Freret Nicolas

Freret Nicolas, a celebrated French scbiolar, was born at Paris February 15, 1688, and died in the same city March 8, 1749. He at first studied law, but absandoned it for literature, especially for investigations into the languages, history, and religious systems of ancient and Oriental peoples. At the age of twenty-five he was admitted to the Academy of Inscriptions, and gave as his inaugural a discourse on the origin of the Franks, which, though favorably received by the Academy, and vindicated in great part by the subsequent progress of historical research, was strongly opposed by the abbe Vertot, and led to Freret's being sent for a short time to the Bastile. On his release he produced a long series of papers for the Academy of Inscriptions, which gave him great reputation for learning and research. In treating mythology, he rejected the theory which traces back religious fables to historical facts, SEE EUIHEMERUS, assigned to the historical element a secondary place, and thought that the Greeks had borrowed most of their divinities from the Egyptians and Phoenicians. He extended his investigations also to the religions of the Celts, the Germans, the Hindus, the Chinese, the Persians, and the Romans, and was one of the first in France to prosecute the study of Chinese. Of his writings we name only those which belong more especially to the subjects embraced in this work, viz.: Essai sur la Chronologie de l'Ecriture Sainte (Histoire de l'Acad. tom. 23): — Observations sur les fetes religieuses de l'annee persane, et en particulier sur celle de Mithra, tant chez les Persans que chez les Romains (Mem. de l'Acad. t. 16): — Reflexions generales sur la Nature de la religion des Grecs, et sur l'idee qu'on doit se former de leur Mythologie (Hist. de l'Acad. tom. 23): — Recherches sur le Culte de Bacchus parmi les Grecs (Mem. de l'Acad. t. 13); — La Nature du Culte rendu en Grece aux heros, et particulierement a Esculape (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 21): — Hist. des Cyclopes, des Dactyles, des Telchines, des Curetes et Corybantes, et des Cabires (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 23 et 27): — Les Fondements historiques de la fable de Bellerophon et la maniere de l'expliquer (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 7; Memn. t. 7): — Observations sur les recueils de predictions ecrites qui portaient le nom de Musee, de Bacis et de la Sibyl'e (Mem. de l'Acad. t. 23): — Observations sur les oracles rendus par les ames des morts (Mem. t. 23): — Observations sur la religion des Gaulois et sur celle des Germains (Mem. de l'Acad. t. 24): — Etymologie du mot Druide (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 17): — La Nature et les dogmas des plus connus de la religion gauloise (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 18): — L'Usage des sacrifices humains etabli chez les differentes nations et particulierement chez les Gaulois (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 18): — Recherches sur le dieu Hercule Endovellicus et sur quelques autres antiquites iberiques (Hist. de l'Acad. t. 3): — Les Assassins de Perse (Mem. t. 17). Leclerc de Septchenes published a collection of Freret's works under the title OEuvres completes, nouv. edit. considerablement augmentee de plusieurs ouvrages inedits (Paris, 1796- 99, 20 volumes, 12mo), but, despite its title, by no means a complete edition. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. 18:807-818; Rose, New. Biog. Dict. 7:451. (J.W.M.)

 
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