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John Adams. 12 lines in Greek, concerning the Ionian Confederacy.

JOHN ADAMS (1735-1841).

2nd US President, Member of the Continental Congress for Massachusetts, early and vocal advocate for the Declaration of Independence. Adams was instrumental in negotiating the treaty ending the War of the Revolution.

Adams has written 12 lines in Greek, undated, concerning the Ionian Confederacy, transcribed from Herodotus’s history of the Persian Wars, Book 1, Chapter 141.

The text concerns the conquest of Lydia by the Persians, when the Ionians and Aeolians belatedly offered their allegiance to the conqueror Cyrus. An annoyed Cyrus in turn relates a fable, the moral of which hints at the dangers inherent in waiting too long to submit to Persian rule. The only portion of the document written in English is the heading "The Ionian Confederacy. Herodutus. Lib. 1. c. 141."

Like most of the founding fathers, John Adams was the product of a classical education, spanning Latin school in his teens through classical studies at Harvard in early adulthood. Being able to read the Greek and Latin classics in the original, and to pepper letters and conversation with appropriate quotations from the same, were the marks of a cultivated mind in the eighteenth-century.

Also included is a smaller four-word Greek quotation written by Adams, and set with a beautiful impression of his "JA" seal in red wax above. Examples of presidential autograph material in any language except English are exceedingly rare. A fine and attractive pair of documents, offering insight into the intellectual world of one of the most significant of the founding fathers. A translation is provided.



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