A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


February 2017

Tracking the Leviathan

Special Collections and Archives / Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes published Leviathan, which outlines his theory of moral and political philosophy. The book’s title comes from a metaphor of the state as a giant made up of individuals in the way that an individual is made up of molecules: “For by Art is created that great Leviathan called a Commonwealth, or State, (in latine Civitas) which is but an Artificiall Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which, the Soveraignty is an Artificiall soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body.”

engraved_title_detail Detail from the engraved title page of Leviathan (London: Andrew Crooke, 1651) showing the sovereign as the head of a Leviathan composed of citizens of the commonwealth.

In Leviathan, Hobbes hypothesized that in their natural state, without government or societal bonds, people are motivated predominantly by self-interest, especially self-preservation. In such a state, every…

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Barlaam and Josaphat in India  544G

Some how I managed to take three classes from Huston Smith  (The World’s Religions (originally titled The Religions of Man) has sold over two million copies) I misdeed this story, I was perhaps distracted by  His notion of “”empirical metaphysics” which he writes about in his book Cleansing the Doors of Perception which was more the direction I was exploring at that time (organically).   Now some thirty years later, The ‘ inorganic’ spread of mystical states/texts interest me and I was informed of this Great Story of textual transmission by my colleague Paul Dowling of Liber Antiquus.

The Greek legend of “Barlaam and Ioasaph” which is sometimes attributed to the 7th century John of Damascus, but actually it was transcribed by the Georgian monk Euthymius in the 11th century. The first Christianized adaptation was the Georgian epic Balavariani dating back to the 10th century. A Georgian monk, Euthymios of Athos, translated the story into Greek, some time before he was killed while visiting Constantinople in 1028. There the Greek adaptation was translated into Latin in 1048 and soon became well-known in Western Europe as Barlaam and Josaphat.

The story of Barlaam and Josaphat or Joasaph is a Christianized and later version of the story of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha.

901G     Billy, Jacques de,; 1535-1581. translator Traditionally (but incorrectly)–attributed to St. John of Damascus


S. Ioannis Damasceni Historia, De Vitis Et Rebvs Gestis SS. Barlaam Eremitæ, & Iosaphat Indiæ regis, Iacobo Billio Prunæo, S. Michaelis in eremo Coenobiarcha interprete.



Coloniæ, In Officina Birckmannica, sumptibus Arnoldi Mylij. ANNO M.D.XCIII. Duodecimodsc_0155 A-S12 T6 ( -T6).   $950

This copy is bound in contemporary vellum, an ownership stamp has been ripped out of the title page (see image )

VD 16 J 533;  AdamsB 206.

One of the best known examples of the hagiographic novel, this is the tale of an Indian prince who becomes aware of the world’s miseries and is converted to Christianity by the monk Barlaam. Barlaam and Josaphat (Ioasaph) were believed to have re-converted India after her lapse from conversion to Christianity, and they were numbered among the Christian saints. Centuries ago likenesses were noticed between the life of Josaphat and the life of the Buddha; the resemblances are in incidents, doctrine, and philosophy, and Barlaam’s rules of abstinence resemble the Buddhist monk’s. But not till the mid-nineteenth century was it recognised that, in Josaphat, the Buddha had been venerated as a Christian saint for about a thousand years.

The origin of the story of Barlaam and Ioasaph—which in itself has little peculiar to Buddhism—appears to be a Manichaean tract produced in Central Asia


It was welcomed by the Arabs and by the Georgians. The Greek romance of Barlaam appears separately first in the 11th century. Most of the Greek manuscripts attribute the story to John the Monk, and it is only some later scribes who identify this John with John Damascene (ca. 676–749). There is strong evidence in Latin and Georgian as well as Greek that it was the Georgian Euthymius (who died in 1028) who caused the story to be translated from Georgian into Greek, the whole being reshaped and supplemented.

The Greek romance soon spread throughout Christendom, and was translated into Latin, Old Slavonic, Armenian, and Arabic. An English version (from Latin) was used by Shakespeare in his caskets scene in The Merchant of Venice.

JOSAPHAT, a corruption of Bodhisatwa. Barlaam and Josaphat,

{Ioasaph (Georgian Iodasaph, Arabic Yūdhasaf or Būdhasaf) is derived from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva. The Sanskrit word was changed to Bodisav in Persian texts in the 6th or 7th century, then to Budhasaf or Yudasaf in an 8th-century Arabic document (possibly Arabic initial “b” ﺑ changed to “y” ﻳ by duplication of a dot in handwriting). This became Iodasaph in Georgia in the 10th century, and that name was adapted as Ioasaph in Greece in the 11th century, and then as Iosaphat or Josaphat in Latin}

has been so completely received into the bosom of the Latin Church, that the names of ‘ the holy saints Barlaam and Josaphat of India, on the borders of Persia,’ have been canonized, and have their proper day, November 27th, as may be read in the Martyrologium of Cardinal Baronius, authorized by Pope Sextus v. for general use in the Catholic world, at page 177 of the 1873 edition, endorsed by His Holiness Pius IX. The Greek Church assigns a different day to the holy Iosaph, sou of Abener, king of India, and omits Barlaam. Josaphat or Iosaph is Bodhisat, or the condition of Sakya before he became a Buddha, and the religious romance of St. John of Damascus is simply a Greek version of the life of Gautama. dsc_0158Professor Max Muller pointed out the fact that Gautama, under the name of St. Josaphat, is now officially recognised and honoured and worshipped throughout the whole of Roman Catholic Christendom as a Christian saint! And just as Barlaam and Josaphat is an offshoot of Buddhist literature, so the wide series of tales represented by the Pancha Tantra, Kalila and Damna, Fables of Bidpai, Æsop’s Fables and La Fontaine’s, are mainly traceable not only to an Indian, but to a Buddhist source. Sindbad the Sailor, and other tales of the Arabian Nights, have their birth in Buddhist Jutakas; Boccaccio, Chaucer, Gower, and Spencer have been indebted to this treasurehouse of Buddhist folk-lore; even the three caskets and the pound of flesh in the Merchant of Venice are ideas found in this wonderful old story-book. —Contemporary Review, 1870.



