is known of George Chapman's childhood and maturation, other than that he was born near Hitchin and proved a fine classical language student. Although he did much of his writing at the close of the 16th century, he extended his work and his influence into the 17th century. As a poet he drew on his considerable education to fill his verse with allusions, making it inaccessible, because of his belief that poetry should be available only to select readers. His best known poems are two hymns that combine to serve as allegory in The Shadow of Night (1594), the publication that first introduced his name to the public record. Dense and complex, the poems consider philosophical, political, and poetic matters. Ovids Banquet of Sence (1595), a later piece, supported Platonism as superior to ovidian eroticism. He completed and corrected Christopher Marlowe's Hero and Leander and in 1609 published Euthymiae Raptus, or The Teares of Peace, in which he defended the dream vision as an appropriate form for poetry written to consider often-related Platonic, Stoic, and Christian ideas. He joined his contemporaries in mourning the death of the prince of Wales in An Epi-cede or Funerall Song on the Death of Henry Prince of Wales (1612).
Probably a creative genius, he produced translations that gained him enduring fame, particularly his translations of Homer, his Seven Books of the Iliad (1598) and Achilles' Shield (1598). The romantic poet John Keats would later reference those translations, as well as Chapman's release in English of Illiads (1611) and Homer's Odyssey (1614-15), for which Chapman had been promised a reward by Prince Henry that he lost as a result of his patron's death. These last two works Chapman managed through expert translation to apply to events in his own era and culture. He also translated works of Petrarch (1612), Musaeus (1616), Hesiod (1618), and Juvenal (1629).
Chapman also wrote numerous dramas and was first mentioned in connection with the theater in records related to the performance of Blind Beggar of Alexandria by the Admiral's Men. The theater manager Philip Henslowe noted Chapman's efforts in that production. Francis Meres, the clergyman who helped date Shakespeare's early plays and who published a record of contemporary writers, praised Chapman's comedy and tragedy. His plays included The Gentleman Usher (ca. 1602), All Fools (1599 or 1604), Monsieur D'Olive (1604), Sir Giles Goosecap, Knight (ca. 1604), Bussy D'Ambois (1604), The Widow's Tears (ca. 1605), and May Day (1609). His comedies focused on the series of human errors made popular by BEN JoNSoN. With Jonson and John Marston, Chapman wrote Eastward Ho (1605) for the Children of the Queen's Revels, a child acting group. He earned Jonson's praise, placing him among a select few, but was imprisoned for a time in the tower of London by James I, who found Chapman's satire on the Scots offensive.
Chapman continued to write and focused on heroes that a later age would describe as larger than life in The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron, Marshal of France (1608); The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois (ca. 1610); and Chabot, Admiral of France (ca. 1613). Although Chapman died in comparative poverty, the famous archi tect Inigo Jones designed a monument to memorialize him. Chapman wrote with an Elizabethan sensibility, fortified by his background in the classics. He often adopted historical figures for his dramas but elaborated upon history, adding ghosts and shaping more logical than true connections among events. His tragedies feature ethical discourse in the Senecan vein, but they looked forward to the metaphysical elements that became so crucial in the poetry of the next generation.
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