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Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut

Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut

Paray-le-Monial (SaƓne-et-Loire) 1794 - Paris 1876


A Hellenist and mythographer, he studied under the classicist Jean-Louis Burnouf, known as Burnouf le père, at the Lycée impérial before moving on to the École Normale and the Sorbonne, where he became a professor.  Beginning in 1821 he dedicated himself to the study of Creuzer’s Simbolica, on the suggestion of the Hellenist Jean- François Boissonade. He was also influenced by Villemain and the philosopher Royer-Collard. After serving as Maître de conférences at the École normale supérieure, where he was promoted to director in 1830 (he resigned in 1836 after disagreements with Cousin), he was elected to the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (1837), made secretary general of the conseil de l'université from 1945 to 1950, and played a leading role in the foundation of the École française d'Athènes (1846). He took Jules Michelet’s place at the Collège de France in 1854.His greatest work was the translation – in reality a reworking – of Creuzer’s Simbolica, the Religions de l'antiquité considérées principalement dans leurs formes symboliques et mythologiques, issued in 10 volumes between 1825 and 1851.  He was also responsible for a new edition of the Galerie mythologique by Aubin-Louis Millin de Grandmaison and participated in numberous other publications, such as the «Revue archéologique », the «Journal de l’Instruction publique», the  Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, the anthology Poètes moralistes de la Grèce, Artaud de Montor’s Encyclopédie des gens du monde, and Michaud’s Biographie universelle.

Bibliography: A. Maury, J.-D. Guigniaut, «La Revue politique», 22 avril 1876; J. Girard, Notice sur Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut, secrétaire perpétuel honoraire de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Cerf et fils, Versailles 1877; M.-M. Münch, Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut et sa traduction de la Symbolique de Creuzer, Université de Haute Bretagne, Rennes 1981; S. Fornaro, Historia de la Religión antigua entre los siglos XVIII y XIX, entre Alemania y Francia, «Revista de Historiografía», IV, 2/2007, pp. 41-45.



Catalogue de livres de littérature d'histoire et d'archéologie composant la bibliothèque de feu M. Guigniaut commandeur de la légion d'honneur etc.…, Paris, A. Labitte 1876, 84 p., in 8°.

The sale catalogue, published by Guigniaut’s widow shortly after his death, lists 979 titles numbered continuously and divided according to the usual manner of Parisian booksellers, in 5 classes:  Théologie, Jurisprudence, Sciences et arts, Belles lettres, Histoire, (some are further subvided). There are no indices.
M.-M. Münch (Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut et sa traduction de la Symbolique, cit., p. 10) writes that of the 979 titles available in the catalogue there are only 16 in German that precede the publication of the first volume of the Simbolica (1825), “but this catalogue does not correspond to what Guigniaut was actually reading at the time.  It should not be forgotten that he did not have any money.  In order to understand the true scope of his sources in German, which were many, one should read the volume of notes that makes up the second part of the first volume. [...] He himself declared to Creuzer that he had read “hundreds” of books in German (letter dated April 20, 1823).


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last modify: 2010-10-08 22:24:02