Friday, July 21, 2017

Faces of Aeneas


Detail showing Aeneas from Ogibly's edition
Ogilby's Aeneas
You don't really think of classical characters being altered by 17th-century political turmoil, but the face of Aeneas, Virgil's hero in the Aeneid, was transformed toward the end of the century based on the political leanings of two publishers: John Ogilby and Jacob Tonson.

At least one scholar has suggested that Ogilby’s Aeneid, printed in 1654, pays homage to Charles II in its representations of Aeneas, whose round face and black mustache bears a strong resemblance to the king in his youth. It is probably not a coincidence that Ogilby was tapped to participate in the planning of Charles’s coronation in 1660; that same year, he also published his translation of Homer’s Iliad, which he dedicated to Charles.

Detail showing Aeneas from Tonson's edition
Tonson's Aeneas
Tonson’s edition of the Aeneid is a more complex political creature than Ogilby’s for many reasons. As a founder of the Whig Kit-Cat Club, he would not have been an eager supporter of Charles II. However, Tonson purchased the original engraving plates from Ogilby’s Aeneid for use in Dryden’s translation of Virgil’s works, which meant potentially including images of Charles II in his 1697 edition. As a result, Tonson paid an anonymous engraver to alter the images of Aeneas that looked most like Charles II so that the monarch’s tell-tale mustache was eliminated or obscured.

Close up of Aeneas showing Charles II's nose and mustache
Charles II as Aeneas
Close up of Aeneas clean shaven with Willian III's hook nose
William III as Aeneas

Moreover, John Dryden was Catholic and a staunch supporter of the recently deposed James II, to the extent that he had openly refused to take the oaths of allegiance to William III and Mary II when they took the throne in 1689. As such, Dryden refused to dedicate his translation of the Aeneid to William. This introduced a potential problem for Tonson, whose ability to publish in England relied on the king’s explicit approval. As a solution, to counteract Dryden’s Jacobite leanings in the text, Tonson hired an anonymous engraver to alter further some of Ogilby’s original plates of Aeneas so that the Trojan hero would share William III’s distinctive Roman nose.

Both books are currently on display (through Labor Day) in the Class of 1965 Galleries in our exhibit, "Adorn'd with Sculptures." After that, you can request them by asking for Rare PA6807.A1D7 1697 for the Tonson edition. We are still cataloging the Ogilby--which we just acquired!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rocks and a Hard Place

Broadside Verso: "Auction Sale Will be sold at PUBLIC AUCTION, on TUESDAY, the 30th day of MARCH inst., at 10 o'clock, A. M., the following property, viz.: The FARM on which I now live..."
Farming in New Hampshire has never been an easy proposition. Although the overwhelming number of boulders that fill the fields have been a great source of stone for house foundations and picturesque walls, they've also made clearing and planting particularly difficult. In addition, New Hampshire soil is acidic and thin, which makes growing anything a supremely challenging endeavor. It makes sense, then, that most traditional farms in New Hampshire in the 1800s were slowly abandoned by their owners, either for mill jobs in urban centers or for a new farming life in the west where rich soil abounded.

Broadside verso with four different family member letters and an address (the broadside must have been folded up and sealed as an envelope).At Rauner, we have a wonderful broadside that is a perfect illustration of how farming in New Hampshire became a dead end for all but a few hearty (and perhaps foolhardy) souls. In March of 1847, the Dow family of Hanover, New Hampshire, had had enough of the struggle. With plans to head west for better climes, they commissioned a broadside advertising the auction of their farm, including several fruit and maple trees, "one valuable mare," farming implements, and even books.

Our copy of this broadside has personal relevance for the Dow family beyond the sale of their property: on the back of the single sheet are numerous letters written to two of the Dow sisters who were currently working in the mills in Methuen, Massachusetts. Their sister Julia, mother Polly, father A. D. (Agrippa Dow) and brother Lewis all take some time and space to jot down messages to the girls, and their distinct personalities emerge from their words. Julia teases one of her sisters by asking if she wouldn't like to come home and help her with spinning now that she's been a "factory girl" for so long. Their mother says that she can't say much because it's washing day but frets that her daughters won't think much of the log cabin that the family will be living in after the move. The younger brother, Lewis, is happy that school is over. The patriarch of the family, Agrippa Dow, simply asks, "Will you go? Will you go?"

A close-up image of the father's text which reads "Will you go? Will you go? A.D."

To see the Dow family's group letter and auction poster, come to Rauner and ask for MSS 847214.