GIBELIN, Jacques. ~ Receuil des passages extraits de différents auteurs avant Diocletian [vol II: après Diocletian]; qui traitent des magistratures et de l’administration des romains. Aix [en Provence], 1816.
Manuscript, 2 vols (each in several parts), folio (c. 290 × 200 mm), Vol I: pp. [iv], 18-86, ; [iv], 71, ; [ii], 32-96, ; [iv], 67, ; Vol. II: pp. [xiv], 1-54, 162-210; [xii], 122, 130-148, erratic author's manuscript pagination, ignoring several blanks and with several apparent large jumps, sometimes between recto and verso of a single leaf, and sometimes probably reflecting a previous arrangement of loose leaves or gatherings before binding. Occasional staining, including a heavy ink blot to the gutter of one opening resulting in some fragility, but overall very fresh. A single legible hand throughout in brown ink, text in French, Latin and Greek. Uncut in original green half sheep, gilt panelled spines, each with tan morocco labels, the second more elaborately tooled than the first, both vols with fleur-de-lys cornerpieces. Spines slightly rubbed, board edges a little more worn. Two handsome volumes.
A massive series of literary notes and extracts from printed editions of classical sources on the subject of Roman law and administration, divided into the periods before and after the emperor Diocletian, founder of the Tetrarchy. The notes have the character of being source material for an unpublished scholarly work on the subject of the office of Magistrate (chief priest, lawgiver, judge, and commander of the army) in ancient Rome. Compiled in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic experiment, Gibelin’s examination of Diocletian’s suspension of republicanism in favour of autocracy is surely significant.
The author, Jacques Gibelin (1744-1828), in whose hand the volumes are written, was librarian of the town of Aix and secretary of the town’s Société Académique. He was a prominent literary figure and had lived in Paris and England, and was responsible for introducing many English scientific ideas to a French audience; he had translated and published 14 volumes of the Abridgements of the Transactions of the British Royal Society and important Enlightenment treatises by Joseph Priestley and Richard Kirwan. He also published the French translation of Adam Ferguson’s History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic and oversaw the first publication of the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which appeared, in Gibelin’s French translation (before the original English version) in 1791 as Mémoires de la vie privée de Benjamin Franklin écrits par lui-méme. The extracts in this manuscript are drawn from Herodian, Dion, Suetonius, Tacitus, Eutropius, Justinian, Plutarch, Apuleius, Orosius, Zosimus and modern commentators such as Isaac Casaubon. The compilation is made with a librarian’s thoroughness, with precise references given to the editions consulted (usually giving the editor, and the place and year of publication). Loosely inserted is a printed and manuscript slip, with Gibelin’s printed subscription, from the Aix Société Académique, requesting the presence of a member at a meeting on the 4th July 1827 at 6 o’clock.