The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"But shortly before the publication of d'Hancarville's book in 1785, suspicions as to the genuineness of at least some of the inscriptions seem to have arisen, and to have caused the custodians of the Royal library to place obstacles in the way of those who wished to consult the Abbé's manuscripts. These suspicions had occurred especially to Richard Payne Knight, who first put together his objections for the use of d'Hancarville, and though our countryman is nowhere referred to by name in This seems hardly consistent with his own account of his adventures at Athens. the ' Recherches sur les Arts,' the author enters into an elaborate defence of the genuineness of the inscriptions, in answer really to Payne Knight's objections. For such a task, d'Hancarville was wholly unfitted. He was a man of much reading and intelligence, and had a considerable knowledge of ancient art ; but he was neither a scholar nor a philologist-even as scholarship and philology were understood in the eighteenth century,- and he has put together in the second chapter of his second book, by way of commentary on the Abbé Fourmont's inscriptions, a collection of such astounding statements, and has displayed such ignorance of the first principles of grammar and etymology, as to justify the severe remarks made upon him afterwards by Payne Knight :- ' The author of the " Recherches " dived deep into the matter which he professedly undertook to discuss ; and, had he confined his enquiries to that, he would have done honour to himself and service to the publick ; for many of his explanations of the monuments of ancient art showa degree ofacuteness and sagacity almost unparalleled. But when he invades the province of grammarians, and endeavours to explain ancient words, he almost makes us doubt whether or not he continued to possess the same faculties, so totally is he changed by changing his subject.' It was in 1791 that Payne Knight published his ' Analytical Essay on the Greek Alphabet, ' the sixth and seventh sections of which are devoted to an examination of the inscriptions which Fourmont professed to have discovered, and which he and Barthélemy had published in the ' Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions.'"--"The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont"

Related e



"The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont" is a text on Michel Fourmont.

ART. VII.-Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum. Auctoritate et impensis Academiæ Litterarum Regiæ Borussica. Edidit Augustus Boeckhius. Berolini. 4 vols. fo. 1828-1877. NoO sooner had the revival of learning commenced, and with it the enthusiasm for classical literature, than writings purporting to be amongst the earliest productions of Greece and Rome were put forth, and for a time believed to be genuine, which the more critical spirit of later generations has decided to be spurious. There were few more popular works in the latter part of the fifteenth century than the Epistles of Phalaris. They were among the first Greek books printed ; two editions of the original, more than twenty-three of the Latin translation of Aretin, seven of the Italian translation of Bartolommeo Fonzio, and one of that of Andrea Ferabos, were given to the world before 1500. The Epistles of Phalaris, like those of Themistocles, of Plato, and of Brutus, have long been relegated to the limbo of spurious books ; and if the Odes of Anacreon have been allowed to retain the rank of a classic, they are admitted only on the footing of being productions of a much later age than that of the Teian bard. But the authors of all these writings, and the dates of their composition, are absolutely unknown to us. They all seem to have been first printed by editors who sincerely believed that they were giving to the world genuine remains of antiquity, the work of the writers whose names they bear. But while the authors of the comparatively few spurious Greek works have generally remained unknown-except indeed, those which our contemporary Simonides produced-forgeries of Latin writings, some 504 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont.

some serious and intended to deceive permanently, others by way of jest only, have been much more numerous, and their authors have been in most cases unmasked. Many of them were the productions of the fifteenth century, when the eagerness for discovering the lost remains of antiquity was at its height. The most important, as well as the most remarkable, were the remains of Berosus, Manetho, Megasthenes, Fabius Pictor, Cato, and others, given to the world under the title ' Commentaria super opera diversorum auctorum de Antiquitatibus loquentium confecta ' by Annius of Viterbo in 1498. A man undoubtedly of great learning-a Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Greek scholar, the acknowledged author of books of reputation, according to all accounts a man of great piety, a popular preacher, a commentator on the Scriptures-it is not easy to believe that Annius of Viterbo devoted, as the author of the ' Commentaria ' must have done, many years of labour to the production of elaborate, ingenious, and learned forgeries ; yet it is still more difficult to believe, that one man should have collected from different quarters so many spurious writings, of which no copies have ever been known, except those which he professed to have used, and of which no trace was found after his death. But, ingenious as was the fraud, appealing as it did to the patriotic spirit of so many Italian towns, whose foundation in times of remotest antiquity was narrated at length, it was not long before the authority of the book was called in question ; and in less than a decade after its appearance, Sabellicus, Crinitus, and Raphael Maffei of Volterra expressed doubts of its genuineness, though they did not suggest, and perhaps did not suppose, that it was a forgery of the pious and learned editor. It was not long, however, before the good faith of Annius was suspected, and for more than two centuries and a half the question whether the book was an imposture, and if so whether Annius was the author or the dupe, continued to be discussed. As late as 1759, the genuineness of the book, and the bona fides of its editor, were vindicated by a German scholar, P. A. Flörchen ; † and twenty years afterwards, the Abate Giambatista Favre again undertook the defence of the same cause. That the book is spurious no one now doubts. That it must have been composed not very long before its publication The later editions generally bore the title under which the book is often cited of Antiquitatum Variorum, volumina xvii. ' Apologia vindiciaria pro Beroso Anniano ut vocant, &c. Auth. P. Angelo Flörchen, Ordin. S. Benedicti. Hildesii, M.D.CCLIX.' Favre's defence is contained in his Memorie apologetiche in risposta alle opposizione contro il decreto del Re de' Longobardi Desiderio, &c.´ Viterbo, 1779.' I is The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 505 is all but demonstrable, but whether the master of the Papal household was the impostor, may possibly admit of question ; and there may still be those who, with Tiraboschi and Apostolo Zeno, give credit to the Dominican Lequien, who asserts that he found in the library of Colbert a MS. of the thirteenth century, which cited Berosus, Megasthenes, and others. At all events, the Dominicans still maintain the bona fides of their brother. * If the collection edited (or composed) by Annius of Viterbo is the most important of the serious forgeries of the Renaissance, the Testamentum Cuspidii,' and the Contractus Venditionis ' are the most interesting of those which were perhaps intended as pastiches rather than written with a serious intention to deceive. Joannes Pontanus was the author of the pretended ' Contractus,' while the Testamentum ' was the work of Pomponius Lætus. Apart from their ingenuity, their interest arises from the fact that they deceived Rabelais, who edited them in 1532.† In the dedication to Amaury Bouchard, Maître des Requestes, Rabelais says he has printed 2000 copies of the book ; but before it was published, he discovered , to his intense mortification, that he had been duped, and thereupon he caused nearly the whole of the impression to be destroyed. The book is now so rare, that no editor of Rabelais has been able to see a copy or to give the dedication in its entirety. ‡ But if scholars of great name and of justly eminent reputation have maintained the genuineness of apocryphal remains of antiquity, on the other hand, the canon of the Greek and Roman Classics has been impugned by men of undoubted learning, though of no less undoubted fondness for paradox. Of these the Jesuit Father Hardouin is certainly the most celebrated , and perhaps the most erudite. He maintained that all the Greek and Roman classics, with the exception of the works of Cicero, Homer, Herodotus, and the elder Pliny, the Georgics of Virgil, and the Satires and Epistles of Horace, were the works of the The inquisitor- general Leander Alberti says that he saw the MS. of Berosus in the hands of Annio! Under the title Ex reliquiis venerandæ antiquitatis Lucii Cuspidii Testa- mentum. Item contractus venditionis antiquis Romanorum temporibus initus.' Apud Gryphium Lugduni, 1532. The successive editors of Rabelais have had to content themselves with the extracts given by Prosper Marchand. Yet a diligent search in the Bibliothèque Nationale, that vast receptacle of books, considerable portions of which are almost a terra incognita to the officials, has led to the discovery of a copy there, and the present writer is the owner of a second. The book was reprinted as genuine in the following year (1533) by a scholar of at least more pretensions than Rabelais, Henricus Glareanus of Freiburg in the Breisgau. A copy of this edition is in the British Museum. Vol. 161.-No. 322. 2 L monks 506 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. monks of the thirteenth century, composed under the direction of a certain Severus Archontius, and that ancient history has been entirely reconstructed from these writings with the aid of coins and medals. * Yet the Reverend Father was as credulous in some matters as he was sceptical in others. He tells us with the utmost gravity and good faith the exact year, day, hour, minute, and second at which the world was created, namely, on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. , at 41 minutes 39 seconds past two of the afternoon (Jerusalem mean time) ! In our own days attempts have not been wanting to prove that some of those writings, which we justly consider as the most precious remains of antiquity, are forgeries. Professor Peerlkamp has published editions of Horace in which he attempts to stigmatize about one-sixth of the textus receptus of the poet as spurious, and, still more lately, a large volume has been written to prove that the Annals of Tacitus are a forgery of Poggio Bracciolini in the fifteenth century. The scholars of the Renaissance troubled themselves but little with the study of inscriptions. It was left for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to discern the extraordinary flood of light which they throw upon Greek and Roman history and archæology, but it was not until the nineteenth that epigraphy was raised to the rank of a science. Yet the sixty or eighty thousand Latin inscriptions collected up to this time, and the fifteen or twenty thousand found on Greek soil, form the richest collection of documents extant for enabling us to understand the public and private life of the ancient Greeks and Romans. And it is remarkable that the Greek inscriptions contain a much larger proportion of articles of importance than those of Rome, and also that fraudulent and forged Greek inscriptions are much more rare than Latin ones. Yet the one man who devoted himself to this study in the

