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COMMENTARIES OF CAESAR. Translated into English. To which is prefixed a Discourse Concerning the Roman Art of War
London: Jacob Tonson, 1753. First Edition of the celebrated great folio of “Duncan’s Caesar”. Illustrated with 86 copper engraved plates and maps, mostly double-page. Includes the multi-folding “Bison” plate which is commonly lacking, and the great plate of Hannibal’s elephants. Engraved title by C. Huyberts after Audenaerde, portraits of Marlborough by Vertue after Kneller and of Caesar by J. de Leuw. Large Folio [16-1/2 x 10-1/4”], handsomely bound in full contemporary style paneled calf, the spine with raised bands gilt ruled, and with a red morocco lettering label gilt. A handsome copy of this rare book, unusual in its preservation; the paper clean and crisp and unwashed and unpressed, the folding “Bison” plate backed with thick paper. The binding beautifully preserved and in excellent condition. The Celebrated “Duncan Caesar” – THE FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH AND The Finest Printing in English of Caesar’s Works, and one of the finest illustrated English books of the 18th Century. Richly illustrated, the edition draws its inspiration and reproduces the suite of graphics from the famed 1712 edition of Caesar printed by Tonson in the original Latin. In addition to maps and plans and scenes of battle and conquest, the work contains many compelling images of the dress and customs and the peoples vanquished by Caesar – the plates of the “Burning Man” of the Druids, The Battle with Hannibal’s Elephants, and the depiction of the Buffalo being especially famous. This book is often found lacking plates and in deficient condition due to its size and heft. Complete copies of this book in good condition have now become noticeably rare. A FINE COPY OF THE HIGHLY IMPORTANT FIRST ENGLISH EDITION OF THE TONSON CAESAR. Despite the fact that Julius Caesar remains one of the most illustrious men in history, only a handful of his extensive writings survive to the present day. This “Opera” contains his primary works, “Commentaries on the Gallic War” and the three books of the Civil Wars in Rome with Pompey. The “Commentaries” was written not to suggest a history, but rather as a bald record of events. Caesar wished to create an impression that he was just a simple soldier fighting for the good of Rome. It is unique as a contemporary account of a drawn out (nine years) foreign war written by a Roman general, and he has written it in lucid and un-rhetorical Latin. The work was probably first published in 51 BC. The books on the Civil War are rather more obviously political, the theme being that his enemies forced the war upon him. The narrative is greatly relieved however by touches of humility and humor. Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. Tonson had begun his publishing career in 1679 and by the turn of the century was well established as a printer of fine books. He had built his reputation by producing beautiful copies of many of the classics as well as being a favored publisher of Dryden. In 1703 Tonson traveled to Holland to obtain the best possible paper and engravings for his masterpiece, Caesar’s “Opera”, ultimately published in 1712 with the help of Samuel Clarke. Clarke was a noted theologian and intellectual who also published discourses on Homer and Sir Isaac Newton. The many two-page plates in this large folio are simply breathtaking. They vividly depict the people, scenery and animals of Gaul, as well as the Roman encampments and battles. There is a multi-plate depiction of a full Roman processional that continues, page after page, in beautiful detail of the soldiers, officers, machinery and animals that made Rome the center of the world. An absolutely spectacular book, this printing, the first in English, reproduces from the plates used in the Latin edition, what is considered to be “the most sumptuous classical work that this country (England) has produced” (Lowndes). It was dedicated to the Duke of Marlborough, with the inference that he is a later-day Caesar, and was obviously designed to be a monument to “Marlborough’s Wars” (i.e. The Wars of the Spanish Succession). The plates in the original Latin version contained dedications and the arms of the dedicatees (indicating that they paid the production costs), among whom are Prince Eugene of Savoy, Marlborough’s co-victor at Blenheim, Rober Harley, Bishop Burnet, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Sir John Vanbrugh, and the Margrave of Brandenburg (to whom is dedicated the ‘reputedly rare’ bison plate - present here in a good strong impression.) This English edition published by Tonson provided those not versed in Latin with the opportunity to relish and enjoy the greatest illustrated English book of the time.
      [Bookseller: Buddenbrooks, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2013-07-25           Check availability:      Biblio    

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