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Casaubon, Isaac

A great classical scholar of the sixteenth century, born at Geneva, February 15th, 1559. When only twenty-four years of age, he was appointed professor of Greek at Geneva, from which town he was called in 1596 to a like chair at Montpellier. In 1598, he became royal librarian at Paris; but on the death of Henry IV. this position became insecure by reason of his Protestantism, and in 1610 he removed to England, where he was received with great favour by James I., who made him prebendary of Canterbury and Westminster. Casaubon was bitterly attacked by many as having sold his conscience for preferment, and thus becoming the hired advocate of James. In 1614, he wrote his Exercitationes contra Baronium, in criticism of the Annales Ecclesiastici of Cardinal Baronius.

Casaubon was a scholar of great application, retentiveness, and candour; indefatigable in research, and with an excellent faculty of illustration. He had by unwearied labour acquired a vast fund of information, and his diffuse and exhaustive commentaries show how richly stored a mind he possessed. He represents the non-Ciceronian school of sixteenth-century Latinity to which Scaliger and Lipsius also belonged, these three being known as the “Triumvirate” by their contemporaries. The works of Casaubon comprise the treatises De Satirica Graeca Poësi et Romanorum Satira (1605); De Libertate Ecclesiastica (1607); the Exercitationes already mentioned; and annotated editions of Strabo (1587); Dionysius Hal. (1588); Aristotle (1590); Pliny 's Letters (1591); Theophrastus (1592); Diogenes Laertius (1593); Suetonius (1595); Theocritus (1596); Athenaeus (1598- 1600); the Augusta (1603); Persius (1605); Polybius (1609); and the edit. prin. of Polyaenus. Of these the most ambitious work is the commentary upon Athenaeus, in the preparation of which he spent ten years. Perhaps the most valuable is the Persius, which Scaliger enthusiastically styled “divine.” Casaubon died in London, July 1st, 1614. His life has been written by Mark Pattison (Oxford, 1875), of which a second edition, edited by Prof. Nettleship, appeared in 1892.

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