  • Hardouin's arguments applied equally to the books of the Holy Scripture,

and to those of the Fathers, the authenticity of which was thus thrown into doubt. He was reprimanded by his superiors and obliged to retract. But he none the less retained his opinions, and left a manuscript repeating and elaborating his views, which was printed after his death, entitled, Ad Censuram Scriptorum Veterum Prolegomena ' (London, 1766) ; but its sale was forbidden in France. The following epitaph was written for him by Jacob Vernet, of Geneva:- ' In expectatione judicii Hic jacet hominum paradoxatatos, Natione Gallus, religione jesuita, Orbis litterati portentum, Venerandæ antiquitatis cultor et deprædator : Docte febricitans Somnia et inaudita commenta vigilans edidit, Credulitate puer, audacia juvenis, deliriis senex : Verbo dicam, hic jacet-Harduinus.' fifteenth The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 507 fifteenth century, Cyriacus of Ancona, did not escape the charge of forgery-a charge which it is satisfactory to know has been completely disproved by more recent investigation . He had not the learning necessary to enable him to decipher, or even accurately to copy, the often half-effaced inscriptions. He was careless and inaccurate ; but there is no doubt that he was one of the earliest scholars to discern the importance of the study of Greek inscriptions, and that every inscription found among his MSS. was a bonâ fide copy, made with every desire of accuracy, and with no other aim than that of preserving and handing down to posterity the precious remains of antiquity. Three centuries after Cyriacus of Ancona had travelled through the Morea, collecting and copying inscriptions, the French Government determined on making a serious attempt to copy all the inscriptions which remained in Greece, and at the same time to collect and preserve all the manuscripts which could still be found. Mehemet Effendi had been for some years ambassador from the Porte to France, and he and his son, Zaid Aga, returned to Constantinople, full of admiration for Western civilization, and with a desire of introducing its benefits among their countrymen. In 1726 they set up a printing establishment, and the year following Zaid Aga wrote to the Abbé Bignon, who was then the librarian of the King's library (Bignon IV. *), informing him that, if a member of the Academy were sent on a special mission to Constantinople, it might not be impossible to obtain access for him to the library of the Grand Seignior, and permission to copy its catalogue. For nearly three centuriesever since the taking of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453— this library had been the Eldorado of manuscript treasures to the scholars of Western Europe. In the recesses of the Seraglio the library of the Greek emperors was believed to be preserved intact. Priceless manuscripts, dating not only from the time of Constantine but from a much earlier period, the accumulations of a thousand years of imperial rule, were to be found there-a complete Diodorus and a complete Livy were hoped for ; and of those writings happily still preserved to us, it was believed that manuscripts would be found, if not coëval with the authors themselves, yet of a period when classical Greek was still a living language, and when the writers of the gold and silver age were still read and studied. But since the fall of Constantinople this library had been impenetrably closed to Western Europe.

  • The Bignon dynasty reigned in the Bibliothèque du Roi almost uninter- ruptedly for 140 years. Jerome I. was appointed Master of the Library in 1642.

His descendant, Jean Frédéric Bignon (VI. ) resigned his office of ' The King's Librarian ' in 1782 (or 1783). 2 L2 No 508 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. No Christian had been permitted to enter its walls, and no account of its contents had been communicated to the world, though frequent application had been made by the members of the Western embassies. Bignon lost no time in mentioning the letter of Zaid Aga to the King. The Academy of Inscriptions interested itself in the matter, and as the result it was decided to send two Academicians to Constantinople, to make what discoveries might be possible respecting the library and manuscripts of the Greek emperors, and also to travel through Greece to collect manuscripts and to copy the inscriptions which it was said were rapidly disappearing, especially in the Morea, since its conquest by the Turks in 1715. The King did the Abbé Sevin the honour to appoint him to this important mission, and a few days afterwards, by the influence probably of Bignon and Fréret, and possibly of Maurepas, the Abbé Michel Fourmont, Professor of Syriac at the Collège Royal and Chinese interpreter at the Bibliothèque du Roi, was added as the second member of the mission. With the Abbé Sevin we need not here occupy ourselves. He was an accomplished and learned man, and afterwards became the keeper of the manuscripts of the King's library. It is upon his colleague, the Abbé Fourmont, that the personal interest of the expedition turns. Michel Fourmont was born in 1690. Left an orphan and completely destitute in his infancy, he was brought up by a relation, a procureur, who afterwards handed him over to a half brother who was procureur fiscal at Cormeilles. In his employment the boy remained until he was seventeen years of age-learning nothing, it would seem, but the routine of a procureur's office. Yet the youth, eager to learn, was ambitious and impressionable. On one occasion he left Cormeilles, went to Paris, and implored the aid of his brother Etienne (Fourmont l'aîné), who had already acquired a great reputation by his lectures on Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac, in obtaining some instruction and a more congenial occupation. But Etienne had neither time nor inclination to occupy himself with poor relations, nor indeed did he desire to educate a brother who might become a formidable rival. Michel was sent back to his parchments and his copyings at Cormeilles, no doubt with much good advice as to making the best of things and devoting himself to the business of an avoué. In the neighbourhood of Cormeilles there lived at that time, in the strictest retirement, devoted wholly to prayer, meditation, and works of piety, a certain M. le Bret, the brother of the first President of the Parliament of Provence. In a lucky or unlucky-moment, young Fourmont, sick at heart with his experience of a world consisting The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. 509 consisting of unsympathetic procureurs and unkind brothers, and where there was no escape from the wearisome routine of copying common forms, fell in his way. By the influence of M. le Bret he was converted : he resolved to quit a world which if sinful was also unpleasant, and to work out his salvation after the model of M. le Bret, in solitude, meditation, and prayer. Without informing the procureur fiscal of his intentions, he left Cormeilles, and buried himself in the hermitage of Les Gardelles in Anjou. Of all places and periods in the world's history we least readily connect France in the eighteenth century with hermits and hermitages, yet they existed there until the Revolution, though we may, without disrespect, permit ourselves to say with the editors of Moreri, ' ils ne mènent pas une vie si austère que les hermites des premiers siècles. " The hermits of Les Gardelles had for their founder or restorer a pious solitary, who has been identified by several learned persons with the Count de Moret, natural son of Henry IV. , who, instead of being killed, as historians tell us, at the battle of Castelnaudari in 1632, miraculously recovered from his wounds, and spent the remaining sixty years of his life either as a hermit himself, or in founding, visiting, and restoring hermitages in different parts of France. Among these solitaries Michel Fourmont remained for eight years. But his zeal soon grew cool. Prayer and meditation, where there was nothing to pray for except a change which it seemed hopeless to expect, and nothing to meditate on, except the advantages and merits of a life of abstinence, soon lost their charm. He became disgusted with a life passed in a barren routine of external practices, where the mind and soul were left without nourishment. He no longer loved to ' confront the lean austerities Of Brethren who, here fixed, on Jesu wait In sackcloth, and God's anger deprecate Through all that humbles flesh and mortifies.' His spirit craved for more solid pabulum. But his fellowhermits would not or could not teach him anything. He was even refused permission to take holy orders. He again applied to his brother, who had become still more eminent, to assist him in withdrawing from a life which was as hateful to him as that of a procureur's clerk, but again without result. Shortly after this, however, the community of hermits had some favour to request from a neighbouring proprietor. To Fourmont's delight he was selected to make a journey to Paris for this purpose. Once away from Les Gardelles, he resolved never to return. His family had believed him dead, and had divided his small sharein 510 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. in the paternal heritage between them. He recovered a trifle from his sisters, and arranged with his brother Etienne to take payment of his share in lessons, and determined to devote himself entirely to letters. At this time, though twenty-five years of age, his biographer (Fréret) tells us he did not know even the rudiments of Latin. In three years he became proficient, not only in Latin and Greek, which his brother had taught him, but in Hebrew and Syriac. Etienne had refused to give him lessons in the two latter languages, and he had learned them from grammars and a Hebrew Bible, and from being occasionally present when a Hebrew lecture was given by his brother. At first he concealed his Oriental studies ; but on one occasion, being present at a Hebrew lesson, when neither student nor professor seemed able to understand an obscure passage, Michel astonished the professor by saying that he could see no difficulty in it. Etienne brusquely ordered his brother to be silent, and not to meddle with matters of which he was ignorant ; but on his insisting, the book was put into his hand, to force him to admit his ignorance ; but instead of doing this, he recited the passage from memory, and explained it, as well as that which preceded and followed. In the meantime he had taken orders, and began to give lectures on the Latin, Greek, and Oriental languages, and on his brother devoting himself entirely to Chinese, he became the leading private tutor in Paris for Hebrew and Syriac, and achieved a high reputation. In 1720 Victor Amadeus offered him the chair of Hebrew at Turin. refused it ; and the same year, the professorship of Syriac at the Collège Royal becoming vacant, he obtained it through the influence of Bignon, who was always ready to help a struggling and deserving scholar. The Abbé Fourmont completely justified the recommendation ; his lectures were a decided success. They were not confined to mere instruction in the Syriac language, but extended to something like comparative philology. Syriac was compared with Hebrew, Chaldee, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Greek. Nor did he neglect his own studies ; he became so proficient in Chinese and other languages, that he was appointed his brother's assistant, and was attached to the Royal Library with the title of interpreter of Chinese and Indian languages. He In 1723 Peter the Great sent to the Academy a manuscript found by some Russian soldiers in a Tartar tomb, and written in unknown characters. Fourmont l'aîné undertook to decipher and translate it. He recognized it at once as being in the ancient language of Thibet, of which he possessed a short LatinThibetan vocabulary, given him by a missionary who had returned from that country. With the aid of this vocabulary, which, The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 511 which, confessedly, did not contain many of the words in the manuscript, the brothers Fourmont purported to decipher and translate it. They found it to be a portion of a sermon by a Thibetan Lama on the immortality of the soul, attacking the doctrine of Metempsychosis. Several German savants have bitterly criticized this translation. It is certainly inexact, and much of it clearly mere guesswork, but no doubt the brothers did their best with most insufficient knowledge. Yet they would perhaps have given a higher idea of their veracity as well as of their learning, though they might have made a less readable translation, had they admitted or allowed to appear the numerous lacunæ in the manuscript, and the no less numerous words which they did not understand. Passing over the disputes which this Tartar manuscript caused among the learned, we need only mention that in 1724 Michel Fourmont was elected an Associate of the Academy of Inscriptions, at the séances of which he became a regular attendant, and where in that and the two following years he read a Memoir on the Origin and Antiquity of the Ethiopians, and Dissertations to prove that there have never been but one Mercury and one Venus. These papers gained him much reputation, but they are in fact mere disputes about words, and miss altogether the true significance and interest of Greek mythology. The two Abbés, accompanied by Claude Fourmont, a nephew of Michel, arrived at Constantinople early in December 1728. They soon learned that the library of the Greek Emperors no longer existed, and that it was hopeless to attempt to penetrate into that of the Grand Seignior, which was in the seraglio. The Abbé Sevin was not in good health ; he found Constantinople an agreeable residence, and was indisposed to undertake the hardships, and perhaps dangers, which a journey through Greece would involve. It was arranged that he should remain in Constantinople for the purpose of collecting manuscripts, and that the Abbé Fourmont, accompanied by his nephew Claude, should visit Chios, Attica, the islands of the Archipelago, and the Morea, where they were assured great treasures of manuscripts still remained in the monasteries, and where abundance of inscriptions could be copied. The two Fourmonts started on the 8th of February, 1729, in a small caique. They stayed fifteen days in Lesbos, but found only twenty inscriptions, and no manuscripts. The plague forced them to a hasty departure, but had arrived before them at Chios, where the monastery of Agiamoni, which, notwithstanding the Turkish conquest, remained possessed of vast property and vast influence, was believed to be especially rich in manuscripts. Fifty priests took 512 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. took their turns at saying mass, one hundred and fifty lay brothers cultivated the neighbouring land, and of the sixty- six villages which then existed in the island, thirty- two were the property of the monastery. Abundance of manuscripts were found, and all sorts of advantageous proposals were made by the travellers to the Abbot, who, however, was fully aware as well of the value of the contents of his library as of the duty which devolved upon him as their guardian ; and he informed M. Fourmont that, so far from being disposed to part with any of them, he was in treaty with the monks of St. Isidore of Ephesus to obtain the manuscripts which they possessed, and he bitterly complained of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had carried off several from Agiamoni. The Abbé's visits to the other islands resulted equally in disappointment : he found the monks indisposed to part with their treasures, or even to exhibit them to travellers whose avowed intention was to carry them off if possible. On his arrival at Athens, the Abbé Fourmont changed his tactics ; he gave himself out as a traveller desirous only of copying inscriptions with a view of preserving those records of the antiquity and learning of Greece which the barbarism of the Turks and the ignorance of the peasantry were fast causing to disappear. But here he was met by difficulties of another kind. It was the period of Lent and Bairam ; Greeks and Turks vied with each other which could keep their fast with the greatest strictness ; neither business nor pleasure could be attended to until Easter had arrived. But, what was still more unpromising to the objects which the travellers had in view, the Greeks of Athens had adopted in many points the manners and customs of the Turks. Their women were concealed with little less strictness, and no male stranger could be permitted to penetrate into their houses, still less into the courts and enclosures appertaining to the women. Yet it was in these houses and enclosures that the great majority of the inscriptions were to be found . Nowhere in the East was there a greater jealousy and hatred of foreigners than at Athens. The Frankish dominion had left only hostile recollections, and while to the Turks one Christian was as obnoxious as another, to the Greeks the Latins, and particularly Latin priests, were little less hateful than Turks. A Roman Catholic priest, who had been converted at seventeen, and who had passed eight years among the hermits of Les Gardelles, was hardly, one would suppose a priori, a man capable of dealing with and breaking down these prejudices. But, to our surprise, the Abbé Fourmont showed himself a supple and accomplished man of the world, able and willing to follow the Apostolic The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. 