Humanists, Scholars, & Students
Printed editions of the classics in Greek were scarce in the fifteenth century: Greek type fonts were expensive and difficult to produce, and demand was low because knowledge of Greek was limited. With the influx of Byzantine refugees to Italy after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and the corresponding rise of Venice as a printing center, several humanists sought to make Greek books more available. The Venetian scholar-printer Aldus Manutius devoted his life to promoting study of the classics and produced a series of affordable, influential editions in Greek.
The audience for Homer expanded with editions aimed at scholars who did not know Greek. King Alfonso V of Aragon commissioned classical scholar Lorenzo Valla to produce a prose Latin translation of the Iliad in the 1440s that was first printed in 1474. The first edition specifically designed as a schoolbook appeared in 1520, with wide margins and generous spacing between the lines for notes. The 1561 bilingual edition prepared by Nicholas Brylinger and Sébastien Castellion was intended for educational purposes and included parallel Greek and Latin texts.
During the nineteenth century, a host of English translations appeared for the use of students. James Joyce read Butcher and Lang's prose translation of the Odyssey when he was writing Ulysses. Thomas Clark's interlinear edition is based on the "Hamilton system," which places the English words directly below the Greek, requiring substantial rearrangement and symbols to guide the reader. Although 400 years separate Aldus Manutius and James Loeb, who launched the Loeb Classical Library with facing Greek and Latin texts in 1911, they shared the goal of reviving interest in the classics by producing convenient and accessible editions.