Moralia: Twenty Essays: Translated by Philemon Holland (Classic Reprint)
Philemon Holland, designated (not inaptly) by Fuller as 'the translator-generall of his age,' was born at Chelmsford in 1552, the year of Spenser's birth, and twelve years before Shakespeare. He was educated at Chelmsford Grammar School, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a pupil of Whitgift, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. He not only took his degree of M.A., but, later in life, graduated M.D. As no record of this degree is to be found in the Oxford or Cambridge registers, it has been thought that it was conferred upon him either at a Scotch or Continental University.
Soon after taking his M.D., Holland settled at Coventry, which was to be his home till he died in 1637 (the year of Ben Jonson's death). His medical practice being small, he eked out his time and a somewhat precarious income by devoting himself to translations of the classics. The chief of these translations, published in vast folios that are nowadays somewhat scarce and difficult to procure, are: Livy, Ammianus Marcellinus, Pliny's Natural History, Suetonius, and the Morals of Plutarch. The most popular of these versions was, perhaps, the Pliny, issued in two folios in 1601. The Plutarch was published two years later: twenty years after his death it was re-issued, in 'a revised and corrected' form, we are told. Since then it has not been reprinted until now: the present volume is a selection from the moral essays of the popular Greek writer, whose Parallel Lives, as Englished by North, have become an English classic.
In the year 1608, Holland, already famous as a translator (even in an age of famous translations), became usher of the free school at Coventry: twenty years later he was appointed to the headmastership. He was an old man at the time of his appointment: and the duties - at any time irksome to a scholar of his parts - must have proved too exhausting. Whatever be the cause, he resigned the post at the end of ten months. The remainder of his life was clouded by pecuniary anxieties. The res angusta domi was, unhappily, no trifling nor temporary discomfort, aggravated as it was by failing health.
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