Floyer Sydenham

(1710—1787) translator

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James Harris (1709—1780) philosopher and musical patron

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Floyer Sydenham was born in Devon and died on 1 April 1787. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford (BA, 1731; MA, 1734) and called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1735, ‘the immaculate … Dr. Sydenham’ was the most significant Plato translator of his generation. His translations were highly praised by his friend and patron James Harris (each dedicated one work to the other) and by Samuel Parr and Thomas Taylor (1758–1835). Much of Sydenham's life was lived in great poverty. He was ‘most cruelly deprived of his property, under the false pretence of being a lunatick’ (George Dyer, 1795, p. 66), although some friends were convinced that not far below the surface he was well and truly mad. His death, while being arrested for debt, is pathetically described by Dyer. It led the Welsh philosopher David Williams to establish the Literary Fund to help distressed authors as a monument to Sydenham's memory (Claims of Literature, p. 104).


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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