George Sandys (1578-1644) was a British poet and politician. After studying at Oxford he became colonial treasurer for agriculture and industry of the Virginia Company. In his lifetime he was much admired as a translator of Latin poetry. Sandys travelled in the East in the years 1610-1611, starting out from France. He sailed from Venice to the Ionian Islands, the southern Peloponnese, Chios, Lesbos, and the Straits of the Dardanelles from where he reached Constantinople. From there he sailed to Egypt, and visited Mount Sinai and the Holy Land. On his return trip, he put in at Cyprus, Sicily, Naples and Rome.
Sandy’s chronicle is the first detailed and polished travel account, with well-documented information from ancient sources cited in marginal notes. As such, it marks the transition from travel literature of the sixteenth century to that of the seventeenth. It is also representative of those travel narratives that oscillate between geography, history and autobiographical travelogue of fluid and contradictory character. Sandys strives to transmit original and unique geographical and anthropological knowledge, while at the same time increasingly expressing his own opinions and interpretations of what he sees.
This publication, enriched with in-text copperplate engravings with original subjects, made an essential contribution to geographical and ethnographical knowledge in its time. It was translated into German and Flemish, and ran through nine editions in the seventeenth century alone. Besides passages from the Holy Scripture (1621-1626), Sandys translated and annotated Ovid's "Metamorphoses". The publication of the latter work in 1632, with citations from philosophers and commentaries by ancient authors, alongside his translation of the first book of Virgil’s "Aeneid", established Sandys as an authority in literary circles of his era.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou