The Things We Do For Love: The Death of Patroclus and Achilles’ Vengeance

During his studies—almost certainly at the Harrow School, and more extensively at Balliol College, Oxford—John Addington Symonds would have read the Iliad by Homer. There is much speculation and dissent, both by ancient writers and modern scholars, about the exact nature of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus depicted by the text. At the time, … Continue reading The Things We Do For Love: The Death of Patroclus and Achilles’ Vengeance

First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities

Imagine dwelling in your father’s library for the whole day, devouring Greek literature. When your eyes need a break, you look out from the windows of Clifton Hill House. The city’s towers, the River Avon, and the sea-going ships are gleaming. Or, you feast your eyes with engravings, photographs, copies of Italian pictures and illustrated … Continue reading First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities

Book it! (Part 1 – William Mure’s Critical History)

1858 – John Addington Symonds graduates from his boarding school, Harrow, and receives a most interesting book from his classmates as a parting gift. In his Memoirs, Symonds recounts the event: “When I left Harrow the boys at Monkey’s subscribed to present me with a testimonial. It was Mure’s History of Greek Literature, handsomely bound, … Continue reading Book it! (Part 1 – William Mure’s Critical History)

The Years 1871-1872, or Symonds’ Dantesque Pilgrimage

It was the year 1872 and Symonds was 32 years old. After falling ill with possible tuberculosis in 1868, he had returned to lecture at Clifton College, and he began preparing essays such as that comprised the Introduction to the Study of Dante (1872) and Studies of the Greek Poets (1873-1876) as resource materials for … Continue reading The Years 1871-1872, or Symonds’ Dantesque Pilgrimage

Separated by the Ocean: John Addington Symonds and Walt Whitman

Published in 1893, Walt Whitman: A Study is the last book written by John Addington Symonds. Indeed, the preface is dated March 10, 1893, and Symonds died the following month. In the study, Symonds describes the main themes and influences of Walt Whitman’s poems. Symonds had a special connection with Whitman: they were from the … Continue reading Separated by the Ocean: John Addington Symonds and Walt Whitman

Sports and Symonds: A Surprising Connection

Our lab’s task of re-creating John Addington Symonds’ library has most recently taken us to the catalogue of its contents prepared by William George’s Sons, a prominent bookseller in Bristol.1 Although the catalogue is from 1909, 16 years after Symonds’ death, it can shed much light on the influences and inspirations for his scholarly works. … Continue reading Sports and Symonds: A Surprising Connection

Sexual Inversion, Homosexuality, and 33 Case Studies

            “Sexual Inversion” is a book written by John Addington Symonds and Havelock Ellis that was published in 1897. While published posthumously, it still remains one of Symonds’ most influential works and encompasses many of his thoughts pertaining to the ancient world as well as conceptions of homosexuality throughout history. “Sexual Inversion” is the first … Continue reading Sexual Inversion, Homosexuality, and 33 Case Studies

Symonds and Aeschylus’ Tragedy of Agamemnon

Title page of Aeschylus, Agamemnon. London: Quaritch, 1876. Source: Internet Archive. As befits a well-educated nineteenth century writer, the library of John Addington Symonds was extensive both in volume number and in subject matter. Of course, cataloguing the contents of his library—recreating it at least digitally, and assembling as many physical components of its contents … Continue reading Symonds and Aeschylus’ Tragedy of Agamemnon

One Hell of a Time: Pitture a fresco del Campo Santo di Pisa and a Young Symonds

“Il Guidizio Universale e L’Inferno/Le Jugement Dernier et Enfer”, Pitture a fresco del Campo Santo di Pisa, engraved by Carlo Lasinio. Florence, 1812. From the Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University. Photograph by Kyle Bacon. (Right page) The above image comes from Carlo Lasinio’s book Pitture a fresco del Campo Santo di Pisa. This book contains … Continue reading One Hell of a Time: Pitture a fresco del Campo Santo di Pisa and a Young Symonds