I see that the Universal Theosophy site has a wide range of PDFs of original works by Thomas Taylor.  Having spent the best part of 20 years bringing many of these back into print (in a more modern format), I'm really pleased to see a growing interest in this remarkable man and his writings. 

I have one small criticism of the presentation of Taylor's works: there is one, entitled A New System of Religion, amongst them which is definitely not from him.  Almost every page of this small work has some assertion which would have horrified Taylor: I have an article on the Prometheus Trust website which discusses the reasons for rejecting claim that he wrote it.  (Find it here -www.prometheustrust.co.uk/html/files_to_download.html)  I do hope the webmaster either removes it from the list, or at least makes mention of its disputed attribution.

Taylor (who was the first to translate the whole of Plato into English, as well as the whole of Aristotle) was severely criticized for his presentation of these writings because he included the writings of the late Platonists (sometimes incorrectly labelled neoplatonists) as notes to the Platonic dialouges.  But it is these late Platonic commentators who reveal to our age the mystical, initiatory and spiritual truths that Plato embedded in his writings and which in antiquity would have been noticed by those who understood the mythic and mystery allusions in them.  Two hundred years after Taylor, there is still no one who has so fully explored the depths of Plato and his tradition, and it was for this reason that the Prometheus Trust published his extensive life's work - even though the old-fashioned English presents the newcomer to his writings with an initial barrier.

Now that the last 150 years has introduced thinkers in the West to the doctrines of the Eastern religions and philosophies, much of what the long neglected Platonic tradition has upheld is being reassessed by modern scholarship, and I am optimistic that Taylor's approach will be more widely accepted.

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Thanks Tim. I was very unsure about A New System of Religion, but hadn't seen your article yet. I've removed it from the collection on our site and from the wikipedia article for Taylor as well.


Taylor's amazing - I think a lot of the Neoplatonist specialists at least respect the astounding level of knowledge he possessed - not only did he translate almost the entire Neoplatonic corpus, but he also demonstrated a thorough understanding of everything he translated - wow - He was given a fair bit of props by the early TS (although the Theosophical Glossary entry is a rather unfortunate rehash of the gossipy Royal Masonic Encyclopedia entry). His translations are still quite useable, they're pretty accurate, IMO - his original writings are pretty remarkable - from a spiritual perspective, they stand up well, even by today's exacting critical standards - (unfortunately, he comes from a period where the English language style was at its most exotic, he's no Shelley - and don't get him started on Christianity) - but anything he's written is worth paying attention to, an uncommon level of insightful research - his Bacchic and Eleusynian Mysteries, his Pythagorean Mathematics are classics well worth looking into...


During college we were required to read Plato in various classes and most of the translations left me kind of flat and uninspired.  I discovered later on that it really requires a great man to deliver a great translation.  In other words it takes one to know one.  The literal translations of scholarship may be technically accurate but are devoid of the inner spirit and intention of the original.  This is where Taylor shines.  Given his immense knowledge of theosophical philosophy and its deep undercurrents he was able to do justice to the great Initiate we know as Plato.  It is my understanding that the original Greek of Plato is quite lyrical and poetic quite unlike modern translations.   So Taylor does not need to be Shelley to translate the great Philosopher, he just needed to have the Shelley ear.

Thanks to Tim for correcting our honest mistakes.  We want to do everything we can to celebrate Thomas Taylor's work.


We've added an additional text that includes one of Taylor's translations. The work is titled:

Translations from the Greek, viz. Aristotle's Synopsis of the virtues and vices. The Similitudes of Demophilus. The Golden sentences of Democrates, and the Pythagoric symbols, with the explanations of Iamblichus. By W. Bridgman ... To which are added the Pythagoric sentences of Demophilus by Mr. Thomas Taylor (1804)

Taylor's "Sentences of Demophilus" can also be found in his earlier publication Sallust On the Gods and the World (1793), but the value of adding Bridgman's work to our collection is that it also includes the remainder of the extant "Pythagoric Sentences" and the "Pythagoric Symbols" (which Taylor himself did not translate, but simply quoted directly from Bridgman when needed).

As Taylor points out in his "Life of Pythagoras":

"If the English reader has my translation of the Sentences of Demophilus, and Mr. Bridgman's translation of the Golden Sentences of Democrates, and the Similitudes of Demophilius, he will then be possessed of all the Pythagoric Sentences that are extant."

The PDF of Bridgman's work can be found here.


Update on the Universal Theosophy collection of Taylor's works: we've located a pdf scan of the Collectanea (1806) and added it to the collection.

Collectanea; or Collections consisting of Miscellanies inserted in ...

Full collection here: http://www.universaltheosophy.com/writings-taylor/


One other link to add here. This is (I think) the original submission of Taylor's "Chaldean Oracles", to the Monthly Magazine, vol. III, 1797.