Document Type



Spring 1978

Embargo Period



William Caxton, early printing, Syracuse University Special Collections, Renaissance, British history




Arts and Humanities | History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine


The year 1977 marked the five-hundredth anniversary of the first book printed in England, William Caxton's edition of Dictes and Sayings of Philosophers, in his own English translation, an event which was celebrated in many parts of the English-speaking world. Two of the rarest fifteenth-century items in Special Collections at Syracuse University are from Caxton's press: Caxton's own translation of Virgil's The Boke of Eneydos (Aeneid), printed about 1490, and an English translation of Cicero's essays, "De Senectude" and "De Amicitia" in one volume (1481).

Caxton had a sense of the importance of print which deserves attention today, as our mass communications media multiply. Printing is as essential to our civilization as it is pervasive. Compared to the ephemeral qualities of audio and visual communications, the permanence of print gives the printer/publisher a responsibility which Caxton recognized five hundered years ago.

Additional Information

Adapted from a lecture given at the annual meeting of Syracuse University Library Associates, April 28, 1977.


local input