Salmasius, Claudius

Salmasius, Claudius (Claude de Saumaise), one of the greatest French scholars of the 17th century, was born at Semur-en-Auxois, in Burgundy, April 15, 1588. His father, a jurist, gave him the first elements of his classic knowledge; his mother, a Calvinist, impressed upon him her practical religion. At the age of ten he wrote Latin and Greek. At sixteen he went to the University of Paris, and was greatly stimulated by intercourse with those great classic scholars, Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon. To his Greek and Latin he now added Hebrew, Arabic, and Coptic, which he learned without a teacher. In 1606 he resorted to the University of Heidelberg to study jurisprudence under Gothofredus, but he found the most attraction in the rich library, and especially in its rare manuscripts. He now gave up jurisprudence as a specialty, and devoted himself to universal erudition. At the age of twenty-one he brought out his richly annotated edition of Florus, a work which gave him a name among the scholars of the age. In 1611 he printed at Paris his Scriptores Historioe Augustoe. In 1623 he married, and lived for some years near Paris, working upon his essays on Pliny I and Solinus. They appeared in Paris in 1629 in two folio volumes, under the title Plinianioe Dissertationes in Caii Julii Solini Polyhistora, and obtained for their author wide fame and calls to many foreign universities. In 1632 he accepted an honorary professorship at Leyden, with a comfortable pension, devoting himself to erudite labor, and declining many tempting invitations to return to France. Even the offer by Riclelieu of six times as great a salary if he would come to Paris and become the great statesman's biographer was respectfully declined, with the remark that he could not consent to devote his pen to the work of flattery. His work on the primacy of the pope (1645) involved him in trouble with the Roman clergy; but the consequences of his Defensio Regia pro Carolo Psrimo (Leyden, 1649), which he had written at the request of the banished king Charles It, were much more serious, for it not only called forth the able and passionate rejoinder of Milton, Defensio pro Populo Anglicano (1650), but it brought upon its author the disapproval of his republican patrons in Holland. Wounded at this, Salmasius hastily accepted an invitation of Christina of Sweden to enter her service; but, his expectations not being met, he returned to Holland in 1651. But his health was now completely broken. Salmasius became a Protestant at Heidelberg while still a youth, and held fast to his faith at no little self-sacrifice throughout life. He died at Spa Sept. 6, 1653, and was buried at Maestricht. Among his writings which bear upon religion, we may mention De Episcopis et Presbyteris: — De Coesarie Virorum et Muliesrum Coma: — Super Herodis Infanticida: — De Transubstantione: — De Cruce et Hyssopo. See Papillon, Bibliotheque des Auteurs de Bourgogne; Paquot, Memoires; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 13, 328-331. (J.P.L.)

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