From Chips from a German Workshop, by F. Max Müller, Vol. IV, pp. 139–198. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons [1881].

At the court of  Khalif Almansur, where Abdallah ibn Almokaffa translated the fables of Calla and Dimna from Persian into Arabic, there lived a Christian of the name of Sergius, who for many years held the high office of treasurer to the Khalif. He had a son to whom he gave the best education that could then be given, his chief tutor being one Cosmas, an Italian monk, who had been taken prisoner by the Saracens, and sold as a slave at Bagdad. After the death of Sergius, his son succeeded him for some time as chief councillor (πρωτοσύμβουλος) to the Khalif Almansur. Such, however, had been the influence of the dsc_0157Italian monk on his pupil’s mind, that he suddenly resolved to retire from the world, and to devote himself to study, meditation, and pious works. From the monastery of St. Saba, near Jerusalem, this former minister of the Khalif issued the most learned works on theology, particularly his “Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.” He soon became the highest authority on matters of dogma in the Eastern Church, and he still holds his place among the saints both of the Eastern and Western Churches. His name was Joannes, and from being born at Damascus, the former capital of the Khalifs, he is best known in history as Joannes Damascenus, or St. John of Damascus. He must

p. 168

have known Arabic, and probably Persian; but his mastery of Greek earned him, later in life, the name of Chrysorrhoas, or Gold-flowing. He became famous as the defender of the sacred images, and as the determined opponent of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, about 726. It is difficult in his life to distinguish between legend and history, but that he had held high office at the court of the Khalif Almansur, that he boldly opposed the iconoclastic policy of the Emperor Leo, and that he wrote the most learned theological works of his time, cannot be easily questioned.

Among the works ascribed to him is a story called “Barlaam and Joasaph.” 1 There has been a fierce controversy as to whether he was the author of it or not. Though for our own immediate purposes it would be of little consequence whether the book was written by Joannes Damascenus or by some less distinguished ecclesiastic, I must confess that the arguments hitherto adduced against his authorship seem to me very weak.

The Jesuits did not like the book, because it was

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a religious novel. They pointed to a passage in which the Holy Ghost is represented as proceeding from the Father “and the Son,” as incompatible with the creed of an Eastern ecclesiastic. That very passage, however, has now been proved to be spurious; and it should be borne in mind, besides, that the controversy on the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son, dates a century later than Joannes. The fact, again, that the author does not mention Mohammedanism, 1 proves nothing against the authorship of Joannes, because, as he places Barlaam and Joasaph in the early centuries of Christianity, he would have ruined his story by any allusion to Mohammed’s religion, then only a hundred years old. Besides, he had written a separate work, in which the relative merits of Christianity and Mohammedanism are discussed. The prominence given to the question of the worship of images shows that the story could not have been written much before the time of Joannes Damascenus, and there is nothing in the style of our author that could be pointed out as incompatible with the style of the great theologian. On the contrary, the author of “Barlaam and Joasaph” quotes the same authors whom Joannes Damascenus quotes most frequently—eg., Basilius and Gregorius Nazianzenus. And no one but Joannes could have taken long passages from his own works without saying where he borrowed them. 2

p. 170

The story of “Barlaam and Joasaph”—or, as he is more commonly called, Josaphat—may be told in a few words: “A king in India, an enemy and persecutor of the Christians, has an only son. The astrologers have predicted that he would embrace the new doctrine. His father, therefore, tries by all means in his power to keep him ignorant of the miseries of the world, and to create in him a taste for pleasure and enjoyment. A Christian hermit, however, gains access to the prince, and instructs him in the doctrines of the Christian religion. The young prince is not only baptized, but resolves to give up all his earthly riches; and after having converted his own father and many of his subjects, he follows his teacher into the desert.”

The real object of the book is to give a simple exposition of the principal doctrines of the Christian religion. It also contains a first attempt at comparative theology, for in the course of the story there is a disputation on the merits of the principal religions of the world—the Chaldæan, the Egyptian, the Greek, the Jewish, and the Christian. But one of the chief attractions of this manual of Christian theology consisted in a number of fables and parables with which it is enlivened. Most of them have been traced to an Indian source. I shall mention one only which has found its way into almost every literature of the world: 1—

“A man was pursued by a unicorn, and while he tried to flee from it, he fell into a pit. In falling he stretched out both his

p. 171

arms, and laid hold of a small tree that was growing on one side of the pit. Having gained a firm footing, and holding to the tree, he fancied he was safe, when he saw two mice, a black and a white one, busy gnawing the root of the tree to which he was clinging. Looking down into the pit, he perceived a horrid dragon with his mouth wide open, ready to devour him, and when examining the place on which his feet rested, the heads of four serpents glared at him. Then he looked up, and observed drops of honey falling down from the tree to which he clung. Suddenly the unicorn, the dragon, the mice, and the serpents were all forgotten, and his mind was intent only on catching the drops of sweet honey trickling down from the tree.”