513 Apostolic command of making himself all things to all men, as interpreted by the members of the Society of Jesus. His difficulties were great, but, as he himself tells us, he did not despair of surmounting them, and he flattered himself that he should be able to gain the confidence of the Athenians by regulating his conduct from his knowledge of their character. He expressed himself as delighted with everything he saw : when he had any opportunity of conversing with a leading Greek or Turk, the wonders and beauties of their city were his chief topic of conversation. He gave himself out as a stranger desirous of seeing and examining the remains of antiquity ; but if, charmed by his conversation, a Greek or a Turk invited him to enter into his house to see an inscription or a bas-relief, he modestly refused the invitation, saying that he was himself a priest, and that it would ill become him, who knew the wise custom of the Athenians, to enter into a house where there were women. If in going through the streets he met any women, however closely veiled, going to or from the baths, accompanied by their slaves, he hastily turned into another street. 6 The Athenians of the eighteenth century appear to have resembled those of the first ; they spent their time in nothing else but to tell or to hear some new thing, ' and in a very few days every one at Athens knew of the Latin phoenix who had appeared among them, with habits, feelings, and opinions, so different from those of his countrymen generally. They hastened to show him that confidence of which he had proved himself deserving. The Voyvode set the example to the Turks ; the Capitanaki, the Cavallari, and the Chalcochondilos led the Greeks ; and, with a single exception, every Turk and Greek of importance insisted upon his coming into their houses and examining all the remains of antiquity which could there be found. All aided him in his search for inscriptions and an-- tiquities. He was able to make a more accurate plan both of the ancient and the modern city than any traveller before him, and no less than seven hundred inscriptions, besides numerous bas-reliefs, were the reward of his assiduity. But the number of Athenian inscriptions, great as it is, does not adequately represent their value ; most of them (according to the ' Relation' of the Abbe's Journey, abridged by himself, or by Fréret from the longer paper read to the Academy on his return) were of great historical importance. Among them, for example, were more than one hundred lists of young men of all the tribes of Attica who were the conquerors in the different games. We read on these different marbles the names and descriptions of the magistrates of Athens under whose government these games had 514 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. had been celebrated , from which many elucidations of the chronology of the time can be drawn. There are lists of priests and priestesses of the different gods, which throw no less light on some points of the religion of the ancients. The decrees of the Amphictyons for regulating the tribute of each subject city of Athens, and finally ' the original tables of the laws of Athens, so wise, so celebrated, and so long sought for, which had been believed to be lost during so many ages, and of which we have in so many different ancient authors only fragments-precious, indeed, but which have left us ignorant of the greatest part of the civil law of the Athenians.' Among the decrees of the Amphictyons was one earlier than any hitherto known, dealing with a non-religious matter. It was dated 355 B.C., and decreed, as a clause of the general treaty of peace, that the Greek cities which had others under their protection or subjection should withdraw their garrisons. With Pausanias in his hand, Fourmont examined every site of importance in Attica, and identified numerous towns and villages, the localities of which had become quite unknown. The favour of the Voyvode placed workmen under his authority, and allowed him to dig wherever he pleased in search of inscriptions. Walls and houses, which the Turks, equally with the Greeks, had built with fragments of ancient sculpture or ancient inscriptions, were pulled down, and the foundations were dug up. At Eleusis, fifteen workmen of the Voyvode dug under M. Fourmont's directions for five days. Orders were given that all persons who had inscriptions in their possession should bring them to him, and as the result a harvest was reaped in Attica little less favourable than that of Athens. One of the inscriptions was written in the Boustrophedon order, that is to say, the lines disposed alternately from left to right and from right to left ; and when nothing was left in Attica for future travellers to discover, the two Fourmonts turned their steps towards Peloponnesus, where their discoveries were to be of even greater interest than in Attica. The Peloponnesus was almost virgin ground for the inscription-hunter. Neither Spon nor Wheler had visited it. The Venetians had carried off all the manuscripts that they had been able to discover, and had employed the marbles of the temples in building the tower of Palamedes and other fortresses. It would be too long here to follow the travellers in detail through the Peloponnesus. Corinth, Megara, the Argolis, Achaia, and the borders of Arcadia, were visited. The Abbé discovered the tomb of Terence, the ruins of Epidaurus, of Træzene, and of Hermione, and ascertained the site of nearly every place of importance. He The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 515 He drew maps of an accuracy not before known, kept a diary with every detail of the journey, and copied numerous sculptures and inscriptions, being aided in this latter work by his nephew Claude. Of the bas-reliefs which he copied, one had relation to the human sacrifices of Lycaia. At Mauromatia he recognized the site of the ancient Mycena, which he judged to have been at one time the largest town of Peloponnesus, and of which he has left us a detailed description. But it was in and near Sparta that his greatest discoveries were to be made. Sixty men were employed for fifty-five days in demolishing the castles of the Palæologi, and more than three hundred inscriptions were thus rescued from destruction, many of them far more ancient than any hitherto brought to Western Europe. There were lists of the Ephori, Nomophylakes, and other magistrates of Sparta ; bas-reliefs representing shields, on which were written the names of the Kings of Sparta and their pedigrees ; a bas-relief representing the flagellation of a young Spartan before the altar of Artemis, in the presence of the priestesses ; catalogues of the priests ; the epitaphs of Agesilaus and Lysander, as well as of many Kings and Queens of Messenia ; the decrees which were affixed to the temple of Lycurgus ; while the laws of Agis, of which no writer had spoken, and which made important changes in those of Lycurgus, were a still more precious discovery. The interest of the Abbé's journey, and the value of his discoveries, increased the nearer he approached its termination. Near Sparta he found a column containing the name of the city of Jerusalem, which proved to be a monument of that alliance between the Jews and the Spartans recorded in the First Book of Maccabees. At Sparta he had the happy idea of visiting Amycle, and there he made the discoveries which were the crowning triumph of his expedition. In the temple of Apollo was found, written in the Boustrophedon manner, a catalogue of the priestesses from the time of King Eurotas, the father- in-law of Lacedæmon, an inscription of the time of Teleclus ( 775 B.C.), with a list of the seven Kings from Agis to Teleclus ; and in the temple of the goddess Onga or Oga, in the immediate neighbourhood of Amyclæ, a remarkable inscription showing the ancient name of the Spartans to have been IKTEPKEPATEEΣ, and a bas-relief the figures upon which proved, what had not before been suspected, that human sacrifices were not unknown to the ancient Spartans. But in the Peloponnesus a new phase of the Abbe's character appeared. The courteous and supple man of the world whom we have seen in Attica had disappeared, and a barbarous and brutal 516 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. · brutal iconoclast had taken his place. In the Relation ' of his Journey, one sentence tells us that he demolished the foundations of the temples of the gods, the sacella of the heroes, and the sepulchres of the kings, but he leaves it to be inferred that this was almost necessary in the demolition of the castles of the Palæologi. But in his letters to Maurepas and Fréret, some extracts of which have been printed by Dodwell, he is less reticent. Whether, as he himself suggests, from motives of patriotism, that France might be the only possessor of the remains of antiquity which he had obtained for her ; or whether, as his modern apologists have suggested, influenced by a misguided religious zeal, the remains of the lessons of fanaticism learned from M. le Bret and the hermits of Les Gardelles, but of which we find no traces in the rest of his career ; or whether, as his enemies have suggested, in order that there might be no means left ofascertaining the accuracy or otherwise of his discoveriesas soon as he had copied his inscriptions and bas-reliefs, he caused the originals to be either wholly destroyed, or effaced so as to be undecipherable. He razed to the ground temples and other buildings, destroyed sculptures and marbles, and displayed everywhere a brutal barbarity, instead of the zeal for ancient learning and discovery which he so much vaunts. He tells his correspondents that he had scattered the ashes of Agesilaus to the winds ; he had entered and destroyed the sepulchres of Lysander and Orestes ; Mantinea, Tegea, and Olympia, he had completely demolished. The temple of Apollo at Amycle occupied him six days in destroying ; and he boasted, in like manner, of numerous other pieces of vandalism. * It is quite possible, and indeed probable, as Firmin Didot and Tocqueville have suggested, that in his letters he exaggerated and perhaps invented many of these statements ; yet The following are some extracts from his letters :-' Je l'ai fait non pas raser, mais abattre de fond en comble. Il n'y a plus de toute cette grande ville une pierre sur une autre.' ' Depuis plus que trente jours, trente et quelque fois quarante et soixante ouvriers abattent, détruisent, exterminent la ville de Sparte.' A vous parler franchement, je m'étonne de cette expédition. Je n'ai lu que depuis le renouvellement des lettres il soit venu dans l'esprit de quelqu'un de bouleverser ainsi des villes entières .' ' Dans le moment je suis occupé à la dernière destruction de Sparte. Imaginez-vous, si vous pouvez, dans quelle joye je suis.' ' Si en renversant ses murs et ses temples, si en ne laissant pas une pierre sur une autre au plus petit de ses sacellums, son lieu sera dans la suite ignoré, j'ai au moins de quoi la faire reconnaître, et c'est quelque chose, je n'avais que ce moyen-là pour rendre illustre mon voyage.' ' Ce n'est pourtant qu'en agissant de cette manière que l'on peut être utile aux lettres. Sparte est la cinquième ville de Morée que j'ai renversée, Hermione et Trozene ont subi le même sort. Je suis actuellement occupé à detruire jusqu'à la pierre fondamen- tale du Temple d'Apollon Amycléen.' See these and other similar extracts in Dodwell's Tour through Greece.' (4to, 1819.) Vol. ii. , p. 406. it The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 517 it is certain that his memory was long preserved in the neighbourhood of Sparta as that of one who had destroyed temples and effaced inscriptions ; and among the undoubtedly genuine inscriptions found among his papers are some, of which the originals have since been discovered, defaced and injured, not by time or accident, but clearly by the hammer and chisel of a wilful iconoclast. For some reason which is entirely unknown, the French Government cut short the Abbé's journey at Sparta. The expedition was brought to an end, the Abbé was recalled, and returned to France at the beginning of 1732, bringing with him a large number of coins and medals, copies of interesting basreliefs, and, as he alleged, more than 3000 inscriptions, all up to that time unknown to the West. It need hardly be said with what favour M. Fourmont was received by the Academy of Inscriptions, and indeed by men of letters in France generally. It was believed that he had made more important discoveries than any previous scholar, which would throw a flood of light upon many of the obscure parts of Greek antiquity ; and when he read to the Academy the relation of his journey, in which he mentioned all the important matters we have before noticed, and promised the Academy that upon each of them a memoir should be forthcoming, he at once stepped into the foremost rank of European scholars, at whose feet Barthélemy, Mazochi, and others, sat as humble students. But the Abbé Fourmont was in no hurry to give his discoveries to the world ; he required time in order properly to copy, study, decipher, and explain them ; and he was desirous of publishing at least the most important, with a full apparatus of notes, comments, and explanations, extending to several volumes. Nor could he be prevailed upon to communicate any of his treasures until he could put them forth in this complete form. The Government, equally with the savants, became impatient at finding no results from an expedition on which so much expense had been lavished, and which had produced so rich a harvest. The Abbé was informed by M. de Maurepas that his collection must be arranged and transmitted to the King. In 1740, nine years after his return, he laid before the Academy, as the first-fruits of his discoveries, facsimiles of three inscriptions, which he had found in Messenia and Laconia. * They were all of the same character, and contained lists of kings, senators, and magistrates of Sparta, during the first Messenian war. They were engraved, according to the elaborate memoir

  • Mémoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions,' vol. xv. pp. 395–419.

518 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. of M. Fourmont by which they were accompanied, in the reigns of Alcamenes and Theopompus, kings of Lacedæmon. The earliest, found at Amycle, was of the first or second year of Alcamenes (about 743 B.C. ), and was made for the purpose of perpetuating the remembrance of the resolution of the Lacedæmonians to make war à outrance against the Messenians, in order to avenge the death of King Teleclus. The two others found in Messenia were a few years later, and proved that this resolution was not in vain, but that the war had been vigorously prosecuted. These inscriptions, of a date of which no other authentic and contemporary records exist, would be of the highest interest and importance, as well for the information they afford respecting the internal government and constitution of Sparta, as for the points in early chronology, which they settle authori tatively. But their form is no less extraordinary than their antiquity ; they are all signed by the public secretary, and authenticated with what M. Fourmont conceived to be a representation of the seal of Lacedæmon in the centre of each. The earliest of these marbles was found at Amyclæ in the immediate vicinity ofa temple of the rudest construction and the most venerable antiquity, very small-only 16 feet long by 10 wide-and built of huge symmetrical stones, after the manner of the buildings at Larissa, Tiryns, and Mycenae, attributed by Pausanias to the Giants ; a single stone resting upon two other larger ones formed the base : each side consisted of but one stone, 5 feet in thickness ; the roof was a single huge stone, upon which were placed two others, so as to form a talus or slope. The narrow entrance was not more than 4 feet in height, and above it was an inscription in ancient characters, difficult to decipher, to the effect that the temple was dedicated to the goddess Onga or Ogai, by Eurotas, king of the Ikterkeratees, thus confirming the statement of Hesychius that this was a name of the Laconians, and leading to the conjecture that it was their most ancient name, only changed to Lacedæmonians after the time of Lacedæmon, son-in-law and successor of Eurotas. The date of the foundation of this temple would be about 1500 B.C. Two years later, at the séance of the Academy of the 7th of September, 1742, M. Fourmont drew from his ' portfolio three other drawings, representing votive marble shields or bucklers, which he had dug up in the ruins of the temple of Apollo at Amyclæ. They are remarkable by their shape, the figures inscribed upon them, and their inscriptions. On one is engraved the pedigree of King Teleclus. Another is inscribed with the • Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscrip., vol. xvi. pp. 101-110. name The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 519 name of Anaxidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, who reigned at Sparta towards the close of the eighth century, with his pedigree at the foot, and above, a representation of foxes and of serpents, alluding apparently to the story related by Apollodorus of these animals appearing miraculously on the respective altars of the Messenians and Lacedæmonians, and shadowing forth the event of the war in which they were engaged . The third inscription, much more recent, contained the name of King Archidamus, the son of the great Agesilaus. The Abbé Fourmont died in 1746, without having published any other of his discoveries. He had, however, under the strict orders of M. de Maurepas, devoted his last years, with the assistance of his nephew Claude, to arranging and copying his collections. A volume containing nine hundred and forty- nine inscriptions had been already copied and transmitted to the Court, and above a hundred and fifty others—some only in fragments-remained among his papers. Of more than three thousand, which in the account of his journey he stated he had brought with him, nearly two-thirds had unaccountably disappeared. No traces were to be found of the laws of Athens, or of Agis, or of numerous other important discoveries, which on his return from Greece the Abbé had announced to the world. Most of those which remained were unaccompanied by any notes except a reference to the place where they were found, but in a few cases there were found among the Abbé's papers notes and comments of more or less elaboration prepared to be given to the world. Two of these were laid before the Academy by his friend the Abbé Barthélemy, accompanied by a long memoir. * They were among the most ancient, the most remarkable, and the most interesting, of Fourmont's discoveries, and were nothing less than lists of all the priestesses of the temple of Apollo at Amyclæ, inscribed at different times from the date of the foundation of the temple, 1500 B.C. , down to the Roman Conquest, including the name of Laodamia, the granddaughter of Eurotas, who is the third priestess in the list. Besides these, two sculptures found by M. Fourmont in the temple of Onga, and from which he took drawings, were published by Count Caylus in his ' Recueil d'Antiquités.' They represented human limbs, knives, and other things, which evidently implied human sacrifices ; and it seems from several other inscriptions and notes among his papers, that had the Abbé Fourmont lived he would have propounded the doctrine, that human sacrifices were at that time common in Greece.

  • Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscrip. ,' vol. xxiii. p. 421.

These 520 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. These sculptures, it need hardly be said, caused much curiosity and interest among the learned. With these, and one or two other, but unimportant, exceptions, no steps were taken to publish any of the Abbé's discoveries ; yet those which had already appeared, and which we have noticed, were undoubtedly, if genuine, among the most important and most venerable monuments of Greek antiquity, and they were received with unquestioned faith by scholars of the greatest eminence and reputation. The Abbé Barthélemy incorporated the whole of them into his ' Voyage du jeune Anacharsis ; ' Count Caylus engraved them in his ' Recueil d'Antiquités. ' D'Hancarville, in his ' Recherches sur l'origine, l'esprit et les progrès des Arts de la Grèce,' treats them as among the most important discoveries of modern times, and devotes to them nearly a third of his second volume. He describes Fourmont as a poring, heavy antiquary, without taste or invention, of immense industry and rigid exactitude in compiling, and so devoted to ancient learning, that he understood Greek and Hebrew better than his native French. And Count Caylus explains that the expense necessary to make engravings of such a number and variety of characters as are contained in the papers of the Abbé, was the sole cause of their being withheld from the public. Winckelmann, Mazochi, Anssé de Villoison, Torremuzza, and the authors of the Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique,' accepted them as genuine, and treated M. Fourmont as one of the most distinguished promoters of Greek history and Greek learning. No doubts as to the good faith of the Abbé Fourmont seem to have arisen for many years after his death. His learning, and the explanations he had given of his published inscriptions, were indeed soon called in question, but the character given of him by Fréret in the éloge which he pronounced upon him after his death was universally accepted. He is there described as a man not indeed of great learning, but of spotless integrity and simple manners, and of complete ignorance of the proper way of dealing with men.* But shortly before the publication of d'Hancarville's book in 1785, suspicions as to the genuineness of at least some of the inscriptions seem to have arisen, and to have caused the custodians of the Royal library to place obstacles in the way of those who wished to consult the Abbé's manuscripts. These suspicions had occurred especially to Richard Payne Knight, who first put together his objections for the use of d'Hancarville, and though our countryman is nowhere referred to by name in This seems hardly consistent with his own account of his adventures at Athens.

