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Journal des Savants : January-June 2015

204 p., 47 ill.
Release : June2015
Annual subscription (two fascicles) : 100 €.


Le tarandos de Théophraste, un animal réel à l’origine d’une créature de fantaisie », par Mme Suzanne Amigues, correspondant de l’Académie.

From the zoological works of Theophrastus, only a few fragments passed to the present day. So we can read a wide extract by Photius, Library 278 525 a30-b21, of the theophrastean treatise Creatures that Change Color. Besides the octopus and the chamaeleon, both well-known in the east-mediterranean aera, surprisingly appears a detailed description of a wild animal called tarandos « which occurs among the Scythians or the Sarmatians », i.e. in the most northern Europe. Though its name remains unexplained, it is long since that creature about the size of an ox, with cloven hoofs, branching horns and a very strong hide, and most remarkable by its changing of color, was identified with the reindeer. It remained to be seen by what way and from whom about 350-300 b.C. the Greek naturalist could get such accurate informations about a so unfamiliar species, which became a fanciful one in the later literature.

Autour des sources de la pensée politique dans l’Angleterre médiévale (XIIIe-début du XIVe s.) : la contribution de Thomas Docking, William de Pagula et Roger de Waltham à la réflexion sur les pouvoirs, par Mme Frédérique Lachaud.

Historians usually agree on the scarcity of political theory in England after the publication of the Policraticus (1159) of John of Salisbury, especially when compared to the rich administrative documentation and the innovations of the reformers during the crises of 1215, 1258-1265 and 1297. The study of the work of a number of hitherto neglected authors may help to put into question this vision of things, or at least give some idea of the wide parameters between which political reflection did develop. Thomas Docking, an Oxford Franciscan who may have been close to the baronial movement in the mid-thirteenth century, William of Pagula and Roger of Waltham – both of whom wrote in the troubled context of the end of Edward II’s reign and the early years of that of his son – are the three authors whose work is studied here. If issues concerning counsel and limitation of power do not appear first and foremost in their reflection, still they all have at heart to promote a form of power marked by measure and the respect of subjects. This power is precarious, however, and its survival lies on the links of affection that the king may establish with his subjects. 

D’un palais (1643) l’autre (1668) : les bibliothèques Mazarine(s) et leur décor , par M. Yann Sordet, directeur de la bibliothèque Mazarine.

Examination of new materials reveals an accurate timeline of the various locations for Mazarin’s libraries in Paris, from Hôtel de Clèves to Hôtel de Chevry-Tubeuf and to the current site of Bibliothèque Mazarine. The research extends and challenges the knowledge of the great “colonnade library”. It allows to identify who was responsible for its setting and decoration in 1648, and then for transferring it, between May and August 1668 as can now be definitely established. The work carried out by several craftsmen is evidenced, including carpenters Pierre Dionys (a collaborator of painter Charles Errard from the 1640s to the 1660s) and Jean Charon, who readjusted the wooden setting inside the new palace designed by Le Vau for the newly-established Collège Mazarin. This contribution discusses the traditionally-held assumption that Bibliothèque Mazarine blazed a trail in France for the architectonic model of modern libraries. It also offers new insight into the beliefs used for its design while calling for a comparison with the then-existing models that served as an inspiration, i.e. the Escorial library (1563-1584), the Ambrosiana (1609), the Barberiniana (1630) and Richelieu’s unfinished library (1642).

Circumstances that might have translated into significant transformation – or indeed complete removal – of the setting and decoration of the Mazarine Library abound in and after the 17th century. Successive factors that contributed to its (often eleventh-hour) survival – and despite their sometimes conflicting influences – include : deep respect for its founder, economic considerations, “heritage” concerns and practical aspects of the functioning of the library.

Le voyage dans le Levant de Louis-Auguste de Forbin, peintre, directeur du musée royal du Louvre (1816-1841), en mission pour les antiques (1817-1818), par Mme Rose-Marie Le Rouzic.

The trained painter Louis-Auguste de Forbin descended from an old provençale family and studied under David in post Revolution. His various trips to Italy (between 1802 and 1812) with his friend Granet permitted him not only to advance his personal works but also to socialise and develop a network of artists and collectors. In 1816 he took over the role of director of the Royal Louvre museum from Vivant Denon. His nomination coming just after an important phase of restitution of lost works implemented by Napoléon. Forbins mission was two fold ; to build back up the collection and to encourage artists. His role in the antiquities played out not just with domestic purchases but also in the Levant where went in 1817 and 1818 accompanied by several artists of his own choosing. Progressively drawn to the Ottoman empire regions of Syria, Egypt and Palestine the trips allowed for digs and enabled purchases for the museum, (marbles, bas- relief and ceramics). On his return he wrote an account of his travels, illustrated with precise information of the sites he had visited. This work completed that done by his colleagues Huyot and Prevot.

Rodolphe Dareste (1824-1911), helléniste : de la fable à l’histoire du droit, par M. Jacques JOUANNA, membre de l’AIBL.

Rodolphe Dareste de La Chavanne, member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques (1878), is known mainly because of his legal career and for his works about law in general, especially for Justice administrative en France published in 1862. On the occasion of the reprinting in 2012 of this work, a symposium was held in the Court of Cassation (28th of March 2013). This article is one of the papers presented at this occasion. While being a lawyer, Dareste did not abandon his first love for Greece. He contributed in particular, thanks to his studies on the history of law in ancient Greece or to his translations of Demosthenes, to found a science of Greek law hitherto eclipsed by Roman law. The aim of this article is to show, following the major steps in his life and work of Greek expert, the place he held and the role he played in Hellenism in France between the second half of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, either alone or in collaboration with Théodore Reinach and Bernard Haussoulier, both members of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. In his preface to Nouvelles études d’histoire du droit, published on 1902, towards the end of his life, he wrote yet : “Greece is for us an inexhaustible subject”.

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