BARTHÉLEMY, Jean Jacques
Jean Jacques Barthélemy (1716-1795), also known as Abbé Barthélemy, was born into a well-to-do family in the South of France. Literatus, numismatist and author, he studied Philosophy, Theology and Classical Archaeology. Following a journey to Italy, he was inspired to write a novel whose main character is a young Scythian who wanders through the ancient Greek world of the fourth century BC, with flashbacks to the Archaic and Classical periods.
Barthélemy started studying and writing on Antiquity in 1757 and his first book was published in 1788. He died at the age of 80, while working on the fourth edition of this remarkable literary work.
Abbé Barthélemy studied the works of Greek and Roman authors and meticulously annotated on his maps the information he extracted. He relied too on the well-documented investigations that J. Foucherot and M.G.F.A. Choiseul-Gouffier had made on the spot, thus complementing his fictional work with accurate representations of the most important locations and battlefields.
This multi-volume work – both a fictional recreation of an era and a travel narrative presenting an idyllic panorama of the ancient world, illustrated with maps and drawings by Barbié de Bocage – fuelled the public's interest in ancient scholarship. Thus it became a best-seller of the time, and was republished repeatedly into the nineteenth century.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou