"REDESIGNING THE SHAPE OF HISTORY… AUGUSTINE WOULD DOMINATE WESTERN THOUGHT FOR THE NEXT MILLENNIUM": 1620 EDITION IN ENGLISH OF ST. AUGUSTINE'S CITIE OF GOD
AUGUSTINE. Of the Citie of God. With the Learned Comments of Io. Lodovicus Vives. Englished first by J.H. and now in this Second Edition compared with the Latin Originall, and in very many places corrected and amended. London: by G. Eld, and M. Flesher, 1620. Folio (8-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches), 18th-century full paneled calf rebacked with original spine neatly laid down, raised bands. $12,500.
Second edition in English of Augustine's monumental "scheme of universal history… providing a vocabulary for Christian thinking in the West for centuries" (Boorstin, The Creators). Because of the innovative conception of history presented in this work, Augustine was considered "the founder of a new science, to which Voltaire assigned the name 'philosophy of history.' For the first time a comprehensive survey of human history is presented" (PMM).
When, more than 1100 years after the founding of the "Eternal City," Rome fell to the barbarian hordes of Alaric in the year 410, Christian monotheism was blamed for precipitating the catastrophe by inciting the wrath of the protecting gods. These accusations became for Augustine "the point of departure for his Christian view of history… The 13 years (413-26) he spent on his City of God created a new kind of defense of the new religion… Augustine proceeded to create his own philosophy of history, which would dominate Western thought for the next millennium. And he provided the most potent weapon against historical pessimism and the classic cycles. His ideas would show an uncanny power to be transformed into a modern idea of progress" (Boorstin). Augustine's work, first published in English in 1610, proved enormously influential well into the 18th century. His views on trade greatly affected medieval rules of commerce and provided arguments for both sides in the struggle between Pope and Emperor. Further, his descriptions of the just ruler and the tyrant made a powerful impression on Renaissance thought. As evidenced by Grotius, the concept of international law was also derived from Augustine, and his writings formed, with the Bible, the cornerstone of Protestantism for Luther and Calvin. "This translation of Vives' text and commentaries of Augustine's great work is the only one published in English until the latter half of the 19th century" (Pforzheimer 19). Occasional mispagination without affecting text. STC 917. Engraved armorial bookplate. Early owner ink annotations to front flyleaf.
Endpapers lifted but present, text unusually clean and fine. Corners expertly renewed on nicely refurbished early calf binding. An exceptionally handsome and most desirable copy.