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The works of Henri II Estienne (1528-1598)

Henri II Estienne published the Thesaurus græcæ linguæ in 1572, advocated for the French language, and contributed to scholarship and typography despite financial and political challenges.
Henri II Estienne published the Thesaurus græcæ linguæ in 1572, advocated for the French language, and contributed to scholarship and typography despite financial and political challenges.
Henri II Estienne (1528-1598) La France des Humanistes. Henri II Estienne, éditeur et écrivain, by Judit Keckskemeti, Bénédicte Boudou, Hélène Cazes. With an introductory study by Hélène Cazes. Preface by Jean Céard. Turnhout, 2003 (RHE, t. 100, 2005, p. 1014-1016).continued his father’s work, publishing in 1572 a Thesaurus græcæ linguæ, a monument of erudition and an admirable work of typography. He also championed the national language in De la précellence du langage français (1579).
Henri Estienne II’s tutor was the learned Jacques Tusan. His uncle, Charles Estienne, congratulated him on the joy of receiving lessons from such a skilled teacher:
“I see in you, dear little nephew, what I have long desired with great ardor, and I cannot express enough how much joy this causes me. For it is a great thing for a young man to strive to equal his fathers, not only in virtue, but also in genius, so that from his earliest years, he leaves everyone in happy expectation of his genius. But I don’t know if we shouldn’t say that the greatest advantage of all is to have found a tutor who knows how to cultivate the natural genius of his pupil, to train him on the model of his father, to make him illustrious and remarkable by adorning him with the knowledge of all good letters. Such is Jacques Tusan whom you have had, as I learn, the good fortune to meet, a man who, by his lessons, his speeches and his writings, has acquired for himself, among all scholars, such great authority, that never was Chrysippus more favorably recommended to Cicero [Preface to the treatise De re hortensi, published by Charles Estienne in 1545].”
Henri Estienne also took lessons from Adrien Turnèbe for some time. He knew Latin from the age of ten, having always heard it spoken in his father’s home, where it was the usual language. He learned what was then known about mathematics, and even wanted to examine what might be true of astrology. But he soon became convinced of the vanity of this science, and the time he spent studying it was about the only time he later regretted having wasted. He hurried back to serious work, and at the age of eighteen, he collated the manuscript of Denys d’Halicarnasse with his father, who was publishing the first edition of this author.
It was around this time that Robert Estienne urged his son to travel to Italy to visit libraries and practice the art of engraving, and perhaps also to prevent him from sharing any longer in the torment caused to them both by the publication of the 1545 Bible. Henri had no trouble learning the local language and its various idioms. A story is told of the astonishing ease with which this extraordinary man appropriated the most diverse notions, bending his flexible organization to the demands of science and the whims of nature itself. While he was in Naples, the French ambassador in Venice asked him to carry out a delicate mission of interest to the king, his master, the execution and success of which required that he maintain the strictest incognito. Recognized and questioned by a Neapolitan who had met him at the French ambassador’s, he pretended not to recognize the man; nevertheless, he answered his questions; but then he took so well the accent of the country and imitated so perfectly the volubility natural to Neapolitans, that the other, all confused, withdrew apologizing and very convinced that he had dealt with a pure Neapolitan. Welcomed everywhere with distinction and kindness, as much for his father's reputation as for his personal merit, Henri took advantage of the favor he enjoyed from ambassadors, prelates, princes and even sovereigns, to have all libraries and literary repositories opened to him. He made friends with the most remarkable men in science and literature, and especially with Ch. Sigonius, Leunclavius, Castel-Vetro, Denis Lambin, Victorius, Muret, Paul Mantice, Camerarius and Annibal Caro. He traveled for a long time. To chase away boredom, he amused himself along the way by composing Greek, Latin and French verses.Finally, he returned to Paris laden with precious spoils. The first work he published, in 1554, was Anacréon. Only two odes by this poet were known: one of them had been discovered by Henri Estienne himself, inside the cover of an old codex. But he had had the good fortune to find an entire manuscript of Anacreon rotting in the old tower of a monastery in Italy; he had made a copy in hiding, lest some ignorant or devout monk should take such a treasure away from him. At the end of the Anacreon text, printed with the finest Garamond types, Henri Estienne gave, in the same meters as those of the Greek poet, a translation in Latin verse that is a masterpiece. After the Anacreon, he published the first edition of Maximus of Tyre: the editions of Diogenes Laërce and Diodorus of Sicily can even be considered true editions princeps, thanks to the augmentations, unpublished fragments and Latin translation he added. A wealthy Augsburg banker, Hulrich Fugger, who was initially a chamberlain to Pope Paul III, but later embraced the Reformation, generously assisted Henri Estienne in his work. At the bottom of the title of the book Impp. Justiniani, Justini, Leonis novellae Constitutiones, published in 1558, in-folio, this first token of Henri Estienne’s gratitude:
Excudebat Henricus Stephanus, Huldrici Fuggeri typographus.