An explanation is hardly required. The unicorn is Death, always chasing man; the pit is the world; the small tree is man’s life, constantly gnawed by the black and the white mouse—i.e., by night and day; the four serpents are the four elements which compose the human body; the dragon below is meant for the jaws of hell. Surrounded by all these horrors, man is yet able to forget them all, and to think only of the pleasures of life, which, like a few drops of honey, fall into his mouth from the tree of life. 1

But what is still more curious is, that the author of “Barlaam and Josaphat” has evidently taken his very hero, the Indian Prince Josaphat, from an Indian source. In the “Lalita Vistara”—the life, though no doubt the legendary life, of Buddha—the father of Buddha is a king. When his son is born, the Brahman Asita predicts that he will rise to great glory, and become either a powerful king, or, renouncing the throne and embracing the life of a hermit

p. 172

become a Buddha. 1 The great object of his father is to prevent this. He therefore keeps the young prince, when he grows up, in his garden and palaces, surrounded by all pleasures which might turn his mind from contemplation to enjoyment. More especially he is to know nothing of illness, old age, and death, which might open his eyes to the misery and unreality of life. After a time, however, the prince receives permission to drive out; and then follow the four drives, 2 so famous in Buddhist history. The places where these drives took place were commemorated by towers still standing in the time of Fa Hian’s visit to India, early in the fifth century after Christ, and even in the time of Hiouen Thsang, in the seventh century. I shall read you a short account of the three drives: 3—

“One day when the prince with a large retinue was driving through the eastern gate of the city, on the way to one of his parks, he met on the road an old man, broken and decrepit. One could see the veins and muscles over the whole of his body, his teeth chattered, he was covered with wrinkles, bald, and hardly able to utter hollow and unmelodious sounds. He was bent on his stick, and all his limbs and joints trembled. ‘Who is that man?’ said the prince to his coachman. ‘He is small and weak, his flesh and his blood are dried up, his muscles stick to his skin, his head is white, his teeth chatter, his body is wasted away; leaning on his stick, he is hardly able to walk, stumbling at every step. Is there something peculiar in his family, or is this the common lot of all created beings?’

“‘Sir,’ replied the coachman, ‘that man is sinking under old age, his senses have become obtuse, suffering has destroyed his strength, and he is despised by his relations. He is without support and useless, and people have abandoned him, like a dead tree in a forest. But this is not peculiar to his family.

p. 173

[paragraph continues]In every creature youth is defeated by old age. Your father, your mother, all your relations, all your friends, will come to the same state; this is the appointed end of all creatures.’

“‘Alas!’ replied the prince, “are creatures so ignorant, so weak and foolish as to be proud of the youth by which they are intoxicated, not seeing the old age which awaits them? As for me, I go away. Coachman, turn my chariot quickly. What have I, the future prey of old age—what have I to do with pleasure?” And the young prince returned to the city without going to the park.

“Another time the prince was driving through the southern gate to his pleasure-garden, when he perceived on the road a man suffering from illness, parched with fever, his body wasted, covered with mud, without a friend, without a home, hardly able to breathe, and frightened at the sight of himself, and the approach of death. Having questioned his coachman, and received from him the answer which he expected, the young prince said, ‘Alas! health is but the sport of a dream, and the fear of suffering must take this frightful form. Where is the wise man who, after having seen what he is, could any longer think of joy and pleasure?’ The prince turned his chariot, and returned to the city.

“A third time he was driving to his pleasure-garden through the western gate, when he saw a dead body on the road, lying on a bier and covered with a cloth. The friends stood about crying, sobbing, tearing their hair, covering their heads with dust, striking their breasts, and uttering wild cries. The prince, again, calling his coachman to witness this painful scene, exclaimed, ‘Oh, woe to youth, which must be destroyed by old age! Woe to health, which must be destroyed by so many diseases! Woe to this life, where a man remains so short a time! If there were no old age, no disease, no death; if these could he made captive forever!’ Then, betraying for the first time his intentions, the young prince said, ‘Let us turn back, I must think how to accomplish deliverance.’

“A last meeting put an end to hesitation. He was driving through the northern gate on the way to his pleasure-gardens, when he saw a mendicant, who appeared outwardly calm, subdued, looking downwards, wearing with an air of dignity his religious vestment, and carrying an alms-bowl.

“‘Who is that man?’ asked the prince.

p. 174

“‘Sir,’ replied the coachman, ‘this man is one of those who are called Bhikshus, or mendicants. He has renounced all pleasures, all desires, and leads a life of austerity. He tries to conquer himself. He has become a devotee. Without passion, without envy, he walks about asking for alms.’

“‘This is good and well said,’ replied the prince. ‘The life of a devotee has always been praised by the wise. It will be my refuge, and the refuge of other creatures; it will lead us to a real life, to happiness and immortality.’

“With these words the young prince turned his chariot, and returned to the city.”

If we now compare the story of Joannes of Damascus, we find that the early life of Josaphat is exactly the same as that of Buddha. His father is a king, and after the birth of his son, an astrologer predicts that he will rise to glory; not, however, in his own kingdom, but in a higher and better one; in fact, that he will embrace the new and persecuted religion of the Christians. Everything is done to prevent this. He is kept in a beautiful palace, surrounded by all that is enjoyable; and great care is taken to, keep him in ignorance of sickness, old age, and death. After a time, however, his father gives him leave to drive out. On one of his drives he sees two men, one maimed, the other blind. He asks what they are, and is told that they are suffering from disease. He then inquires whether all men are liable to disease, and whether it is known beforehand who will suffer from disease and who will be free; and when he hears the truth, he becomes sad, and returns home. Another time, when he drives out, he meets an old man with wrinkled face and shaking legs, bent down, with white hair, his teeth gone, and his voice faltering. He asks again what all this means, and is told that this is what happens

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to all men; and that no one can escape old age, and that in the end all men must die. Thereupon he returns home to meditate on death, till at last a hermit appears, 1 and opens before his eyes a higher view of life, as contained in the Gospel of Christ.

