"ALL THE DEGREES OF SEDITION, AND ALL THE EFFECTS OF AMBITION": RARE FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF APPIAN, 1578, A SOURCE FOR SHAKESPEARE'S ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA AND JULIUS CAESAR
APPIAN OF ALEXANDRIA. An Auncient Historie and Exquisite Chronicle of the Romanes Warres, both Ciuile and Foren. London: Raulfe Newberrie and Henrie Bynniman, 1578. Two parts bound in one volume. Small quarto (5-1/2 by 7-1/4 inches), 19th-century full dark green crushed morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $18,500.
First edition in English of one of the classic works on ancient Rome, with the rare third state general title page. An excellent copy, beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt by Riviere. Scarce and desirable.
Appian of Alexandria, Greek historian of the conquests by Rome from the republican period into the 2nd century AD, held public office in Alexandria, where he witnessed the Jewish insurrection in 116 AD. After gaining Roman citizenship he went to Rome, practiced as a lawyer, and at an advanced age became a procurator. Appian wrote in Greek this Romaica, or history of Rome, in 24 books, arranged ethnographically according to the peoples (and their rulers) conquered by the Romans. The books that survive in complete form deal with Spain, Carthage, Illyria, Syria, Hannibal, Mithradates, and the Roman civil wars from the Gracchi onward. Appian preserved much information of value by his transmission of earlier sources. His first book on the civil wars, dealing with the period from Tiberius Gracchus (tribune 133 BC) to Sulla (d. 78 BC), is a major historical source (Britannica). This first English translation "was grandly entitled An Auncient Historie and Exquisite Chronicle of the Romanes Warres… and praised Appian as 'a noble orator and historiographer.' Since Appian's narrative of the civil wars ends with the death of Sextus Pompey, Barker decided to supplement the account with material from Plutarch. Subsequently, William Shakespeare used Barker's Appian when writing Antony and Cleopatra and especially Julius Caesar" (Wilson, Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece). "There appear to be three states of this general title… the third state, of which the Sheldon copy in the Chapin Library is the only one which we have traced, may be distinguished by the fact that in it the 19th line is finally corrected to read …continuation…' and an 'l' is inserted in the Raufe Newbery of the second state imprint so that it reads 'Raulfe" (Pforzheimer). This copy with third state title page, bound without half title and conjugate dedication leaf. Also without errata, though it is possible that errata did not exist in this issue as it is the third state and there have been corrections made to the title. ESTC S1491. See Pforzheimer 9. Brueggemann, 339. Harris, 11. Bookplate of Charles Butler of Warren Wood Hatfield. Handwritten page of notes in fine calligraphic hand inserted at front by William Graham, banker and bibliophile. A very few penciled notations to text.
Text generally clean. A few pages have been trimmed close along the upper edge, slightly affecting headlines. Small closed tears to title page skillfully repaired; final two leaves with professional repairs along fore-edge. Beautiful Riviere morocco-gilt binding with a few small marks to front panel.