“Printed by Henricus Stephanus, printer of Huldricus Fugger.”
On Robert's death in 1559, Henri combined his father's printing works with his own. Henri's brother, Robert II, had been disinherited by his father for refusing to embrace the Protestant religion. But he was compensated for this loss by his appointment as guardian of the king's type and hallmarks.In 1562, Henri Estienne published four in-folio works begun during his father's lifetime: Commentaries on Genesis by Martorat, Vatable, Luther and Calvin, the Psalms of David, and others. In the same year, he was saddened to learn of the death of the unfortunate and learned Augustin Martorat, who was hanged on October 30 in Rouen, by order of Constable Anne de Montmorency and François, Duc de Guise. Henri Estienne is credited with a pamphlet, printed in 1565 without the name of author, place or printer, entitled Le Discours merveilleux de la vie, actions et déportements de Catherine de Médicis, royne mère, etc., a bold work which the author, had he been known, would have paid for with his life. Henri Estienne printed a large number of his editions in Paris; others were printed in Geneva and perhaps also in Germany. In general, it's difficult to pinpoint these different origins. The first is his Traité de la conformité du langage françois avec le grec, published in 1566, in which he argues that the Greek language is the most perfect that men have ever spoken, and that the French language is the closest of all modern idioms to Greek. From this he concludes that the French language “ranks second among all languages that have ever been, and first among those that are today.” Also in 1566, he published the New Testament in Greek, format in-16, with additions in the margin; the Poetæ græci principes, 2 volumes in-folio, a true typographical masterpiece, admired by all those whose special studies have enabled them to appreciate the magnitude of the undertaking and the difficulties overcome (The title of this work still reads: “Excudebat Henricus Stephanus, illustris viri Hulderichi Fuggeri typographus.”); finally, Laurent Valla‘s Latin translation of Herodotus, with a preface in which he praises Herodotus.The same year, he published, in French, the Introduction au Traité de la conformité des merveilles anciennes avec les modernes, ou Traité préparatif à l'apologie pour Hérodote. This satirical work was reprinted twelve or thirteen times during his lifetime. Under the pretext of excusing things that seem absurd and revolting in Herodotus by others no less strange, which were related to recent times, he accumulated in this writing, and with manifest views of political and religious opposition, a host of anecdotes, satirical traits, little tales more or less unseemly that he had collected in his travels, his conversations and his readings. It has often been said that, this work having been condemned, Henri took refuge in the mountains of Auvergne, was burned in effigy in Paris, and joked that he had never felt so cold as when he had been burned. But this story is apocryphal; Henri came to Paris several times since, without being bothered. In 1567, he published Artis medicae principes post Hippocratem et Galenum, 1 vol. in-folio. He himself translated the Greek authors in this collection into Latin. He was no stranger to medicine, which his uncle Charles had taught him, as well as botany. In the preface, he boasts of having brought together in a single volume a large number of scattered works, each of which, separately, often formed several volumes. He says that practice having shown him, in the course of his studies, the disadvantage that resulted from this dispersion of authors in so many different volumes, he thought, after mature reflection, to render a great service to the friends of letters by bringing together under one roof the authors who wrote on the same subject or in a similar genre, so that they could be consulted simultaneously. In 1569, he published his poem on typography, entitled ARTIS TYPOGRAPHICÆ QUERIMONIA de illiteratis quibusdam, Typographis, propter quos in contemptum venit. The preface reads:
“What, pray, do we think Aldus would say, if now, back to life, he saw the typographers who succeeded him, most of whom hardly understand anything in books other than the difference between a blank page and a black page (for those advanced enough to distinguish by their forms Greek letters from Latin, Hebrew from Greek, would regard it as an atrocious insult to them to be counted among the ignorant)? But what do we think that Marc Musurus and Jean Lascaris, the first people in whom Greece began to live again, and who were our main guides on this path, would say when they opened up the sanctuary of the Greek language to us? What do we think they would say, I would add, if, when they themselves brought so much honor to the typographical art, that they did not believe it unworthy of their cooperation, by fulfilling the functions of proofreaders (for let it be permitted to speak typographically of typographical things), they saw that the thing has come to such a point that, if someone knows three words of the Latin language and as many of the Greek language, all the noblest writers of either language are entrusted to his typographical correction? For, I beg you, to grant such power over these writers to men of this sort, what is it but to deliver swords into the hands of the furious?”
