Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0708. Thursday, 1 September 1994.
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Thursday, September 1, 1994
Subject: New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: ETHICAL TREATISS
As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retreive Ben Schneider's "A List of Pre-eminent
Ethical Treatises of the 16th Century in conjectural order of importance"
(ETHICAL TREATISS) from the SHAKSPER Fileserver.
To retrieve ETHICAL TREATISS, send a one-line mail message (without a subject
line) to LISTSERV@UTORONTO.BITNET, reading "GET ETHICAL TREATISS SHAKSPER."
If you are directly connected to BITNET, you may issue the interactive
command, "TELL LISTSERV AT UTORONTO GET ETHICAL TREATISS SHAKSPER."
Should you have difficulty receiving this or any of the files on the SHAKSPER
Fileserver, please contact the editor, <
Below is the first entry in Ben Schneider's annotated list.
A List of Pre-eminent Ethical Treatises of the 16th Century
in conjectural order of importance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0467. Friday, 27 May 1994.
Compiled by Ben Schneider, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
Cicero's *De Officiis*: "Tully's *Offices*," was well-qualified
to become the gentleman's manual of the age, being short and imparting
all a schoolboy needed to know, from how to make war and peace to how
to behave in company. It was the first classical text ever printed,
at the Monastery of Subiaco in 1465. The *British Museum Catalogue*
lists 11 printed editions of it before 1600--8 interlinear
translations, 1 English without Latin, and 2 in Latin, bound with
Cicero's *De Amicitia* and *De Senectute*. 18 more editions were
published before 1700. For comparison, the *BMC* lists no edition of
any dialogue of Plato in any language printed in England before 1600,
and only one edition of Aristotle's *Ethics*, a translation into
English of Brunetto Latini's compendium of its "preceptes of good
behauour and perfighte honestie." Erasmus prefaced and anno*tated an
edition of *De Officiis* in 1501. Sir Thomas Elyot, in his popular
*Governour* (1531), lists three essential texts for bringing up yuoung
gentlemen: Plato's works, Aristotle's *Ethics*, and *De Officiis*.
"Those three bokes," Elyot says, "be almost sufficient to make a
perfecte and excellent governour" (1.47-8). King James I's own
version of *De Officiis*, *Basilikon Doron* (1603), in which he tells
his son Prince Henry his duties as man and ruler, refers him to Cicero
55 times, 16 of them to *De Officiis*. In *The Complete Gentleman*
(1622), *Henry Peacham implies that *De Officiis* is a standard
beginning Latin text (29). In the preface to his translation of 1681
Sir Roger L'Estrange calls it "the commonest school book that we
have," and goes on to observe, "as it is the best of books, so it is
applied to the best of purposes, that is to say, to training up of
youth in the study and exercise of virtue." Voltaire said of it, "No
one will ever write anything more wise." (Wells, *Wide Arch*, p. 142)
And Hume preferred its moral teaching to that of Allestree's *The
Whole Duty of Man*, a standard Christian competitor. (MacIntyre, p.
214). It gave Wordsworth his first aquaintance with a morality of
nature, when he studied it at Hawkshead school (Schneider,
*Wordsworth, 72ff). T. W. Baldwin, after exhaustive researches into
Shakespeare's learning, could be certain only that he read one
classic: *De Officiis*, in grammar school (Martindale 7).