counted nine people in the household of George Sandys, all of them male servants, including one "hired" servant. There were two freemen in the household of Zachary Cripps, and nine freemen and one freewoman in the household of Robert Sheppard. William Benge, who arrived on the Marygold, was one of the freemen listed in the household of Robert Sheppard.
“During his tenure as the first colonial treasurer of Virginia, Sandys built the first watermill, promoted the establishment of iron-works, worked toward the completion of the glass-works, and in 1622 introduced ship-building. The program, which he directed, was not rewarded with a high degree of success. Virginia was, as yet, not able to maintain these enterprises, as his report of the glass project indicates:
‘The ill successe of the glasse workes is allmost equall unto this [that of the shipwrights]: first the covering of the house, ere fully finished, was blowne downe, by a tempest noe sooner repaired but the Indians came uppon us, which for a while deferd the proceedinges. Then they built up the furnace, which after one forthnight that the fire was put in, flew in peeces; yet the wife of one of the Italians (whom I have now sent home, haveinge receaved many wounds from her husband at severall times, & murder not otherwise to bee prevented, for a more damned crew hell never vomited) reveald in her passion that Vincentio crackt it with a crow of iron: yet dare wee not punish theise desperat fellowes, least the whole dessigne through theire stubbornesse should perish. The summer cominge on, Capt: Notron dyed with all saveinge one of his servants, & hee nothinge worth: The Italians fell extremely sicke: yet recoveringe in the beginninge of the winter, I hyred some men for that service, assisted them with mine owne, rebuilt the furnace, ingaged my selfe for provisions for them, & was in a manner a servant unto them. The fier hath now beene six weekes in the furnace, and yett nothinge effected, They complaine that the sand will not run. (though themselves made choise thereof, and likt it then well enought) & now I am sendinge up the river to provide them with better, if it bee to bee had, but I conceave that they would gladly make the worke to appeare unfeasable, that they might by that meanes be dismissed for England.’(A letter from George Sandys to Mr. Farrer, March 1622-23)
“For a number of years before 1624 there was definite dissatisfaction with the policies and work of the Virginia Company of London. The movement gained momentum in England and in Virginia. This agitation culminated in the revocation of the company charter in 1624. With this Virginia became a royal colony directly under the Crown. It was on August 26, 1624, that King James I issued a statement setting forth the dissolution.”(Roy H. Huddleston)
The book also includes Sandys’ “Essay to the Translation of Vergil’s Aeneis” together with his own translation of Aeneid Bk I. Sandys never accomplished the task of translating the entire poem. The work that he found “too heavy a burthen” was later taken up by his admirer, John Dryden.
III. Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”:
"With the ‘Aeneid’ Vergil had realized the grandiose project of a Homeric-style poem, a national epic for Roman culture. Ovid in realizing his ambitions for a work of great scope takes another direction. The outer form was to be epic (the hexameter is its distinctive mark), as was the ample scale, but the model, which is based on Hesiod, is that of a "collective poem", one that gathers a series of independent stories linked by a single theme. Ovid’s ambition is grand: to realize a universal work, one that goes beyond the limits of the various poetic creeds. The very chronology of the poem confirms this. It is boundless, going from the beginning of the world down to Ovid’s day, and thus realizes a project long-desired and hitherto only sketched out in Latin culture.
"The fundamental characteristic of the world described by the ‘Metamorphoses’ is its ambiguous and deceptive nature, the uncertainty of the boundaries between reality and appearance, between the concreteness of things and the inconstancy of their appearances. The characters of the poem behave as if lost in this insidious universe, which is governed by change and error; disguises, shadows, reflections, echoes, and fugitive semblances are the snares in the midst of which the humans move about, victims of the play of fate or the whim of the gods. Their uncertain action and the natural human disposition to err are the object of the poet’s regard, now touched, now amused; they are the spectacle that the poem represents." (Gian Biagio Conte’s "Latin Literature, A History").
ESTC S121931; STC 18968; Cf. Wither to Prior 782; Sabin 57984