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Dacier, Andre

DACIER, ANDRE (1651-1722), French classical scholar, was born at Castres in upper Languedoc, on the 6th of April 1651. His' father, a Protestant advocate, sent him first to the academy of Puy Laurens, and afterwards to Saumur to study under Tanneguy Lefevre. On the death of Lefevre in 1672, Dacier removed to Paris, and was appointed one of the editors of the Delphin series of the classics. In 1683 he married Anne Lefevre, the daughter of his old tutor (see below). In 1695 he was elected member of the Academy of Inscriptions, and also of the French Academy; not long after, as payment for his share in the "medallic" history of the king's reign, he was appointed keeper of the library of the Louvre. He died two years after his wife, on the 1 8th of September 1722. The most important of his works were his editions of Pompeius Festus and Verrius Flaccus, and his translations of Horace (with notes), Aristotle's Poetics, the Electro, and Oedipus Coloneus of Sophocles, Epictetus, Hippocrates and Plutarch's Lives.

His wife, ANNE LEFEVRE (1654-1720), French scholar and translator from the classics, was born at Saumur, probably in March 1654. On her father's death in 1672 she removed to Paris, carrying with her part of an edition of Callimachus, which she afterwards published. This was so well received that she was engaged as one of the editors of the Delphin series of classical authors, in which she edited Florus, Dictys Cretensis, Aurelius Victor and Eutropius. In 1681 appeared her prose version of Anacreon and Sappho, and in the next few years she Dublished prose versions of Terence and some of the plays of Plautus and Aristophanes. In 1684 she and her husband retired to Castres, with the object of devoting themselves to theological studies. In 1685 the result was announced in the conversion to Roman Catholicism of both M. and Mme Dacier, who were rewarded with a pension by the king. In 1699 appeared the prose translation of the Iliad (followed nine years later by a similar translation of the Odyssey), which gained for her the )osition she occupies in French Literature. The appearance of this version, which made Homer known for the first time to many French men of letters, and among others to A. Houdart le la Motte, gave rise to a famous literary controversy. In 1714 a Motte published a poetical version of the Iliad, abridged and altered to suit his own taste, together with a Discours sur Homere, tating the reasons why Homer failed to satisfy his critical taste. Mme Dacier replied in the same year in her work, Des causes ie a corruption du gout. La Motte carried on the discussion with ight gaiety and badinage, and had the happiness of seeing his T iews supported by the abbe Jean Terrasson, who in 1715 iroduced two volumes entitled Dissertation critique sur riliade. n which he maintained that science and philosophy, and especilly the science and philosophy of Descartes, had so developed he human mind that the poets of the 18th century were immeasurably superior to those of ancient Greece. In the same ear Pere C. Buffier published Homere en arbitrage, in which he oncluded that both parties were really agreed on the essential oint that Homer was one of the greatest geniuses the world had seen, and that, as a whole, no other poem could be preferred to his; and, soon after (on the sth of April 1716), in the house of M. de Valincourt, Mme Dacier and la Motte met at supper, and drank together to the health of Homer. Nothing of importance marks the rest of Mme Dacier's life. She died at the Louvre, on the 17th of August 1720.

See C. A. Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi, vol. ix. ; J. F. Rodin Recherches historiques sur la ville de Saumur (1812-1814)- P J Burette, Eloge de Mme Dacier (1721); Memoires de Mme de Stael (1755); E. Egger, L'Hellenisme en France, ii. (1869); Memoires de Saint-Simon, iii. ; R. Rigault, Histoire de la querelle des anciens et des modernes (1856).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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