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An Account Into the Professional Life - and Exploration of the Influence of - Madame Dacier in Classical Scholarship.

  • Date Submitted: 03/18/2014 06:03 PM
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Madame Dacier
An account into the professional life - and exploration of the influence of - Madame Dacier in Classical scholarship.

Anne Le Fevre Dacier (famous as Madame Dacier) was an influential and outspoken classicist in 17th - 18th century France. Her translations (mainly from Greek or Latin to French), particularly Homer’s Iliad, became ‘a European vernacular landmark’ (Weinbrot, 2001, p.85), and along with her husband, Andre Dacier, she made their surname ‘a compelling argument on authority’ (Weinbrot, 2001, p.85). Her preface to the Iliad reignited the famous Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns, and she played a significant role in her defence of the Ancients. Dacier was unique in the fact she had an intelligent male role model in her father, Tanneguy Le Fevre, a professor of Classics at the Academy of Saumur (The Encyclopaedia Britannica, p.152), who encouraged her academic pursuits. One famous anecdote regarding her early life tells of her father teaching her brother Greek. Anne, weaving her tapestry in the corner, proved herself to be much more adept at the language, and would be able to answer questions her brother could not ‘no matter how intricate or embarrassing the subject’ (Hay, 1813, p.288), and so her father chose to focus his efforts on her. This shows Dacier’s innate potential, and her pursuit of these talents in spite of her gender is part of what makes her an important figure to talk about in the history of classical scholarship.
My aim is to give an account of the life and work of Madame Dacier, and explore her influence of the study of Classics – focusing particularly on gender and her role in the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns.

Before discussing Dacier’s influence on classical scholarship, it is important to understand the context in which she was writing. At this point in time, the literary Salons had become very fashionable in France. People would join or be invited to these Salons to talk about and critique...


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