Toxophilus (1545)

Toxophilus (1545)

Toxophilus (1545)

Toxophilus (1545)

Excerpt

Toxophilus was printed by Edward Whytchurch, printer to the king, in late winter or early spring 1545. Shortly thereafter Ascham presented his book to the king, its dedicatee, at a royal audience at Greenwich. The formal dedication of the book to its royal patron concluded over five years of attempts by Ascham to secure support from various literary patrons. He began in 1541 with an appeal to Robert Holgate, bishop of Llandaff and president of the Council of the North (Giles, 1:19–21). Having sketched his background as a poor Cambridge scholar, Ascham came directly to the point: “[I]f your Lordship would deign in some measure to supplement my means … I will publicize to all learned men that my studies were sustained and preserved by your aid and munificence” (Giles, 1:21). The publicizing of Holgate’s “munificence” would appear in a dedication of a literary work, probably a scholarly work on a theological topic as may be judged from the reference to “all learned men.”

Nothing came of these negotiations. Later the same year Ascham wrote to Edward Lee, archbishop of York, this time specifying the work he might undertake. “There are on all the … canonical epistles of Paul scholia, which are called Graecia, gleaned from most prudent and ancient fathers, which I know remain unknown to those who have only Latin [and no Greek]” (Giles, 1:19). Encouraged by Lee, Ascham worked for the next

A remarkably complete record of Ascham’s attempts to obtain support appears in his letters, which were printed in 1576, Disertisnmi Viri Rogeri Aschami Familiariam Epistolarum Libri Tres. All references to Ascham’s correspondence come from Giles; translations of the Latin are my own.

The formal dedication of Toxophilus and its presentation to Henry are discussed below in the section on composition and dedication, pages 17–19.

These scholia are excerpts that the tenth-century Thessalian bishop Oecumenius was thought to have assembled from Greek patristic writers including Chrysostom, Basil, and Theophylactus. The editio princeps of Oecumenius appeared in Verona in 1523, and it is likely that Ascham worked from this edition.

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