No one, I believe, can read these two stories without feeling convinced that one was borrowed from the other; and as Fa Hian, three hundred years before John of Damascus, saw the towers which commemorated the three drives of Buddha still standing among the ruins of the royal city of Kapilavastu, it follows that the Greek father borrowed his subject from the Buddhist scriptures. Were it necessary, it would be easy to point out still more minute coincidences between the life of Josaphat and of Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion. Both in the end convert their royal fathers, both fight manfully against the assaults of the flesh and the devil, both are regarded as saints before they die. Possibly even a proper name may have been transferred from the sacred canon of the Buddhists to the pages of the Greek writer. The driver who conducts Buddha then he flees by night from his palace where he leaves his wife, his only son, and all his treasures, in order to devote himself to a contemplative life, is called Chandaka, in Burmese, Sanna. 2 The friend and companion of Barlaam is called Zardan. 3 Reinaud

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in his “Mémoire sur l’Inde,” p. 91 (1849), was the first, it seems, to point out that Youdasf, mentioned by Massoudi as the founder of the Sabæan religion, and Youasaf, mentioned as the founder of Buddhism by the author of the “Kitáb-al-Fihrist,” are both meant for Bodhisattva, a corruption quite intelligible with the system of transcribing that name with Persian letters. Professor Benfey has identified Theudas, the sorcerer in “Barlaam and Joasaph,” with the Devadatta of the Buddhist scriptures. 1

How palpable these coincidences are between the two stories is best shown by the fact that they were pointed out, independently of each other, by scholars in France, Germany, and England. I place France first, because in point of time M. Laboulaye was the first who called attention to it in one of his charming articles in the “Débats.”


The First English Catholic New Testament in English,printed in England. ……. translated by the papists of the traiterous seminarie at Rhemes


The text of the Nevv Testament of Iesus Christ, translated out of the vulgar Latine by the papists of the traiterous seminarie at Rhemes. With arguments of bookes, chapters, and annotations, pretending to discouer the corruptions of diuers translations, and to cleare the controuersies of these dayes. VVhereunto is added the translation out of the original Greeke, commonly vsed in the Church of England, with a confutation of all such arguments, glosses, and annotations, as conteine manifest impietie, of heresie, treason and slander, against the catholike Church of God, and the true teachers thereof, or the translations vsed in the Church of England … By William Fulke, Doctor in Diuinitie



London:  Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie 1589                                                                   $18,000

Folio * A-Y 2A-2Y 3A-3Y 4A-4V 4X First Edition

This copy is bound in full older calf, a very sound and impressive copy.image002

The Rheims version and the Bishops’ Bible version in parallel columns, with Fulke’s commentary at the end of each chapter. The Rheims version is translated from the Vulgate chiefly by Gregory Martin; the Bishops’ Bible translation was overseen by Matthew Parker.In England the Protestant William Fulke ironically popularized the Rheims New Testament through his collation of the Rheims text and annotations in parallel columns alongside the 1572 Protestant Bishops’ Bible. Fulke’s work (as here) was first published in 1589; and as a consequence the Rheims text and notes became easily available without fear of criminal sanctions.

Not only did Douay-Rheims influence Catholics, but also it had a substantive influence on the later creation of the King James Bible. The Authorized Version is distinguished from previous English Protestant versions by a greater tendency to employ Latinate vocabulary, and the translators were able to find many such terms (for example: emulation Romans 11:14) in the Rheims New Testament. Consequently, a number of the latinisms of the Douay–Rheims, through their use in the King James Bible, have entered standard literary English. Douay-Rheims would go on through several re-printings on both sides of the continent.

The translators of the Rheims New Testament appended a list of neologisms in their work, including many latinate terms that have since become assimilated into standard English. Examples include “acquisition”, “adulterate”, “advent”, “allegory”, “verity”, “calumniate”, “character”, “cooperate”, “prescience”, “resuscitate”, “victim”, and “evangelise”.

While such English may have been generated through independent creation, nevertheless the totality demonstrates a lasting influence on the development of English vocabulary. In addition the editors chose to transliterate rather than translate a number of technical Greek or Hebrew terms, such as “azymes” for unleavened bread, and “pasch” for Passover. Few of these have been assimilated into standard English. One that has is “holocaust” for burnt offering.

The First English Catholic New Testament in English,printed in England.

“The ‘editio princeps’ of the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament in English. Translated from the Vulgate by Gregory Martin, under the supervision of William Allen and Richard Bristow. According to the “Douai Diaries”, Martin began the translation in October1578 and completed it in March 1582.


“The translation adheres very closely to the Latin, though it shows traces of careful comparison with the Greek. But its groundwork was practically supplied by the existing English versions, from which Martin did not hesitate to borrow freely. In particular there are very many striking resemblances between Martin’s renderings and those in Coverdale’s diglot of 1538. Martin’s own style is often disfigured by Latinisms.

“This Rheims New Testament exerted a very considerable influence on the King James version of 1611, transmitting to it not only an extensive vocabulary, but also numerous distinctive phrases and turns of expression. (See J.G. Carleton’s exhaustive analysis, The Part of Rheims in the Making of the English Bible. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902.)

“Since the English Protestants used their vernacular translations not only as the foundation of their own faith but as siege artillery in the assault on Rome, a Catholic translation became more and more necessary in order that the faithful could answer, text for text, against the ‘intolerable ignorance and importunity of the heretics of this time.’ The chief translator was Gregory Martin… Technical words were transliterated rather than translated. Thus many new words came to birth… Not only was [Martin] steeped in the Vulgate, he was, every day, involved in the immortal liturgical Latin of his church. The resulting Latinisms added a majesty to his English prose, and many a dignified or felicitous phrase was silently lifted by the editors of the King James Version and thus passed into the language” (Great Books and Book Collectors, 108).

The names, numbers, and chapters of the Douay–Rheims Bible and the Challoner revision follow that of the Vulgate and therefore differ from those of the King James Version and its modern successors, making direct comparison of versions tricky in some places. For instance, the books called Ezra and Nehemiah in the King James Version are called 1 and 2 Esdras in the Douay–Rheims Bible. The books called 1 and 2 Esdras in the KJV are called 3 and 4 Esdras in the Douay, and were classed as apocrypha.