Almost at the same time, he published a letter to his friends on the state of his printing works, in which he gives an account of the work he was preparing for his edition of the Thesaurus graecae linguae, that monument of prodigious erudition which his father, on his deathbed, had recommended he complete.The first four volumes of this great work appeared in 1572 (the year of St. Bartholomew’s Day), and the fifth the following year. The Thesaurus was published under the auspices of Maximilian II, Emperor of Austria, and Charles IX, King of France (the privilege is dated 1561, which suggests that printing had already begun, so that the four volumes would have been eleven years in press).
From 1815 to 1825, a rather fine edition appeared in London in 8 volumes. Didot has begun printing a new edition, of which seven volumes have already been published]; of Elizabeth, Queen of England, and of the illustrious princes and lords Frederick, Count Palatine of the Rhine; Augustus, Due of Saxony; John George, Marquis of Brandenburg, and their illustrious academies of Heidelberg, Leipsick and Wittenberg, and of Frankfurt ad Viardum.This immense work, from which lexicographers of all countries have drawn and will continue to draw, took Henri Estienne eleven years to complete. But, he says in his preface: “It was a truly Herculean task for me to complete during the time I had to roll this Sisyphean boulder over a terrain bristling with obstacles. But just as Virgil said of Aeneas Vicit amor patriae, I can also say Vicit amor linguae.” Then, recalling the lines of an ancient poet who celebrates the patience with which a lover endures the rigors of a stormy night, and a soldier the rigors of winter weather:
“Je puis me comparer à eux : Pervigilant ambo, dit le poëte; combien n'ai-je pas veillé aussi ! Mes amis, mes domestiques savent si je surpassais et le soldat et l'amant en abstinence et de même qu'un poëte a dit au sujet de sa maîtresse,
Quinetiam sedes jubeat si vendere avitas,
Ite sub imperiurn sub titulumque, Lares;
chacun sait que moi aussi, pour ma maîtresse, la langue grecque, et pour le passionné désir de créer mon Trésor, j'ai successivement dépensé tout mon avoir et épuisé mon propre trésor, heureux si je puis dire avec le poëte “hêdu ti tô sôthenti memnêsthai ponôn.”
Ce travail altéra sa santé et acheva la ruine de sa fortune, déjà fort dérangée.
“Mais la perte de mes biens, dit-il au lecteur, la perte de ma jeunesse ont pour moi peu d'importance, si mon travail en a pour toi. ”
At Thesaurus me hic de divite reddit egenum
Et facit ut juvenem ruga senilis aret ;
Sud mihi opum levis est, levis est jactura juventae,
Judicio haud levis est si labor iste tuo.
