The eyght bookes of Caius Iulius Caesar conteyning his martiall exploytes in the realme of Gallia and the countries bordering vppon the same translated oute of latin into English by Arthur Goldinge G.
London: Willyam Seres, 1565.
Octavo: 14.5 x 9.3 cm. , 272,  leaves. Collation: *8, **4, A-Z8, Aa-Mm8, Nn2
FIRST EDITION of this translation, the first complete edition in English.
A copy with numerous points of interest, bound in contemporary English calf (worn, rebacked preserving most of the original spine, wear with loss to the leather at three corners), the boards ruled in blind and with large central blind-stamped lozenge with vegetal motifs. The text, resewn at the time of the binding repairs, is in fine condition, with some mild wear to the blank margins of the title page and a few tiny holes in the bottom margin of that leaf, occ. dog-earing at the corners of some leaves, small loss to blank lower corner of final leaf, and the occasional light stain. Ornate woodcut frame to title page. Decorative initials and tail-pieces throughout. Scattered underlining and marginal annotations in old hand, mostly to Golding's preface. The 2pp of errata have all been carefully crossed out, reflecting the fact that all have been carefully amended by hand in the text itself, or through painstaking marginal annotations in old hand. Second state of the colophon, as per ESTC: “Imprinted at London by Wyllyam Seres dwelling at the west ende of Paules Church, at the sygne of the Hedge-hogge.”.
The original endpapers are vellum leaves from a 14th c. English (text in Latin) missal. The fragment at the front: from the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul (‘sum ter naufragium pertuli pro Christi nomine'), in square notation on red, four-line staves. The fragment at the rear has the Epistle for the Octave of Epiphany, with cento of verses from Isaiah, with blue and red capitals decorated in red and black respectively, and chant to verso. Pen-trials to recto of front manuscript fragment.
Provenance: 1. Owner's signature: 'Kendall 1575' to verso of front free endpaper, with 'Timothe Kendall 1575' in the same hand on the recto of the rear free endpaper. 2. Title page with inscriptions 'Liber Georgii Briggs Magd:' and (probably) 'Emptum maii xx. 1578' and motto 'vide, et tace' ('see, and be silent') in the same hand. Briggs, like Kendall, has also signed the recto of the rear free endpaper: 'George Brigges doth me posses' (?). 3. Further owner's signature in old hand to verso of t.p.: 'E. Lib. Fran. Philips'.
1. Possibly Timothy Kendall (fl. 1572-1577), translator, poet, and author of the 1577 'Flowers of epigrammes' a collection of translated classical epigrams and Kendall's own compositions; little is known of his life, but he attended Oxford, as did another early owner of this volume, and might have had an interest not just in Golding as a fellow Englisher of Latin, but as an author who successfully attracted the patronage of Cecil and Leicester (Kendall dedicated his 1577 'Flowers' to the latter). He is certainly a plausible owner, and one of several pen trials to the blank rear endpaper, where two different hands, possibly Briggs (see below) and Kendall, have completed a fragmentary quotation of Ennius' famous lines on Fabius Maximus Cunctator, 'Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem. / Noenum rumores ponebat ante salutem' ('one man through delaying restored the state to us. / He did not set hearsay before safety') suggests the currency of Latin tags and epigrams, translated or otherwise, among the early owners of this volume.
2. Briggs can be securely identified: he was a clerk of Magdalen College from 1577-85, and became rector of Mereworth, Kent, in 1588. This volume was thus almost certainly purchased by him, possibly from Timothy Kendall, in 1578 during Briggs' time at Magdalen (this may have been Magdalen Hall - now Hertford College - rather than Magdalen College, in which case Briggs and Kendall would have been fellow students).
This is the first complete translation of Caesar’s own account of his campaigns in Gaul, covering the period from 58 to 52 B.C., prior to his invasion of Italy and the civil war that spelled the end of the Roman Republic. Admired for their style and their author’s innovative blurring of genre, Caesar’s commentaries were read by his supporters and detractors alike (among them Cicero). The English rendering is the work of the prolific Arthur Golding, who brought his translation abilities to bear on a wide variety of works, including books by Leonardo Bruni, John Calvin, and Ovid.
“Caesar’s commentaries are justly famous; they are the only extant account of ancient warfare described by the man who waged the war. From a historiographical perspective, they offer invaluable, first-hand information of one of the most important periods of Western history, and a view into the mind of one of its central and most influential figures. Caesar, a brilliant and curious mind, records a wealth of ethnographic information about the now-vanished peoples that he conquered, giving us the best contemporary account of these people. The unadorned style of Caesar’s ‘Commentarii’, the rejection of rhetorical embellishments characteristic of true historia, the notable reduction of evaluative language- all contribute to the apparent objective, impassive tone of Caesar’s narration.”