STC (2nd ed.), 2888; Darlow & Moule (Rev. 1968), 202

Travels In divers Parts Edward Browne

887G Edward, M.D. Browne 1644-1708

A Brief Account Of Some of Europe, Viz. Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, } { Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli. Through a great part of Germany, And The Low-Countries. Through Marca Trevisana, and Lombardy on both sides the Po. With some Observations on the Gold, Silver, Copper, Quick-silver Mines, and the Baths and Mineral Waters in those Parts. As Also, The Description of many Antiquities, Habits, Fortifications and Remarkable Places. The Second Edition with many Additions. By Edward Brown, M.D.



London: Printed for Benj. Tooke, at the Sign of the Ship in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1685 $SOLD

Folio 12 X 7 1/2 inches.  A2, B-Z4, Aa-Ff4, Gg2. Second edition. First folio edition.

Travels In divers Parts This work contains eight full paged engravings, eight text dsc_0142illustrations, and eight folding engravings, for a total of twenty-four fascinating images. It is bound in Beautiful full contemporary calf  with the spine gilt in compartments with red morocco label, a little soiled and browned, mostly to text, slight 380329557_2worming to upper outer corner, small hole to O3 with loss of a couple of letters, plate opposite p.147 defective with loss to upper edge, Feltrinelli copy with bookplate.

Originally published in 1673 as: A brief account of some travels in Hungaria, Servia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly, Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Friuli.

“Edward Browne, physician, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Browne of Norwich. […] He graduated M.B. from Cambridge in 1663, and returned to Norwich. A journal of this period of his life is extant, and gives an amusing picture of his diversions and occupations, and of life in Norwich. Browne often went to dances at the duke’s palace, admired the gems preserved there, and learnt to play ombre from the duke’s brother. He dissected nearly every day, sometimes a dog, sometimes a monkey, a calf’s leg, a turkey’s heart. He studied botany, read medicine and literature and theology in his father’s library, and saw at least one patient. [Browne then departed for dsc_0148London where he attended Dr. Terne’s lectures (Browne’s notes are extant in the British Museum) and married Dr. Terne’s daughter.] He went to Italy and came home through France, and it is by his description of this and of several subsequent journeys that he is best known. In 1668 he sailed to Rotterdam from Yarmouth and went to Leyden, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, visiting museums, libraries, and churches, attending lectures, and conversing with the learned. He went on to Antwerp, and ended his journey at Cologne on 10 Oct. 1668. His next journey was to Vienna, where he made friends with the imperial librarian Lambecius, and enjoyed many excursions and much learned conversation. He seems to have studied Greek colloquially, and brought back letters from a learned Greek in his own tongue to Dr. Pearson, the bishop of Chester, and to Dr. Barrow, the master of Trinity. From Vienna Browne made three long journeys, one to the mines of Hungary, one into Thessaly, and one into Styria and Carinthia. Wherever he went he observed all objects natural and historical, as well as everything bearing on his profession. He sketched in a stiff manner, and some of his drawings are preserved. At Buda he came into the oriental world, and at Larissa he saw the Grand Seigneur. Here he studied Greek remains, and followed in imagination the practice of Hippocrates. He returned to England in 1669, but made one more tour in 1673 in company with Sir Joseph Williamson, Sir Leoline Jenkins, and Lord Peterborough. He visited Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Liège, Louvain, Ghent, Bruges, and other towns of the Low Countries, and saw all that was to be seen. […] In 1685 a collection of all of his travels [was published] in one folio volume.” (DNB) (This Book)

Wing B-5111; Term Catalogue II 143. Goldsmiths’ 2575dsc_0150







Horace and Allegory

Horace, Odes 1.14, is a notoriously difficult poem to interpret. It is universally agreed that it is an allegory, but there is no consensus as to what it is an allegory of, and this points up the problems of allegorical writing and reading in general. First, the poem, in Latin and in English: O navis, referent in…

via On the Difficulties of Allegory — The Calvinist International

The Seven Wonders of the World!

De Septem Orbis Spectaculis

Philo byzantius. De Septem orbis spectaculis, Leonis Allatii opera nunc primum graece et latine prodit, cum notis.

We are all familiar with the phrase “The Seven Wonders of the World” , it is even easy to bring up images of them in our minds,but can you name the seven popularly accepted ones, do they still exist,where are they?

In 1640,Leo Allatius(1586-1669), a Librarian  at the Vatican Library published and translated a Manuscript of De Septem Orbis

 The Seven Wonders of the World by Michael Ashley (Glasgow: Fontana Paperbacks, 1980)


At this time Allatius attributes the text to Philon of Bizantium. Philon of Byzantium (Φίλων ὁ Βυζάντιος)  i known as “the Paradoxographer”{ not to be confused with Philo Mechanicus}, Our Phylon is now dated probably the 4th-5th century A.D, which thickens our stew, once the two Phylons were considered one and were dated at  ca. 280 BC – ca. 220 BC. which is much more convenient, as I will explain.    

After I bought this Wonderful book, I looked in my usual places for Biographies and assessments of the text, Sandys,EB,CE,OIE… the usual suspects, none of these were gratifying, So I searched on  Amazon and found Michael Ashley’s book.  In his book on the subject, there are some really good insights and a nice chronological explanation of how the text of Phylon fits in the history and dissemination of the “Seven Wonders” . What I found most useful are the charts and I will use them here.   But first Allatius.

Leo Allatius, portrait in the Collegio Greco of Rome, Italy.


