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124965
PLATO.

The Republic....

In ten books. Translated from the Greek by H. Spens, D.D. With a preliminary discourse concerning the philosophy of the ancients by the translator.

Availability: In stock

Published: Glasgow Printed by Robert and Andrew Foulis, 1763

Stock Code: 124965

£12,500
OR On display in 43 Dover Street

Notes

First edition in English of the greatest of Plato's dialogues, printed by the celebrated Foulis brothers, one of a small number of large paper copies, described by Gaskell as "demy quarto" and published at nine shillings, against six shillings for the smaller issue. The translation is by the Church of Scotland minister and classicist Henry Spens (1714-1787): "In 1763 Spens produced the first English translation from the Greek of Plato's Republic, which was frequently reprinted from 1906 onward in the popular Everyman's Library edition. The original edition was published in Glasgow by Robert and Andrew Foulis, with a preface that was identified on the title page as 'a Preliminary Discourse concerning the Philosophy of the Ancients, by the Translator'. There Spens praises the ancients, and especially Plato, for joining philosophy with 'politeness', virtue, and religion" (ODNB). Lowndes describes it as "a very faithful translation, with an admirable discourse, containing not only a general epitome of the Republic of Plato, but an accurate delineation of the characters, manners, and philosophy of the ancient Greeks".
"That Plato should be the first of all the ancient philosophers to be translated and broadcast by the printing press was inevitable. Plato's central conception of a universe of ideas, Perfect Types, of which material objects are imperfect forms, and his ethical code based on action according to human nature, developed by education, which represents the authority of the State, fitted in well with the philosophical, religious and political thought of western Europe in the fifteenth century, striving to free itself from the shackles of scholasticism... the dialogues are pervaded by two dominant impulses: a love for truth and a passion for human improvement. While nowhere is a definite system laid down, it has been truly said that the germs of all ideas can be found in Plato" (PMM, 27).

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Description

Quarto (242 x 195 mm). Contemporary marbled boards, skilfully rebacked to style, raised bands to spine, compartments ruled in gilt, red morocco label. Housed in a burgundy flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.

Condition

Imposing armorial bookplate of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo (1739-1806), banker and benefactor. Extremities and covers slightly rubbed, a couple of nicks to top edge, peripheral toning to title page, scattered foxing, later occasional pencil annotations (mostly marginal with a few underlinings). A fresh, well-margined copy with the terminal advertisement leaf 3H4.

Delivery

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