Biography of Isaac Casaubon

Isaac Casaubon was born in 1559 and died in 1614. He was considered by many of his time to be the most learned man in Europe. He is well known today as a classicist and a philologist.

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1559 – he is born in Geneva to French Huguenot refugees

1562 – his family returns to France after the Edict of Saint-Germain and settles at Crest in Dauphiné

after 1572 – Isaac’s first lesson in Greek was held in a cave in the mountains of Dauphiné sometime after the massacre of St. Bartholomew

1578 – he is nineteen years old and has no education outside of what his father has taught him. It is at this age that he begins to attend the Academy of Geneva

1581 – he becomes the professor of Greek at the Academy of Geneva after the death of Franciscus Portus (the person who recommended him)

1586 – he marries Florence, the daughter of Henry Estienne

1587 – he is an editor for a complete edition of Strabo, of which he felt ashamed of and apologized to Scaliger for it

1589 – he is an editor for the text of Polyaenus, an ‘editio princeps’

1590 – he is an editor for a text of Aristotle

1592 – he publishes his edition of Theophrastus’ ‘Characteres’, which serves as the first example of his unique style of illustrative commentary

1594 – he exchanges his first letters with Joseph Scaliger, who he met through Richard Thomson

1596 – he stops being a professor of Greek at the Academy of Geneva and starts as a king’s advisor and salaried professor of languages and literatures at Montpellier

1598 – he is overseeing the printing of his ‘Athenaeus’ in Lyon

1599 – he receives a summons to return to Paris, he resigns his chair at Montpellier, and stays one more year in Lyon

1600? – Méric de Vicq summons him to Paris for the Fontainebleau Conference

1604 – Casaubon succeeds Jean Gosselin after Gosselin’s death as the king’s sub-librarian

1610 – he leaves Paris and accepts a position in England from King James I

1611 – he spends 6 weeks of summer in Little Downham and becomes naturalized

1613 – he is taken to Oxford by Sir Henry Savile where his interest was in the manuscript treasures of the Bodleian Library. He declines an honorary degree which is offered to him.

1614 – he publishes ‘De rebus sacris et ecclesiasticis exercitationes XVI’ which consists of a philological analysis of ‘Corpus Hermeticum’, as series of neb-platonic texts

1614 – he dies in London

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2 Comments on “Biography of Isaac Casaubon

  1. the guy is interesting. i do not know the level of reliability of his work but at least he shows how alternative he is in a period of esoteric research. Since the 12 or even 11 century many intellectuals were debating the ideas of hermes trismegistus, but Casaubon literally proved he did not exist. he must have made several powerful enemies at the time.


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