the ' Recherches sur les Arts,' the author enters into an elaborate defence of the genuineness of the inscriptions, in answer really to Payne Knight's objections. For such a task, d'Hancarville was wholly unfitted. He was a man of much reading and intelligence, and had a considerable knowledge of ancient art ; but he was neither a scholar nor a philologist-even as scholarship and philology were understood in the eighteenth century,- and he has put together in the second chapter of his second book, by way of commentary on the Abbé Fourmont's inscriptions, a collection of such astounding statements, and has displayed such ignorance of the first principles of grammar and etymology, as to justify the severe remarks made upon him afterwards by Payne Knight :- ' The author of the " Recherches " dived deep into the matter which he professedly undertook to discuss ; and, had he confined his enquiries to that, he would have done honour to himself and service to the publick ; for many of his explanations of the monuments of ancient art showa degree ofacuteness and sagacity almost unparalleled. But when he invades the province of grammarians, and endeavours to explain ancient words, he almost makes us doubt whether or not he continued to possess the same faculties, so totally is he changed by changing his subject.' It was in 1791 that Payne Knight published his ' Analytical Essay on the Greek Alphabet, ' the sixth and seventh sections of which are devoted to an examination of the inscriptions which Fourmont professed to have discovered, and which he and Barthélemy had published in the ' Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions.' He undertakes to prove that they are all forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont :- "The inscriptions published, contain specimens of writing from the earliest period of fabulous tradition down to the subversion of the Greek Republicks-from Eurotas, a king supposed to have reigned in Laconia seven generations before the Trojan war, down to Philip of Macedon. In monuments, engraved at periods so remote from each other, we might expect to find great variations both in the form and use of the letters ; but, nevertheless, they are so nearly the same as to appear of one hand-writing, and of one person's composition . The forms of the bucklers also, upon which two of the inscriptions are engraved, are totally unlike the simple round shields of the ancient Greeks, or indeed of any other ancient people, they being in absurd fanciful shapes, wholly unadapted to the purposes of defence. The mode of writing the titles of the magistrates, too, in larger letters than those employed in their names, is without example in any genuine monument of antiquity that I have seen ; and it is observable, that one of the stones is represented as broken in so artist-like and regular a manner, that it could not have been the result of accident ; Vol. 161.-No. 322. 2 M for 522 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. for if so many fractures had been caused by the fall of ruins or the decay of time, the edges would necessarily have been splintered or corroded so as to destroy many of the letters. I shall, however, waive the consideration of these suspicious peculiarities, as well as the singular forms of the shields and letters, because whim and caprice might have operated in ancient as well as modern times ; but errors in orthography, grammar, and dialect, the blunders of dictionarymakers, transcribers, and editors, transferred into monuments attributed to remote antiquity, will, I flatter myself, if proved, be deemed of themselves sufficient evidence of imposture.' Fourmont seems to have been well acquainted with Pausanias, with the Miscellanea Laconica ' of Meursius, and the work of Nicolas Cragius, ' De Republica Lacedæmoniorum,' both of which he found reprinted in the Thesaurus Græcarum Antiquitatum ' of Gronovius. The conjectures and sometimes the inistakes of each of them he accepted as certainties, frequently misunderstanding them, and confusing them with the customs and antiquities of his native land, as well as with those of the Jews. He had adopted the theory that Greek was derived from Hebrew, and that the Jews and Lacedæmonians were sprung from a common stock, and accordingly he introduced many Hebraisms into his inscriptions. Conscious of his own want of scholarship, he prudently confined himself almost entirely to publishing lists of proper names, no doubt in the hope that his want of critical scholarship would be less easily discovered. Yet the names themselves show the imposture. They are full of ridiculous blunders. We find there letters and inflections which were certainly not used until centuries after the pretended date of the inscriptions ; some are Ionic, some apparently Roman, some a mixture of Greek and Latin, others of Greek and Hebrew. Moreover, such was his difficulty in finding a sufficient number of names, that nearly all occur many times over, and in one list the name Demetrius occurs no less than forty times. In his Memoir' read before the Academy of Inscriptions in 1740, where he gives for the first time an account of the temple of the goddess Onga, he states the inscription in the front to be OrAI IKTEPKEPATEES. In the early editions of Hesychius, and indeed in all that were in existence in the time of Fourmont was found the following, Ικτευκρατεῖς Λάκωνες, whence Meursius suggests that Ikteukrateis or Ikteokrateis was an ancient name of the Laconians. In a temple erected and dedicated by King Eurotas, it was, of course, necessary to find some name to be given to his subjects other than Laconians or Lacedæmonians, as it was not until the time of his grandson Lacedæmon that these The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 523 these appellations were given. Accordingly he hit upon Ikterkeratees, and gave, as inscribed upon his fictitious temple, this fictitious inscription, of which, curiously enough, no trace is to be found in his papers, though the word in slightly various spellings is found there several times. But the word ' IктеUкраTels in Hesychius is merely the error of a careless scribe. The true reading is not clear, but it is certain that it is two words, of which the second is the explanation of the first (probably ἔκτευ =κράτει) , and the word Lakones explains that the first word is a Laconian idiom. " Thus, by a succession of error and imposture, a fabulous personage of ancient tradition has been made to anticipate the blunders of a transcriber committed in copying a dictionary-maker of the third century of Christianity, by which means the French academicians have been enabled, not only to call into being a people who never existed, but also to fix the date of their dominion in the Peloponnesus as readily and accurately as that of the Franks and Normans in their own country.'* ' No man in his senses,' says Boeckh, can believe this inscription to be genuine, ' though at first, and writing before the letters of Lord Aberdeen had appeared, he was disposed to treat it as a forgery, not of Fourmont, but of a very much earlier date, by which he assumed that the Abbé had been misled. The two Boustrophedon inscriptions are little less absurd than the dedication of the temple of Onga. They contain lists of all the priestesses of Apollo at Amyclæ, from about the time of Eurotas to the Roman conquest, engraved at different periods, although the earliest is little later than the pretended temple of Onga. These priestesses are called ΜΑΤΕΡΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΚΟΥΡΑΙ ΤΟΥ AПOMAONOS (mothers and virgins of Apollo) a title for which neither Fourmont, Barthélemy, nor d'Hancarville, were able to adduce any authority, but which reminded Payne Knight of the corresponding titles in a modern French convent of nuns, Les mères et les filles du Bon Dieu. This expression was undoubtedly familiar to Fourmont, and Payne Knight suggests that the French title gave birth to the Greek. † 6 The Analytical Essay on the Greek Alphabet, ' was reviewed by Porson in the Monthly Review ' for 1794, and the great scholar accepted the views of Payne Knight on the subject of Fourmont as conclusive. Meantime the believers in the Abbé Payne Knight, p. 115. + Ludwig Ross, however, in his ' Ad virum cl. Aug. Boeckhium Epistola Epi- graphica ' (Halle, 1850), has attempted to show that Fourmont had authority for the title ματέρες καὶ κώραι τοῦ Απόλλωνος. He was answered by Boeckh, in the • Archäologische Zeitung ' for 1850 (No. 23, Fourmontsche Inschriften.) 2 M 2 kept 524 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. kept silence. No notice was taken of Payne Knight's book, either by the Journal des Savans ' or by the Academy of Inscriptions. But in 1817 the Earl of Aberdeen contributed Remarks on the Amyclæan Marbles ' to Walpole's ' Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey ' (p. 446) . In these remarks he thoroughly exposes one of the forgeries, that relating to the temple of Onga. But although Payne Knight's arguments had been convincing to the learned in England and Germany, they had not been so to the French, and when Lord Aberdeen spoke of the ' impudent frauds ' of Fourmont, he roused a defender of the Abbé in the person of M. Raoul Rochette, a man undoubtedly of real learning, who, although only twenty- nine years of age, had already attained the highest possible reputation in France by his ' Histoire Critique de l'établissement des Colonies Grecques, a work which in 1814 had received the first prize of the Academy. But the learning of M. Raoul Rochette was of that character which we are accustomed to associate with his countrymen rather than with the Germans. He was a skilled dialectician, his knowledge was extensive, his style agreeable, and he was able to draw those brilliant generalizations with which, even when based upon an imperfect or a mistaken induction of facts, French divines, philosophers, and historians, know so well how to charm our imaginations and almost to convince our reason. M. Raoul Rochette could not bear that a French scholar who had enjoyed the highest reputation for threequarters of a century should be treated by an Englishman as an impudent forger, and in 1819 * he published Deux Lettres à my Lord Comte d'Aberdeen sur l'authenticité des inscriptions de Fourmont,' in which he maintains what has been justly termed‘an untenable and exploded paradox,' namely that the inscriptions of Fourmont were genuine, and that the arguments of Payne Knight and Lord Aberdeen were entirely baseless. His book is ingenious, able, and interesting ; he succeeds in proving that on several minor points Payne Knight was wrong, and that his essay is written with a dogmatism and an assumption of superiority over other scholars which his learning does not always justify. But on the main points he has nothing better to say, in substance, than that the Abbé Fourmont was very ignorant, and probably made mistakes in his copies and his drawings, as he certainly did in his interpretations. Letronne had at that time the greatest name in France a Greek scholar, and he reviewed the work of Raoul Rochette in three articles in the Journal des Savans.' At as

