"THE EARLIEST EFFORT OF ANTIQUITY TO ESTABLISH A SYSTEM OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY": FIRST EDITION OF GILLIES' INFLUENTIAL TRANSLATION OF ARISTOTLE'S ETHICS AND POLITICS, 1797
(ARISTOTLE) GILLIES, John. Aristotle's Ethics and Politics, Comprising His Practical Philosophy, Translated from the Greek. London: A. Strahan; and T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1797. Two volumes. Tall quarto (9 by 11-1/2 inches), 19th-century full brown calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $2500.
First edition of the renowned 18th-century British historian's celebrated translation of Aristotle, a handsome wide-margined copy.
"Aristotle's treatise on politics is the most valuable work on that branch of philosophy that has descended to us from antiquity… It was the earliest effort of antiquity to establish a system of political philosophy" (Allibone, 672). "Replete with erudition," this influential translation won quick praise as a work that "will do honor to the great original as well as evince the learning and assiduity of Dr. Gillies" (Brueggemann II:41). Here Gillies sought to highlight the renewed importance of Aristotle to a Britain upended by the American and French revolutions. Gillies' works on ancient Greece were referenced by both Madison and John Adams in their constitutional writings. For his part Thomas Jefferson, who had a 1614 Latin edition of Aristotle's Ethics in his library, addressed Gillies' translation and Aristotle's sense of democracy's potential for tyranny by noting that the ancient Greeks "had just ideas of the value of personal liberty, but none at all of the structure of government best calculated to preserve it… The full experiment of a government democratical, but representative, was and is still reserved for us" (Political Writings, 217-18). Bound without half titles. ESTC T128120. Engraved armorial bookplates of English politician and banker Abraham Wildey Robarts (1779-1858).
Occasional foxing, most notably to first and last few leaves of Volume I; bindings with expert restoration to joints, spine ends and board extremities. A handsome copy.