“Caesar’s military exploits won him great fame and the unswerving loyalty of his troops, whom Caesar himself led into battle and with whom he shared the same dangers, hardships and privations. When he could not negotiate a peace on his own terms with the Roman senate, he famously led these same troops across the Rubicon into Italy, beginning a series of events that changed the world.”(Conte)
Golding published his translations of Caesar and Ovid in the same year. He began the Caesar at the instigation of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who had sent him an unfinished translation of the work by John Brende and suggested that he should complete it. Golding completed the translation of the remaining three and a half books but then in order to “have the body of the whole Storye compacted unyforme and of one stile throughout” (sig. *3r) he decided to discard Brende’s rendition and translated those parts anew.
“Golding's method of working was not greatly different from that of most English translators who had preceded him, yet he obtained better results. He did so chiefly by being systematic, even pedestrian, and by a remarkably careful attention to the translation of each phrase. He customarily expanded on the Latin. That was nothing new, of course, but his expansions were far more skilfully made than those of most earlier translators. It had always been necessary for English to lay open the more compactly expressed statements of Latin. Golding, in expanding, was careful to add in most instances only what was warranted by the original, in the sense of its being clearly implicit in the words of the Latin…
“Golding's Caesar… is very faithful to the tone of Caesar himself: clear, informative, decidedly lacking in verbal overtones, aimed at clarity rather than verbal elegance- at least of the sort which Golding's century would readily recognize as elegance. On the other hand there is often a certain heightening of tone: Caesar is factual, but when he sets down facts in any detail the events themselves seem to come to life without the least help from obvious rhetoric; and this quality Golding not only reproduces but subtly heightens.”(Wortham, Arthur Golding and the Translation of Prose, in Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Aug., 1949), pp. 339-367)
Caesar and the Commentary on the Gallic Wars:
“Gaius Julius Caesar was born at Rome on 13 July 100 B.C. to a patrician family of ancient nobility. Throughout the 60s he led successful political and military careers. By 60, he had been quaestor, aedile, pontifex maximus, praetor, and had served as a soldier in Asia and as propraetor in Further Spain, where he achieved his first significant military victory. In the next decade, Caesar would achieve even greater prominence and power, in large part through the military campaigns he waged in Gaul.
“Caesar held the consulship for the first time in 59. Beginning in the next year he held the proconsulship of Illyria and Romanized Gaul (Cisalpine and Narbonensis). Using as a pretext alleged provocations and border violations committed in the Gallic area under his jurisdiction by tribes engaged in vast migrations, he undertook the conquest of the entire Celtic world, presenting it as a defensive, preventive operation. The conquest of the Gauls took seven years, and with it Caesar acquired the basis for a vast personal power.
“The seven books of the work [the eighth is the work of Caesar’s lieutenant Aulus Hirtius] cover the period from 58 to 52, during which Caesar systematically subjugated Gaul. The conquest developed in phases, successes alternating with serious setbacks, which Caesar's account diminishes or justifies but does not conceal. The first book, about the events of 58, deals with the campaign against the Helvetii, whose migratory movements had given Caesar the pretext for launching the war, and against the German leader Ariovistus. The second book tells of the revolt of the Gallic tribes, the third of the campaign against the peoples on the Atlantic coast. The fourth book recounts operations against the infiltrating German peoples, who had crossed the Rhine (Usipeti and Tencteri, pitilessly massacred), and against the rebel Gallic leaders, Indutiomarus and Ambiorix. Also in the fourth book and then in the fifth Caesar gives an account of his two expeditions against the Britons, in 55 and 54, who were accused of aiding the Gallic rebels. Yet the conquest of Gaul is not utterly secure: in particular the peoples of Gallia Belgica offer vigorous resistance, which Caesar succeeds in crushing only through a campaign of extermination and devastation, narrated in books 5 and 6. With this revolt scarcely suppressed, a general insurrection breaks out in 52, headed by Vercingetorix, king of the Arverni. After a new campaign of devastation and massacre on the part of the Romans, the Gallic resistance comes to an end with the storming of Alesia, where Vercingetorix is captured (book 7).”(Conte).
ESTC S107121; Pforzheimer, 410; STC (2nd ed.), 4335