Mystical Hymns of Orpheus

ISBN 13: 9780766159686

Mystical Hymns of Orpheus

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9780766159686: Mystical Hymns of Orpheus

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About the Author:

Thomas Taylor (1758 - 1835) was an English translator and Neoplatonist, the first to translate into English the complete works of Aristotle and of Plato, as well as the Orphic fragments. Born in London, Taylor was educated at St. Paul’s School, and devoted himself to the study of the classics and of mathematics. After first working as a clerk in Lubbock’s Bank, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Society for the Encouragement of Art (precursor to the Royal Society of Arts), in which capacity he made many influential friends, who furnished the means for publishing his various translations, which besides Plato and Aristotle, include Proclus, Porphyry, Apuleius, Ocellus Lucanus and other Neoplatonists and Pythagoreans. His aim was the translation of all the untranslated writings of the ancient Greek philosophers. Taylor was an admirer of Hellenism, most especially in the philosophical framework furnished by Plato and the Neoplatonists Proclus and the “most divine” Iamblichus, whose works he translated into English. So enamored was he of the ancients, that he and his wife talked to one another only in classical Greek. He was also an outspoken voice against corruption in the Christianity of his day, and its shallowness. Taylor was ridiculed and acquired many enemies, but in other quarters he was well received. Among his friends was the eccentric traveler and philosopher John “Walking” Stewart, whose gatherings Taylor was in the habit of attending. The texts that he used had been edited since the 16th century, but were interrupted by lacunae; Taylor’s understanding of the Platonists informed his suggested emendations. His translations were influential on W. Blake, Percy B. Shelley and W. Wordsworth. In American editions they were read by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and H. P. Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy. Taylor also published several original works on philosophy (the Neoplatonism of Proclus and Iamblichus) and mathematics. It appears that he and his wife were landlords at Walworth in the late 1770 to a family that included the 18 year old Mary Wollstonecraft; it is not clear whether the future author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” actually knew the Taylors, as at that age she left home for a job as a lady’s companion. Consideration of Wollstonecraft’s 1792 magnum opus, together with Thomas Paine's “Rights of Man” inspired Taylor in his “A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes”: if men and women have rights, why not animals too?

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