MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo (1469-1527)
Machiavels Discourses upon the first Decade of T. Livius, translated out of the Italian, with some marginall animadiversions noting and taxing his errours. By E.D.
London: Printed by Thomas Paine for William Hills and Daniel Pakeman, 1636. 12mo. 5 7/16 x 3 1/4 inches. (42), 646 pp., with 'animadversions' in italics on the title; cancelled leaf B1 not present. Roman letter, some Italic. Text within box rule, typographical ornament on title, woodcut initials.
Contemporary calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, front cover with gilt decoration, spine gilt ruled in compartments.
First edition in English of Machiavelli's commentary on Livy's history of Rome -- a landmark work of political philosophy. 'It is hardly disputable that no man previous to Karl Marx has had as revolutionary an impact on political thought as Machiavelli' (Downs).
The first English edition of Machiavelli's Discorsi Sopra la Drima Deca di Tito Livio, translated by Edward Dacres and dedicated to James Duke of Lenox, third cousin of Charles I. The Discourses on Livy is a major work of political history and philosophy written circa 1517, published posthumously with papal privilege in 1531. The subject is ostensibly the first ten books of Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, which relate the expansion of Rome to the end of the Third Samnite War in 293 BCE. Machiavelli describes Romans and other ancient peoples as superior models for his contemporaries, exemplifying how he saw history as a way to learn useful lessons from the past, and also as a type of analysis which could inform modern politics. Although Machiavelli's works were available to Renaissance readers in Latin, Italian, and French editions, his posthumous audience was considerably widened by Edward Dacres's 1636 translation. This first English translation of the Discourses had a tremendous impact during the English Civil War, particularly on the Levellers, whose pamphlet 'Vox Plebis' quoted, almost verbatim, many passages from the 1636 London edition. Ten more English editions after Dacres would appear in the 17th-century alone, proof of the lasting influence of this first English edition. 'Machiavelli founded the science of modern politics on the study of mankind - it should be remembered that a parallel work to the Prince was his historical essay on the first ten books of Livy. Politics was a science to be divorced entirely from ethics, and nothing must stand in the way of its machinery' (Printing and the Mind of Man).
Printing and the Mind of Man 63. ESTC S109048, STC 17160 Robert C. Downs, Books that Changed the World, p. 12.