The Familiar Epistles of Cicero (1620) (1st ed)


The Familiar Epistles of Cicero (1620) (1st ed)



Title: The familiar epistles of M.T. Cicero Englished and conferred with the: French Italian and other translations

Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero, Joseph Webbe (trans)

London : Printed by Edward Griffin, 1620. First edition of all of Cicero’s letters translated into English. Impossibly rare.

Condition: Hardcover, vellum-like binding with paper title to spine. Recently re-bound. Interior has sides slightly cropped and then firmly bound with new endpapers. No original blanks remain before the title page. Title page has chipped and crumbly edges, not affecting text. Text itself is good and complete. Overall in good condition.

First edition of all of Cicero’s letters translated into English. Impossibly rare.

About the translator:

Joseph Webbe was an English grammarian, physician, and astrologer. He is now remembered for his views on language teaching, which were based on minimal instruction in grammar, against the contemporary fashion.

A Catholic, he graduated M.D. and Ph.D., perhaps at Padua. Before 1622 he returned to England, and in 1623 was residing in the Old Bailey; John Gee, in his Foot out of the Snare, describes him as there and taking pupils. Through Samuel Hartlib Webbe corresponded in 1629 with another innovator, William Brookes.

In 1612 he published at Rome an astrological work entitled Minae Coalestes Affectus segrotantibus denunciantes, hoc anno 1612.

He strongly advocated a colloquial method of teaching languages, proposing to extend it even to the classical tongues, and to substitute it for the manner of grammatical study in general use. He was influenced in this by Georgius Haloinus and Wolfgang Ratke. In 1622 he published, in support of his views, An Appeale to Truth, in the Controuersie betweene Art and Vse (London), which he supplemented in 1623 by A Petition to the High Court of Parliament, in the behalf of auncient and authentique Authors (London), in which he says that his system has received encouragement from James I, and that he wishes to receive a monopoly of the right to teach by his method. The Pueriles confabulatiunculae, or children talke, claused and drawne into lessons appeared in 1627.

A work dedicated to Charles I from 1626, entitled Vsus et Authoritas (London), was a treatise on hexameters and pentameters. Webbe was also the author of translations, including one of The Familiar Epistles of Cicero (London), undated, but probably published about 1620. In 1629 bilingual versions of Andria and Eunuchus, the plays of Terence, were set out in columns by phrase.

About Cicero:

Marcus Tullius Cicero (3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC); was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.

His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or a return to his style. According to Michael Grant, “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language”. Cicero introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary (with neologisms such as humanitas, qualitas, quantitas, and essentia) distinguishing himself as a linguist, translator, and philosopher.

Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance. According to Polish historian Tadeusz Zieliński, “Renaissance was above all things a revival of Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of Classical antiquity.” The peak of Cicero’s authority and prestige came during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu was substantial. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.

– from wikipedia