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CRATYLUS, PHAEDO, PARMENIDES AND TIMAEUS - Plato [Taylor Thomas, Trans.] - 1793. 
London: Printed for Benjamin and John White, 1793. The first edition of Taylor's translation into English and the first edition in English of these dialogues other then Phaedo. 8vo, near contemporary three quarter dark brown morocco over marbled boards, the spine with gilt ruled raised bands additionally ruled in blind, one compartment gilt lettered. xxiii, 554, errata pp. Unusually well preserved and quite fine. A very handsome and proper copy, the text-block clean and solid and very fresh, the binding in fine order, attractive and sturdy, with only the most minimal evidence of use or age. THE FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THREE OF THESE FOUR DIALOGUES, translated by Thomas Taylor. Taylor was the first to translate into English the complete works of both Plato and Aristotle. To this day, his translations are revered and favoured as the most significant in English. Taylor was an admirer of Hellenism, most especially in the philosophical framework furnished by Plato and the Neoplatonists Proclus and the "most divine" Iamblichus, whose works he also translated into English. So enamored was he of the ancients, that he and his wife talked to one another only in classical Greek. In Cratylus Socrates is asked by two men, Cratylus and Hermogenes, to tell them whether names are "conventional" or "natural", that is, whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an intrinsic relation to the things they signify. Phaedo is one of the great dialogues of his middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium. The Phaedo, which depicts the death of Socrates, is also Plato's fourth and last dialogue to detail the philosopher's final days. Parmenides is widely considered to be one of the more, if not the most, challenging and enigmatic of Plato's dialogues. The Parmenides purports to be an account of a meeting between the two great philosophers of the Eleatic school, Parmenides and Zeno of Elea, and a young Socrates. Timaeus takes the form of a long monologue given by the titular character. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. In the words of the Prometheus Trust, â€œTaylor's Works of Plato, has two outstanding features which make it an essential component to the genuine philosophers library; Firstly, Taylor himself translates Plato's Dialogues from within the ancient Greek Tradition. No English translator, before or since, has been so completely at one with the Greek philosophical and religious world view: Taylor fulfills, to the highest degree, the first requirement of the art of translation, - that of making the original writer's thought-patterns his own. Although Thomas Taylor lived in eighteenth and nineteenth century London, his spirit breathed the purer airs of an Athens of long ago, his soul worshipped in her temples, and his eyes beheld these things by the clearer light of her sun. To the student of the present day, he delivers the breadth and depth of Platonism remarkably free of the distortions which had darkened the millennium between the closure of the Academy in Athens and his own time. Secondly, Taylor adds to Plato's Dialogues, many of the surviving commentaries of the later Platonists (e.g. Olympiodorus, Damascius, Hermias, and especially, Proclus), as footnotes and endnotes. In this way, Taylor transforms the presentation of Plato's philosophy from that of mere faithful reproduction, as remarkable as that may be in itself, to one similar to that which students are likely to have received during the later period of Plato's Academy. This Philosophy, writes Taylor, â€˜May be compared to a luminous pyramid, terminating in Deity, and having for its basis the rational soul of man and its spontaneous unperverted conceptions....it is the greatest good which man can participate: for it purifies us from the defilements of the passions and assimilates us to Divinity, it confers on us the proper felicity of our nature.â€™â€ â€œThomas Taylor took upon himself, at the close of the eighteenth century, the task of pacing before his contemporaries the canonical Platonic writings, in which are embodied the essential learning of the imaginative tradition. The texts Taylor placed in the hands of the Romantic poets were the same that Ficino had made accessible to Boticelli, Raphael, and Michelangelo...Taylor"s translations were the texts, his interpretations the guide...Volumes of Taylor crossed the Atlantic, there to fertilize a flowering of American culture. Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and their friends dreaming of an America that should approach to Platoâ€™s never-to-be-realized Republic, read the same books that a generation earlier had inspired Blakeâ€™s prophecies of an England who national life should reflect Platoâ€™s city, the order of eternal perfection. " -Raine & Harper.
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