  • In August 1818, M. Raoul Rochette and M. Louis Petit Radel each read a

paper before the Institute in defence of the Abbé Fourmont. this The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 525 this time Raoul Rochette was one of his most devoted adherents. It was before their great quarrel, before Letronne's damaging and severe review of Les Monuments inédits d'antiquité,' before the discovery of the Vases de Bernay ' and the ' affaire Rollin,' which caused so much sensation and so many heart- burnings among the learned in France. In his articles he expresses the opinion, though with some reservations, that Raoul Rochette has shown that Payne Knight's arguments are inconclusive, and has adduced grounds for the belief that Fourmont was not a forger, though he admits that Rochette has not brought any positive proof of the Abbé's veracity, and he sums up his judgment in the matter as follows :- 6 - En attendant que nous puissions jouir du travail complet que nous promet M. Raoul Rochette, ses observations sur les anciennes inscriptions de Laconie, en même temps qu'elles offrent une multitude de recherches curieuses d'histoire et de paléographie, et qu'elles donnent une haute idée de ses connoissances en antiquités, présentent dés à présent l'avantage de détruire la plupart des objections élevées par M. R. P. Knight, de montrer que l'opinion qu'on s'étoit faite de ces curieux monumens n'est au fond qu'un préjugé, et de disposer très-favorablement les esprits judicieux et impartiaux pour la défense en forme que l'auteur de ces lettres fait espérer au monde savant.' 6 In The book of Raoul Rochette, and the favourable judgment passed upon it by Letronne, drew from Lord Aberdeen A Letter relating to some statements made by M. R. Rochette in his late work on the authenticity of the Inscriptions of Fourmont.' * this letter he proves conclusively, that Fourmont had taken his temple of Onga from a small Greek chapel situate exactly where Fourmont had described it, and of precisely the same dimensions. 6 The building is a small Greek chapel, possibly two hundred years old. It is constructed , like other edifices of the same description, of common masonry composed of small stones and cement ; but from being apparently deserted at present, as well as from having been slightly built at first, it is probable that it may not stand a hundred years longer. The interior dimensions may, perhaps, be nearly correct, and the door not much more than four feet high, as stated by him ; but this is not uncommon in Greece, and is adopted by the Christian inhabitants in order to prevent the Mussulmans from turning their horses into the churches or houses.' Moreover, Lord Aberdeen tells us that in this very chapel, in the precise position in which Fourmont had professed to find the inscriptions and the bas- reliefs of human limbs, with knives

  • Walpole's Travels in various Countries in the East,' 1820, p. 489.

and 526 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. and other articles implying human sacrifices, and which had been engraved by Count Caylus, he had found the identical inscriptions on marbles of the same size and shape, but with innocent cups, vessels, and articles of female attire, which could by no possibility be mistaken for limbs, knives, and implements of sacrifice ! .. 1 . This time Letronne was convinced. In an article in the ' Journal des Savans't he admits that the plea of ignorance could no longer avail ; that no mere mistake in copying could have transferred the innocent bas-reliefs into the sacrificial objects engraved by Count Caylus- still less have turned a modern Greek chapel into a temple of the remotest antiquity.‡ After referring to some of the passages of Fourmont's letters, which we have before quoted, he is obliged to conclude as follows : En lisant ces passages inconcevables, où l'extravagance le dispute à l'imposture, ce qu'on peut imaginer de plus favorable à la mémoire de Fourmont, c'est de dire qu'il étoit plus d'à moitié fou.' 4 Thus the case stood, until in 1828 there appeared the first fasciculus of the great ' Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum, ' edited by Augustus Boeckh, and, as the published inscriptions by Fourmont all purported to be of the remotest antiquity, it became the duty of the learned editor, at the outset of the work, to examine most thoroughly the question of their genuineness. He was on terms of the greatest friendliness with Raoul Rochette and other savants, who still believed, as he himself had done originally, in the bona fides of the Abbé ; and having been permitted bythe French Government to have complete copies of all the inscriptions contained in the papers of Fourmont, as well as his notes thereon, he applied himself to the consideration of the question, as he himself tells us, as a judge and not as an accuser. One hundred and four large folio pages of double columns are devoted to the examination of the matter, which is investigated and decided on with the thoroughness and the accuracy which, at least at that date, was rarely to be found outside Germany, and which, if genius consisted alone in taking pains, would place some German scholars, Boeckh among them, at its highest point. Every writer who has cited these inscrip-

  • In the Recueil d'Antiquités, ' vol. ii. fol. 31 .

+ 1821 , p. 104. M. Raoul Rochette had cited as a witness in support of Fourmont's accuracy a certain Dr. Avramiotti, who, in a review of Chateaubriand's Travels in Greece,' published in 1816, reproaches that traveller for not having visited and described the temple of Onga, which he implies that he has himself seen ; but Letronné points out that Avramiotti had merely derived his knowledge of this temple from Barthélemy's description of it in the Travels of Anacharsis.' tions, The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 527 tions, and every passage where they are mentioned, is referred to and weighed. All justice is done to the learning and to the ability of Raoul Rochette. The good faith of Barthélemy and others who accepted the inscriptions as genuine is warmly admitted. Each inscription, each statement of Fourmont, and the notes and comments of those who have accepted them as genuine, are examined in the minutest detail with the most searching criticism and the most accurate scholarship, and undoubtedly with every disposition, as he elsewhere proves, to accept whatever was found to be probably genuine. And as the result of this most careful examination, Boeckh came to the conclusions, that, as a matter of fact, no trace could be found among the papers of Fourmont of many of the most important discoveries and inscriptions which he alleges he made when in Greece ; that it had been clearly proved by Lord Aberdeen that no such temple as Fourmont describes the temple of Onga, existed, or could have existed at the time he wrote ; that no one of the inscriptions he gave to the world, or which had been pub- lished since his death by Barthélemy and Caylus, could possibly, from the language, from the forms of the letters, and from other circumstances, have existed in Greece, but that they were modern forgeries, the work of an ignorant man, based almost entirely upon the conjectures of Meursius and Cragius, and often upon misunderstandings of such conjectures ; and lastly, that the forger was no other person than the Abbé Fourmont himself. Since the publication of the Corpus, the genuineness of the inscriptions published bythe Abbé Fourmont, and by Barthélemy from his papers, has not been seriously maintained. Even the French, unwilling as they were to admit the fraud of their countryman, have been obliged to admit the truth of the conclusions of Boeckh ; and M. Egger, in his interesting articles on Greek inscriptions in the Journal des Savans ' for 1871, admits that M. Boeckh has victoriously demonstrated the falsity of the apocryphal inscriptions of Michel Fourmont.' Yet in illustration of the truth of Lord Aberdeen's remark, that in France a reluctance still exists to view these forgeries in their proper light, a writer in Notes and Queries ' in 1872 remarks that ' incredible as it may appear, it is the fact, that in the long

