Bernard de Montfaucon
From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
BERNARD DE MONTFAUCON (1655-1741), French scholar and critic, was born at the château of Soulage (now Soulatge, in the department of Aube, France), on the 13th of January 1655. Belonging to a noble and ancient line, and destined for the army, he passed most of his time in the library of the family castle of Roquetaillade, devouring books in different languages and on almost every variety of subject. In 1672 he entered the army, and in the two following years served in Germany under Turenne. But ill-health and the death of his parents brought him back to his studious life, and in 1675 he entered the cloister of the Congregation of St Maur at La Daurade, Toulouse, taking the vows there on the 13th of May 1676. He lived successively at various abbeys - at Soreze, where he specially studied Greek and examined the numerous MSS. of the convent library, at La Grasse, and at Bordeaux; and in 1687 he was called to Paris, to collaborate in an edition of Athanasius and Chrysostom, contemplated by the Congregation. From 1698 to 1701 he lived in Italy, chiefly in Rome in order to consult certain manuscripts, those available in Paris being insufficient for the edition of Chrysostom. After a stay of three years he returned to Paris, and retired to the abbey of St-Germain-des-Pres, devoting himself to the study of Greek and Latin MSS. and to the great works by which he established his reputation. He died suddenly on the 21st of December 1741. His first publication, in which he was assisted by Jacques Loppin and Antoine Pouget, was the first volume of a nevercompleted series of previously unpublished Analecta graeca (1688). In 1690 appeared La Verite de l'histoire de Judith. Athanasii opera omnia, still the best edition of that Father, was issued with a biography and critical notes in 1698. In connexion with this may be mentioned Collectio nova patrum et scriptorum graecorum (1706), containing some newly discovered works of Athanasius, Eusebius of Caesarea, and the Topographia christiana of Cosmas Indicopleustes. His copious Diarium italicum (1702) gives an account of the principal libraries of Italy and their contents; this work has been translated into English by J. Henley (1725). The Palaeographia graeca (1708), illustrating the whole history of Greek writing and the variations of the characters, has not yet been superseded; in its own field it is as original as the De re diplomatica of Mabillon. In 1713 Montfaucon edited Hexaplorum origenis quae supersunt, not superseded till the work of Field (1875); and between 1718 and 1738 he completed his edition of Joannis Chrysostomi opera omnia. His L'Antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719) laid the foundation of archaeological knowledge. It was continued by him in Les Monumens de la monarchie francoise, 17291 733 . Both these works have been translated into English. Montfaucon's Bibliotheca bibliothecarum manuscriptarum (1739) is a list of the works in MS. in the libraries with which he was acquainted.
A list of his works will be found in Bibliotheque des ecrivains de la congregation de Saint-Maur, by C. de Lame (1882), and in the article in the Nouvelle biographie generale, which gives an account of their scope and character; see also Emmanuel de Broglie, La Societe de l'abboye de St-Germain-des-Pres au 18 e siecle: Bernard de Montfaucon et les bernardins (2 vols., Paris, 1891).