Observations upon the Lives of Alexander, Caesar, Scipio

Giovanni BOTERO

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"THERE WAS NEVER ANY PRINCE THAT GOT A GREATER NAME THAN ALEXANDER": BOTERO'S OBSERVATIONS UPON THE LIVES OF ALEXANDER, CAESAR, SCIPIO, 1602 FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THIS PRECURSOR TO LOCKE AND ADAM SMITH

[BOTERO, Giovanni]. Observations upon the Lives of Alexander, Caesar, Scipio. London: A. Islip, 1602. Small octavo, modern full speckled calf, raised bands, black morocco spine label.

First edition in English of Italian philosopher and diplomat Giovanni Botero's treatise on the exemplary lives of Alexander, Caesar and Scipio, penned by Botero when he was the tutor to the sons of the Duke of Savoy and doubtless intended for their use.

The Jesuit-trained Italian philosopher and diplomat Giovanni Botero (circa 1554-1617) was dismissed from the order in 1580 and became secretary to Carlo Borromeo, Bishop of Milan. In 1589 he completed his most famous work, Della Ragion di Stato, arguing that "State is a stable rule over a people and Reason [or the Principle] of State is the knowledge of the means by which such a dominion may be founded, preserved, and extended." His ethical concept of statecraft can be contrasted with Machiavelli's principles: Botero argued against the amoral political philosophy of The Prince on religious grounds. Inspired more by Aquinas, Botero's basic philosophy was more liberal and a precursor to the work of Locke and Adam Smith. Less typical of his time are discussions of the labor theory of value and the theory of population that mark him as a pioneer in political economy.

A decade after Della Ragion di Stato, Botero's Observations upon the Lives of Alexander, Caesar, Scipio, offers a practical illustration of his principles though the lives of three military commanders. Written when Botero was tutor to the sons of the Duke of Savoy and doubtless intended for their use, each book is dedicated to a contemporary prince: Philip Emanuel of Piemont, Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy, and Emanuel Filiberto of Savoy. The anonymous English translation is dedicated to Nicholas Strangways. First published in Italian in 1600 under the title I Prencipi, con le aggionte alla Ragion di Stato. Without two blanks only: preliminary blank A1 and terminal blank Q4. STC 3397. Early owner ink signatures on title page, early ink marginalia. Bookplates of Anthony Jaggard and Dr. and Mrs. H.R. Knohl.

Occasional spotting or faint staining to text. Binding attractive and fine. An excellent copy of this scarce title.

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