Price, John (1600-1676?) (DNB00)

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PRICE (PRICÆUS), JOHN (1600–1676?), scholar, born of Welsh parentage in London in 1600, was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was elected student in 1617; but, being a Roman catholic, neither matriculated nor graduated. He was perhaps identical with the John Price, ‘son and heir of John Price of London, deceased,’ who was admitted a student at Gray's Inn in 1619. He accompanied James Howard, eldest son of Thomas, second earl of Arundel [q. v.], in his travels on the continent, and obtained a doctor's degree, probably in civil law, from some foreign university. During the viceroyalty of Sir Thomas Wentworth (afterwards Earl of Strafford) [q. v.] he visited Ireland, and made the acquaintance of Archbishop Ussher. In 1635 he made his mark as a scholar by an edition of the ‘Apologia’ of Apuleius, published at Paris. In the autumn of that year he was in London, corresponding under the name Du Pris with Jean Bourdelot (see the very rare ‘Deux Lettres Inédites de Jean Price à Bourdelot, publiées et annotées par Philippe Tamizey de Larroque,’ Paris, 1883, 8vo). Resuming his travels, he visited Vienna, where he occupied himself in making excerpts from Greek manuscripts in the Imperial Library, some of which, marked with the date February 1637, and dedicated to Laud, are in Addit. MS. 32096, ff. 336 et seq. In 1640 he resumed residence at Christ Church, Oxford, where during the civil war he wrote pamphlets in the royalist interest. He suffered in consequence a brief imprisonment, and on regaining his liberty went once more abroad. At Paris in 1646 he edited the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Epistle of St. James, and in 1647 the Acts of the Apostles; at Gouda in 1650 the ‘Metamorphoses’ of Apuleius. About 1652 he settled at Florence as keeper of the medals to the Grand Duke Ferdinand II, who afterwards gave him the chair of Greek at the university of Pisa. There he compiled commentaries on St. Luke's Gospel, the Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus, and of St. James, St. John, and St. Jude, the Apocalypse, and the Psalms, which, with his prior essays in the same kind, were published at London in 1660 as ‘Joannis Pricæi Commentarii in varios Novi Testamenti Libros’ (folio), both separately, and in the ‘Critici Sacri,’ tom. v. (see an elaborate review of this work in John Alberti's ‘Periculum Criticum,’ Leyden, 1727, 8vo).

Price also edited three of the letters of the younger Pliny (Epp. 3, 5, and 10 of lib. i.), of which very rare book a copy (without the title-page) is in the British Museum. His latest project was an edition of Hesychius, on which he worked at Venice, having resigned his chair at Pisa for the purpose; but being forestalled by the issue of the Leyden edition in 1668, to which he contributed the ‘Index Auctorum,’ he removed to Rome, where he found a patron in Cardinal Francesco Barberini, and a last resting-place in the Augustinian monastery, in the chapel of which his remains were interred about 1676.

Price's reputation stood high among his contemporaries (see testimonies by Ussher, Selden, and others, collected by Colomiés in ‘Bibliothèque Choisie,’ Paris, 1731, p. 189, and Bayle, Dict. Hist.) Wood (Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, iii. 1105) calls him the greatest critic of his time, and unquestionably he was a fine scholar. His reputation, however, rests chiefly on his work on Apuleius. The excessive license of emendation in which he indulged in his commentaries on the New Testament seriously impaired their value. From the print of his head prefixed to his edition of the ‘Metamorphoses’ of Apuleius he appears to have been a handsome man. He must be carefully distinguished from John Price, D.D. (1625?–1691) [q. v.], chaplain to General Monck.

Price's works are entitled as follows:

  1. ‘L. Apulei Madaurensis Philosophi Platonici Apologia recognita et nonnullis notis ac observationibus illustrata,’ Paris, 1635.
  2. ‘Matthæus ex sacra pagina sanctis Patribus Græcisque ac Latinis Gentium scriptoribus ex parte illustratus a Joanne Pricæo,’ Paris, 1646, 8vo.
  3. ‘Annotationes in Epist. Jacobi,’ Paris, 8vo.
  4. ‘Acta Apostolorum ex sacra pagina sanctis Patribus Græcisque ac Latinis Gentium scriptoribus illustrata,’ Paris, 1647, 8vo.
  5. ‘L. Apulei Madaurensis Metamorphoseos Libri XI cum notis et amplissima indice,’ Gouda, 1650, 8vo.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. and Gray's Inn Reg.; Welch's Alumni Westmonast.; Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 286; Granger's Biogr. Hist. of Engl. 1775, iii. 104; Chaudon's Nouveau Dict. Hist.; Cal. State Papers. Dom. 1640, pp. 536, 555; Parr's Life of Ussher, pp. 506, 596; m'Clintock and Strong's Cyclop. Bibl. and Eccles. Lit.; Hallam's Literature of Europe, iv. 9; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.; Brunet's Manuel du Libraire.]

J. M. R.