Critical prefaces of the French Renaissance

By Bernard Weinberg | Go to book overview

GUILLAUME BOUCHETEL
DEDICATION TO EURIPIDES' Hecuba 1544

TEXT:

( 1550) La Tragedie d'Evripide, nommee Hecvba: Traduicte de Grec en rhythme Francoise, dediee au Roy. A Paris. De l'imprimerie de Rob. Estienne, Imprimeur du Roy. M. D. L. Avec privilege dv Roy. [B. N., Paris.]

[ First edition, Paris: Robert Estienne, 1544; cf. Cat. Rothschild, No. 1060, and Vol. V, "Additions et Corrections," p. 192, where the attribution to Bouchetel (cf. below) is accepted. On the 1550 ed., see Tchemer zine , I, 343; also listed by British Museum. The copy at the B. N. has the words "par Lazare de Baif" written in ink on the t.p.]

Within a few years of its appearance in 1544 and its reprinting in 1550, this anonymous translation of Euripides' Hecuba was attributed to two different authors. In 1551, in his Epistre à Mellin de Saint-Gelais sur l'immortalité des poëtes françois, François Habert attributed a translation of Euripides, presumably this one, to Guillaume Bouchetel:

Melpomene le los ne voulut faire
De Bouchetel, le Royal Secretaire,
Qui fait si bien Euripide tonner
En vers François, qu'on doit s'en estonner
...1

In 1555, in his Art poëtique, Jacques Peletier du Mans spoke of "l'Hecube + ̸ d'Euripide + ̸, par Lazare + ̸ De + ̸baïf."2 This double attribution persisted through the centuries. For Bouchetel there was the support, in 1585, of the famous bibliographer Du Verdier, who said that "Guillaume Bouchetel Secretaire de Finances du Roy François Premier a traduit de Grec en rime Françoise la Tragedie d'Euripide nommée Hecuba: impr. à Paris 8. par Robert Estienne 1550." This attribution was noted and accepted, in the eighteenth century, by Michael Maittaire in the Annales Typographici.3 For Lazare de Baïf, on the other hand, there was the support of Du Verdier's rival, La Croix du Maine, in 1584:4

Lazare de Baif a traduit de Grec en Vers François l'Electra de Sophocle, impr. à Paris 1537. par Estienne Roffet, & l'Hecuba d'Euripide, impr. à Paris 1550. par Robert Estienne. Il n'a voulu mettre son nom à pas une de ces deux traductions, sinon qu'il se voit dans l'Electra,

____________________
1
Reprinted by Niceron, Mémoires, XXXIII, 195.
2
Ed. Boulanger, Paris, 1930, p. 192.
3
Vol. III ( Hagae- Comitum, 1725), pp. 372 and 593.
4
Quoted by Maittaire, op. cit., III, 372.

-105-

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