A Very Fine Contemporary Copy


(Cantabrigiae [Cambridge]: Typis academicis [by Joseph Bentham], 1743). 205 x 127 mm. (8 1/8 x 5"). 14 p.l., 344, [1] pp. Edited and annotated by John Taylor.

Contemporary polished calf, covers with decorative blind tooling running vertically beside joints, raised bands, red morocco label. Text in Greek and Latin. Pastedowns with half a dozen neat contemporary ink inscriptions (one dated 1744). Dibdin I, 488 ("An excellent and critical edition, neatly printed"). ◆Spine lightly sunned and with half a dozen dark spots, corners a little bumped, offsetting to endpapers from binder's glue, but still A FINE COPY, the binding with almost no wear, and THE TEXT EXCEPTIONALLY CLEAN, FRESH, AND BRIGHT.

This is an attractively printed scholarly edition of Demosthenes' famous judicial oration "Against Meidias," significant for its strong stance on the rule of law. The orator warns that a democracy will perish if the rule of law is undermined by the wealthy and unscrupulous and that the voice of the citizenry in state affairs depends on "the strength of the laws." One of history's great orators, Demosthenes (383-22 B.C.), a contemporary of Aristotle, sought to rouse the citizens of Athens against the threat to their democracy posed by Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great. He was an orator that other rhetoricians revered: Quintilian considered him the standard to which all should aspire; Cicero thought him the perfect orator and was much influenced by his style, which the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature describes as "combining nobility of thought and diction with simplicity of language." The other work in our volume is by Demosthenes' fellow Attic orator, Lycurgus (ca. 390-324 B.C.), who here indicts Leocrates for treason in fleeing Athens after a military defeat (in violation of a decree forbidding persons to leave the city); this is the sole surviving text by Lycurgus. Editor John Taylor (1704-66) was a Cambridge classicist known for his editions of the Attic orators, valued especially for his learned commentary on Athenian law.

Price: $400.00