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FINLAY, George.

A History of Greece, from its Conquest by the Romans to the Present Time. B.C. 146 to A.D. 1864.

Revised by Rev. H.F. Tozer

Published: Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1877

Stock code: 90072

Price: £500

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Publication originally began in 1844, this is “a new edition, revised throughout, and in part re-written, with considerable additions by the author”. A history of the Greeks by a prominent British philhellene. While at university in Göttingen Finlay came into contact with enthusiasts for the movement to liberate Greece from Ottoman rule, he “‘resolved to visit Greece and judge for myself concerning the condition of the people and the chances of the war.’ In November 1823 he met Byron at Cephalonia. ‘You are young and enthusiastic,’ said Byron, ‘and therefore sure to be disappointed when you know the Greeks as well as I do'” (DNB). Finlay settled in Greece and retained “a special interest in the development of the kingdom and his writings reveal activity at a high level. He was at King Otho’s hunting and dinner parties … but as a liberal was never really in favour at court … In July 1834 he was appointed ‘commissionaire extraordinaire’ to the nomarch of Athens in matters concerning the development of the new capital but in November resigned in despair at perpetual frustrations. Nevertheless, in his own way he continued to promote both cultural and material progress. The university, the library, and the archaeological society were indebted to him for untiring canvassing for support, outside as well as within Greece”. The publication of this great series of histories commenced in 1844, and was completed in 1861, when he wrote “the autobiographical fragment which is almost the sole authority for his life”. The final two volumes, covering the period of Finlay’s presence in Greece, are a particularly valuable contemporary source “not yet fully exploited”, and the “frequently ignored medieval volumes should not be swept aside as entirely outmoded, as they anticipate certain modern revisions and emphasize the importance of social and economic conditions as distinct from central politics”. An attractive set of this important history. Book-labels of A.J. Cornwell, historian of the Oratory School to the front pastedowns.

7 volumes, octavo. Original pinkish-red cloth. Title gilt to the spines, Greek key roll across head of front board and spine in black and rear board in blind. Portrait frontispiece to volume I. A little rubbed, spines slightly sunned, small snag repaired on upper board of volume I, volume III a touch bubbled on the upper board, free endpapers browned, foxing to the frontispiece and title page of volume I, some hinges just started, overall a very good set.

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