The main source of our knowledge of Allatius is the incomplete life by Stephanus Gradi, Leonis Allatii vita, published by Cardinal Mai, in Nova Bibliotheca Patrum. A complete enumeration of his works is contained in E. Legrand, Bibliographie hellenique du X VII eme siecle (Paris, 1895, iii. 435-471).  Leonis Allatii Hellas (Athens, 1872), are inaccurate and untrustworthy. For a special account of his share in the foundation of the Vatican Library, see Curzio Mazzi, Leone Allacci e la Palatina di Heidelberg (Bologna, 1893).

Allatius, was born on the island of Chios (then part of the Ottoman Empire and known as Sakız) in 1586.  He was taken by his maternal uncle Michael Nauridis to Italy to be educated at the age of nine, first in Calabria and then in Rome where he was admitted into the Greek college. A graduate of the Pontifical Greek College of St. Athanasius in Rome, he spent his career in Rome as teacher of Greek at the Greek college, devoting himself to the study of classics and theology. He found a patron in Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, after the capture of Heidelberg by Tilly, when the Protestant Elector of Bavaria Frederick V was supplanted by a Catholic one, the victorious elector Maximilian of Bavaria presented the  war booty (The Palatinate library composed of 196 cases containing about 3500 manuscripts) to Pope Gregory.  Allatius supervised its transport by a caravan of 200 mules across the Alps to Rome, where it was incorporated in the Vatican library.This took Allatius almost a year to process. The death of Gregory XV. just before his return deprived him of a fitting reward (Vatican Librarian); and he was even suspected of having appropriated or given away part of this charge. He was supported by the liberality of some of the cardinals, especially Francesco Barberini, who made him his private librarian (1638). Alexander VII. appointed him keeper of the Vatican library in 1661, and he lived the retired life of a scholar until his death. All but 39 of the Heidelberg manuscripts, which had been sent to Paris in 1797 and were returned to Heidelberg at the Peace of Paris in 1815, and a gift from Pope Pius VII of 852 others in 1816, remain in the Vatican Library to this day.

Allatius is perhaps best known today for his De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba (A Discussion of the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ), a minor essay mentioned in Fabricius’s Bibliotheca Graeca (xiv. 17) as an unpublished work. According to an unconfirmed nineteenth-century source,its thesis – is that the rings of Saturn (then-recently observed by telescope) are the prepuce of Jesus. Makes one wonder about the conversations about Astronomy around the Vatican?

BUT! there is more (and we haven’t even come to the Wonders yet?) Allatius was trained as a physician. In 1645 he included the first methodical discussion of vampires, in De Graecorum hodie quorundam opinationibus (“On certain modern opinions among the Greeks)

By the seventeenth century most texts (that we know of today) by Byzatine authors were already printed yet because of Allatius’ access to the Vatican, and perhaps because it was after the ‘age of  wonder’

The classic seven wonders were:

Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza

The Seven Wonders were first defined as themata (Greek for ‘things to be seen’ which, in today’s common English, we would phrase as ‘must sees’) by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work On The Seven Wonders. Other writers on the Seven Wonders include Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene and Antipater of Sidon. Of the original seven, only the Great Pyramid exists today.

The Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (known in Greek as `Cheops’) and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 4,000 years. Excavations of the interior of the pyramid were only initiated in earnest in the late 18th and early 19th centuries CE and so the intricacies of the interior which so intrigue modern people were unknown to the ancient writers. It was the structure itself with its perfect symmetry and imposing height which impressed ancient visitors.


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if they existed as described, were built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. They are described by the ancient writer Diodorus Siculus as being self-watering planes of exotic flora and fauna reaching a height of over 75 feet (23 metres) through a series of climbing terraces. Diodorus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, Amtis of Media, missed the mountains and flowers of her homeland and so the king commanded that a mountain be created for her in Babylon. The contoversy over whether the gardens existed comes from the fact that they are nowhere mentioned in Babylonian history and that Herodotus, `the Father of History’, makes no mention of them in his descriptions of Babylon. There are many other ancient facts, figures, and places Herodotus fails to mention, however, or has been shown to be wrong about. Diodorus, Philo, and the historian Strabo all claim the gardens existed. They were destroyed by an earthquake sometime after the 1st century CE.


The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was created by the great Greek sculptor Phidias (known as the finest sculptor of the ancient world in the 5th century BCE, he also worked on the Parthenon and the statue of Athena there in Athens). The statue depicted the god Zeus seated on his throne, his skin of ivory and robes of hammered gold, and was 40 feet (12 m) tall, designed to inspire awe in the worshippers who came to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Not everyone was awestruck by the statue, however. Strabo reports, “Although the temple itself is very large, the sculptor is criticized for not having appreciated the correct proportions. He has shown Zeus seated, but with the head almost touching the ceiling, so that we have the impression that if Zeus moved to stand up he would unroof the temple” (Seven Wonders). The Temple at Olympia fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and the ban on the Olympic Games as `pagan rites’. The statue was carried off to Constantinople where it was later destroyed, sometime in either the 5th or 6th centuries CE, by an earthquake.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a Greek colony in Asia Minor, took over 120 years to build and only one night to destroy. Completed in 550 BCE, the temple was 425 feet (about 129 m) high, 225 feet (almost 69 m) wide, supported by 127 60 foot (about 18 m) high columns. Sponsored by the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia, who spared no expense in anything he did (according to Herodotus, among others) the temple was so magnificent that every account of it is written with the same tone of awe and each agrees with the other that this was among the most amazing structures ever raised by humans. On July 21, 356 BCE a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in order, as he said, to achieve lasting fame by forever being associated with the destruction of something so beautiful. The Ephesians decreed that his name should never be recorded nor remembered but Strabo set it down as a point of interest in the history of the temple. On the same night the temple burned, Alexander the Great was born and, later, offered to rebuild the ruined temple but the Ephesians refused his generosity. It was rebuilt on a less grand scale after Alexander’s death but was destroyed by the invasion of the Goths. Rebuilt again, it was finally destroyed utterly by a Christian mob lead by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.


