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Journal des Savants : July-December 2014

148 p., 25 ill., July-December 2014
Annual subscription (two fascicles) : 80 €.


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Le millénaire de Rome au Grand Cirque : un cas de condensé symbolique », par Robert TURCAN, membre de l’Académie.

Re-examination of the reverse of a medaillon stamped in 248 for the millenary of Rome and commemorating the Saeculares with racing chariots. Where the spina was, we discern various monuments irrelevant to the Circus Maximus, especially an amphitheater, the temple of Vesta, the temple of Venus and Roma on the Velia. These structures are referring symbolically to the universality together with the perennialty of the Vrbs.

« Priscien de Lydie, la géographie et les origines néoplatoniciennes de la ”Collection philosophique” », par Didier Marcotte

The Solutiones ad Chosroem of Priscian of Lydia represent one of the rare testimonies of the sojourns of the last Athenian Neoplatonists at the Sassanid court in 531-532. The prologue of this treatise gives a catalogue of its sources, which in itself attests to the library to which Priscian and the philosophers of Damascius’ circle had access. But the connection this catalogue maintains with several titles of the so-called ‘Collection philosophique’ suggests that a part of this collection took its origins beyond the library of the athenian Neoplatonists. In the library in question, geography played an important role, as the authors mentioned by Priscian particularly indicate. an analysis of Strabo’s Chrestomathies preserved in the manuscripts Palatinus Heidelberg. gr. 398 and Parisinius gr. 571 shows that this collection was compiled in the 6th century in a scientific environment marked by the doctrine of Plato and interested in the geographical reality of the Near and Middle East.

« Saint François au Mont-Saint-Michel. Enquête sur la transmission mémorielle d’une image disparue », par Véronique Rouchon-Mouilleron

In the cloister of La Merveille at Mont-Saint-Michel, a 13th century carved spandrel, now almost worn away, is only known thanks to some early modern documents from the 17th and 18th centuries, due to the Maurist Fathers, who wrote the history of the monastery, and N-J. Foucault, intendant for Lower-Normandy. They record that it was a representation of St Francis, modelled on the pattern of a picture by Joachim of Flora in Saint Mark’s basilica in Venice. They also report a nearby inscription (lost as well) reminding that, in this very year 1228, the saint was canonised and the cloister completed. This information is essential for all architecture specialists of the Mont, since it allows to give a time-line to the other different stages of the work in La Merveille. But no sufficient attention has been paid to the way these data were composed and conveyed. We will explore these documents in their context and analyse the issue of viewer-response to this St Francis sculpture, throughout Middle Ages and Early Modern period. This study deals with the textual and visual tradition, which connected the Normand image to the abbot of Flora and to the 13th century Venice. It appears that the memory of the Benedictine scholars was unexpectedly involved in the crisis dividing the Minors, between Observants and Capuchins, about the original pattern of the Franciscan habit, since this medieval carving was considered as a reliable depiction of the genuine habit of St Francis. Considering such a contextualization within the religious events of the 17th and 18th centuries, and through other analyses in the fields of epigraphy and iconography, it allows for doubting the year 1228, not only regarding the carving of St Francis, but also, consequently, concerning the whole cloister’s construction.

« La fondation de l’université de Bourges (1463-1474) », par Jacques VERGER, membre de l’Académie

The University of Bourges was the last to be founded in France during the Middle Ages, at a moment where almost all the university foundations had become a princely affair. This foundation was the result of the common wish of king Louis XI and his brother Charles, duke of Berry, along with that of the clergy and inhabitants of the town. The royal charter of foundation (December 1463) was confirmed the 12th of December 1464 by a bull of pope Paul II, and the lectures officially started on the 9th of March 1467, with a dozen of teachers recruited in the neighbouring universities. But this foundation immediately met the strongest opposition of the ancient universities of Orléans and Paris which, fearing this competition which could cut back their numbers of students and reduce their prestige, tried to convince the Parliament of Paris to refuse to register the royal letters of foundation. Eventually, this opposition resulted in a trial hold in December 1469 and January 1470. The counsel of Bourges university and town maintained that the king had the absolute right of creating new universities in his kingdom and that this new foundation would be very helpful for the town of Bourges, especially dear to Louis XI, and for the duchy of Berry, with the prospect of a fair development of knowledge among all the provinces of the country. On the other hand, in order to prevent the birth of the new institution, the counsel and masters of Paris (and, behind them, of Orléans) argued against this that the university of Paris always enjoyed a primacy which resulted from the translatio studii and enabled it to act as the sole guarantee of orthodox truth and educational standards, as was shown by the title of « eldest daughter of the king » which it bore since the fourteenth century. This privileged status was incompatible with the multiplication of new universities. But these arguments did not succeed in bending the king’s resolution : on the 20th of March 1470, he imposed the registration of his letters of foundation of Bourges. An ultimate attempt of the Paris and Orléans masters against the university of Bourges in 1474 was a new and final failure.

« La collection Palmyr Cordier à la Société asiatique et à la Bibliothèque nationale de France », par Pierre-Sylvain FILLIOZAT, membre de l’Académie.

In the vast range of Indological studies, the history of the medical literatures of India has an important place, thanks to the efforts of a few exeptional personalities. They had a double profession of medical doctor and Indologist. The antiquity and the value of Indian medicine got recognition in the middle of the 19th century. In 1855, the German Franz Hessler published a Latin translation of the ancient Sanskrit medical treatise, the Suśrutasaṃhitā. Soon afterwards the French Gustave Liétard published a pionneering study of the same and other texts. Palmyr Cordier of the French medical colonial service was appointed in India. That imposed on him arduous medical duties, but at the same time he learnt Sanskrit and Tibetan, collected some 300 manuscripts, including 200 of Âyurvedic literature. His first publications revealed his great philological competence. In 1914, unfortunately he was one of the first victimes of the World War. Jean Filliozat engaged in the medical and orientalist line retrieved his precious collection of manuscrits, which was purchased by the National Library of France.


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