Cyrupædia : The institution and life of Cyrus.

London, by I[ohn]. L[egat]. for Robert Allot [and Henry Holland], 1632.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio, [xviii], 131, 130-213, [vii], 14. [Without engraved t-p]. ““Naumachia .. by Abraham Holland …”, a reprint of STC 13580 with different preliminaries, has separate dated title page (2E2r) with imprint “London, printed for Henry Holland, 1632”; register is continuous. Variant: lacking “Naumachia” (2E⁴ 2F⁶) and the additional dedication preceding “Cyrupaedia” (a²) from Henry Holland to Henry Rich, Earl of Holland.” ESTC. This copy, curiously, with the Naumachia but not dedication (a²). Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printers device on first title, another on the Naumachia, floriated woodcut initials and tailpieces, grotesque woodcut headpieces, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, worm trail in lower blank margin of quires H-L, fol. (¶)3 back to front, t-p fractionally dusty, the rare mark or spot. A good copy in excellent contemporary English sheep over boards, covers quadruple blind, and single gilt ruled to a panel design, large fleurons gilt to outer corners, fine large laurel branch wreath gilt to centres around gilt monogram incorporating the letters HAMSTL, stubbs from a sheet of contemporary English printing (a work by Edward Reynolds), all edges sprinkled red, head and tail of spine and corners with loss, upper joint a bit cracked worn, covers a little scratched and stained.

A very charmingly bound copy of this rare work, in the English translation by Philemon Holland, edited by his son Henry. The Cyropaedia is a partly fictional biography of Cyrus the Great, written around 370 BC by the Athenian gentleman-soldier, and student of Socrates, Xenophon of Athens. The Latinized title Cyropaedia derives from Greek Kúrou paideía (Κύρου παιδεία), meaning “The Education of Cyrus”. Aspects of it would become a model for medieval writers of the genre known as mirrors for princes. In turn it was a strong influence upon the most well-known of these, Machiavelli’s The Prince, which was an important influence in the rejection of medieval political thinking, and the development of modern politics. This was the last translation made by Philemon Holland. “He turned to the Cyropaedia last of all. He worked long and carefully, comparing his version with ones already published in Latin and French. He was eighty years old at the time of publication. His son Henry assumed control and turned the Holland version of the Cyropaedia into a tribute to his father, and dedicated it to Charles I. ..There were great hopes for the translation ..History swiftly imposed an ironic reading on the whole enterprise. Philemon Holland was looking backward to the past rather than forward to pressing necessities. So was Charles. Although new versions of the Cyropaedia continued to appear, they became little more than exercises in a genre that had outlived its usefulness. The Cyropaedia has little to say to those bent on revolution. It represents as well as any single book could the kind of political order a popular revolution would seek to overthrow.” James Tatum. Xenophon’s Imperial Fiction: On The Education of Cyrus

Thomas Fuller, writing in the mid-17th century, included Holland among his Worthies of England, terming him “the translator general in his age, so that those books alone of his turning into English will make a country gentleman a competent library for historians”. Holland’s translation style was free and colloquial, sometimes employing relatively obscure dialect and archaic vocabulary, and often expanding on his source text in the interests of clarity. He justified this approach in prefaces to his translations of Livy and Pliny, saying that he had opted for “a meane and popular stile”, and for “that Dialect or Idiome which [is] familiar to the basest clowne”, while elaborating on the original in order to avoid being “obscure and darke”. Appended to this work is a long poem describing the 1571 Battle of Lepanto in 1622 entitled Naumachia, first printed in 1622, by Abraham Holland, one of Philemon’s sons, with a dedication by his brother Henry, the editor of the work.

ESTC S118709. STC 26068. Lowndes VII 3012. Not in Grolier or Pforzheimer


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