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    First Complete English Translation of Plato

    Plato. The Works of Plato, viz. His Fifty-Five Dialogues, and Twelve Epistles, Translated from the Greek; Nine of the Dialogues by the late Floyer Sydenham, and the Remainder by Thomas Taylor: with Occasional Annotations on the Nine Dialogues Translated by Sydenham, and Copious Notes by the Latter Translator; in Which is Given the Substance of Nearly all the Existing Greek MS. Commentaries on the Philosophy of Plato, and a Considerable Portion of Such as are Already Published. In Five Volumes. London: Printed for Thomas Taylor, by R. Wilks..., 1804. First edition of the first complete translation into English of Plato, with Greek commentaries, and the extended notes of Thomas Taylor. Approximately 11.5 x 8.75 inches. Five quarto volumes. [12], cxxiii, [1, blank], 544; [4], 657, [1, blank], [1], [1, blank]; [4], 600; [4], 614; [4], 720 pages. Complete with half-titles and the plate of diagrams (bound into Volume V between pages 62 and 63). Bound without the errata slip. Contemporary full calf. Covers double ruled in gilt, spines ruled and tooled in gilt in compartments, black, dark green and burgundy gilt morocco lettering labels, gilt board edges and turn-ins, marbled endpapers. Joints starting (joints of Volume I nearly detached), some wear to bindings, one small marginal tear on p. 57 in Volume I, and a few pages neatly creased in the upper corner of Volume II. Overall, a very good set of these rare volumes.

    From the library of Platonic scholar John Athawes, with his bookplates and extensive notes (both in English and Greek), underlinings, and marginalia (virtually every page has neat and intricate markings or writing, presumably by Athawes - some pages have very little, some pages are nearly covered in his neat, thoughtful and fascinating notes).

    Taylor's 1804 edition was the first complete English translation of the works of Plato. It includes copious notes which contain the substance of the surviving commentaries of the later Platonists (Damascius, Olympiodorus, Hermias and especially Proclus), making it not only an important translation, but also a source of insightful elucidation of the dialogues. Taylor himself translates Plato's Dialogues from within the ancient Greek Tradition, and many believe his translation to still be the finest available. Thomas Taylor, 1758-1835, was an English scholar and translator known for his translations of Plato and the Neoplatonists, especially his translation of the complete works of Plato, published in five volumes in London in 1804. Taylor's translations are distinctive for their esoteric and Neoplatonic perspective: Taylor was more a devotee than an "objective" presenter, and therefore more a disciple than a pure scholar. Like the New England Transcendentalists who enjoyed his writings, such as Amos Bronson Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was self-styled, self-taught, working independently outside the walls and sanctions of academe. Emerson, during his second trip to England in 1848, was astonished that Taylor was not better known and respected in his own country.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2012
    8th Wednesday
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