The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was the tomb of the Persian Satrap Mauslos, built in 351 BCE. Mauslos chose Halicarnassus as his capital city, and he and his beloved wife Artemisia went to great lengths to create a city whose beauty would be unmatched in the world. Mauslos died in 353 BCE and Artemisia wished to create a final resting place worthy of such a great king. Artemisia died two years after Mauslos and her ashes were entombed with his in the mausoleum (Pliny the Elder records that the craftsmen continued work on the structure after her death, both as a tribute to their patroness and knowing the work would bring them lasting fame). The tomb was 135 feet (41 m) tall and ornately decorated with fine sculpture. It was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and lay in ruin for hundreds of years until, in 1494 CE, it was completely dismantled and used by the Knights of St. John of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum (where the ancient stones can still be seen today). It is from the tomb of Mauslos that the English word `mausoleum’ is derived.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the god Helios (the patron god of the island of Rhodes) constructed between 292 and 280 BCE. It stood over 110 feet (just over 33 m) high overlooking the harbor of Rhodes and, despite fanciful depictions to the contrary, stood with its legs together on a base (much like the Statue of Liberty in the harbor off New York City in the United States of America, which is modeled on the Colossus) and did not straddle the harbour. The statue was commissioned after the defeat of the invading army of Demetrius in 304 BCE. Demetrius left behind much of his siege equipment and weaponry and this was sold by the Rhodians for 300 talents (approximately 360 million U.S. dollars) which money they used to build the Colossus. The statue stood for only 56 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BCE. It lay in impressive ruin for over 800 years, according to Strabo, and was still a tourist attraction. Pliny the Elder claims that the fingers of the Colossus were larger than most statues of his day. According to the historian Theophanes the bronze ruins were eventually sold to “a Jewish merchant of Edessa” around 654 CE who carried them away on 900 camels to be melted down.


The Lighthouse at Alexandria, built on the island of Pharos, stood close to 440 feet (134 m) in height and was commissioned by Ptolemy I Soter. Construction was completed sometime around 280 BCE. The lighthouse was the third tallest human-made structure in the world (after the pyramids) and its light (a mirror which reflected the sun’s rays by day and a fire by night) could be seen as far as 35 miles out to sea. The structure rose from a square base to a middle octagonal section up to a circular top and those who saw it in its glory reported that words were inadequate to describe its beauty. The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE and, by the year 1480 CE, it was gone. The Egyptian fort Quaitbey now stands on the site of the Pharos, built with some of the stones from the ruins of the lighthouse.


Athanasius Kircher:The Last Man Who Knew Everything

John J. Burns Library's Blog

Would you rather be knowledgeable on a variety of topics, or an expert on just one topic? Today’s emphasis on academic specialization supports the latter—we rarely encounter someone with multiple PhDs in unrelated fields. Rarely do we go beyond the question or suggest the obvious third option: what if we could be an expert in a range of disciplines?

Modern academic world, meet Athanasius Kircher.

Portrait of Athanasius Kircher Portrait of Athanasius Kircher, Mundus Subterraneus. Amstelodami : Apud Joannem Janssonium & Elizeum Weyerstraten anno MDCLXV. Jesuitica Collection.

Kircher, a Jesuit priest of the German Enlightenment, has been referred to as “The Last Man Who Knew Everything” for attempting to be a polymathic scholar. Kircher published nearly 40 works on a diverse range of subjects, from linguistics and Egyptology to geology and medicine. Despite his powerful resume, however, history has forgotten him for one simple reason: Kircher was wrong about almost everything.

Kircher dedicated his…

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First Edition of Descartes’ Letters 1682

“Thus, all Philosophy is like a tree, of which Metaphysics is the root, Physics the trunk, and all the other sciences the branches that grow out of this trunk, which are reduced to three principals, namely, Medicine, Mechanics, and Ethics. By the science of Morals, I understand the highest and most perfect which, presupposing an entire knowledge of the other sciences, is the last degree of wisdom.”



820G Descartes Renati (1596-1650)


Descartes Epistolæ, partim ab auctore latino sermone conscriptæ, partim ex gallico translatæ. In quibus omnis generis quæstiones philosophicæ tractantur, & explicantur plurimæ difficultates quæ in reliquis ejus operibus occurunt .

Amstelodami: ex typographic Blaviana, 1682                                      $ 2,800

Three Quarto volumes 8 X 6 1/4 inches   vol I :*4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Bbb4/vol II :*2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2/vol III : *-**4, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2v. 1: *4, A-Z, Aa-ZZ, Aaa-Bbb4 ; v. 2: *2, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ddd4, Eee-Fff2 ; v. 3: *-**4, A-Z, Aa-Zz, Aaa-Ggg4, Hhh2 .

dsc_0039-1These copies are bound in modern full calf with gilt spine

First latin edition. The is edited by Claude Clerklier, with portions translated by Johannes de Raei .

“Claude Clerselier gathered these letters from the minutes their author had himself made and archived through his so many travels, showing there the very importance he had for them, like a dsc_0045custodian of his ideas, a file of his discoveries” (Jean-Robert Armogathe).

“During several years, from 1642 to the end of 1649, René Descartes (1596-1650) exchanged a regular correspondence with Princess Elisabeth, daughter of Frederick V, elector palatine and king of Bohemia. She was a very cultivated woman and especially keen about the mathematical sciences; she had read with deep interest and admiration his ‘Méditations métaphysiques’. […] This friendship was to last until Descartes’ death. He writes again from Sweden, praising the Queen Kristin (October 1649). It’s his last letter; Descartes died in February 1650. This correspondence is dsc_0043extremely interesting ; because, after questions from his interlocutor, Descartes finds himself amiable to rethink some problems and to give a clearer and more complete description than in his works; but mostly, this is the only direct document presenting him in his intimacy and, within it, the man and not only the philosopher anymore. We learn he had planned to write a Treatise on erudition; we also win interesting details about his life, entirely secluded and dedicated to studying and mostly to meditation, that he led in Holland, and about the few months he spent at the Queen of Sweden’s court.” (Dictionnaire des Œuvres, IV, 138-139).

