Item #10498 Origine de tous les cultes ou Religion Universelle (4 Volumes). Citoyen Francois DUPUIS.

Origine de tous les cultes ou Religion Universelle (4 Volumes).

Paris: H. Agasse, 1795. First Edition. Hardcovers. Small Quartos. Four volumes (complete). Text in French. Vol. I: xvi + 556pp. Vol. II: 302pp + 304pp. Vol III: 368pp + 358pp [2 fold-outs] +104pp. Vol IV: 16pp text + XXIIpp plates. A lovely set bound in contemporary (?) half parchment (made to give a vellum-like effect) with marbled boards, black hand-lettered titling & gilt publisher's device to spines, speckled page edges, double-column printing, engraved plates, frontispiece (vol. iv), title page vignettes, fold-out and single page tables & charts. The author of "Origine de Tous les Cultes ou Religion Universelle" ("The Origin of all the Faiths, or Universal Religion") Charles-François Dupuis (1742-1809), was a French Freemason, scientist, and scholar who held professorships at both the college of Lisieux (Paris), and the Collège de France, and was effectively the last great mythographer of the Englightenment. In this book he proposed that all mythology and religion, and attendant festivals, legends and sagas, had as their common source an ancient universal religion whose beliefs that drew its beliefs from the observation of natural phenomena, particularly the heavens. Thus god names were taken from those of the stars, and their stories as told in religion and myth were an allegory of astronomical phenomena. Dupuis traced this belief back to Egypt, and then followed the development of these ancient beliefs into the new religions such as Christianity, and noted their abandonment of many of the traditional elements. His arguments appealed greatly to the rationalists of the first French Republic, who at the time of the book's publication had recently instituted a program of de-Christianisation in France. Not surprisingly they also caused great offence to the Church, which probably explains why the work was placed on the notorious Index Librorum Prohibitorum. The work therefore is effectively a huge compendium of astrological / astronomical / beliefs and myths which are drawn from classical works such as those of Vergil, Pausanius, and Ovid, through to those of "the last Renaissance man,"Athanasius Kircher. Not surprisingly there was much occult content in the book, including a table of "Système des cabalistes dans la distribution des Anges, Intellegences et Esprits. Planétaires" and much on astrology. Occultists found it an immensely useful collection in much the same way as later generations would use Frazer's "Golden Bough," and Frederick Hockley is known to have made use of the Dupuis' lengthy quotations from the works of Kircher when compiling his "Occult Spells." The book itself is a masterpiece of Revolutionary-period book production. In keeping with the egalitarian ideology of the times the author is described on the title page simply as "Citoyen Dupuis" (Citizen Dupuis) and the date is given as "L'an III. de la République, une et indivisible. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (Year III of the French Republic: that is 1795). The first three volumes comprise text and tables, the fourth volume is a plates volume, comprising a frontispiece and title page, and twenty-one magnificent double page engraved plates of historical planispheres, astrological symbols, mythological scenes, etc. Fresh endpapers. Parchment very slightly darkened and discoloured, light rubbing to all edges, spine ends lightly bumped, lower edges of some pages uncut, a few pages lightly creased at edges. Neat tape repair to extreme lower edges of title page of Vol. I and half title of Vol. III. Vols. II and IV have small previous owner's ink stamp on half titles. Uneven browning to half dozen pages of Vol. III. A very few spots of foxing throughout otherwise internally quite fresh. Overall a tight, bright unmarked VG+ copy of a scarce set. Item #10498

Price: $2,000.00

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