In recounting these noble and generous words, so characteristic of Robert Estienne's worthy son, M. Firmin Didot exclaims: “O true typographers, with whom we are nothing!” Without associating ourselves completely with such an absolute expression of regret and discouragement, which is belied by the name of M. Firmin Didot alone, we recognize that the art of typography has had the rare privilege of first rising to extraordinary perfection, and of crossing in one fell swoop the successive degrees that others usually climb so slowly, relying on one side on time, on the other on progress, and dragging routine and ignorance after itself. The honor of this rapid ascent belongs, in fact, to those illustrious men, those high priests of typography, whose entire existence was devoted to its cult, and who should have received nothing but praise and blessings from their contemporaries. However, this was not the case. Far from it, persecution and adversity poisoned their glory. Robert Estienne, pursued by the hatred of theologians, was forced to leave France. Henri, his son, ruined by the enormous expenses incurred by his Thesaurus, which, to use his own words, had made him poor from rich, and by the breach of trust of which Scapula had been guilty towards him (1), sadly ended his full and useful career.
(Scapula, a proofreader with Henri Estienne, stealthily wrote an abridged version of the Thesaurus, which he then published under his own name, and which caused Henri great harm. The latter, in revenge, simply put the following couplet on a new frontispiece of his work, of which he had been obliged to reprint some damaged or destroyed parts, leading to the mistaken assumption of a second edition: Quidam épi temnôn (dissecans) me, capulo tenus abdidit ensem: Aeger eram a scapulis, sanus at huc redeo. This epigram, in which H. Estienne plays on the name Scapula (which in Latin means shoulder), can be translated as follows:
A certain individual, while dissecting me, pushed his knife in up to the handle: my shoulders were sore, but I'm healthy again on this side.
It was at the urging of King Henri III that Henri Estienne wrote De la précellence du langage françois, a book containing invaluable information about our language. The king rewarded him with 3,000 livres. The two Dialogues du nouveau langage françois italianisé, etc., published in Geneva in 1578, also originated in Henri III's conversations with Henri Estienne. Both were indignant that, through a slavish spirit of foreign imitation, the French were introducing a host of Italian words and idioms, especially into the language of the court, thus abandoning what they had best. However, some rather bold jokes that Henri Estienne had allowed himself in this book led to him being cited and reprimanded by the council of Geneva. He deemed it prudent to leave the city, and only returned in 1580, thanks to the protection of Henri III and the intervention of his ambassador, M. de Sancy, who soon intervened again to get him out of prison. In 1581, he was again reprimanded and fined for printing a work without permission. In his edition of Aulu-Gelle, published in 1585, Henri Estienne inserted an epistle to his son Paul, in which he gave interesting details about his printing works and his family. M. Didot (Article Typographie, in I'Encyclopédie moderne) quotes this passage: "Your grandfather Robert had gathered at his home a kind of literary decemvirate, which could be called pantoethnê (of all nations), as well as panylôsson (of all languages), for the members of this learned gathering were from all countries and used all idioms. These ten learned foreigners, particularly those who composed the Epigrammata at the head of the latest edition of the Thesaurus latinae linguae, acted as proofreaders. Coming from different lands, and unable to speak the same language, they used Latin as a common interpreter... Your grandmother, with the exception of a few little-used words, heard everything said in Latin almost as easily as if it had been French. What can I say about your Aunt Catherine, my sister, who is still alive? She, too, didn't need an interpreter to understand Latin; what's more, she knows how to express herself in that language, with only a few mistakes, so as to be understood by everyone. The servants, and even the maids, who heard her converse every day at table on a variety of subjects more or less within their reach, became so accustomed to this language that they understood almost everything and ended up expressing themselves in Latin. But what further contributed to accustoming the whole household to speaking Latin was that my brother Robert and I would never have dared to use any other language in the presence of our father or one of his ten correctors. "Henri Estienne gives details of a similar nature in the preface to Appien (1592 ), and complacently recalls the affection François I had for Robert Estienne, his father. "This king, who loved literature and literary men with a passion, had a very special affection for my father, and a few days before he died, he manifested it before the whole court in the most signal manner. Whatever my father asked for, he obtained without difficulty, and the king's extreme liberality for letters and science equalled the importance of his great typographical undertakings; it even went so far as to anticipate my father's desires and to surpass them. "In the last years of his life, Henri Estienne, pursued by misfortune and more than ever a slave to his natural inconstancy, left Paris and took up residence in Switzerland and Germany. In 1594, he published an Exhortation to Emperor Rudolf in Frankfurt, published by Wechel, who had retired there after St. Barthelemy's Day, urging him to launch an expedition against the Turks and fight them to the bitter end. Towards the end of 1597, he spent some time in Montpellier, staying with his son-in-law Casaubon, who was busy with an edition of Athénée. He then traveled alone, as was his custom, to several towns in the south of France. Having thus wandered everywhere in a state bordering on misery, having had all his manuscripts and books destroyed in an earthquake, he fell ill in Lyon and was taken to a hospital, where he died in 1598: he was buried in the religious cemetery near the hospital.