  • Captain Renczynski's ' Chronology of Dates on the two Amyclean marble slabs which were dug out of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo of Delphi by

Rev. l'Abbé Fourmont ' (London, Reeves and Turner, 1884) , deserves a place in De Morgan's Bundle of Paradoxes.' The writer's ignorance of the language, literature, history, and geography of Greece, is only equalled by the absurdity of his explanations and translations. • and 528 The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. and elaborate life of the Abbé Fourmont by E. Bréhaut, contained in the eighteenth volume of Didot's " Nouvelle Biographie Générale " ( 1858), there is not a word to suggest that the alleged discoveries of the Abbé were not genuine, nor even a hint that doubts had been thrown on them ! He is censured indeed for his vandalism in destroying so many monuments of antiquity, but his inscriptions and his discoveries are all treated as genuine.' And another writer in Notes and Queries ' remarks, that it is still more surprising that in the " Supercheries littéraires dévoilées," published in 1869, the name of the Abbé Fourmont does not appear at all ! ' 6 The most curious part of the story has yet to be told. Although every inscription which the Abbé either gave to the world, or left in the state in which he proposed to publish it, was a forgery, yet he really had copied, and there still exist amonghis papers, many hundreds of genuine inscriptions ; some, ofthe earliest times of which any are known to exist, others, of an interest and importance little if anything less than the Amyclæan inscriptions would have possessed had they been genuine. They have all been included in the Corpus Inscriptionum Græcarum.' Of the 42 inscriptions judged by Boeckh, from the archaic forms of the letters, to be of the most ancient times, and which form the first part of the Corpus, no less than 16, unquestionably genuine, are from the papers of the Abbé Fourmont. Of the 980 inscriptions found in Attica, which Boeckh and his colleagues were able to collect, 353 were copied by Fourmont. His papers have furnished 29 of the 61 from Megara, 83 of the 118 from Argolis ; while of the 273 from Laconia and Messenia, he had copied no less than 228. Of these inscriptions, copies of some have since been found among the then unpublished papers of Cyriacus of Ancona ; of others, the originals have been discovered, and copies published by Chandler, Dodwell, and more recent travellers ; while a considerable number are judged by Boeckh to be genuine, from internal evidence merely. But the mere number does not afford an adequate idea of the importance of the Abbé's collections . They include not only, as we have said, some of the most ancient, but some of the most important and interesting inscriptions, which are in existence. It is not too much to say that Boeckh's great work on the public economy of Athens is founded on the facts derived from Greek inscriptions. Those numbered in the Corpus 76, 157, and 158, contain perhaps the greatest amount of information

  • Notes and Queries, ' 4th ser., vol. ix. pp. 370 and 415.

respecting The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont. 529 respecting the revenues of Athens, public debts, money, weights, and measures of any inscriptions known to exist. They are quoted over and over again by Boeckh, more frequently, indeed, than any others. From one of them we learn that the treasurers of the goddess Athene were obliged to have an account of what they had received, disbursed and delivered to their successors, engraved on stone, and set up in the Acropolis ; that money in the hands of the Hellenotamia was assigned about 410 B.C. to the redemption of the public debt. They give us a decree, that whatever should remain over and above the moneys assigned for the payment of the public debts should be applied to the repairs ofthe wharves and walls. No. 157 is a fragment of the account of the treasurer of the administration and manager of the public revenue, and probably the very one made by Lycurgus about 330 B.C. No. 158 is the inscription of the famous Sandwich marble, now in the British Museum, which has been the subject of so many learned dissertations since its arrival in England soon after Fourmont's time. It is the report of the auditors, or Amphictyons, sent from Athens in or about 374 B.C. to examine the management of the revenues of the temple of Apollo at Delos for the three previous years, and is full of details of the greatest interest. Copies of all these inscriptions -and of the two first the only copies known, the originals having perished— were among the papers of the Abbé Fourmont. † To have preserved and given to Western Europe these inscriptions alone, would have been sufficient at any time to constitute a lasting title to our gratitude, and would have entitled the Abbé Fourmont to a far higher place among the promoters of Greek learning and Greek antiquities than he would have been entitled to merely as the discoverer of the Amyclæan inscriptions, even if these were genuine. But important as these inscriptions are now, when more than fifteen thousand Greek inscriptions have been collected and published , far greater would Cited in The Lives of the Ten Orators,' ascribed to Plutarch. No. 171 in the Corpus is also from a marble now in the British Museum. It is a list of persons buried in the Ceramicus of Athens, and has been thought worthy to be edited and explained, not only by Boeckh in the Corpus as well as in his Proem. Catal. lect. Univers. Berol., but by E. D. Clarke in his ' Travels,' and by Ozanne in his Sylloge Inscrip.' The copy made by Fourmont must have been taken when the stone and the inscription were in a much more perfect condition than at present, and is, as Boeckh remarks, contra quam solet præstan- tissimus. No. 284 in the Corpus is from a marble, now in the British Museum, brought to this country by Askew, and described in Taylor Combes's ' Descrip- tion of a Collection of Ancient Marbles in the British Museum,' vol. ii. xxxvi. No. 353 in the Corpus was afterwards seen by Pocock and Chandler, and is described and commented on at length by each of them. All these were copied by the Abbé Fourmont. have 530 The Forgeries ofthe Abbé Fourmont. have been the glory of Fourmont if, at a time when less than two thousand inscriptions were known, he had added to them more than nine hundred -a greater number than had been collected by any single scholar or traveller, and including those of the first degree of importance which we have already referred to. * But the Abbé Fourmont was wise only for evil.' His egregious vanity and utter want of principle persuaded him to throw away the substantial glory which, particularly at that time in France, would have attached to a man who had collected and preserved nearly one thousand unknown and precious Greek inscriptions. His ambition was to produce inscriptions far earlier than any then known, and which might support his own absurd hypothesis respecting the language and the antiquities of Greece. Entirely unable from his want of scholarship to appreciate their value, and probably even to decipher or understand those which he had copied, he printed his lists of proper names, where he thought he was less likely to be detected, and no doubt intended to use his genuine inscriptions, had he lived, as models for fictions far more absurd and more elaborate than those which related to the temple of Onga and the priestesses of Apollo at Amyclæ. †

  • When J. F. Seguier in 1749 made his catalogue of Greek Inscriptions, he was only able to enumerate two thousand, whether in collections like those of Gruter and Muratori, or in the books of the learned in different branches of the

antiquity of Greece, such as those of Van Dale and Corsini. -Egger, in the ' Journal des Savans,' mars 1871 . Perhaps the most important , certainly the most impudent forgery of a Greek inscription, after those which form the subject of this article, is that put forth by Demetrius Petrizzopulo in his ' Saggio Storico sulle prime eta dell' Isola di Leucadia, ' Florence, 1814 (described by Boeckh in the Corpus, No. 43) . Not content with forging an inscription of a date earlier than the Trojan war, Petrizzopulo has cited in support of it, and of his arguments, a considerable number of books which do not exist. He cites a book of Gottlieb Wernsdorff, ' De Lycurgi epochis specimen, ' Noremberga, 1741 , 8vo. , but no life of Wernsdorff mentions such a work, nor was Boeckh able to find any trace of its existence. He cites the ' Travels ' of a certain Norden in Greece (Copenhagen, 1752), and Chardin's Mémoires conservés sur la santé de Leucade ' (Amstelodami, 1709, 4to. ), which are unknown to catalogues, to libraries, and to bibliographers, as well as other books which Boeckh was unable to discover. ART. ( 531 )

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Forgeries of the Abbé Fourmont" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools