Rare Cicero book found in Law Library after 200 years


A rare book written by one of the world’s finest minds lay undiscovered in the State's Law Library for almost 200 years, it emerged today.

The ancient text by revered Roman statesman, lawyer and statesman Cicero - which is just one of 11 surviving copies in the world - was tucked away inside a larger volume since the 1800s.

The book, published 500 years ago, was uncovered by Prof Colm Kenny while he was carrying out research for a lecture on the influential philosopher.

“I knew it was an important book when I saw that it was printed in London in the 16th century,” said the Dublin City University lecturer. “It really is a magnificent book to look at and the quality of the print is very good.”

In the dual language Latin English book, Cicero examines the theme of old age including how society values the elderly and what older people have to offer.

On Old Age — De Senectuteis one of 50 books by Cicero which line the shelves of Kings Inn Library.

“No lawyer would be particularly interested in these books because they are not legal books,” said Mr Kenny. “While the librarian there is wonderful and does great work, there is a huge collection.”

No other copy of this Cicero work is known to exist in Ireland, which was produced 16 years before the first book of any kind was printed here.

Just ten copies of the edition, printed in 1535, of Cicero are known to survive internationally, eight in Britain and two in the United States. Mr Kenny established the edition’s importance after checking it against two other editions in the UK.

The remarkable discovery will certainly add some colour to Mr Kenny’s lecture on the on the relevance today of the Cicero collection at King’s Inns Library next Tuesday.

Regarded as one of the world’s most widely read authors, Cicero has inspired many works including blockbuster author Robert Harris’s Imperium.