Massieu, Guillaume

Massieu, Guillaume, a learned French writer was born April 13,1665, at Caen, where he finished his classical studies. At sixteen he began. a course of philosophy at the college of the Jesuits. As he proved himself an apt pupil, the Jesuits desired to attach him to their order, and sent him to Rennes to teach rhetoric, designing him ultimately for the professorship of theology; but his studies were not congenial to his tastes, and, his love for belies-lettres far exceeding that for theology, he forsook the society after he had actually joined it, and returned to the world. His remarkable gifts soon gained him friends. and he found work as an instructor. While at Paris he made the acquaintance of the abbot De Tourreil, whom he aided in translating the works of Demosthenes; through his influence also he became a pensioner of the Academy of Inscriptions in 1705, and in the same year was elected professor royal of the Greek language in the College of France, where he distinguished himself during the twelve years that he held the position by his profound knowledge and a pure and delicate taste. In 1714 the French Academy was opened to him. His oration delivered on this occasion is printed in the collections of the academy. Having translated Pindar, he naturally defended the writers of antiquity against the attacks of Perrault and of Lamothe. The Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions (vol. i, ii, and iii) contain a great number of dissertations from the abbe Massieu. They are still read with pleasure, although they are more distinguished for delicacy of finish than for profound erudition; the principal are, Les Graes Le pries, Les Buespe ris es , LeBocliers vot Les . ments chez les Anciens, and a Parallele entre Homer. — et Platon. His most valuable work is L'Histoire de la Poesie Frangoise, a partir du onziemze siecle. Massieu was one of the many distinguished literary men who are obliged all through life to maintain an incessant struggle with poverty. In his old age he suffered many bodily grievances, and two cataracts deprived him of his sight. He rendered valuable service to Biblical literature by his edition of the New Testament in Greek (printed at Paris, 1715, in 2 vols. 12mo). He died Sept. 26, 1722, at Paris. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, vol. 34, s.v.

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