Ancient History and Antiquities

Classical history is another strength of the Schulich-Woolf collection. We hold several early printed editions of classical texts in addition to early histories of Antiquity.
Antiquity explained, and represented in sculptures

Father Bernard de Montfaucon was one of the founders of modern archaeology and palaeography. His work Antiquity explained, and represented in sculptures exemplifies his dedication to examining artifacts in order to understand the full history of an event. On display are detailed drawings of the Arch of Titus which depict the Siege of Jerusalem. Josephus describes the same event in The lamentable and tragicall history of the wars and utter ruine of the Jewes, also featured in this section.

This is just one volume from a larger set. Montfaucon also wrote about the antiquities of France and Italy and Greek paleography. Additionally, he is responsible for locating the Bayeux Tapestry and bringing it to the attention of the public.

Antiquity explained, and represented in sculptures

Details from the Arch of Titus

Bernard de Montfaucon, Antiquity Explained, and Represented in Sculptures, 1722

The famous and memorable vvorkes of Iosephus, a man of much honour and learning among the Ievves

Titus Flavius Josephus, born Joseph ben Matityahu, was a first-century Roman Jewish historian. He initially fought against the Romans in the First Jewish-Roman war and surrendered in 67 CE to Vespasian. When Vespasian became Emperor of Rome, Josephus served as interpreter and assumed the emperor’s family name—Flavius. Josephus recorded Jewish history including the First Jewish-Roman War and sieges. On display is the title page for his work, The lamentable and tragicall history of the wars and utter ruine of the Jewes.

The first English translation of Josephus’ works by Thomas Lodge appeared in 1602 and was continually printed throughout the 17th century. Mr. Seymour Schulich has generously presented us with a 1632 edition. To complement this text, we recently acquired a 1651 manuscript containing a reader's commentary on Josephus' Books of the Jewish antiquities and 7 bookes of the Jewish warres along with notes on Eusebius, Socrates Scholasticus, and Evagrius.

The famous and memorable vvorkes of Iosephus, a man of much honour and learning among the Ievves

The Lamentable and Tragicall History of the Wars and Utter Ruine of the Jewes

Flavius Josephus, The Famous and Memorable Workes of Josephus, 1632

Aristotles Politiques, or, Discourses of gouernment

The Politiques is divided into eight books theorizing on what is the best form of government and the roles of citizens. Aristotle starts with describing the ideal household, expanding to the ideal state. On display is the first book, in which Aristotle explains his views of the best commonwealth or regime. He contrasts this with Plato’s ideas in book two.

Aristotle’s Politiques was originally translated into French by Loys Le Roy. Subsequently, John Dickenson translated it from French into English and it was printed by Adam Islip in 1598. It is the first printed English translation of the Politiques. Adam Islip was one of the major printers at the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century, printing around 60 different works.

The imperiall historie, or, The liues of the emperours, from Iulius Caesar, the first founder of the Roman monarchy, vnto this present yeere

The imperiall historie, or, The lives of the emperours records the lives and reign of the Roman emperors from Julius Caesar to Ferdinand II, the 120th Roman emperor. The impressive engraved title page demonstrates this continuum featuring an early Roman emperor on the left and modern emperor on the right. Apart from the title page the work is not illustrated, but includes several decorative initials.

Pedro Mexía was a Spanish Renaissance humanist. His other major work, A miscellany of several lessons, was also an encyclopedic text that gathered together a range of humanist works. Edward Grimeston, Sergeant at Armes, was one of the most active 17th-century translators, responsible for translating twenty different histories.

Romae antiquae notitia, or, The antiquities of Rome

Basil Kennett’s Romae Antiquae Notitia was the standard handbook on Roman history for nearly a century. Unlike Montfaucon’s large tomes (also on display), this compact history provided an accessible format for learning about Roman antiquities. The work includes several illustrations of coins, monuments, dress, and customs. On display is a map of ancient Rome.

Kennett also includes two essays on Roman learning and education in his work. In the preface, he states that he believes these papers are his unique contribution to Roman studies and that they set his work apart from other available texts on the subject.

(Not included in physical exhibit)

Heliodorus his Aethopian history

Heliodorus his Aethopian History, also known as Aethiopica or Theagenes and Chariclea, is an ancient Greek romance. It was rediscovered in Europe during the Renaissance and was first translated into English in 1569 by Thomas Underdowne. It was evidently very popular; our 1622 copy is the 6th English edition.

Like Homer’s epic poems, the Aethiopica begins in the middle of the story. Chariclea, a priestess, and Theagenes, a noble, meet and fall in love in Delphi. They run off together only to be separated and encounter dangers, pirates, and thieves. It is revealed that Chariclea is actually the lost daughter of the King and Queen of Ethiopia. She is about to be unknowingly sacrificed by her father when Theagenes finds her again and intervenes. The two are then happily married.

(Not included in physical exhibit)