These letters contain the author’s physical and mathematical correspondence with Hobbes, Fermat, Mersenne, Roberval, the Cambridge Platonist Henry More, and several others, with many mathematical papers of Fermat that did not appear in his Opera Varia.


For Descartes Philosophy was not a solitary or academic endeavor. His early  years adulthood was spent as a soldier, leaving the army in 1619. After a lacuna he turns up in 1625 in Paris, “his notes revealing that he was in contact with Father Marin Mersenne (1588–1648), a member of the Order of Minims. This relationship would prompt Descartes to make public his thoughts on natural philosophy (science). It is by way of Mersenne that Descartes’ work would find its way into the hands of some of the best minds living in Paris–for instance, Antoine Arnold (1612–1694), Pierre Gassed (1592–1655), and Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). Already before any published work Descartes has made contact with his current intellectual community. Descartes seemed to travel to where he could find interest in his Ideas.

dsc_0044 Around 1635, at the University of Utrecht, Henries Reneri  began teaching “Cartesian” physics.  In 1636 Reneri acquired an official chair in Philosophy at the University of Utrecht, and continued to build a following of students interested in Cartesian science. Around March of 1636, at the age of forty, Descartes moved to Leiden to work out the publishing of the Discourse. And, in 1637 it is published. “The Discourse is important for many reasons. For instance, it tells us what Descartes himself seems to have thought of his early education, and in particular, his early exposure to mathematics. Roger Ariew suggests that these reflections are not so much those of the historical Descartes, as much as they are those of a persona Descartes adopts in telling the story of the Discourse (Ariew, pp. 58–63). Uncontested, dsc_0042however, is the view that the Discourse sketches out the metaphysical underpinnings of the Cartesian system. And, as a bonus, it has three works that are attached to it that are apparently added so as to exemplify the method of inquiry it develops (though admittedly it is unclear how the method is applied in these essays). The attached essays are the Optics, the Meteorology, and Le Geometrie (the Geometry). As was suggested earlier, the Optics and Meteorology were very likely versions of works originally intended for The World.” (Smith, Kurt, “Descartes’ Life and Works”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .)

Descartes relied more or as much as any of his contemporaries in epistolary communications to expound his theories, and he was quite successful in this dissemination . Both his Method and endeavor was truly MODERN.  In this collection of letters, Descartes not only do we see descartes’ thinking but how hard he worked to spread these ideas.


Bibliography Descartes, S. 647-651: A.J. Guibert, “Bibliographie des oeuvres de René Descartes publiées au XVIIe siècle”, Paris, 1976, p. 91-94



The Works of Ben Jonson

683G Benjamin Jonson ca. 1572-1637


The Works of Ben Jonson, which were formerly Printed in Two Volumes, are now Reprinted in One, to which is added a Comedy, called the New Inn, with Additions never before Published.


London: Printed by Thomas Hodgkin, for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, T. Bassett, R. Chiswell, M. Wotton, G. Conyers, 1692                                                 $7,500

Folio 14 1/2 x 9 inches A6, B-Ll4, Oo-Bbb4, Ccc2, Eee-Zzz4, Aaaa-Zzzz4, Aaaaa4, Bbbbb6. “Dr. Greg called attention to the fact that sheet Ccc of this volume is invariably discolored. Besides that sheet, in all copies examined, sheet Zz2-3 is likewise foxed.” (Pforzheimer) Notably, these sheets are printed on paper which has a watermark not found elsewhere in the volume. The foxing is most likely due to the inferior quality of the paper, since all offending sheets share the same watermark.

First complete collected edition. This copy is bound in contemporary calf with a gilt stamp of initals under a correnet which has been rebacked. It is a very large and clean copy.

DSC_0270This edition, the last of the folio editions, of Ben Jonson’s works.  It is truly complete, containing all the masques; epigrams; plays; verse letters and panegyrics; sonnets; the English Grammar; Timber, or Discoveries; and the translation of Horace’s de Arte Poetica. The New Inne is included in this collected edition for the first time.

“Jonson’s life was tough and turbulent. After his father’s early death, Ben was adopted in infancy by a bricklayer and educated by the great classical scholar and antiquarian William Camden, before necessity drove him to enter the army. In Flanders, where the Dutch with English help were warring against the Spaniards, he fought single-handed with one of the enemy before the massed armies, and killed his man. Returning to England about 1595, he began to work as an actor and playwright but was drawn from one storm center to another. He killed a fellow actor in a duel, and escaped the gallows only by pleading ‘benefit of the clergy’ (i.e., by proving he could read and write, which entitled him to plead before a more lenient court). He was jailed for insulting the Scottish nation at a time when King James was newly arrived from Scotland. He took furious part in an intricate set of literary wars with his fellow playwrights. Having converted to Catholicism, he was the object of deep suspicion after the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes (1605), when the phobia against his religion reached its height. Yet he rode out all these troubles, growing mellower as he grew older, and in his latter years became the unofficial literary dictator of London, the king’s pensioned poet, a favorite around the court, and the good friend of men like Shakespeare, Donne, Francis Beaumont, John Selden, Francis Bacon, dukes, diplomats, and distinguished folk generally. In addition, he engaged the affection of younger men (poets like Robert Herrick, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling, speculative thinkers like Lord Falkland and Sir Kenelm Digby), who delighted to christen themselves ‘sons of Ben.’ Sons of Ben provided the nucleus of the entire ‘Cavalier school’ of English poets.” (Norton Anthology of English Literature)


Wing J-1006; Pforzheimer 561.

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