PLATO. The Republic of Plato. In Ten Books. Translated from the Greek by H. Spens. With a Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Philosophy of the Ancients by the Translator. Glasgow, Robert and Andrew Foulis, 1763. FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. LARGE PAPER COPY. Contemporary calf, rebacked.


THE MOST FAMOUS WORK IN ALL PHILOSOPHY, Plato’s Republic explores the Foundational Idea(s) of man’s political union. The first rational prose treatment of the State, the Republic is the most intellectually  influential of all works of political theory and the Archetype of all later idealized commonwealths. This notwithstanding, the Republic’s full depth of meaning and perspective remains underexplored, and the work yet remains a vibrant and living source of insight for mankind’s future.

Taking the Idea of Justice as its launch-point and central focus, the Republic explores and illuminates many correlated thematics in the course of its dialectic: Intelligence, The Good, the possible forms of polity, class structure, the role of education in the State, the Nature of Heaven, and even immortality/reincarnation and the judgment of the Dead.

Plato’s writing style was highly praised in antiquity for its mellifluous grace, and Plato is here operating at full throttle. At once eminently polished and supremely urbane, the Republic offers up a wealth of  philosophic insight while employing dazzling literary tropes – the Divided Line; the Allegory of the Cave; the Philosopher King – and rising to mythic/mystic sublimity at the work’s conclusion. Spens’ translation is well regarded and deemed “faithful” to Plato’s text and style. The Foulis Press was established in Scotland in 1744 to produce fine-printed and accurate editions of classic and literary texts; the present edition of Plato’s Republic is decidedly one of its masterworks.