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Denis Lambin

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(DIONYSIUS LAMBINUS.)

French philologist, b. about 1520, at Montreuil-sur-mer, in Picardy; d. at Paris, 1572, from the effects of the shock given to him by the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He began his studies at Amiens. He entered the service of the Cardinal de Tournon, whom he accompanied on two visits to Italy (1549-53; 1555-60). In this way he saw Rome, Venice, and Lucca, and was brought into contact with Italian scholars such as Faerno, Muret, Sirleto, Fulvio Orsini. During his sojourn in Venice, at the suggestion of the Cardinal de Tournon, he translated Aristotle's "Ethics" (1558). Later he translated the "Politics" (1567), and also various orations of Æschines and of Demosthenes (1565, 1587). Shortly before his death he published a discourse on the usefulness of Greek studies and on the method of translating Greek into Latin (1572). On his return to France (1561) he was appointed royal professor of Latin language and literature in the Collège de France, but that, same year he was transferred to the chair of Greek. However, excepting his translations and an edition of Demosthenes (1670), his most important works are editions of Latin authors: Horace (1561), Lucretius (1564), Cicero (1566), Cornelius Ne pos (1569). In the matter of these four authors Lambin's work shows a marked advance, and opens a new era in the history of their text. He does not, however, indicate with sufficient exactness the manuscripts he consulted. It is evident that for Lucretius he had examined one of the two manuscripts recognized as fundamental by Lachmann. Moreover, the commentary on Horace and Lucretius is extensive and accurate, contains many quotations, correct remarks, and explanations based on a profound knowledge of Latin. Lambin does not affect the rigorous method of modern philologists. Like older scholars he is often capricious, arbitrary, erratic. Despite these defects, common in his day, Lambin's work retains an important value and is consulted even today.


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In 1559 Muret published his "Variæ Lectiones". Lambin recognized in it some of his own notes on Horace, and accused Muret of having abused his confidence and plagiarized him. In 1561 he published their correspondence. The two former friends, moreover, were separated by their tendencies. Muret had become a friend of the Jesuits, whom Lambin detested on account of their differences with the University of Paris. Lambin was regarded by the Catholics of Italy as inclined to heresy, although on 8 July, 1568, he, with seven of his colleagues, took the oath of Catholicism. Before his death Lambin had undertaken a commentary on Plautus, and had begun the notes on the thirteenth play, the "Mercator". His notes, though imperfect and unmethodical, were published (1576) after his death.

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