“A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON RENAISSANCE THINKING”: IMPORTANT 1603 FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF PLUTARCH’S MORALS
PLUTARCH. The Philosophie; commonlie called, The Morals… Translated out of Greeke into English… by Philemon Holland…. London: Arnold Hatfield, 1603. Thick folio (8-1/2 by 13 inches), period style full brown calf gilt, red morocco spine label, raised bands. $9000.
First edition in English of Plutarch’s complete Moralia, containing all of the famous philosopher’s surviving writings on ethical, religious, physical, political and literary topics.
The ideas Plutarch expressed in the Morals exerted a profound influence on Renaissance thinking. They revived the rational moral philosophy of the ancients while providing an indispensable contemporary account of Greek political life. This important first English language edition, “a most accurate translation” by Holland, contains over 70 essays, primarily in dialogue form (Lowndes, 1891). “Holland’s translations are faithful and readable. Fuller designates him the ‘translator generall in his age” (DNB). This translation greatly influenced the 1612 edition of Bacon’s Essays, which contain counsels on public morality and private virtue recognizably derived from Plutarch. Most of Holland’s translations were issued in heavy folios such as this, leading Pope to describe the “groaning shelves” bending under the weight of Holland’s works. Includes “Of the Nouriture and Education of Children,” “Of Brotherly Love,” “Of Superstition,” “Instructions for them that manage affaires of State,” “Whether an aged man ought to manage publike affaires” and “The vertuous deeds of Women.” With decorative woodcut head- and tailpieces and historiated initials. With errata. STC 20063. Brueggemann, 320. Old owner signature to title page, scattered marginalia.
Occasional minor marginal closed tears. A near-fine copy in a beautiful period style binding.