Thomas Cooke


1703 – 1756


Who was Thomas Cooke?

Thomas Cooke, often called "Hesiod" Cooke, was a very active English translator and author who ran afoul of Alexander Pope and was mentioned as one of the "dunces" in Pope's Dunciad. His father was an inn keeper, and Cooke arrived in London in 1722 and began working as a writer for the Whig causes. He associated with Thomas Tickell, Ambrose Philips, Leonard Welsted, Richard Steele, and John Defnnis, and Cooke is the source of one of the primary biographies of John Dennis, which he wrote in Latin. He was educated at Felsted.

Cooke did a great deal of first-rate translation from Latin and ancient Greek. His first publication was an elegy on the death of the highly contentious Marlborough in 1722. He followed that with a masque entitled Albion in 1724. His most famous production was The Battle of the Poets in 1725. This was a reworking of the trope of Le Lutrin that had been used by Jonathan Swift in The Battle of the Books. Where Swift had had classical authors and Tory authors sweeping the field of their whig and modern commentators, Cooke had "moderns" and whig authors defeating Alexander Pope and other "tory" authors. That same year, he published an essay in the Daily Journal examining the Thersites section of Pope's Iliad which showed many faults of translation. In 1726, he wrote The Bath, or, The Knights of the Bath. In 1728, Cooke demonstrated his command of Greek with the first translation of Hesiod into English, and he became known as "Hesiod Cooke." The same year, he wrote an opera with John Mottley entitled Penelope.

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  • England
Dec 29, 1756

on July 23, 2013


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