"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing": First Edition in English of The Republic of Plato
The Republic of Plato. In Ten Books. Translated from the Greek by H. Spens. With a Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Philosophy of the Ancients by the Translator.
Item Number: 95640
Glasgow: Printed by Robert and Andrew Foulis, 1763.
First edition in English of one of the cornerstones of Western philosophy and politics. Quarto, period style full calf, red morocco spine label, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, front and rear panels. In near fine condition. An exceptional example of this landmark work.
"That Plato should be the first of all the ancient philosophers to be translated and broadcast by the printing press was inevitable. Platos central conception of a universe of ideas, Perfect Types, of which material objects are imperfect forms, and his ethical code based on action according to human nature, developed by education, which represents the authority of the State, fitted in as well with the philosophical, religious and political thought of western Europe in the 15th century, striving to free itself from the shackles of scholasticism, as it did with those of the Byzantine Greeks, by whom Plato was repopularized in the western world The dialogues are pervaded by two dominant impulses: a love of truth and a passion for human improvement" (PMM 27). This translation by the Rev. Henry Spens is "very faithful containing not only a general epitome of the Republic of Plato, but an accurate delineation of the characters, manners, and philosophy of the ancient Greeks" (Lowndes, 1878).