Le Manuel d’Epictete.

Paris, Abel L’Angelier, 1591.

12mo., 59, [1] leaves (last blank); engraved title somewhat dust soiled and with some abrasion to the engraved ornament (where a bookplate has been removed?); early 18th-century French calf, back gilt; on both covers is stamped in gilt the name “St PORS”.


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Rare first edition of this translation of the “Encheiridion” or “Manual” of Epictetus’ principal doctrines; an earlier translation by Antoine Du Moulin had been published in 1544.

Guillaume Du Vair (1556-1621) had a dual career as a statesman and as a moral philosopher. He was sent on a mission to Queen Elizabeth in 1596. In his last years under Henri IV, he was Chancellor of France, also Bishop of Lisieux. “But he is best known for his promotion of Stoic philosophy. His translation of Epictetus’ Enchiridion appeared in 1591 and was frequently reprinted. This was followed by the publication of a number of influential tracts which he had composed earlier: De la constance et consolation ès calamités publiques (1597); La Philosophie morale des stoïques (1598); La Sainte Philosophie (1600). He aspired to reconcile ancient Stoicism with Christianity; like Montaigne and Justus Lipsius, he stressed the importance of controlling the will and developing a personal philosophy as an antidote to the vicissitudes of fortune, the evils of the times, and the uncertainty of happiness” (New Oxford Companion to Literature in French).

This first edition (a ‘1585’ edition is a ghost) is exceptionally rare: no copy is located in the BL, Adams, or NUC.

Bound before Epictetus is an anonymous work: Memoires de Mr. D. F. L. touchant ce qui s’est passé en Italie entre Victor Amedée II. duc de Savoye, et le Roy T. C. Aix la Chapelle: A. Steenhuysen, 1697. 130 pp., [1] blank leaf [Goldsmith l-7].

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