Richard Chandler (1738-1810) was an English scholar and antiquarian. An Oxford graduate, as a young man (1959) he published anonymously the "Elegiaca Graeca", an anthology of excerpts from works by Tyrtaeus, Simonides, Theognes, Alcaeus, Sappho and other lyrical poets, with his own short commentaries. In 1763, Chandler published "Marmora Oxoniensia" in two luxurious volumes, which includes the description of the antiquities in the Earl of Arundel’s collection. On the occasion of this publication, R. Wood introduced Chandler to the members of the Society of Dilettanti, who entrusted him with an archaeological mission to Ionia, aim of which was “to collect Informations relative to the former State of those Countries, and particularly to procure exact Descriptions of the Ruins of such Monuments of Antiquity as are yet to be seen in those Parts”.
On his voyage, Chandler was accompanied by N. Revett, already renowned for his measurements and delineations of ancient monuments, and by the talented artist W. Pars. The party started out on their journey in June 1746. They toured Asia Minor (the Dardanelles, the Troad and Tenedos), the area of Smyrna (Erythrae, Teos, Priene), Caria (Iassus and Mylassa), Stratonice, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Sardes, Ephesus and Chios, and arrived in Athens in March 1765.
Subsequently, they visited ancient sites in Attica, Corinthia, Argolid, Boeotia, Delphi, Patras, Olympia, and Bassae, and returned to Britain in November 1766. Chandler spent 1787 in Florence and Rome, collating manuscripts of his beloved poet, Pindar.
Chandler’s travels in Asia Minor and Greece led to the publication of many works, prominent among which are the monumental "Ionian Antiquities" (1769-97), the invaluable collection "Inscriptiones antiquae" (1774) – which served as a base for Boeckh’s "Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum" – and two different editions presenting his travel narratives, printed in only five hundred copies.
Chandler was equally interested in the antiquities, the geography, the history and the modern inhabitants of the countries he toured. He represented reality in its just light, in the plainest way possible, with unequalled simplicity, clarity and insight. The work is one of the eighteenth-century’s most important descriptions of the Greek world.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou