The Wikipedia article about the Iliad says that this work was first printed in Florence in 1488/89. The Wikipedia article about the Odyssey does not mention when this epic was first printed, but it appears to have been part of the same "editio princeps" as the Iliad: Homerus / Τὰ σωζόμενα (Onassis Library). The description of this edition in the Onassis Library also says that,

The edition of the epic poems was prepared by Demetrios Chalkokondyles, funded by his pupil Bernardo Nerli.

The article Printing Greek in the 15th century by Eugenia Russell on the British Library's website adds that,

In Florence, Demetrius Chalkokondyles (1423–1511) and Demetrius Damilas produced the first printed edition of the works of Homer (1488–89), using typefaces that the latter had used before in Milan. The production included all that was then believed to be Homeric, i.e. the Homeric Hymns and Batrachomyomachia (The Battle of Frogs and Mice), a parody previously attributed to Lucian. The Chalkokondyles Homer is probably the most famous editio princeps (first edition) in the history of philology.

However, what manuscript of the Odyssey was that edition based on? Or did the editors consult more than one manuscript? Does that manuscript still exist and, if yes, where is it currently available?

For what it's worth, How old is the oldest known manuscript for Iliad and Odyssey? on Answers.com mentions several manuscripts of the Iliad but for the Odyssey merely adds, "The story for the Odyssey is similar, but there are fewer medieval manuscripts and fewer papyrus fragments."

The Homer Multitext Project lists several manuscripts of Homeric works they are editing, but at the time of writing these are all manuscripts of the Iliad, not the Odyssey.

One potential candidate as a source is the "Florentine Homer", a manuscript by Ioannes Rhosos completed in Florence in May 1466, i.e. just two decades before the printed edition by Demetrios Chalkokondyles.

  • The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has a digitized copy of Chalkokondyles' edition of Homer, and you can confirm that the Odyssey starts on folio 259. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 14:23
  • @GarethRees Thanks. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Homeric Greek is at the same level as Homer's knowledge of modern Dutch :-(
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 14:26
  • You should be able to make out ΟΔΥϹϹΕΙΑϹ Α ΟΜΗΡΟΥ ΡΑΨΩΔΙΑϹ (Homer's song of the Odyssey) about a third of the way down the right-hand page. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


Single or Multiple Manuscrips?

The editor, Demetrius Chalkokondyles (Demetrius Damilas was the printer), consulted multiple manuscripts.

This is how I've found it:

Chalkokondyles's editio princeps of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey has two prefaces: One, in Latin, which was written by Bernardus Nerlius, and second, in Greek, which was written by the editor Demetrius Chalkokondyles.
[The Latin part is available here - look for the words "Bernardus Nerlius Petro" - but the Greek is Giberish].

I have knowledge in neither Latin nor Greek, but I've found what seems to be a short summary of these prefaces, in a 1810 book called Manual of Classical Bibliography, by Joseph William Moss:

Chalcondyles, the editor, collected as great a number of MSS. together as he was able to procure ; but, after a careful inspection, not finding any one perfect, or entirely free from interpolations, he, by the assitance of Eustathius's Commentary, laboured to compose from these various MSS, as perfect an edition as, from the corrupt and imperfect state of his materials, he was able. (pg. 478)

Which Manuscrips?

I'm not sure we can find this out. We know today of dozens of manuscripts (see e.g. T.W. Allen's list), and new ones are discovered from time to time. Maybe, if you can find someone to decipher Chalcondyles's Greek preface, it would shed more light over this question.

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