Difference between revisions of "Polymetis"

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Revision as of 10:27, 25 July 2013

by Joseph Spence

Joseph Spence, a Professor of Poetry and Modern History at Oxford,traveled extensively with the Earl of Middlesex and Henry, 9th Earl of Lincoln. They traveled mostly in Italy, and wrote Polymetis after his studies there.

Spence wrote occasionally for his friend Robert Dodsley's periodical, The Museum (1746); he contributed advice (and one poem) to Dodsley's Collection of Poems (1748–58). His long gestated Polymetis was published as a lavishly illustrated folio in February 1747 and earned him at least £1450 by subscription and sale of copyright. Conceived during Spence's first visit to Italy and with much of its material collected there, Polymetis was intended to show how the works of ancient artists and of Roman poets illustrate and explain one another. It was attacked in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Laokoon (1766) and, though new editions appeared in 1755 and 1774, and abridged versions for the use of schools were current until the 1820s, it sank fairly quickly from serious notice. However, it proved an invaluable guide to mythological images for Keats. [1]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Joseph Spence, (1699-1768)

Title: Polymetis: Or, An Enquiry Concerning The Agreement Between The Works Of The Roman Poets, And The Remains Of The Antient Artists, Being An Attempt To Illustrate Them Mutually From One Another

Published: London: R. Dodsley, 1747.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary calf with gilt spine and red spine label.


  1. James Sambrook, ‘Spence, Joseph (1699–1768)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 accessed 11 June 2013