London: M. Flesher for Richard Mynne, 1634. First English language edition. Translated out of the original Greek; with notes: by Meric Casaubon, Marcus Aurelius' extremely influential expression of Stoic philosophy.
Small quarto (189 x 138 mm), without blank A1, otherwise complete as issued, including the folding plate in the "Notes" section (illustrating three Roman pots from the collection of Henry Dering of Kent). Bound in contemporary full calf with double blind-rule, rebacked to style (preserving part of the original spine label). Minor toning to the pages, but generally an attractive copy that hasn't been washed or put in a modern binding. Quite scarce thus. From the library of Thomas B. Mosher, the private press publisher from Portland Maine. Copies have occasionally appeared on the market with the Faithorne engraved portrait of Marcus Aurelius from Gataker’s edition of 1652 inserted as frontispiece, but none is called for in this edition.
First edition in English, a translation that proved an enduring success, remaining in print into the 20th century. "The charitable-sociable Stoicism of Casaubon's Marcus Aurelius appealed to a peaceful cosmic holism and rational moral duty in urging the pious conformity widely praised by Stuart advocates of the established church" (Barbour, English Epicures and Stoics, p. 195). In the 19th century Marcus Aurelius’ reputation became increasingly contested, on the one hand being praised by liberal Anglican scholars who read his Stoicism as prefiguring Christianity, on the other championed by a number of prominent writers who found it difficult to believe in the existence of God at all.
“No one would now dare write a book like Marcus Aurelius’ To Himself, or, as we call it in English, The Meditations, and present it to the world as philosophy. He didn’t either. But once published, these, his most intimate thoughts, were considered among the most precious of all philosophical utterances by his contemporaries, by all Western Civilization after they returned to favor at the Renaissance, and most especially by the Victorian English, amongst whom The Meditations was a household book” (Rexroth, Classics Revisited, 112).
STC 962. Palmer, 16. Harris, 100. (Item #2605)