It has been said that, especially towards the end of his life, he almost lost his mind. However, he still remembered his homeland, and in the midst of the ruin of the noble faculties of his intelligence, his love for the France of which he had been one of the glories, and which rewarded him so poorly, still survived! Printing owes an eternal debt of gratitude to Henri Estienne. Posterity cannot elevate too high this man who, in addition to his correct and numerous editions of all the good authors, editions sometimes published with a rapidity which proves that the Greek language was as familiar to him as the French language, also did works of criticism on these authors to which scholars have not ceased to pay homage; who showed himself to be a literator full of taste, when he gave in Latin verse the only good translation we have of Anacreon; who, knowing all languages and translating with as much ease Latin poets into Greek verse as Greek poets into Latin verse, wrote well in his own language at a time when this merit was very rare; who, moreover, had left two infolio manuscript volumes full of such vast erudition, that it astonished even his son-in-law, the learned Casaubon; who finally compiled the Trésor de la langue grecque, a work which alone would suffice to illustrate its author forever.
Let us therefore join M. Firmin Didot in his admiration for the memory of Henri Estienne, and say loud and clear that any typographer, if he has a true understanding of his art, must bow down with respect before this great name.Robert Estienne's typographical mark, which his son Henri adopted, was an olive tree, the branches of which a man detaches as he reaches out, with this modest motto: Noli altum sapere, to which he sometimes added sed time. (Do not seek elevation,... but dread it.)
Document: Henri Estienne, Traicté de la conformité du langage françois avec le Grec. Avec une préface remonstrant quelque partie du désordre & abus qui se se commet aujourd'huy dans l'usage de la langue françoise. En ce traicté sont descouverts quelsques secrets tant de la langue grecque que de la française. Henri Estienne, (1565), (Genève), 1565. In-8. In-8. Collation: (32), 159 pp. Estienne intends to demonstrate the superiority of French over all other languages except Greek. In so doing, he took aim at the jargon of French, Italian and Latin that prevailed in Catherine de Médicis' Paris. This first edition is much rarer and more complete than the second, printed in Paris four years later. It contains passages against monks and the Pope that were omitted from the Paris edition. It is the first work written in French by Henri Estienne, who, for Nodier, was "the first and most national of our sixteenth-century prose writers, after Rabelais and Montaigne".
Dedicatory epistle from Henri Estienne to I. Posthius dated October VI, 1588, "Prolegomena in theocritum", printer's correction notes. — The work consists of three parts, each with a title page. The first part, entitled "Theocr. Syracusii Idyllia & epigrammata quæ extant", contains the idylls and epigrams of Theocritus, gr. and lat."; the idylls of Moschos of Syracuse and Bion of Phlossa, gr. and lat, followed by Latin translations by Ange Politien, Lorenzo Gambara, Henri Estienne and Eobanus Hessus; the figurative poems by Simmias of Rhodes announced in the title, with translations and commentaries by Claude Auberi, Vitus Windsheim, Jean Pediasimus and Willem Canter. The second part is entitled: "Poematia variorum poetarum graecorum, vel (ut Theocritus sua vocavit), Idyllia...". The third part is entitled: "In Virgilianas et Nasonianas Theocriti imitationes observationes H[enrici] Steph[ani]...". — The figurative poems of the “Autel...” and the “Syrinx”, then attributed to Simmias of Rhodes or Theocritus, are today considered to be works by Publius Optatianus Porphyrius, a 4th c. poet. — Texts in ancient Greek and Latin. — Place of edition restored according to Renouard (Impr.). - Sign. *.8 a-z8 2A-2E8 3a-3m8. - Letterpress mark on t., headbands. - Cited in: "Renouard (Annales)". - Cited in: BN Cat. gén..

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