IAMBLICHUS (Gale, Thomas, Tr.). ΙΑΜΒΛΙΧΟΥ ΧΑΛΚΙΔΕΩΣ ΤΗΣ ΚΟΙΛΗΣ ΣΥΡΙΑΣ ΠΕΡΙ ΜΥΣΤΗΡΙΩΝ ΛΟΓΟΣ.= Iamblichi Chalcidensis ex Coele-Syria, De mysteriis liber. Præmittitur epistola Porphyrii ad Anebonem Ægyptium, eodem argumento.

 Oxford, E Theatro Sheldoniano, 1678.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (xl) 316 (viii), *-2*2 a-h2 A-Z4 Aa-Zz2 Aaa-Nnn2. Roman and Greek letter, some Italic; Greek and Latin in parallel columns. Large title-page vignette of the Sheldonian Theatre. Some light browning and spotting throughout. Ex libris on front pastedown of Richard Fort, lord of the Read Hall manor, Lancashire, during the beginning of C19th; another unidentified bookplate, probably French, with initials “C. E. De M. K.”. In early gilt-ruled polished calf over boards, joints (especially the upper one) somewhat worn and rugged, gilt lettering to decorated spine in compartments with raised bands, marbled pastedowns and fore-edges. Covers and corners a little rubbed, leather repair to lower corner of rear board. An excellent, crisp and clean copy.

This is the first edition of Iamblichus’s De mysteriis, provided with a Latin translation by the English Classical scholar, antiquarian and cleric Thomas Gale (1636-1702). Iamblichus (c. A.D. 250-325) is among the most important of the so-called Neoplatonic philosophers, second only to Plotinus. He was a student of Plotinus’s disciple Porphyry. His influential treatise Theurgia, or On the Mysteries of Egypt deals with a ‘higher magic’ which operates through the agency of the gods. Iamblichus also had a strong influence on other Renaissance authors like Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno.  “In 1678 Gale published the editio princeps of the De mysteriis, with fragments of Porphyry’s Epistle to Anebo, Eunapius’s Life of Iamblichus, and a biographical entry from the Suda, a Byzantine lexicon. Gale had received an exemplar of the De mysteriis from his teacher, Isaac Vossius, and used this as the basis for his edition. This exemplar is now known as Leidensis Vossianus graecus Q22. A number of variants given in Gale’s notes, however, are from codices regii (Paris), given to him by E. Bernard, Professor of Astronomy in Oxford, and by the French scholar J. Mabillon. Gale, who was once Professor of Greek in Cambridge (1666), and later Dean of York Cathedral (1677), had originally planned an edition of all of Iamblichus’s works; only the De mysteriis appeared, and Gale recognised its weakness, including the drastic omission of words and phrases as a result of printing errors. Moreover, Gale’s Latin translation contains many of his conjectures, and does not always follow the Greek text.” Iamblichus: De mysteriis, translated with an Introdction by Emma C. Clarke, John M. Dillon and Jackson P. Hershbell, 2003, p xiv.

 ESTC R13749; Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), I26, Madan, III, 3179.