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Stanyhurst, Richard

STANYHURST, RICHARD (1547-1618), English translator of Virgil, was born in Dublin in 1547. His father was recorder of the city, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in 1557, 1560 and 1568. Richard was sent in 1563 to University College, Oxford, and took his degree five years later. At Oxford he became intimate with Edmund Campian. After leaving the university he studied law at Furnival's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. He contributed in 1557 to Holinshed's Chronicles " a playne and perfecte description " of Ireland, and a history of the country during the reign of Henry VIII., which were severely criticized in Barnabe Rich's New Description of Ireland (1610) as a misrepresentation of Irish affairs written from the English standpoint. After the death of his wife, Janet Barnewall, in 1579, Stanyhurst went to the Netherlands. After his second marriage, which took place before 1585, with Helen Copley, he became active in the Catholic cause. He spent some time in Spain, ostensibly practising as a physician, but his real business seems to have been to keep Philip II. informed of the state of Catholic interest in England. After his wife's death in 1602 he took holy orders, and became chaplain to the archduke Albert in the Netherlands. He never returned to England, and died at Brussels, according to Wood, in 1618. He translated into English The First Foure Bookes of Virgil his Aeneis (Leiden, 1582), to give practical proof of the feasibility of Gabriel Harvey's theory that classical rules of prosody could be successfully applied to English poetry. The translation is an unconscious burlesque of the original in a jargon arranged in what the writer called hexameters. Thomas Nashe in his preface to Greene's Menaphon ridiculed this performance as his " heroicall poetrie, infired . . . with an hexameter furie ... a patterne whereof I will propounde to your judgements. . . . Then did he make heaven's vault to rebounde, with rounce robble hobble Of ruffe raffe roaring, with thwick thwack thurlery bouncing."

This is a parody, but not a very extravagant one, of Stanyhurst's vocabulary and metrical methods.

His son, William Stanyhurst (1602-1663), was a voluminous writer of Latin religious works, one of which, Dei immortalis in corpore mortali patientis historia, was widely popular, and was translated into many languages.

Only two copies of the orginal Leiden edition of Stanyhurst's translation of Virgil are known to be in existence. In this edition his orthographical cranks are preserved. A reprint in 1583 by Henry Bynneman forms the basis of J. Maidment s edition (Edinburgh, 1836), and of Professor E. Arbor's reprint (1880), which contains an excellent introduction. Stanyhurst's Latin works include De rebus in Hibernia gestis (Antwerp, 1584) and a life of St Patrick (1587).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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